When preparing for a tennis match, or competition, players will plan for every possible outcome to make sure they are able to cope with all scenarios. There is, however, one thing you cannot account for, the weather. The uncontrollable nature of the weather presents a number of different challenges that tennis players must overcome to make sure they can perform to the best of their ability.
Below we’ve highlighted some of the most notable ways the weather can impact a tennis match and how athletes can adapt to the environment. In reality, the weather can have a pronounced impact on a players mind, body and gear.
Wind is one of the hardest weather conditions for tennis players to cope with as it can impact the game in a variety of different ways.
High wind can throw off the toss of your serve, making it much harder to control the shot and further potentially reducing the success of your serve. Additionally when playing into the wind shots require more power to achieve the desired outcome meaning the player much focus on hitting the ball harder, something that can reduce the accuracy of the shot.
On the other hand, playing with the wind behind requires less power but the player must use more topspin for greater control over the shot.
Wind is unpredictable. To succeed in windy conditions, tennis players must bring energy with active feet, maintain focus and positive mindset throughout especially knowing gusty conditions will inevitably affect points in unexpected ways.
Most athletes will have experienced the problems surrounding competing in high temperatures at some point during their careers.
Standing in the midsummer sun for 3 hours can be hard enough, let alone sprinting across a tennis court in it. Therefore, players need to be smart and conserve their energy for key moments throughout the match on extremely hot days.
Playing tennis on an August afternoon in Texas, and other Southern states can be brutal with 105F (41C) air temperatures and, with radiant heat from the hard court, 120F (49C) playing conditions. Severe dehydration is a distinct possibility and special measures need to be taken to survive.
However, it is not only the athletes that are impacted by a rise, or drop, in temperature, tennis balls will also act differently when the weather changes. Due to the fact that tennis balls are hollow when the temperature rises the gas inside expands, causing the ball to bounce higher. In addition to this, a rise in temperature can cause the ball to skid across the surface meaning the game is played at a higher pace. Players with a strong forehand often prefer the warmer weather as they are able to make the most of the higher bounce and quicker surface.
As is the case with an increase in temperature, high levels of humidity impact both the playing conditions and the athlete. An increase in humidity means that there is more water in the air, making it harder for sweat to evaporate which in turn leads to an increase in body temperature. This causes the game to feel ‘heavier’ as your body works harder to try and cool itself down, which can lead to dehydration and exhaustion within athletes.
Humidity can also impact the air density, which will affect the flight of the ball, as well as the court surface however these effects are often very minimal and a will usually cancel each other out.
The impact of weather on tennis strings
Most professional players will have various different racquets during a match which allow them to quickly alter their game if the weather was to change dramatically. The elasticity of tennis strings reacts depending on the weather conditions. Colder weather requires a lower tension to enable more power to be generated from a shot. When the temperature rises players often tighten their strings to compensate to provide more control.
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