How To Play Tennis In Cold Weather

Tennis is a sport played predominantly outdoors, and the traditional court surfaces (clay, grass, hard) are better suited for warm weather. This is why people rarely consider playing tennis during the winter, usually choosing other sports and hobbies during this period. The arrival of winter brings cooler playing conditions, so many of us are forced to play tennis indoors if we want to continue playing the game. Those players who are a little less passionate will quit the game until the warmer weather comes again. And yet – you do not have to be one of them!

But what if you do not have access to any indoor courts near you? Well, it should not really be a problem, as tennis can be played outside until the temperature drops below zero. Depending on where you live, the winter will eventually force you to go indoors – but before that, you can still continue working on your game. 

What can you do to play tennis in the cold weather? First, make sure you dress appropriately. Using several layers of clothes is a great idea, as you can “unpeel” as you get warmer. Second, accessories like gloves and sunglasses will keep your hands and eyes warm. Third, dedicate more time to the warm-up to prevent injuries. Fourth, adjust your game to the cold – shots with underspin (slice) will be more effective in the cold weather.

By adjusting your routine with the steps mentioned here, you won’t need to let your tennis skills cool off during the winter months.

In this article, we will talk about some good tips that will surely help you this winter, so the cold weather will not affect the quality of your game. It is such a shame to take a long break during the wintertime and not work on your skills and playing style even more. Following these tips below will improve your game during the colder months, and you will not have to pause your playing and training.

Dress as Warm as Possible

Playing tennis when it’s 30 degrees outside is a completely different thing than playing when it’s in the 70s or 80s. Obviously, the single most important thing you need to do is to dress appropriately – and warmly. We suggest that you wear a few thin layers of clothing so that you can undress some after you warm up. Besides wearing the regular clothes you usually wear, add a shirt with long sleeves under your t-shirt, a warmer tracksuit or find something to layer underneath your shorts. Thick socks and sweatshirts are a must! You may not think that you need to layer your clothes, and that one thick jacket will warm you more than three thinner ones, but if you only wear one thick jacket you won’t be able to take it off – while you can take off the thinner ones one-by-one.

Your Best Friends This Winter: Gloves and Sunglasses!

It is very difficult to feel your hand on the racket while wearing gloves, no matter how thin the material is – but it certainly won’t be easier without them too. While you can keep your hands warm when you’re playing, gloves might be a good solution for when you are warming up or changing sides. Remember that the colder your hands are, the harder it is to establish a proper grip. Then just imagine how difficult it would be to play with frozen hands. Our hands are a special part of the body that is not easily warmed by physical activity while exposed to the outside cold and that is why it is better with gloves than without them.

Sunglasses can help you a lot while playing tennis, because the winter sun is lower in the sky and more likely to disturb you than in summer. Of course, playing tennis while wearing sunglasses is a whole new challenge. Consider this part as a part of your training. If you master this skill, you will have more advantage of playing tennis in winter compared to your opponents. At the end of the day, how will you be able to play if you do not even see the direction on which the ball is moving?

Warm-up Before Even Taking The Racket In Your Hands

Remember to exercise and stretch well when warming up. When it is cold outside, your muscles will need more time to relax and reach a working temperature. You certainly do not want to hurt your muscles or body parts because you have not warmed up properly. Take a little longer time to warm up, around five to ten minutes longer than you normally do when the weather is warmer. Give your body time to adapt to the new conditions and temperature, and you will be playing easier and better for sure.

Tennis Balls Work Differently In The Cold

Without the heat and humidity you face when it’s 80 degrees, you may be able to play longer without feeling as if you will pass out. However, it is important to keep in mind that cold weather has its effect on your game and on the ball. The colder the weather, the less the ball will bounce. Just knowing about it will already give you an advantage compared to your opponent. You should try to use the conditions to gain more skills and experience while playing in colder weather.

Since tennis balls don’t bounce as much in the winter, the most effective cold weather shots are:

  • Drop Shots
  • Slice Shots
  • Flat and Slice Serves

How To Adjust Your Game

You must accept that shots with topspin will be less effective. Be aware if you have a high kick or top spin service – in cold weather, the ball will not have as much kick and bounce, giving your opponent an opportunity to attack the return. Flat and slice serves will be more effective in the cold and will force your opponent to run on a lot of low balls. It also means that the ball will bounce low for you as well. But do not let that scare you – it does not work for you, just focus on controlling your shots as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, let’s go through the most important things to remember when playing tennis in cold weather:

  • Try to keep the ball low, because the ball will not have the bounce you are used to when playing tennis in the summer. That way you will earn more control over the ball. 
  • Try to customize your serves while playing. In the cold, slice serves are better than kick ones.
  • Dress warmly, but wear more thin layers of clothing because your body needs protection while playing. 
  • Do not underestimate the importance of warming up and exercising, you will get hurt easily and your playing will not be on a high level. Warm-up well before the match or training set.

Follow these tips and you will surely improve your game during the months of lower temperatures. And it is more than advisable not to interrupt the pace at which you are training because the temperature has dropped for some time. As long as there is no snow on the ground, nothing should not stop you from playing outdoors. Also, your lungs will be able to breathe some fresh winter air. But always remember, take it easy and slow, and do not overdo yourself!

Gui Hadlich

I got a chance to play junior and professional tournaments across the world, and in 2015 I began playing as the #1 player for Pepperdine University, a great division 1 school. I’ve had the chance to play against great names of the new generation, like Christian Garin, Cameron Norrie, and Kyle Edmund. I’m extremely passionate about the mental and technical part of the game. Oh, and I had lunch with Brad Gilbert once.

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