Dealing with Windy and Cold Playing Conditions

Here are some tips to deal with less than ideal playing conditions.

For extremely windy playing conditions,

  1. Dig in and fight through it.  Be lively and active with your feet to put yourself in the best possible position to hit each shot.  This is particularly important in the wind based on the unpredictable nature of the ball flight and bounce.  Remind yourself that your opponent is experiencing the same conditions and potentially the same difficulties.
  2. Hit with a higher margin of error.  Hit predominantly cross court. Be particularly leery of hitting down-the-line “tightrope” passes.  Hit with more spin.
  3. Determine the direction of the wind and adjust your tactics accordingly. Take balls earlier on the bounce (on the rise) with a shorter backswing and close into the net when the wind is at your back.  Drive through the ball with an extended and full swing pattern and aim higher over the net when the wind is in your face (when you’re hitting into the wind).

On cold, frigid days (or when the mercury dips on the thermometer), recognize that everything tends to get slower and heavier. Heavy and dense cold air creates drag and slows down the flight of the ball making it more difficult to hit with pace. Racquets strings are also less resilient and responsive adding to the difficulties of generating pace on the ball. Ideas (tactics and strategies) to deal with the difficulties of cold weather include:

  1. Be positive and maintain a positive frame of mind. Recognize your opponent has to deal with the same difficult conditions.
  2. String your racquet with a lower tension and a higher gauge string to make your racquet more responsive.
  3. Hit your groundstrokes with slice (underspin and sidespin). Slice grabs the court and makes the ball bounce even lower in colder conditions which is particularly effective against opponents with more extreme grips.
  4. Use the drop shot. A well-hit drop shot in cold weather will not bounce as high or carry into the court.
  5. Get into the net. Lower bouncing balls will make it more difficult for your opponent to get underneath the ball to generate topspin and pass you with low, dropping shots. In colder conditions, you will generally see more passing shot attempts hit higher over the net and up into strike zone.
  6. In rally situations, relax and hit through the ball with a complete swing to generate more racquet head speed.  Hit high over the net to get depth and penetration with your shots. Players with more compact strokes (and slower swing speeds) tend to lack depth on colder days.
  7. Be patient and work the point with longer, more extended rallies and point patterns. Be prepared to hit more shots to earn each point.

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