What Equipment Does a Tennis Player Need?
Part of the beauty of tennis is that all you need to get started is a racquet and a pair of tennis shoes.
That being said, your racquet and shoes are also vital to your performance, from how well you return the ball to hitting shots with more power — which is why it’s worthwhile to make sure you’ve got the right equipment before hitting the court. Plus, there’s also a direct correlation between equipment and injury prevention.
“Using updated racquets and strings for both adult and junior players minimizes the possibility of injuries,” says Danny Ahn, CA tennis coach. “Not only does it keep you safe, but it enhances your tennis game and can propel you to the next level.”
Whether you’re a first-time player or just in the market for an upgrade, CA’s coaches are here to give you the low-down, from how much money you really need to spend to choosing the right string for optimal performance.
How to find the right racquet
There’s multiple things to consider when it comes to finding the right racquet, one factor being material type.
Aluminum and titanium racquets are starter options on the least expensive end of the spectrum. You can find one of these for just $20. If you’re planning to stick with tennis, however, it’s worthwhile to go with a higher-quality composite mixture that includes graphite, which helps with power, control and injury prevention.
“While you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars, using a racquet with higher-quality materials is definitely an investment that raises your game,” says Arun Pant, CA tennis assistant general manager. “With the less expensive options, you’ll need a new racquet much quicker.”
It’s also essential to make sure your racquet is suited for your size (including hand size), strength and skill level. Each racquet line has different models within each design, intended for a range of skill levels. So a beginner or intermediate player will generally want a wider head size for more ease in hitting the ball, while an advanced player with more control can benefit from a smaller head size.
Generally, it’s a good idea to upgrade at least every three years to keep up with the latest tennis racquet technology. Doing so also accounts for the fact that your racquet starts to break down the moment you first string it, much like when you drive a car off the lot.
Figuring out what type of racquet to choose can be daunting, but at CA, we’re happy to assist you with the entire process, from determining your grip size to putting on your overgrip. We carry the latest designs, including the Head Radical Pro, Head Radical MP, and Head Radical S, as well as good less expensive alternatives for newbies, such as the Head Graphene Laser which sells for $84.95.
“The new Head Radical Series has a new graphene 360+ technology in it. This means the graphite material they put in racquets, provides more balance and more control when you swing,” says Pant. “The MP is a little lighter with a smaller head size and denser string pattern, and is best for more advanced players.”
You’re welcome to come in and try out any of the racquets to see how they feel. If you find one you like, we’ll put in the order and get it delivered to Long Reach Tennis Club, so all you need to do is come in and pick it up.
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How does string affect your game?
If you’ve ever watched professional tennis, you’ve witnessed firsthand how often elite players change their racquets. This goes to show just how vital fresh strings are to your performance on the court.
It makes perfect sense when you think about it: With tension loss, there’s a feeling that your racquet has lost its punch or gotten ‘mushy.’ You want a crisper feel to play your best, so a good rule of thumb is to get them restrung as many times a year as you typically play per week. So if you play twice a week, a fresh string job two times a year will keep your racquet in good shape.
Now, what kind of string to get in the first place? There’s three primary types offered at Long Reach: synthetic gut, multifilament and polyester (aka “poly”). According to Pant, it’s ultimately about preference — you can’t necessarily go wrong, but it does help to know the pros and cons of each. Here’s the breakdown:
- Synthetic gut: Easiest on the arm, least expensive option, doesn’t last as long.
- Multifilament: A mid-priced option that gives you more power than synthetic gut, but is easier on the arm than polyester (most popular and best for the average tennis player).
- Poly: A stiff string that’s tougher on the arm, but gives you the most control. More expensive and highly durable (best for advanced players).
Having an expert help match you to the right string and tension is vital to getting the most out of your equipment. At Long Reach Tennis Club, we’re always happy to talk about all things string. We also string racquets ($38 for members using our string; $20 if you bring your own string).
A word on shoes & storage
It’s worth a mention that a good, sturdy pair of tennis shoes is just as important to injury prevention as an upgraded racquet. Regular running shoes scratch up both indoor and outdoor courts, and are also super unsafe.
“Tennis involves lots of lateral movements, which running shoes aren’t made for. This can put you at a huge risk of rolling your ankle,” says Pant. “Tennis shoes are more sturdy, durable and designed specifically to protect you from injury.”
Pant shared that both Nike and Adidas make phenomenal tennis shoes, and the previous year’s models can usually be found at Dick’s Sporting Goods for $60 or so. He also recommended tenniswarehouse.com as a great resource with amazing prices on bags, tennis shoes and other accessories.
Finally, Pant emphasized that proper storage is just as important as finding the right equipment. Make sure you store your racquet inside and avoid leaving it in a hot car or outdoors, where it’s exposed to the elements and will therefore lose its tension and otherwise deteriorate quicker than it should.
“At the end of the day, players don’t need to shell out a ton of money on equipment, but you do need to talk to a professional to make sure you have the right gear,” says Pant. “At CA, any of our coaches are always happy to help.”
Want to learn more about how CA’s tennis pros can help you advance your game? Learn more about our programs and facilities on our website!