A too-cold environment can make it difficult to concentrate on your tennis goals, but the chill. Tennis players, especially beginners, can’t wait for the longest winter to over to continue their tennis practice. So, how to play tennis in cold weather?
In this guide, we have put together a list of helpful indoor and outdoor tips for playing tennis in cold weather.
Winter is the time of year when we, tennis players, stop believing that the skies will be blue again. Or women players start thinking, will I be able to wear that charming tennis skirt again? Or will I be able to wear those tennis shorts and move freely again?
If this kind of thought echoes in your mind, you’re at the right place to discover the right way of playing tennis in winter, to keep your skills sharp throughout the year.
So, winter is coming and you need to prepare a winter escape plan to continue tennis sessions as smoothly as in the summer.
This is why we are going to share our cold weather tennis experience along with some helpful tips. So, let’s get started without any further delay.
What makes it tough to practice tennis in cold weather?
The first and foremost change you will notice in cold weather is the lack of bounce in tennis balls. The reason is the tennis ball bounce is subject to the air pressure inside the ball.
In winter, air molecules inside the ball lose their collision energy which means less air pressure inside the ball. As a result, the ball becomes less hard and less bouncy.
Pro Tip: Warming up the tennis ball can make it bouncy again, as it increases the air pressure inside the ball. As it’s cold outside, this won’t last long, you would be warming it over and over.
Does cold weather affect tennis strings?
Yes, tennis strings are also affected by cold weather. We recommend re-stringing your racquet at 2 pounds lower in winter. The reason is a little loose and softer string (synthetic) helps the racquet produce more power.
So, how to loosen tennis strings?
The quick and little dirty trick, you can say, is to put the racquet on the ground and step over the strings, not the frame otherwise you may hurt it.
Note: Natural gut, nylon, and polyester strings are not going to work in winter as they are stiffer.
In other words, softer strings store more rebound energy during the ball impact which ensures maximum ball pace. So, you need a softer and little loose string for cold weather.
Other than this, there are more chances of getting injuries like tennis elbow in winter. This is when we need to adjust our playing style and tennis gear as well.
You may also want to check our reviews for the top 5 tennis racquets for tennis elbow.
Let’s continue and find out some great tips to avoid these problems to a greater extent.
How to Play Tennis in Cold Weather?
Obviously playing tennis under 30 degrees as compared to 80 or 90 degrees has a different and a little tough experience.
Stopping the tennis practice just because of the harsh temperatures of winter means you will be developing your skills all over again. So, it’s as necessary to keep practicing as keeping your bodies warm in winter.
Furthermore, staying in touch with the game helps to stay in a good physical condition which is another important factor for any sports player.
There are two ways to continue playing in winter, indoor or outdoor. Each of them has its own benefits and methods. So, stay with us, we are going to discuss each of them in-depth.
From indoor to outdoor and beginners to advanced level players, we have got solutions for every player.
The most basic and simple additions are tennis gloves, sunglasses, warm jackets, hats, and top layers, etc. But it’s not that simple, understanding the science is necessary.
What most of the tennis players are missing in winter is the ‘the right strategy & the right techniques’.
Yes, you heard it right, we, tennis players, adjust our playing style, shots, and techniques for winter to get the most out of our practice.
Luckily, our playtesters have enough experience of playing in winter that helped us prepare a perfect strategy for you which we are going to mention shortly.
No matter, you are a club player, beginner, or advanced player, the following tennis winter tips work for all.
1. Dress for Success
Whenever winter hits, the most apparent change in our lifestyle is our dressing sense. For the players who don’t have access to toasty tennis courts, it’s essential to dress appropriately.
So, ‘how to dress for tennis in cold weather?’.
When it’s freezing weather outside, normal tennis attire won’t help you. Playing tennis in freezing weather can be very dangerous when you’re not properly dressed.
Using compression pants as the base layer is the best option, as these pants retain heat to a greater extent.
The idea is to wear those clothes that keep you warm, allow easy shoulder movement, and keep your body dry when you start sweating.
Note: Keeping your body dry is important, otherwise it may cause hypothermia. For this reason use synthetic garments, like compression pants, for undergarments.
For top layers, wear clothes that block the cold wind from getting inside. As a result, you can keep your body warm during your tennis session.
Pro Tip: Wear several thin layers of clothes so you can take off a few clothes as your body warm-up during the game.
In this way, you can control your body temperature in the right way and keep muscle stains away, instead of going from warm to extreme cold if you wear just one bulky sweatshirt.
In short, wear lightweight clothes that keep you warm and allow free movement because tennis demands free movement all the time.
For easy movement, you can use tennis shorts besides compression pants.
The base layer will serve as the foundation of your winter tennis kit. Remember, the base layer should be breathable. It means it should allow your sweat to slip out of your clothes, otherwise, it can cause hypothermia.
Next comes the top layer. This depends upon the severity of the weather. If it’s not much cold outside, you can use your regular tennis tops with full sleeves.
If it’s too cold outside, add another top layer over your tennis tops. However, if it is really really cold, you can add a Nike Jacket to your top layers. The idea is to keep your body warm but not with bulky clothes rather with thin layers of clothes.
Since I don’t like to wear a jacket, I would wear a gilet which allows me to move my arms freely and it is lightweight and best protection against cold weather. It can easily be taken off when the body gets warm.
Following a proper cold weather tennis apparel guideline, you can perform in the best way on the court. So, keep yourself warm and keep winning the matches.
When wearing gloves, some tennis players find it challenging to have a proper grip and feel. There are some tennis gloves available out there in the market, specially designed for winter players. You can use them.
In this way, you won’t have a grip problem. Moreover, with colder hands, you can’t have the right grip. So, wearing gloves is always a good idea for tennis players.
Keeping your fingers and hands warm is necessary otherwise it may cause frostbite — which freezes some parts of your body.
Remember, the colder your hands are, the harder it is to maintain a perfect grip.
If you still prefer to feel your grip without gloves, there is another solution — hand warmers. You can put them in your pocket and use them when necessary. In this way, you can get rid of the gloves.
Another option is half finger gloves which allow holding balls and have the grip throughout the game much easier.
There is much debate in tennis forums, whether to wear sunglasses while playing tennis in winter. The short answer is, you should wear.
Truly, it’s challenging to play while wearing sunglasses, you have to master this skill. Otherwise, how will you be able to beat the ball when you can’t even see the direction it’s coming from?
In winter, the sun hangs lower in the sky, which means it produces more glare as compared to warm weather. To avoid such a possible distraction, wearing polarized sunglasses is the best option.
However, when the sun goes behind the clouds, you can take them off for better vision.
According to research, the human body loses 40% of the body heat from the top of your head. So, keeping your head warm is also necessary.
Cotton knitted hats or microfiber hats are the best options.
Tennis Winter Shoes
Generally neglected, a pair of good tennis shoes is another important thing to consider for cold tennis practice.
Tennis courts get slippery in winter, to prevent possible injuries your tennis shoes should have good enough traction.
Other features should include waterproof, comfort, softer sole, and better insulation. Besides this, a thick pair of socks is a must.
So, this is how you need to be dressed to play tennis in cold weather. Next comes the important part — warm-up to keep the chances of injuries away.
2. Warm-up and Stretching Exercises
Before hitting the court, doing some warm-up and stretching exercises is as necessary as having the right tennis gear. This allows your body to loosen up and get ready for the cold temperature.
For cold weather, your warm-up exercises should be longer than usual. The reason is, our muscles are tense and take longer to loosen up in winter.
Quick warm-up exercises can be dangerous for both your performance and health. Generally, you should take 10-15 minutes for warm-up before hitting the tennis ball. The same routine goes for stretching.
Note: Before doing any kind of stretching, do some aerobic exercises for at least 5 minutes. It helps the blood get flowing properly in the muscles for stretching.
Here are some warm-up exercises you should incorporate into your routine.
- Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are considered as the whole body workout. The good part is, you can do this exercise anywhere.
Perform at least 15-20 jumping jacks, it will loosen up your upper and lower body muscles. Other than a warm-up, jumping jacks help to increase stamina and strength.
- Power Skips
Power skip is another good stretching exercise for cold tennis practice. This exercise works for major muscles in the body including hips, quads, glutes, and calves.
Perform at least 15-20 power skips for a good warm-up.
- Toe Touch
Toe touch or twisted toe touching is my favorite exercise. It is one of the simplest yet effective exercises. Perform at least 20-30 times.
Furthermore, Include some generic stretching like arms stretching, shoulder stretching, chest stretching, triceps stretching, and leg stretching in your routine.
The idea is to make your body ready for the hard work ahead and possibly avoid any kind of injury.
3. Stay Hydrated
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can reduce water intake. Staying hydrated in winter is as important as in summer.
In fact, cold air holds less moisture than warm air, as a result, you will get hydrated quickly on the court.
Moreover, our body uses water to maintain the temperature, so cutting water intake may disturb this body function. Before going out, drink plenty of water and keep an insulated water bottle in your tennis bag.
4. Adjust your Tennis Gear
Using your normal tennis racquet in cold weather won’t work. Just like changing your winter tennis outfit, your racquet also needs necessary adjustments, because the effects of cold weather on tennis gear are weird.
As we stated above, your racquet needs softer strings in winter with string tension 2 pounds less than usual. The reason is, racquet strings get stiffer in cold weather and may not generate much power.
Using softer and little loose strings help use most of the racquet’s power. Moreover, it reduces the chances of string breakage.
5. Adjust your Tennis Shots / Playing Style
Since we adjust our gear, our playing style and tennis shots also need to be adjusted for cold weather. It’s because this weather affects tennis balls. The significant effect is less bouncy balls.
In general, your tennis shots are not as effective in winter as in summer. For instance, cold weather takes some of the bounce out of the tennis ball. As a result, your topspin is less effective.
On the other hand, flat serves or slice serves performance enhances in cold weather and it can give your opponent a tough time.
In simple words, tennis balls move flatter in cold weather, as a result, we focus more on flat, slice, and drop shots.
Your winter tennis goals should be hitting deeper and harder to get the ball over the net.
To make it significant, here are the most effective shots that work in cold weather:
- Flat Serve
- Slice Serve
- Drop Shots
- Slice Shots
Shots that don’t work in winter:
- High Kick Serve
6. Tennis Strategy for Winter
Your tennis cold weather strategy should be ‘attacking the net’. If you find it harder to execute high shots, the same goes for your opponent.
So, what works for me is, hit the lower ball and approach the net. Because the opponent would give a response with a higher volley or slower and lower balls which can easily be put away.
Still interested to execute topspin in cold weather?
Well, we have a strategy for you. Dropping your racquet head, moving it back early, and hitting harder will help you put topspin in the ball.
By now, you know how to dress for tennis in winter and the right tennis strategy, next you must be looking for, where to play?
Indoor Options for Tennis in Winter
Since I am a big fan of indoor tennis practice in cold weather, I would emphasize this option for you as well. If indoor tennis is not your style, you may skip this option and move down to outdoor options to brave the cold outside.
1. Join a Club
Joining a tennis club is a better option instead of shivering outside on the court. Moreover, some tennis clubs offer amenities for warm-up and workout.
Another reason why I prefer joining a tennis club is social interaction which helps me to learn some new skills from other players. This is how I make my outdoor winter tennis experience fun.
But the tennis club costs a lot based on the amenities they offer. So, if you can’t afford a club, go for a relatively cheaper option — tennis bubble or dome.
2. Practice inside your home or garage
If you can’t afford a fancy tennis club or tennis dome/bubble, start practicing alone in your home or garage. All you need is a tennis backboard or even you can hit against a wall.
You can practice different strokes like shadow strokes or work on your footwork skills.
Footwork is more important in winter, especially for the players going to play outside. It’s because shorter and slower balls will force you to move quickly over the court.
You can also do some other exercises like burpees, jumping squats, or side planks to increase stamina and strength. All this can be done inside your home.
For more information, check out our detailed guide on practicing tennis alone.
3. Take Tennis Lessons Online
Throughout the year, you may have developed amazing tennis skills. Now it’s winter, the right time to fine-tune those skills.
I, personally, don’t develop new skills in winter, rather I work on my previous skills to take them to the next level.
One of the best ways to do so is, find a good instructor online who can help you identify issues in your skills and provide some strategies.
Make sure, your instructor offers one-one training sessions so they can fully focus on your training during the whole session.
Practicing Outdoor Tennis in Winter
When it comes to outdoor tennis, we don’t have many options available except outdoor tennis courts. Practicing tennis outdoors in such freezing weather is bravery and we admire your dedication.
All you need to do is take some necessary precautions, especially when practicing outdoors. Follow the best practices, we shared above and you are good to go and smash the court.
However, there is another outdoor option, platform tennis. Platform courts are smaller than traditional tennis courts, surrounded by chicken wire fencing which allows the ball to stay on the court.
These types of courts have heaters installed under the surface to keep the environment warm for even the coldest weather.
You can also play on a clay court as long as it has a dome over it and a heating mechanism installed otherwise playing on a clay court is dangerous, as it is slippery.
Why do we play tennis in cold weather?
Putting your racquet away during winter won’t be good advice, and we don’t endorse it either. The first reason is you may lose grip on the skills that you may have learned in a hard way.
There are some other health benefits of tennis as well which motivate tennis players to continue throughout the year. Here are some of them.
- According to research, playing tennis prevents early death.
- It helps the proper flow of blood in the muscles in such freezing winters.
- Tennis increases alertness and logical thinking as our brain stays alert during the game.
- It helps to take accurate decisions in daily life routine, as tennis is all about precision and quick decision.
- Tennis is considered a good cardiovascular exercise, our heartbeat increases during the match and burns extra fat.
- It increases stamina and bone strength.
With these health benefits in mind, a tennis player can’t simply let his/her skills cool off just because of cold weather.
Cold Weather Tennis Checklist
Let’s put the whole tennis winter guide into a simple checklist. Here are some helpful tips for cold weather tennis:
- Wear thin layers of clothes, so they can be taken off easily when the body gets warm. Clothes should include compression pants, tennis tops, gloves (hand warmers if you don’t like gloves), and a hat.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Do some aerobic exercises and stretching before starting the tennis game.
- 10-15 minutes warm-up should be part of your exercise routine.
- If you’re going to play in a tennis club, book it in advance because most of the clubs put tennis nets away early in winter.
- In winter, you have options to play inside your home, garage, or outside in a club, court, or tennis bubble/dome.
- Adjust your tennis racquet with a lower tension and softer strings.
- Tennis shots you should more focus on in winter are flat serve, slice serves, and drop shots.
- Shots you should avoid in winter are topspin and high kicks.
- During winter, your tennis goal should be hitting harder and lower balls, as balls are less bouncy and won’t fly high.
- An alternative to staying in touch with tennis in winter is paddle tennis or maybe try snow tennis.
Once Serena Williams said, ‘Luck has nothing to do with her success, she has spent many, many hours on the court working for one moment in time’.
What we infer from her quote is, your destiny is in your hand when you fully focus on preparations prior to the tennis match. Improving skills throughout the year is most important of them. So, don’t let a few cold months hinder your success in the longer run.
Besides this, being in tip-top condition is important as well. So, your winter tennis attire should be lightweight, consist of several thin layers, and a moisture-wicking foundation layer. The top layer should be waterproof.
In addition to clothes, gloves or hand warmer, a pair of socks, good tennis shoes, and a hat are musts.
By know, you know the impacts of cold weather on tennis and how to practice tennis in winter, now it’s time to take necessary precautions and take your skills to the next level.
If you want to take away a key point from this guide, it must be this, ‘get your body and muscles ready before hitting the balls on the court’.
Found this tennis winter guide helpful, share it with your friends, family, or teammates and let them warm-up their winter skills.
Q. Does cold weather affect tennis elbow?
A. In general, winter is notorious for injuries, pain, and muscle fatigue. It’s true, winter does have effects on tennis elbow.
With proper precautions, it can be handled. If heating reduces the pain, heat your elbow, and do some arm movement before going to court. Wrap your elbow with thin layers of clothes same like you do for whole tennis attire.
Q. Can you play tennis in cold weather?
A. Although playing tennis in winter is a little harder than in summer, it can be made fun if you follow proper winter clothing guidelines, warm-ups, exercises, and tips that we share above.
Q. What to wear to play tennis in cold weather?
A. Ideal tennis dressing for winter includes several thin layers of clothes rather than one bulky jacket, so you can take them off one by one when your body gets warm in the game. This is how you can control your body temperature to get the most out of your tennis practice.
Besides jackets and shirts, your tennis clothing package should include sunglasses, a hat, hand warmers, a pair of thick socks, a pair of tennis shoes, compression pants, and gloves.
Q. Where to play tennis in winter?
A. There are two ways to play tennis in cold weather, indoor or outdoor. Indoor is limited to playing inside your home or garage against a wall or backboard.
Outdoor options include tennis clubs, and tennis domes or bubbles.
Q. Do I need to string my tennis racket differently for cold weather?
A. Yes, summer tennis strings won’t work in winter. It’s because during winter stings get stiffer resulting in less power and less rebound energy.
So your winter strings should be a little loose and softer like synthetic. Additionally, string tension should be 2 pounds less for winter to generate more power.
Q. Can tennis players wear gloves?
A. Yes, we, tennis players can wear gloves. Though wearing gloves makes it a little harder to hold the grip, but when you get used to it won’t be a problem. Or you can use half finger gloves.
If you’re not a fan of gloves at all, keep hand warmers in your pocket.
Keeping hands warm is necessary, otherwise, the colder the hands are, the harder to hold the grip.
Q. What is the minimum temperature for tennis?
A. In general, the minimum temperature for tennis is 40 degrees. You can play even at 30 degrees.
But any temperature less than 40 degrees will make the ball less bouncy and tennis strings stiffer, this is where you need to adjust your strategy and techniques accordingly. Plus, your tennis cold-weather gear also needs to be adjusted differently.