Sometimes I wonder if I am going to run out of tips to give in this podcast. And then I get a question or suggestion from one of you, my awesome Tennis Quick Tips listeners, that makes me realize – there will never be an end to the number of tennis tips we recreational players need.
That's what happened recently when I got some feedback from Tricia who was so wonderful and kind in her comments. So here is what Tricia had to say:
Hi, Kim! I am so glad that I happened upon your blog and podcast. I am a club player on multiple teams and my 2017 goal is to have a higher NTRP rating by the end of the year. I've worked my way through your podcasts and have found so many useful tips and I have loved all of your advice–it is so relatable and well-researched. I see you have done podcasts on several different environmental conditions we find ourselves playing in–wind, sun, heat, etc.–but I was wondering if you had any advice for playing at night. I typically play on weekdays in the morning; however, I was offered to play on a higher NTRP-level team this spring season (which is great, because I'm looking to be moved up by year-end) that plays at night. This team has practiced at night leading up to the start of the season and I'm having a lot of trouble seeing well at night. I'm looking up at six suns (court lights) when I serve and when I'm at net the court lights make the balls have a strobe effect. Do you have any tips to help seeing the ball well for night play? Would a visor help–I didn't think I needed one? Thanks for your help!
First, let me say thank you Tricia for your wonderful comments. I really do appreciate getting such great feedback.
Then second, I want to say that yes, Tricia is right. I have talked about a number of different weather and environmental conditions. I've given a lot of tips for playing in the heat. I've given tips for playing in the cold. I've talked about how to play when it's windy and what to do when you're serving into the sun. And I'll link to all of the episodes where you can find these tips in the show notes for this episode.
But I actually haven't given any tips for playing tennis at night. The fact is that, while I have played at night, that is not something I regularly do. I have been on USTA teams that played at night on two different occasions but that was a few years ago. And the way my schedule works, all of my teams usually play in the morning. That just fits my schedule best.
So to remind myself of what it's like to play at night, I went out and hit one night this past week and, yes, now I remember, it's very different in a lot of ways from playing tennis during the day. It has its pros and it has its cons. Some of the pros of playing at night include:
- It fits your schedule because you have a job or some other daytime obligation.
- The temperatures are cooler so you don't have to worry as much about the ill effects of heat.
- You sweat less because the humidity can be less.
- You can recover faster and play longer because of the cooler, less humid conditions.
- It can be easier to see because you don't have shadows and/or sunlight to contend with and don't have to deal with sunglasses.
But there are cons to playing at night too. These include:
- Poor and inconsistent lighting on the courts.
- Reduced ability to judge depth of balls because of lack of shadows.
- And, of course, poor night vision in general. And this is a condition that just gets worse as we get older.
Since I don't really play at night these days, I talked to a few friends of mine who regularly play league tennis at night to find out any tips they might have to give. Now each of these people also plays during the day so they really do have some strong opinions on this and some great suggestions. So, based on that research and on my own limited experience, here they are – my best tips for playing tennis at night.
1. Play tennis at night.
I know that seems obvious – if you want to play better tennis at night then you need to play more tennis at night. But the fact is that, for many players, their nighttime matches are the only time that they actually play nighttime tennis. It helps to acclimatize yourself to nighttime tennis if you can do some practice at night or at least play some fun tennis at night.
2. Arrive at your match early.
If you arrive at your match early, you can check out the court situation and see just how bright or dim the lights are and just where they are located. And if you can arrive before it is actually dark and be there as the sunlight fades away, that will help your eyes adjust to the darkness better than just showing up right before you're scheduled to play.
3. Warm up slowly and progressively.
Be sure and take the time to do a full warm-up with your opponents, including a little mini-tennis, some baseline rallying, volleys, overheads and serves. This will, again, give your eyes a chance to adjust to the nighttime lighting situation and let you know just where those overhead lights are located.
4. Focus on the tennis ball.
Sure, we are always focusing on the tennis ball when we play. But this can be even more important to think about at night. You really need to watch that tennis ball come off your opponent's racket. This will help your eyes to get used to judging the depth of the ball. The more you do this in the early stages of the match, the better you will be able to see the ball as the match progresses.
5. Adjust your serve for the lights.
Just like you have to sometimes do when you're serving with the sun in your eyes, you may have to adjust your serve if you find that the lights are right in your eyes. This can include anything from moving your position on the service line when you serve, adjusting where you place your toss, and even changing the type of serve you are hitting. I'm link to my episode on tips for serving into the sun in the show notes for this episode as that has some great tips on what kind of adjustments you might consider making.
6. Consider wearing a cap or visor to help block the overhead lights.
Tricia mentioned this in her email and I think it's a great idea to wear a cap or visor to help block out any bright overhead lights. I think this is especially true if you are used to wearing a cap or visor when you play during the day.
7. Stay mentally tough.
Don't let any problems you are having at night get to you. Try and maintain your mental focus and remember that your opponents are dealing with the same conditions that you are. Sure, it may be a new and somewhat difficult experience in those first few night matches and you may not be too happy with your performance, especially if you are new to a team. But keep at it and I'm sure you will become more comfortable and better playing at night.
Well, those are my best tips for playing tennis at night. As I said, I'll have links to several episodes talking about different weather and environmental conditions that you may want to check out so be sure and head over to the show notes for those.
And thanks to all of you for your great comments and feedback in response to last week's episode on how playing tennis is one of the best sports for increasing your lifespan. I want to especially thank the person who sent me the comment giving another great reason why tennis may be the sport that helps you live longer. I said that I thought it was because tennis is such a mental sport. But this listener also pointed out that tennis can also be very beneficial because its so social – I mean you actually have to socialize with other people to play, right? I completely agree with that logic but, unfortunately, I can't track down the comment or email I got from that person so I'm not sure who it came from. Just know – you're absolutely right on tennis being a great sport because it is one where we have to socialize. So thanks for sending that in!
That's it for this week's Tennis Quick Tips. Thanks so much for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE
Check out these other great Tennis Quick Tips episodes for more tips on playing in different weather conditions:
- How to Play Better Cold Weather Tennis – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast Episode 63
- Prepare for Cold Weather Tennis – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast Episode 23
- Hot Weather Tennis Essentials – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast Episode 8
- How to Beat the Heat on the Tennis Court – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 42
- How to Handle the Heat During Your Tennis Match – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast Episode 148
- How to Serve into the Sun – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast Episode 45
- Best Tips for Playing Tennis in the Wind – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast Episode 52
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