1. Heat: Here in Oklahoma, it is not unheard of to be playing a match in over 100 degree weather. To combat this I try to make sure that I am adequately hydrated and seek shade whenever it's possible.
2. Blinding Light: During these 100 degree days, even with the best pair of UV shades available, there is no avoiding staring directly into the sun during a match. When I toss my ball up for a serve the sun is there. When my opponent annoyingly, but wisely lobs me, the sun is there. I wear my shades and hat or visor and hope for the best.
3. Dehydration: While deliberately blinding myself in this "just for fun" game of tennis, the heat and activity drain me of all my water reserve. Like I said making sure I drink plenty of water the day before and day of a match is important.
4. Stress: If heat, the bright and blinding light of the sun, and dehydration weren't enough to trigger a migraine I can add competitive stress to the list of triggers. Don't forget about stress caused by anger and frustration. If you think an adult won't cheat you at a "fun" game of tennis you are wrong. When I am not playing up to my usual aptitude the anger isn't directed towards my opponent it is directed towards myself. I try to remember that tennis is my entertainment and recreation, not to be stressed and worried about.
After rereading those triggers, I am starting to wonder why anyone would play adult competitive tennis. I never completely gave up tennis through my bout with chronic migraines, but I did sit myself out of many a match when I was in pain or knew I couldn't handle the heat. During those days I popped quite a few drugs (triptans and anti-inflammatories) to get through my tennis match and that day. It's hard to combat the heat, but making sure I am adequately hydrated prematch is a must. I good pair of shades and a hat or visor helps some when playing in the sun.
The migraine experts will tell you that regular exercise can lower your migraine threshold. However, it can be somewhat of a catch 22 since it's also a trigger. Adherence to my migraine plan has resulted not only in being almost migraine-free for a year, but now I can start my competitive tennis season without the anxiety and anticipation of a headache. I have listed a bunch of bad things I associate with tennis and obviously there must be an upside to the sport or I wouldn't be playing it. Here are some good things about tennis...
1. It builds cardiovascular fitness, strength, agility, flexibility, and coordination.
2. According to Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, playing tennis for 3 hours per week at a moderately vigorous intensity will cut your risk of death in half from any cause.
3. Competitive tennis burns more calories than aerobics or cycling, according to studies in caloric expenditures (and my polar watch). I don't even realize how hard I am working because it is more like a game than exercise to me.
4. Scientists at the University of Illinois found tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking which can generate new connections between nerves in the brain and promote a lifetime of continuing brain development (I knew tennis players were smart people).
5. It's a lifelong sport. I hope to be hitting the little yellow ball well into my senior years.
6. It's a social sport. My closest friends have been found on the tennis court. Just look at all these pretty people!