Last week I played tennis where temperatures started out in the (get ready for this) 40's! Here in Houston that is FREEEEEZZZZING! OK, I know. That's not really very cold at all. In fact, on both mornings, it went from being a little chilly at the beginning of each match to being pretty darn warm by the end. But I live in Texas because I like hot weather and the thought of wearing tights under a tennis skirt – Yuck! Not the tennis fashion statement I'm looking to make.
But, the reality is, its time to think about cold weather tennis. If you're a true die-hard tennis player, you want to play even when it gets pretty darn chilly. So the issue becomes what to wear and how to play on these frosty days (or nights). Here are some tips that might make your next cold weather match more enjoyable:
- Wear layers. Lots and lots of layers. If I think I'm going to be playing in the cold, I wear a whole lot of layers. On top: racer-back tank, long-sleeved sports t-shirt made of some type of dry-wick fabric, sweat shirt or long-sleeved cotton t-shirt, hoodie, sleeveless ski vest. On bottom: tights under skirt with built-in shorts (meaning those tights are staying on) or long yoga pants that will securely hold the ball in the back at the waist (see below). On my head: a baseball-type hat. I don't ever wear a visor because it makes my hair look weird. I don't wear a ski hat for the same reason (unless I'm skiing and then I don't really care because everyone's hair looks weird then). So with all of these layers on, you can see its easy to start peeling the clothes off as I get warmer and, in fact, I would rather be a little bit chilly than play with all of this bulk so I never actually play a match with this much stuff on.
- Make sure what you wear on the bottom allows you to hold onto a tennis ball. Deciding what to wear on the bottom is the big cold-weather issue for me because it has to be something that allows me to hold onto a second ball without any possibility of it falling out since I know from previous posts that I can't call a let for something I cause myself like a ball falling out of my pants and rolling around on the court (click on these posts for more info: Tennis Lets-Get It Right! and Update on the Loose Balls Issue). And I don't like those little ball holder thingys that some people wear. If you're OK wearing one of those thingys, this won't be as big of an issue for you. So if I wear tights, I have to have a skirt with shorts on top so I can tuck a ball into the shorts. And if I wear pants, they have to be yoga pants that fit well enough that I can tuck a ball into the waistband in back without any possibility of it falling out or down into my pants. Nice visual there.
- Wear gloves. I have cotton running gloves in my bag that i like and at least get me started during warm-up. They provide a little more traction and “feel” than some of the cheap double-knit gloves. A lot of people use Isotoner style driving gloves. I just never remember to buy those so I stick with my running gloves. I usually take them off by the time the match actually starts as I know I'll play better if my hands are a little cold but I can actually feel my racquet.
- Wear sunscreen. Even though its cold, it can still be pretty sunny and that means sunscreen is a must. And, if you start taking off layers on top, be sure you protect your shoulders and any other exposed skin from the sun. This is why spray-on sunscreen is great – its quick and easy to apply and can be done during a changeover.
- Wear lip balm. Cold weather usually means dry weather and often means wind. I never notice having chapped lips when its hot outside. But when its cold – sandpaper! So avoid chapped lips by keeping a good lip balm (hopefully with sunscreen) in your bag.
- Keep hydrated. When the weather's hot, its easy to remember to drink and keep hydrated. When its cold, its not so easy. But you can get dehydrated and suffer the effects of that just as easily in the cold. So keep drinking during your match.
- Be prepared for the cold weather game. You'll find that, when its cold outside, the tennis balls are just not as bouncy. So be ready to hit harder and deeper than you're used to and come into the net a lot (which you should be doing in doubles anyway). This will help compensate for the ball being a little “dead” feeling.
© Kim Selzman 2009
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