by Staff Writer
Tennis is a game of precision and skill. That means the tennis equipment you use has a big effect on where the ball goes. If you want to be good at tennis or other racquet sports, just like in other sports and fitness activities, you must have the tennis gear and clothing that suit your game. This tennis equipment buying guide will help you understand what you need.
Tennis racquets: A tennis racquet is the most important and most costly piece of tennis equipment you will buy, so you want to be sure you're buying one that's right for you. One good way to decide which tennis racquet you want is to decide what sort of player you are. Are you a beginner or a more advanced player? If you are a beginner, the choice becomes pretty simple: You probably want a pre-strung tennis racquet with a large head (large heads have larger sweet spots and make it easier to hit the ball). If you are a more advanced player, do you place more value on control or power? If you're a finesse player and control is a primary concern for you, then you'll probably want a large tennis racket with looser strings that complements your style of play by adding power to your stroke. If you're a power player, a tennis racket with a smaller head and tight strings can help you control your powerful shots.
Tennis balls: Tennis balls don't affect your game quite like tennis rackets do, but you still want tennis balls that match the kind of tennis you play. Pressurized tennis balls, ones filled with air, are the standard ball used by most tennis players, and with good reason. They offer good bounce and are durable enough to last for several matches. If you play on hard courts and you want your pressurized tennis balls to last longer, get extra-duty felt tennis balls. Pressureless tennis balls have a thicker rubber shell than pressurized balls, which gives them a similar amount of bounce as a pressurized ball -- similar, but not the same. Tennis players usually say that pressureless tennis balls feel "woody," and they sometimes take more spin than pressurized balls. However, pressureless balls last much longer than pressurized balls; in fact, they actually gain more bounce as they lose felt.
Tennis shoes: In some instances, the term "tennis shoes" is used to classify any kind of athletic shoe. However, basketball shoes, running shoes and football cleats don't work very well for the game of tennis. Tennis shoes are designed to give you sure footing on hard courts. You make a lot of direction changes in tennis, and you do quite a bit of starting and stopping. The outsole of a tennis shoe should be relatively flat and stable. Since tennis is a game that involves a lot of lateral movement, the soles of tennis shoes should be wider than those of a running shoe to prevent rolling your ankle. Likewise, the insole should provide plenty of support and cushioning, but it shouldn't slope down to the toe like a running shoe. Sloping insoles only cause your feet to slip inside the shoe every time you stop, and there is nothing worse than your toes constantly jamming into the front of your shoe whenever you change direction on the tennis court.
Tennis apparel: Tennis apparel should be breathable while allowing you to move uninhibitedly. Most tennis clothes these days are made of synthetic fabrics. The fabrics are lightweight and help wick moisture away from the body. Tennis may not require as much constant running as basketball and soccer, but by the time you get near the end of that second set, you'll be feeling the heat and grateful for lightweight, cool tennis clothing. Tennis shirts should be made from breathable material and offer complete freedom of movement. Some men's tennis shirts will even have patches of mesh for extra ventilation. Tennis shorts and tennis skirts should be breathable, but should also be made from more durable material than tennis shirts. When you try on tennis shorts or skirts, you should not feel like your movement is restricted at all.
Tennis bags: Once you have all the right tennis equipment, you'll need something to carry it in. A regular duffel or gym bag may work in a pinch for carrying your tennis gear, but a tennis bag specifically designed to carry your tennis racket and other equipment will work much better. If you just want something simple to protect your tennis racket, you can get a tennis bag that zips over the head of the racket, leaving the handle exposed. If you want a bag that carries not only your tennis racket, but also your tennis shoes and maybe a tennis outfit, then a larger tennis bag with straps will work well for you.
Tennis training equipment: As with any sport, practice will make more difference in your tennis game than any piece of tennis equipment you can buy. However, you can buy tennis gear that will help you make the most of your practice. Tennis gear that uses elastic bands to help you improve the power of your stroke or tennis practice nets that allow you to practice at home can help you make the most of your practice time and take your tennis game to the next level.