Types of Tennis Court Surfaces
In most cases there are two categories that tennis court surfaces fall into; slow courts and fast courts. A slow court is generally made out of clay, like your typical park court. The ground of these surfaces creates more friction which slows down the pace of the ball when it hits the surface. A fast court is typically an indoor carpeted surface, grass, or artificial grass. These surfaces allow the ball to bounce more quickly. Different court surfaces require some slightly unique play style adjustments on the part of the player.
Tennis Court Strategies
On a fast court you will want to take shorter backswings. Since the ball will have more power, you won’t have to generate a lot of force yourself. The points will be quick on this type of court, which requires you to play the game in front of you. Using slices and the continental grip will definitely help in this type of play.
The strategy for play will be much different on a slower court. Being fit is critical on this surface. These rallies will be longer, which will mean more running and use of the entire body to generate a good pace. Faster courts will require you to twist your whole body to generate power, because the ball is losing a lot of its power when it hits the floor. You will typically get a better spin when the ball bites the surface of a slow court floor. Due to the slow speed of the ball, remember to keep the ball deep to prevent yourself from getting attacked by your opponent. A good strategy on slow courts is using topspins and hitting the ball high over the net, which creates a bounce over the opponent’s baseline.
Other Factors to Consider
If you are playing outdoors, weather can really affect the game. Windy conditions can make it feel as if you’re playing on a slow court on one side of the court and on a fast court at the other end. Hitting into the wind requires you to hit the ball harder than usual. Keeping the ball lower over the net and using topspin are great strategies to keep the ball under control in these conditions.
Heat can also affect the way the ball moves. The ball will move through the air quicker on a hot day. Hitting the ball well out in front will help you. If the air is cold, the bounce of the ball can feel a bit dead. You’ll need to bend your knees more and stay close to the net.
Rain and moisture on the other hand can make the ball heavy. You will want to make contact with the ball in front of you in this case. Keeping points short will help prevent a sore elbow from hitting wet tennis balls.
Changing it Up
If you don’t have a fast surface, you can mimic the effect by hitting as the ball is rising. Playing in front of yourself will also help. Remember you should always be able to see your racquet. Have a partner throw balls to you as you stand with your back to the fence, this will help prevent you from using your backswing. To practice your slow court game, stand about a meter behind the baseline, and really use your whole body when you take a shot. Keeping an open stance will really help you twist from the legs.
Taking all of these factors into consideration when playing will help you adapt to different variants on the court. If you need help adjusting your game to a specific court surface, Elysium Tennis offers lessons and leagues which can really help improve your game.