Have you ever seen pro tennis players on TV walk out onto a tennis court, and wondered what they could possibly be carrying in those enormous bags they have slung over their shoulders? To someone unfamiliar with the game, tennis bags look big enough to hold everything you’d need to pack for a week-long vacation, with room to spare. It’s hard to imagine needing that much bag space just to go run after a fuzzy yellow ball for a few hours.
Now, we’ll let you in on a little secret: tennis pros have all kinds of unusual stuff in their court-side luggage that no mere tennis mortal would ever really need.
But, the pros also carry plenty of gear that all tennis players should always have with them whenever they walk onto the court. You or your favorite tennis player may not need a bag quite as big as Roger Federer’s or Serena Williams’s to hold your gear, but at any skill level, these are the items you should always bring or plan to wear, to your next match or hitting session.
There was a time when you would not dare step onto a tennis court wearing anything but all-white. Most (though not all) tennis facilities these days have long since done away with those kinds of dress codes in favor of letting you wear whatever feels most comfortable, so long as your footwear does not damage or mark the court surface.
Still, making the right choices about what to wear on the tennis court can improve your game, protect you from injury, and keep you feeling (and looking) cool. Let’s start from the ground up.
Tennis is a footwork sport full of sprinting, stopping, and changing direction. For that reason, in our opinion, tennis shoes rank equally in importance with tennis racquets (see below) when it comes to choosing them with care.
Must-have features of a good tennis shoe include:
- A wide footprint maximizes contact with the court surface to facilitate quick stops and direction changes.
- Durable, non-marking sole material.
- Extra sole material at the toe.
- Ample ankle support.
In a pinch, basketball sneakers or cross-trainers can work on a tennis court, so long as they don’t leave marks or chew up the surface. But if you play more than once per year, investing in good tennis shoes can enhance your enjoyment of the game.
Make sure to choose an athletic sock. Athletic socks play an important role in your tennis game and the right socks will feel much more comfortable and help you avoid blisters while keeping your feet dry. It can also help to pack an extra pair. Changing from sweaty to dry socks can help minimize blisters, and just feels great after a long match.
Shorts, sweats, skirts, skorts, or leggings…so long as they have pockets.
Choose for comfort through a full range of lower-body motions like knee-bending, jumping, and sprinting. Just remember, you’ll need a pocket large enough to hold at least one extra tennis ball.
Wear one, pack another to change into. Comfort through a full range of upper-body motion takes priority. Favor high-tech fabrics that wick moisture and keep you cool over cotton, which retains moisture like a sponge.
Headwear serves multiple purposes on-court. It collects sweat. It shades your eyes from the sun. It holds your hair. And, it can serve as a psychological tool to change your on-court attitude. Never go onto the court without at least having the option of putting on (or taking off) a hat, visor, or headband.
To keep your racket hand dry and to give you an option for mopping sweat from your brow.
Essential Tennis Equipment
With your apparel squared away, you are ready to play in comfort…so long as you also bring the following tennis gear with you to the court:
The numerous considerations that go into choosing a racquet are the subject of a different blog post. We do, however, encourage anyone above the level of total beginner to carry two identical rackets with them when they play, so that if the strings on one break (which is pretty common for regular players) you have a backup that feels and plays the same.
Tennis racquet grips wear out long before the racquet themselves. To alleviate the hassle of swapping out the grips themselves, players often wrap their grips in thin, disposable grip tape, such as Tourna-Grip, that lasts a few matches and is easy and inexpensive to remove and replace.
Great to have on changeovers to dry off, or to soak in ice water for extra cooling on a hot day.
A can or two of new(ish) tennis balls
“Dead” (or flat) tennis balls are no fun. They barely bounce, and they wreak havoc on the strings of your racquet. Always carry tennis balls that have little-to-no give when you squeeze them.
Hydration is essential in any athletic activity, but especially on court surfaces that reflect heat. This is a tennis gear must-have!
It’s no fun getting a sunburn on-court. It’s also no fun to have sunscreen run into your eyes in the middle of a rally.
The tennis bag
You thought we were going to forget this one, didn’t you? Sure, you can throw everything you need for your next match into a tote bag, and it’ll do just fine. But, a purpose-made tennis bag with separate compartments for racquets, apparel, and other essentials keeps your gear organized and always easy to find. Plus, when you step onto the court, someone might just wonder what secret equipment you have hiding in there.
Find Essential Tennis Gear and More at Omega Sports
To get geared up for your upcoming tennis season, visit us at OmegaSports.com. We have the essential tennis equipment you need for all of your Active-Play needs.