5 Tips for Playing Tennis in Cold Weather
As winter quickly creeps up many of us are going to be facing colder conditions than we like. Many players will be forced to play indoors soon. Until then, here are some tips to ensure the cold weather doesn't affect your tennis game.
Dress the Part
Playing tennis in 40 degrees as opposed to 90 degrees is definitely a change. Most importantly, you have to dress accordingly. Wear several thin layers of clothing so you can take off small amounts as you warm up. If you have a large, warm sweatshirt on over a T-shirt, you will go from one extreme to the other once you remove the outer layer.
Sunglasses and Gloves
I find it extremely difficult to feel the grip with gloves on, no matter how thin the gloves are. Gloves are not a bad idea on change-overs if you can find a way to keep them warm as you play. The colder your hands are the harder it is to find the right position on your grip. Sunglasses can be helpful as the winter sun is lower in the sky and more likely to be a constant bother. I have seen a few people who can actually play tennis well while swearing sunglasses, but it's definitely a challenge.
Be sure to stretch a lot before you play and as you warm up. Your muscles will take longer to loosen up in the cold and you don't want to pull any muscles. Be sure to take your time in the warm-up, and try to hit in the warm-up five to 10 minutes longer than you usually would.
Shots That Work in Cold Weather
Without the 90-degree temperature and humidity, you may be able to play longer and stay in the longer rallies without feeling like you are going to pass out. However, it's important to keep in mind that the cold weather does have an impact on your play--and the ball. The colder the weather, the less bounce the ball will have.
Effective shots in cold weather:
- Drop shots
- Flat serves and slice serves
How to Adjust Your Shots
Meanwhile, other shots, like your topspin, won't be as effective. If you have a big kick or topspin serve beware: the cold weather will take some of the kick/bounce out of the ball. Flat serves and slice serves will be more effective for you in the cold and force your opponent to have to get down low for a ton of balls. This also means that the ball will bounce low for you too. Bring your racquet back early for good preparation to adjust to the low bounce, and start your backswing lower than you typically would.
If you have a topspin approach shot and a slice approach shot, you may want to try to lean more towards some slice approaches on any ball that does not bounce much higher than the net. This keeps the ball extra low and really forces your opponent to get under the ball and hit a passing shot, which is tough.
You also need to move to the ball more than you would in warmer weather. Since the ball is flatter it will not get as deep in the court as it would if it was warm out. Be sure to move well into the court for shorter balls. With the ball being a little flatter, be sure to aim deeper and hit harder to keep the ball from landing too short and allowing your opponent to step into the court to hit every ball.
No Net? No Problem
Many places take down the nets in the winter. Once in a while, the weather will be warm enough to play, but there won't be any nets up. You don't need to carry a net around with you. Just put some caution tape in your tennis bag instead. If you tie the tape to the net posts it works really well. I don't recommend playing a match like this, but it is great for practice. You actually do not need the lower half of the net for depth perception, just the top band.