The cold weather is fast approaching and the long nights are settling in. So it is time to swap your tennis racket for a squash racket, unearth your football boots and pack away the summer gear. Isn’t it? This is a myth and one that does very little justice for tennis’ desire to be seen as an all-season sport.
The physical benefits of tennis cannot be understated; increasing aerobic capacity, lowering body fat, improving mobility and strength. The list goes on. Onset of colder weather can be an excuse to fall back into sedentary habits. In short, tennis can and should be continued in colder weather.
Sweatband.com caught up with former British number 1, Chris Wilkinson, on why tennis should not be dismissed as a cold weather sport, the benefits of playing and the differences you should be looking out for when playing. We collated a number of questions from Sweatband customers, as well as general questions across popular tennis forums and Google search.
Can you play tennis in cold weather?
Yes, you can play tennis during the Winter. Obviously it is much more comfortable to play indoors but can be expensive. It is also good fun, cheaper and sociable to play outside. With the darker nights coming in earlier I would suggest also finding a club that has floodlights.
TIP: If you choose to tackle the elements, you can find a tennis court offering floodlights by using the filtering system on the LTA website: https://www.lta.org.uk/play-compete/get-on-court/find-a-tennis-court/
How does weather affect tennis?
The warmer the weather the quicker the ball is through the air and the bounce is faster off the court surface. When it is colder or wet the court is generally slower and the bounce is not as lively.
TIP: Given the slower on-court conditions, positioning and footwork is all important on colder and wetter courts. Ensure that these are a focus of extra training sessions, whether through shadow play or when playing complementary sports.
How do you practice tennis in the Winter? What tips do you have for playing tennis in the Winter?
The best tennis exercises outside in the winter are those that keep us moving, Cardio tennis is a great coaching session used at most clubs that involves a lot movement and hitting a lot of tennis ball, see link below
Do you have to use different equipment for tennis in the winter?
All the equipment is the same whether you are playing in the Summer or Winter. However I would suggest wearing a thin pair of gloves when playing outside in the Winter months to keep your hands warm. Thin gloves will still allow you to grip the racket. Keeping your head warm is also a must in the cold weather. It might not be the look you are looking for but it is good to wear a woolly hat to keep the heat in.
TIP: If you want to wear extra layers, yet do not want to lose too much speed and mobility around the court, it would be advisable to buy good quality compression clothing.
Does cold weather 'deaden' my racket? How should I store my racket? Does cold weather affect your tennis strings? Do I need to string my racket differently?
Just store the racket at room temperature or in racket bag as normal and avoid leaving by the radiator as this can warp the frame. As the balls are less lively in the cold I would suggest having the racket strings a bit looser as this will help gain power on your shots.
How should I warm up for playing tennis in the cold weather?
Stretching and general cardio work (jogging, shuttle sprints etc) before you play in the Winter is really important. If you do not warm up properly it is very easy to pull a muscle and get injured. A lot of players I see tend not to make time to warm up and arrive on court cold and go straight into hitting and running round the court. It is also worth asking a coach if he can incorporate a warm up in the tennis session; most good coaches would do this.
TIP: Do not forget to drink water in the cold weather. It is easy to forget to stay hydrated in the colder weather, however it is just as important for performance levels and recovery as in warmer weather.
Are there any professional tournaments played in colder weather?
Most professional tournaments are either indoors or played outdoors in locations that are not usually cold. One of the biggest challenges at some Pro events is when the wind picks up; it is really interesting to see how the top players adapt to windy conditions. Nadal is the master of coping in these tricky conditions as his footwork is so good and is able to adapt. Also, many professional tournaments will not be in the cold as it will almost certainly put the spectators off from watching.