Coaching Tip - April 2023

Playing Tennis in difficult conditions

The majority of tennis players do not have the luxury of playing indoors so the outdoor elements can affect your game of tennis.

Social tennis players may often cancel their session if the weather is not ideal but competition tennis at most levels is still played under sometimes very trying conditions.

Adjust your game to suit different weather conditions
The weather is something that we cannot predict or control.
The way that you play – your game style – and your tactics during the game will more than likely be influenced by factors such as wind, visibility, wet weather and temperature and your mental attitude towards those factors.

The wind is usually hard to adapt to as the direction may change regularly.
Use the warm up hit with your opponent to test how the wind will affect your groundstrokes and serve.
For example is the wind down the court?
When hitting with the wind use topspin to control the ball into the court and if possible cross court as this is the longest part of the court.
If you are hitting into the wind aim higher over the net with more power to allow the ball to land deeper in the court.
When playing with a cross wind play the ball more towards the side that the wind is coming from and then allow more margin for error when hitting to the side that wind is blowing.

When serving adjust your ball toss to allow for the wind
• Use the slice serve with the wind or in the direction the wind is blowing for the best result.
This helps to move your opponent off court opening up the other side of the court.
• The topspin serve is the best option when serving into the wind but it can be used to great effect when serving with the wind.
The ball will bounce higher making it harder for your opponent to return the ball.

The game of tennis is played in most cases in an outside environment.
Therefore the brightness of the sun and the time of day can affect the ball visibility in both the ball toss for the serve and during the rally.
• When serving adjust your ball toss so that you are not looking directly into the sun at contact allowing you hit the next ball without affecting your vision
• During the early morning or late afternoon the height of the sun can affect your vision during rallies making hard to focus on the ball.

Use the sun to your advantage when the sun is in your opponent’s eyes
• Hit high loopy balls or lobs to get the ball up so that he/she has to look into the sun during rallies.

The onset of darkness can also affect the visibility for both players
• Turn on the lights if they are available to complete the game
• If you are playing without lights keep the ball low and use slice and topspin to disguise your shots.
Eventually however by agreement the match could be abandoned due to the lack of light.

Wet Weather
In most cases the competition or match would not commence or be abandoned if the court becomes too wet.

However in some local competitions matches or competitions are still played on courts that have swept to remove excess water.
This decision is made by the court supervisor or the players concerned but this is a decision which is fraught with danger.
The duty of care and the safety for the players should be paramount in any decision made.

The game of tennis on wet courts changes dramatically.
• The balls become wet and heavy resulting in a lower bounce
• The serve becomes a larger weapon as the ball is hard to return
• Player movement is dramatically reduced as the uncertainty in regard to footing increases.

The majority of competitions have a temperature or wet bulb factor where all matches are cancelled due to the heat and/or humidity.
Players however are affected by the heat and/or humidity at a variety of temperatures and players tire more quickly as a result.

Tactics to use in the heat
• Try to shorten the rallies by going for winners or coming in to the net to use the volley to finish the point earlier.
• Make your opponent run around the court – hit side to side - to tire them
• Rally with higher loopy balls to help you recover your position on the court
• Take time between points and at the change of ends
• Drink water to avoid dehydration
• Stand in the shade whenever possible

Players should try to focus on the match at hand.
The playing conditions can have a negative effect on the mental attitude of most Tennis players.

The weather conditions whether it is the wind, rain, sun, darkness or the heat is the same for both players during the match.
The extent that you allow them to effect you can be the difference between winning a match in trying conditions or losing a winnable match.

Tennis the game of a lifetime whatever the conditions

Check out my previous coaching tips on my website.
Send me an Email if you have any comments.

Coach Steve