I’ve met a lot of people over the years who say they want to learn how to play tennis. You don’t have to be a pro to enjoy a friendly match of racket-swinging. Tennis can be played year-round, indoors or out. That’s a good thing because regular bouts can improve strength, cardiovascular fitness, agility, and balance.

When heading to the courts, a well-stocked tennis bag could be the difference between enjoying or despising your session. While everyone has their own needs on the court, there are certain essential items that everyone needs to have.

1) Decent racket

Now, of course, you need a tennis court and a racket to play with, but your choice of both could determine what you get out of the time and effort you put in.

There are a lot of different tennis racquets out there. Some are really cheap and some can be quite expensive. My suggestion for the beginner is to go with a decent but budget friendly racquet.

tennis racket

The key to finding the racquet that’s right for you is to focus on its size. If you consider yourself to be a little small, go with a racquet that’s about 25 inches long. If you’re built relatively well, 28 inches is the right choice. {Racquets designed for kids can be as short as 17 inches long}

How much should you spend? The answer here is, as much as you feel comfortable with. Don’t go too miserly and get a cheap racket that might break on the first day and ruin your experience. But that doesn’t mean you should splurge on an expensive pro level racket and make it harder for yourself as they are harder to master for beginners.

2) Playing Court

Obviously, having a stable court surface is key to help you play freely without the risk of injuring yourself when taking the inevitable misstep. Clay

courts are universally considered to be lighter on the legs as they are softer and the ball travels much slower than other types of court surfaces.

In case you get confused by all those white lines painted all over the court, here’s a primer to get your doubts sorted out:

3) Tennis Balls

You should have at least 5 tennis balls on hand, but it might be a good idea to keep more than that if you’re just starting out. Chances are you’ll hit a few over the fence and you don’t want to be chasing balls all day instead of playing.

babolat tennis balls

Decent tennis balls are really inexpensive. Stick with whatever is cheapest since you’re not going to be hitting them at 200 kph.

4) Footwear

Wear tennis sneakers that provide good support to your legs. Other athletic shoes may be OK for the beginner, but they might wear out too quickly, hurt your feet, or damage the court and it’s definitely worth looking into tennis shoes if you plan on playing more than once.

Most tennis shoes have a lot of grip on the bottoms of the shoes, which is necessary because you’ll be involved in a lot of stop-and-go situations. Tennis shoes have a herringbone tread made to withstand side-to-side movement and will protect the toes of the wearer. After all, you’ll be dragging your toe, especially when it comes time to serve.

tennis shoes intermediate

Avoid black soles, as these can permanently mark the court, and be aware that most courts won’t allow you on without wearing acceptable footwear.

Choose socks made from synthetic fabrics rather than cotton, as these will help keep your feet dry and prevent blisters. For added support, you might want to consider wearing two pairs of socks or specially padded tennis socks.

Check out: Starting To Learn Tennis? Go Purchase These Shoes

5) Stay hydrated

Don’t be too shy to bring liquids to the court. It’s a smart idea to bring plenty of water or sports drink to the court. Even mild dehydration can affect your concentration, emotions and how quickly you fatigue. More importantly, it’s simply unsafe to get dehydrated during exercise.

Muscle cramps tend to occur even for the greatest of athletes when they get dehydrated. Your beginner self, therefore, has no immunity to this nature of the human body.

6) Bring a towel!

A towel is always good to have in your bag. It helps with sweat management, and if you need to stretch out after your match on a hot court or a grassy lawn. If you slip and fall on the clay and need to wipe yourself off, it could also come in very handy.

7) First aid kit

It’s always good to have some medical essentials in your racket bag – athletic tape, pre-wrap, Neosporin (or some other antiseptic), Ibuprofen and maybe medication for pre-existing medical conditions like allergies. Everyone might be a little different in what they need, but these essentials will cover almost anything.

Another great thing to keep is an ankle brace. In case you roll an ankle, throwing these on your injured ankle will replicate a tape job from a trainer and help you get out of a painful situation.

Icing down sore, achy muscles and joints can greatly help your post-match recovery and prevent small injuries from becoming big. Keeping an ice pack and wrap in your bag just makes it easy and not a hassle. After a match, instead of having to worry about finding a bag to put ice in, and figuring out how to keep it on you, you can use the ice bag and wrap, so it’s easy for you.

8) Warm up and safety checks

As with any sport, staying in shape will help your game and help you prevent injuries. This means getting plenty of exercises and eating right year round. Also, as with all sports, you should warm-up and stretch before playing tennis.

warm up

Do some jumping jacks or run in place for a minute or two to warm up your muscles, and then stretch your arms, wrists, shoulders, and legs.

Inspect the court where you will be playing before you start. If it’s a hard court, be sure there are no cracks or holes that might trip you up. Be sure there are no loose tennis balls or other objects on or near the court. If you plan to play at night, be sure the court is well lit. And never play on a wet court, regardless of whether it’s a hard court, soft court, or grass court. Even the slightest amount of moisture on a court will make it slippery — and that can lead to injury.

Read: 3 Things You Shouldn’t Forget While Buying Your Tennis Racket

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Aurobindo Dharsaun

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