What Equipment Do You Need to Play Tennis?
Tennis is designed along universal principles. The court measurements are identical throughout the world. Play takes place on grass, hard courts, clay or indoor carpet. The variable throughout the history of tennis has been the equipment players use. Fashion, graphite rackets and heavier balls all have helped the game develop alongside the improving strengths and demands of players.
Rackets are the most technical pieces of equipment used in tennis. The two most important racquet qualities for most players are control and power. Advanced players are more interested in control since they possess more developed power skills.
The spot on the racquet that best hits the ball is called its sweet spot. Less energy is lost and more control is generated when the ball connects to the sweet spot. Large-headed rackets have bigger sweet spots, which is one reason they are preferred by beginners.
The tennis racket has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. The racket frame, originally made from wood, is now constructed from lighter, long-lasting, man-made materials. You can choose between a frame made from aluminum or graphite.
The weight and thickness of the frame should reflect the size and strength of the player. You will be able to extract more power with a heavier racket, but you will tire quicker than a player using a racket suited to his weight and strength. The only tried and tested method for selecting a racket is trial and error.
The materials used to string a racket are nylon, or titanium in some advanced rackets. The strings run horizontally and vertically through the frame. They can be strung at a number of different tensions depending on the type of player using the racket.
The importance of racket string can’t be underestimated; its task is to connect with the ball and send it back across the net with precision. String type also has an impact on racket power, control, and spin. It can effect a player's wrist and arm, either protecting against or causing fatigue.
The most widely-used string types include:
- natural gut: which is widely considered the best option for power, control and injury prevention
- synthetic string with a solid core: which gives a racquet inexpensive control and playability
- synthetic string with multifilament construction: which is an economical version of natural gut string.
All rackets have a recommended string tension range. Adjusting strings to the low end of the range will result in long shots, while the high end of the range results in short shots.
According to doIttennis.com, “the wrong string type and inappropriate tension can make a $250 racket feel like a wooden club even to the most skilled of players.”
When including the handle, the tennis racket must not measure more than 29 inches in length. The width of the frame cannot exceed 12.5 inches. The length of the hitting surface, from the top of the frame to the top of the handle, must not exceed 15.5 inches. The width of the hitting surface is restricted to 11.5 inches, meaning the frame itself cannot be made thicker than one inch.
The Tennis Ball
Made from a hollow rubber core, the tennis ball is required, for tournament play, to be yellow or white on the outside. The International Tennis Federation requires the ball measure between 2.5 inches and 2.63 inches in diameter. It also must bounce between 53 and 58 inches after being dropped from a height of 100 inches.
The more a tennis ball is used, the slower it flies through the air, and the less it bounces.
In adherence to the strict regulations of tennis balls’ physical characteristics, the ITF has approved approximately 200 brands for play. And the industry has come up with numerous different tennis balls that are meant to interact with the court on which they’re used.
Since distinct court materials play fast or slow, balls are chosen based on court type. For example, in 1989, tennis balls were introduced for specific use on high-altitude courts. There are 3 types:
- Type 1 balls are harder, faster and newer to the game; they’re reserved for courts made of materials known to slow ball speed.
- Type 2 balls are standard, useable on any type of court and in any location.
- Type 3 balls are slightly larger and slower, and utilized on courts known to speed up the game.
There is no restriction on what players can wear when playing tennis, apart from the Wimbledon championships in England, where players are still required to wear all-white clothing.
Comfort should be a major consideration when selecting clothing.
White was traditionally used because it reflects the sun and keeps the player cooler, although as technological sportswear has developed, this theory has been rendered irrelevant. Cotton has been replaced by advanced fabrics that include Dri-Fit or ClimaLite technology that keep away moisture and help the player feel dry.
Select a pair of shorts or training pants that have pockets. Players always keep one or two spare tennis balls on their person when serving to save time and retain fluency.
Based in North Wales, U.K., Daniel Rhodes has been writing since 2006. He has worked in education, using extreme/outdoor sports to treat behavioral difficulties in young people, and his articles have appeared in "Tudno Sport" and "Inside Welsh Sport." Rhodes has a Bachelor of Arts in politics from Bangor University.