Winter can be a tough time for tennis players. Cold weather, shorter days, and potentially icy or wet courts can make it difficult to keep up with your training, and players can get demoralised quickly. However, with the right mindset and some adjustments to your routine, you can maintain your skills and even improve during the winter months. Here are some tips for staying sharp on the tennis court during the winter season.
It’s important to realize that keeping supple, fit and sharp will give you an edge going into the season ahead. Embrace the seasons and don’t get down about the fact that the weather is turning colder. If you can keep positive, keep training and keep hitting balls then you’ll come out of the winter as a stronger player than any fellow clubmates who have not bothered to do much over winter at all.
Dress in layers
One of the keys to staying comfortable and performing your best during winter tennis training is to dress in layers. This will help you regulate your body temperature and stay warm without overheating.
- Start with a base layer of moisture-wicking material to keep your skin dry (merino wool is awesome for this).
- Add a middle layer of insulation, like a fleece or thermal top, to trap heat and provide warmth.
- Finally, top it off with a water/wind-resistant outer layer to protect against the elements if you are planning on being outside in very cold or wet conditions.
- Don’t forget about your head and feet. These areas are where much of your body heat will be lost, especially when standing around in-between activities, so it’s important to keep them covered and warm. Wear a hat or headband to cover your ears (wind chill can be vicious on ears!) For your feet, wear moisture-wicking socks.
- Don’t wear gloves when holding your racket, unless it’s ridiculously cold in which case I’d suggest that you should be playing/training inside anyway. If you wear gloves when playing you’ll not get the right feel, and could end up developing bad habits or slight tweaks in your playing that could be hard to remove in the warmer months.
- Be prepared to adjust your clothing as needed. The key to staying comfortable while playing tennis in the winter is to dress in those layers that you can easily add or remove as needed. As I’ve said, start with a base layer and a middle layer, and bring an extra outer layer that you can put on if it gets cold. Be aware of your heat levels and be prepared to adjust your clothing as you go to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
Warm up properly
Warming up is even more important in the winter than in warmer seasons. Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury, so take the time to properly prepare your body for exercise. Start with a few minutes of light cardiovascular activity, like jogging or jumping jacks, to get your blood flowing. Then move on to dynamic stretches, like arm circles and leg swings, to loosen up your muscles. Finally, hit a few balls against a wall or with a partner to get a feel for playing and start to elevate your heart rate.
Take advantage of indoor facilities
If the weather outside is truly frightful, don’t let it keep you from getting your training indoors. Many tennis clubs and facilities have indoor courts that can provide a more controlled environment for practicing and playing. Not only will these courts be free of snow and ice, but they’ll also likely be heated too. Playing indoors can help you focus more on technique and strategy, since you won’t have to deal with battling the elements or additional clothing.
Adjust your expectations
While it’s important to maintain your training routine during the winter, it’s also important to be realistic about what you can accomplish in less-than-ideal conditions. Don’t expect to hit the same number of balls or run the same number of laps as you would in the summer. Instead, focus on quality over quantity and concentrate on the specific skills and techniques that you want to improve. By setting more modest goals and being patient with yourself, you’ll be able to make progress without overdoing it or risking injury.
Video playback can be a helpful tool for tennis players of all skill levels, at any time of year but they can be especially valuable during the winter months when it’s harder to get outside and practice. Consider using a tennis ball machine to work on your footwork and shot-making abilities, and video yourself while you do it if you can.
I highly recommend making use of the camera on your smartphone together with a tripod to video yourself. You can then pause, slow down the footage, break down your technique and identify areas for improvement. You’ll want a tripod that is compact and easy to carry around, but one that can also elevate your phone nicely to the best height for observing your moves. I’ve tried a few and I highly recommend this tripod (available from Amazon).
Mix up your training routine
- Focus on your footwork and agility. During the winter months, the courts may be slick and slippery, so it’s important to work on your footwork and agility to maintain your balance and movement on the court.
- Practice your serves indoors. If you can’t get to an outdoor court, you can still work on your serve by practicing indoors. Set up a net in a large, open space and focus on getting the ball over the net consistently.
- Use a ball machine. A ball machine can be a useful tool for practicing your shots and footwork during the winter. Set up the machine to simulate different types of shots and try to hit the balls consistently.
- Work on your mental game. In addition to physical training, it’s also important to work on your mental game during the winter months. Use visualization techniques to imagine yourself playing on the court, and try to stay focused and mentally sharp.
- Stay warm and comfortable. Finally, make sure you dress warmly and comfortably for your winter training sessions. Wear tactical layers of clothing (as described above) to stay warm and prevent injury.
I hope these tips are helpful for your winter training!
Learn to Hit a Forehand Like Roger Federer
If you want to jumpstart your forehand and play like the PROS, check out my 70+ page Tennis Ebook that will immediately show you how you can take your forehand to the next level.
The Modern Forehand Domination Ebook is guaranteed to improve your tennis technique, and increase power, topspin and accuracy of your tennis forehand!
Modern Tennis Forehand Ebook
Learn How to Hit a Forehand Like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic