Tag Archives for " racquets "

1 TFP 050: Babolat Racquet and Strings Review with Allan Iverson

TFP 050: Babolat Racquet and Strings Review with Allan Iverson

On today’s episode I spoke with Allan Iverson, Babolat’s Sales Representative in Southern California and the 2014 Tennis Industry Sales Rep of the Year.  Allan and I discussed the history of Babolat, the best approach to choosing racquets and strings, and improvements in tennis technology over the past few decades.  

In addition to his job with Babolat, Allan is also a USPTA P-1 teaching pro with more than two decades of experience.  In 2012, he was Babolat’s National Salesperson of the Year.  Allan travels far and wide, including a recent trip to China, to help enrich the tennis industry’s knowledge about the latest products that Babolat has to offer.  He has become such a wealth of information that one of Allan’s bosses recently said “his knowledge of the brand is better than anybody I have worked with.”  Allan is no slouch on the court either; he played number one at his high school and all 4 years at Christ College of Irvine.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Allan!  If you have an interest in racquets, strings (which tennis player doesn’t?), and tennis products in general, you will really like this episode. Choosing the right equipment for your game is crucial, and whether or not you go with Babolat products, you will learn a ton from Allan about what is available and how to determine what is best for your game.  I use Babolat racquets and strings and highly recommend them.  There are a ton of choices out there, and this episode will help you narrow down the playing field.  Thanks for listening!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [3:35] How Allan became a highly respected sales rep for Babolat
  • [5:20] The farthest that he has ever traveled to promote the Babolat brand
  • [6:46] Allan’s favorite thing about being a Babolat sales manager?
  • [7:56] What are 3 things most of the world doesn’t know about Allan?
  • [9:30] When, where and how was Babolat founded?
  • [12:47] What was Babolat’s first breakthrough product?
  • [14:22] Which pro has done the most to further Babolat’s brand out of all the players, past and present, on the tour?
  • [17:33] What is Babolat’s most successful racquet line of all time?
  • [19:24] The difference between the European and American approach of making products
  • [21:29] Longest tenured pro with Babolat
  • [22:27] Tips for playtesting racquets and racquets in Babolat’s line that players should demo
  • [25:31] What does the VS stand for in the VS Aero Pro line of racquets?
  • [26:56] The new iteration of the Pure Control
  • [28:03] What does the 16×20 string pattern do to a racquet’s feel/power/control?
  • [29:19] What types of racquets in Babolat’s line are best suited for certain types of players?
  • [31:17] The Pure Strike racquet that Dominic Thiem uses
  • [32:04] Pure Aero VS racquet review
  • [34:03] Allan’s take on the racquet
  • [34:50] Pure Strike 100 racquet review
  • [36:48] Allan’s take on the Pure Strike
  • [38:34] Pure Strike Team 100 racquet review
  • [41:01] What racquets would Allan recommend our audience try, being that most of our audience is between a 3.5-4.5 NTRP level
  • [42:04] The racquet that Allan uses
  • [43:19] How much has the Pure Aero changed since it first came on the market?
  • [46:59] How long do frames normally “last” for before they decline in performance and the one thing that wears out your racquet the most
  • [50:57] RPM Blast Rough strings review
  • [52:23] Allan’s insight on RPM Blast Rough
  • [55:23] Does color of string make a difference in the string’s performance, and the process of making different types of strings
  • [57:36] Hybrid – RPM Blast / VS Touch strings review
  • [1:01:33] Full vs half poly in the Aero Pro
  • [1:03:44] Stringing with electric machines and other string choices
  • [1:07:26] Best practices for stringing racquets
  • [1:10:32] What string does Allan recommend 3.5-4.5 NTRP level players use, and how does this recommendation vary with other parameters (age, type of player, etc)?
  • [1:11:47] How do we choose between 15L, 16, 17, and 18 gauge string?
  • [1:13:27] Why Nadal plays with 15L gauge string.
  • [1:14:18] What’s one thing about strings that players get wrong when choosing them
  • [1:15:15] If Allan had to choose one racquet to represent the Babolat brand, which one would it be?
  • [1:18:29] Babolat’s new solar powered bag that they haven’t been able to get into the U.S yet
  • [1:19:28] What wearable technology does Babolat have for tennis players?
  • [1:21:33] What is the new Babolat App and what are its features?
  • [1:25:05] Where can we get the Babolat App?
  • [1:26:21] What racquet models are compatible with connecting with the Babolat app?
  • [1:27:59] What sources would you recommend to our audience to enhance their knowledge of tennis racquets and strings?
  • [1:29:54] One piece of advice for the audience on how we can improve our tennis games (racquet/string related).
  • [1:32:43] Types of grips (i.e. replacement grips vs overgrips, tacky vs absorbent, thin vs thick, etc.) that we can use
  • [1:35:09] Where can we follow Allan and Babolat?

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Links Mentioned in the Show

http://www.babolat.com

Babolat Pop Sensor

Babolat App

Pure Aero VS

Pure Strike 100

RPM Blast Rough

Hybrid – VS Gut / RPM Blast 

United States Racquet Stringers Association 

The Tennis Files Podcast Ep. 18 – How to Choose the Right Strings for Your Tennis Game

Tennis Technique Summit

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Allan, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

TFP 038: How to Choose a Racquet with Wilson Sales Manager Preston Lemon

TFP 038: How to Choose a Racquet with Wilson Sales Manager Preston Lemon

On today’s episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Preston Lemon, a Territory Sales Manager for Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Preston, a former college tennis player at Virginia Tech, joined me on the podcast to give you some fantastic tips on how to choose the best tennis racquet for your game.

Afterwards, we examined 6 of Wilson’s newest racquets on the market: the Blade 18×20 Countervail, Blade 16×19 Countervail, Blade 98S (Spin) Countervail, Pro Staff 97, Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph, and the Ultra 100.

Preston and I spoke about each racquet’s specs and then discussed our experiences playing with them. Preston was kind enough to send me the six racquets above to playtest, and I have really enjoyed hitting with Wilson’s latest sticks.

In addition to the racquets, Preston also sent me several packets of Luxilon 4g string 125mm and Wilson Revolve 16g strings.  We gave our thoughts on the 4g and Revolve as well.

I really appreciate Preston coming onto the show, and for sending me the latest Wilson racquets and strings to playtest.  Preston has been a pleasure to work with, and I can only hope that the majority of racquet reps are as good as he is at what he does!

Tune in to Episode 38 of The Tennis Files Podcast to enhance your knowledge about racquets and find out which one of them is our hands down favorite!  This episode will help you learn how to choose the best racquet for your game, and whether one of Wilson’s racquets may be right for you.

Here’s a short video of me hitting with the 18×20 Blade:

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [2:49] How Preston became a Sales Manager for Wilson
  • [4:49] What Preston loves the most about being a Wilson Rep
  • [5:59] Three things most of the world doesn’t know about Preston
  • [8:03] How should players approach choosing the right racquet for their game?
  • [9:53] Ideal racquets based on your style of play (baseliners, serve-and-volleyers, etc.)
  • [12:16] What does flex mean in a tennis racquet?
  • [14:07] The impact of weight in a tennis racquet
  • [14:38] Should beginners use a bigger head size?
  • [16:00] Heady-heavy vs head light racquets
  • [17:53] How much do strings affect the playability of a racquet?
  • [19:50] Blade 18×20 Countervail review
  • [24:02] How does the new Blade compare with the older version?
  • [24:37] Countervail technology in the new Blade racquets
  • [26:21] Blade 16×19 Countervail review
  • [29:10] Blade 98S (Spin) Countervail review
  • [32:49] Pro Staff 97 review
  • [38:25] Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph review
  • [42:58] Ultra 100 review
  • [46:44] Other racquets in Wilson’s lineup
  • [48:24] A funny story about receiving the racquets
  • [49:13] Wilson’s relationship with Luxilon
  • [49:55] Luxilon 4g string 125mm review
  • [53:56] Wilson Revolve 16g string review
  • [55:49] Resources to enhance your knowledge about racquets and strings
  • [57:20] One key tip to help you improve your tennis game
  • [58:43] Where can we follow Wilson’s products

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Blade 18×20 Countervail

Blade 16×19 Countervail 

Blade 98S (Spin) Countervail

Pro Staff 97

Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph

Ultra 100

Luxilon 4g string 125mm

Wilson Revolve 16g string

Wilson Homepage

Wilson’s Twitter (@wilsontennis), Instagram, and Facebook pages

Note: Several of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!

If you enjoyed my interview about racquets with Preston, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success eBook below! Thanks for listening!

2 TFP 018: How to Choose the Right Strings for Your Game with Tim Strawn

TFP 018: How to Choose The Right Strings for Your Tennis Game with Tim Strawn

Today’s guest on The Tennis Files Podcast is master racquet technician Tim Strawn. Tim is the Executive Director of The International Alliance of Racquet Technicians. He has an extensive amount of stringing and racquet knowledge, and has strung racquets at some of the best professional tournaments in the world, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Sony Ericsson Open.

Tim created the grandslamstringers.com website and message board, which evolved into the International Alliance of Racquet Technicians. He also put together the annual IART Symposium to bring all those currently working or interested in the racquet and string industry together to enhance their knowledge and expertise. Tim was also the Racquet Sports Industry’s 2007 Stringer of the Year.

Tim was kind enough to tell us how we can choose the right strings to suit our racquet and our tennis game. He went into detail about the different types of strings, the right tension and gauge to have them strung, and common pitfalls that stringers and players make when stringing their racquets. This episode is a must listen for anyone who wants to optimize their string setup and play better tennis.

On this episode, you will learn:

  • The 5 types of tennis strings
  • The effects of tension and string thickness on your game
  • Why the 10% rule doesn’t work for polyester strings
  • The role of racquet technicians and how they can help your game
  • How stringing works at the biggest professional tournaments in the world
  • Tim’s favorite polyester, synthetic gut, natural gut, and multifilament strings
  • What strings and tensions the pros use in their racquets
  • How to take better care of your racquets
  • Common mistakes that novice stringers make
  • How to tell if your racquet was strung incorrectly

and more.

I learned a lot from Tim about how I can tweak my string setup to produce better results on the court, and I know you will too. Thanks for listening!

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Links Mentioned in This Episode

The International Alliance of Racquet Technicians

IART Symposium

IART Facebook Page

Volkl Cyclone Tour – my current polyester string of choice, and one of the best priced polyesters out there (only 8.99 a pack). (Note: This is an affiliate link, so I make a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Thanks! 🙂 ]

If you learned something useful from my episode with Tim, share this episode with a friend using the share buttons above or below this post!

3 Broken Piggy Bank - Tennis on a Budget

Tennis on a Budget: 13 Ways to Save Money

Tennis is expensive. Racquets, strings, grips, tennis balls, and shoes are just some of the things we have to keep buying to play the game we love.

Below are my 10 tips for playing tennis on a budget. Because we need money to pay the rent too.

1. Buy a Stringing Machine 

You can save hundreds of dollars per year by purchasing a stringing machine. Stringing is not difficult to learn. Once you figure out how to weave strings and tie a knot, you are golden.

Right now, you probably spend at least $25 bucks per string job. Let’s estimate that you string 2 racquets per month. Your total racquet-stringing costs are $600 a year ($25 x 2 x 12).

Instead, you can buy a $180 stringing machine and a couple reels of string ($160/reel) which will cost you $500 total. You will break even in less than a year!

After that, you will start saving good money, because you will only pay for the cost of the string, which is $10 per racquet for a $160 reel. That’s a $15 savings on every racquet you string!

24 string jobs (1 year) x $15 means you will save $360 per year! That’s a lot of money. And the more frequently you need to string racquets, the more money you will save. String for your friends to make extra income!

2. Purchase Older Model Racquets

When a premium racquet first hits the market, it will be in the $200-300 range. Then a few years go by, and an updated model comes out. What happens then? The price of the older model will take a nose-dive to make room for the newer one.

All that matters is that you like the racquet and it suits your game. So if you want to save money on racquets, try finding some older model racquets on sale, demo them, and see which ones you like.

You don’t need the latest model racquet to play great tennis. The same principle works for clothes, shoes, and other tennis products, too.

3. Buy Shoes with a 6-Month Warranty

Most of the big brands make fantastic shoes with 6-month warranties. If you can wear out these shoes within 6-months, you get a free pair!

Great tennis shoes that I have used with a 6-month warranty are: Adidas Barricade V, Asics Gel Resolution 5 (newest model = Gel Resolution 6), and the Nike Zoom Cage 2.

The Gel Resolution model has been the lightest and most favorite pair of shoes that I have used in this category.  Shoes with 6-month warranties tend to be a bit heavier because they are more durable. However, these shoes are getting lighter thanks to advances in shoe technology. 

The extra weight can be a good thing, because these shoes are usually more stable than their lighter counterparts. And you will get used to the weight, if you notice a difference, after a couple hitting sessions.

If you want to save money on shoes, buy a pair with a warranty and enjoy two pairs for the price of one! Just remember to keep the receipt and the warranty card included in the box, and don’t forget to send the shoes back before the 6-month deadline!

4. Use Cheaper Strings

You can probably find cheaper alternatives to the strings that you use. If you like your current strings but wouldn’t mind saving some money, there are tons of similar strings on the market that you should try.

For example, I used to play with Babolat RPM Blast, but switched to another polyester string called Volkl Cyclone which costs half as much! Since money isn’t growing out of my pockets, and Cyclone plays similar to RPM, I happily made the change. Now I play with the Tour version of Cyclone because it feels a bit softer.

You can search for cheaper strings at places like Tennis Express, Holabird Sports, or other tennis shops. There are a ton of tennis strings on the market, but you can filter for type, gauge, brand, and more on the websites above to help find what strings will suit you best.

5. Buy in Bulk 

Purchase as many products as you can in bulk to save money. For example, one can of tennis balls costs $3 to $4 bucks. Instead, you can get 24-cans of tennis balls for $60. You will save between $12 to $36 dollars per 24 cans!

Buy tennis strings in reels. One pack of Babolat RPM Blast costs $18. Instead, you can buy a reel of Babolat RPM Blast, which will string about 16 racquets, and costs $245 bucks.  

Since buying 16 individual packs at $18 each costs $288, this means you will save $33 bucks ($288-$245) if you buy a reel. Believe me, it (reely) adds up!

You should also buy grips in bulk (30 or 60 packs). Everyone buys in bulk to save on groceries and other products, so why not buy in bulk for tennis, too? 

6. Search for Coupon Codes

Perform a quick google search for coupons on the tennis shop you are buying from. You can often find coupon codes that you can input in your shopping cart that will take off a percentage from your total bill. Just search for “[name of tennis shop] coupon code.” It’ll take you less than a minute, and you can save a few bucks. 

7. Save Old Tennis Balls

If you open a fresh can of tennis balls and use it for one practice session, chances are it is still good enough to use again. And even if the balls lose some bounce, you can still use them for other things like practicing your serve or placing balls on the court as targets or for footwork drills.

I recommend you buy a ball hopper to store and pick up balls. I use this one, which holds 75 balls and is pretty inexpensive ($25). Buy your tennis balls in bulk and you’ll have enough for one!

8. Play Tennis Outdoors When Possible

Playing indoors costs anywhere from $20 to $40 an hour. Not that cheap. I recommend that you play outdoors if possible to save money.

Most outdoor courts are free. You can use tennismaps.com to easily find public (or private) tennis courts in your area. If it’s a little chilly, layer up! Or invest the $20 you just saved towards a sweatshirt!

9. Indoor Tennis: Early Bird and Splitting Court Costs

If you have to play tennis indoors, there are a couple things you can do to save money.

First, if you can, play tennis during the non-peak or early bird hours.  The cheapest time to play is usually first thing in the morning (~6am), followed by weekdays during work hours. The most expensive times to play are after work or on the weekend.

Second, make sure to split the court costs with a friend. And if you play doubles, the cost can be divided by 4. That makes playing tennis pretty cheap!

Bonus Tip: Sometimes, tennis clubs don’t mind if you play past the time you booked, as long as you paid for an hour. So keep playing and see if they say anything! If they are strict about court times or you see an employee scowling at you, you may want to get off the court! Find a court online that will be empty after your time slot to facilitate this strategy.

10. Ask for a Discount on Lessons

Ask your coach for a discount if you take multiple lessons. A coach will only list an hourly rate. However, if you are willing to commit to 5 or 10 lessons, sometimes the instructor will cut you a deal. This is great for both parties: you save some money, and the coach has guaranteed income coming his or her way. It won’t always work, but it has for several of my friends. “If you don’t ask, you won’t get.”

11. Re-Use Grips

If you want to save a few bucks, and don’t believe in wasting a perfectly good grip, then try re-using your tennis grips!

When one side of your tennis grip is no longer usable, take it off the handle and turn it over to the other side. If that side isn’t worn or damp, you can use the grip again!

I have done this successfully with all of my favorite overgrips: Yonex Super Grap, Wilson Pro OvergripBabolat Pro Tour Overgrip, and Tourna Grip

Will you score style points and be invited to the next “I am the 1% meeting?” Probably not. But if you want to save money and don’t have an extra grip in your bag, re-using the backside of a tennis grip might do the trick.

12. Use a Rubber Band as a Vibration Dampener

Vibration dampeners come in a lot of cool varieties, but there’s no need to pay for one. Instead, tie a rubber band to the same spot of the stringbed where you would place a vibration dampener. If you don’t believe me, google search Andre Agassi. He used rubber bands and he did pretty well. Throw a bunch of them in your bag, and you are all set to go! Boom, more money in the bank!

13. Practice More Efficiently

Don’t waste your time or money on training that doesn’t help your game. If you take private or group lessons, tell your coach what you want to work on to maximize the value of your investment. Arranging practices with tough players who want to improve is the cheapest way to train effectively (cost = $0).

Be smart about your training, and your wallet will thank you for it.

Note: The product links above are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I make a small commission. If you do, I really appreciate it! And if not, I appreciate you too 🙂

If you have any other ideas about how to play tennis on a budget, I would love to hear about them. Let me know by leaving a comment!

For more tips on how to improve your tennis game, get a free copy of my eBook: The Building Blocks of Tennis Success by subscribing to my free newsletter below!

8 Tennis for Beginners- The Ultimate Guide

Tennis for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

There are a lot of people out there who want to play tennis, but they don’t know how or where to begin. 

So I decided to spend a few days putting together the ultimate guide on how to play tennis for beginners. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Use the Right Tennis Equipment

TENNIS RACQUET                       

The secret to finding the perfect racquet is a combination of two things: research and trying out the racquet for yourself. You can borrow a racquet to play tennis, but if you want to start playing on a consistent basis, you should invest in a racquet according to the criteria below.

Beginners should generally use racquets with a head size of 100 square inches or more. A bigger head size gives you a better chance at making contact with the ball. Racquets with a head size of 90 square inches or less are for advanced players and should usually be avoided by beginners.

A new tennis player should usually play with a lighter racquet, which is no more than 300 grams (unstrung, i.e. without strings in the racquet).

All players must use the right grip size for their racquet.  When you search for your racquet, try out different grip sizes and see which one feels right for you. For adults, the grip size generally ranges from 4 2/8 to 4 1/2. For kids, the grip size will be under 4 (unless you have a very large-handed child).

The standard length for an adult racquet is 27 inches. Racquets longer that 27 inches add power and reach but may decrease control and maneuverability. If the racquet is for a child (under 12), consider having him or her try a shorter racquet. Kids racquets range from 19 to 26 inches long.

The power level of a racquet will either be low, medium, or high. I advise that you go with medium: a low-powered racquet is tough to handle as a beginner, while a high-powered racquet may cause you to shorten your swing and rely on the racquet’s power rather than proper form. Once you learn the right technique, it might be difficult to control the ball with a high-powered racquet. Try to find out what power level feels best for you.

I used words like “usually” and “generally” several times when suggesting racquet specs. I did this for a reason: every person is different. One beginner might be extremely athletic and strong, and may find a heavy, small frame to be the most effective.  This is why you should demo racquets before you buy them.

Most online and local tennis stores allow you to demo a racquet for free or a nominal fee. The online stores will let you select racquets to demo, ship you the racquets to try for a few days, and then you ship the racquets back to the company.

Try a bunch of racquets out before you buy so you don’t end up purchasing a racquet that you don’t like because you didn’t have a chance to play with it.

RESOURCES FOR FINDING THE RIGHT RACQUET:

1. What Grip Size is Best (Essential Tennis)

2. Choosing the Right Tennis Racket (ehow)

3. What Size Racquet Should My Child Use (USTANorthern)

4. How to Choose a Tennis Racquet (Wikihow)

THE RACQUET THAT I USE:

Babolat AeroPro Drive GT

While I am not a beginner, the Babolat AeroPro Drive GTwill suit many players just starting out for a few reasons. First, the head size is 100 square inches, giving the player a decent amount of racquet to hit the ball with. Second, the Babolat AeroPro Drive GT weighs 10.6 ounces, which is a good racquet weight for a beginner. Third, this racquet makes it much easier to hit with spin.

Rafael Nadal has used the Babolat AeroPro line of racquets to win a staggering number of Grand Slam titles. I use the Babolat AeroPro Drive GT and I recommend you try it out because I have seen people of all skill levels use this racquet successfully. It is one of the most popular frames of all time.

TOP BEGINNER RACQUETS:

1. HEAD Graphene XT Instinct S: 102 sq inch, 255 grams, medium power.

2. Volkl V1 Classic 2015: 102 sq inch, 286 grams, medium power.

3. Wilson Blade 104: 104 sq inch, 289 grams, low/medium power.

4. Babolat Pure Drive Team 2015: 100 sq inch, 286 grams, medium power.

5. Wilson Roger Federer 21 Covered Junior Tennis Racquet (Juniors)

TENNIS SHOES

Tennis shoes come in different sizes, widths, cushioning, durability, and comfort levels. If you want to play a lot of tennis, consider getting a tennis shoe with an outsole guarantee. This means that if you wear out a shoe (i.e. sole worn through) within a certain period of time (usually 6 months), then you will get a new pair of those shoes (or a newer version) for free!

You need to use tennis shoes because they are made for both lateral and forward/backward movement. Running shoes, for example, do not allow for safe side-to-side movement. You risk injury by using a non-tennis shoe. As a beginner, you can get away with using a basketball or cross-training shoe, but I recommend you invest in a pair of tennis shoes.

SHOES THAT I USE AND RECOMMEND:

1. Adidas Barricade V

The Adidas Barricades are likely the most popular tennis shoes of all time. I have used just about every Adidas Barricade shoe out there, from the Barricade II’s up to the Barricade VII’s. The reason is because it is a very durable shoe, has a 6-month outsole guarantee, and has outstanding stability.

I have found the Adidas Barricade V to be the most comfortable out of the entire series. This is illustrated by the fact that Adidas brought back the Barricade Vs even though they are up to the Barricade 8+ and their newestshoe is the Adidas Barricade 2015. I can also vouch for the Adidas Barricade IIs as these are perhaps the most comfortable and lightest out of the series that I have tried, but I don’t see them on sale anymore these days (try ebay).

2. Asics Gel Resolution 5

This year I decided to try the Asics Gel Resolution 5 shoe, and I am extremely happy with my purchase. The Asics Gel Resolution 5 required no break-in-period and was comfortable right out of the box. There is a reason why Asics jumped from the 11th to 2nd most popular shoe brand within a couple years. The GR 5s are light, pretty stable, and also offer a 6-month guarantee. The Gel Resolution 6 is the latest version that is currently sold by Asics. I will get my hands (and feet) on this shoe and put a review up on Tennis Files within the next few months. 

If you prefer a light and more comfortable shoe, I would go with the Asics Gel Resolution 5 or 6. For a more stable and durable, but heavier, shoe, go with the Adidas Barricade V

No matter what shoe you go with, it is best to try the shoe on before you buy. Do some research, test a few shoes with light footwork movements, and then pick one that best fits your requirements and is most comfortable. 

TENNIS BALLS

Selecting tennis balls isn’t nearly as complicated as tennis racquets or shoes. Most of the brands are pretty solid, such as Penn, Wilson, and Slazenger. I play with Penn Championship Extra Duty Tennis Balls. A can normally contains three tennis balls. They make tennis balls for different surfaces, but as a beginner, it won’t make much of a difference. There are also pressure-less balls and tennis balls for kids, but you can never go wrong with a regular can of tennis balls.

Step 2:

Play Tennis with a FriendGo to a tennis court and hit with a friend. Get a feel for moving on the tennis court and making contact with the ball.

Don’t think that just because you are not playing well you should give up. You are a beginner! Everyone starts somewhere. Roger Federer couldn’t beat many people when he first started playing tennis.

Have fun and try to remember what troubled you most on the court. And don’t worry about your level of play right now: the steps that follow will ensure that you keep improving your tennis game.

RESOURCES TO FIND A COURT OR PLAYER TO PLAY WITH:

1. Tennis Maps: Plug in your address or zip code, and presto. A map with a ton of flags indicating tennis court locations will pop up. Click the flag and then “more info” for a detailed map of the tennis court. Pretty cool, and helpful!

2. Global Tennis Network: This site not only lets you search tennis courts around your area, it also connects you with other tennis players. You can find tennis leagues, ladders, and tournaments on the Global Tennis Network as well. Pretty cool.

3. Tennis Round: TR makes it easy to find players to hit with according to skill level. You can send and receive text messages and emails to connect with other players on Tennis Round. You can report your scores, accumulate points, and see results of other players on the site.

Step 3:

Read Tennis BooksGo to the local library or bookstore and read tennis books. One of the best things you can do as a beginner is to immerse yourself in the game by reading about tennis.

As a beginner, I recommend you read books about tennis technique to learn the general principles of stroke mechanics and footwork. 

You can also read mental training and books about the pros, but as a beginner your priority should be to learn correct technique and practice it on the tennis court.

First you need to learn how to play: the mental game can come later.  And if you don’t know how tennis scoring works, reading books will help that too: most beginner tennis books will teach you the basic rules of tennis.

TENNIS BOOKS THAT I RECOMMEND:

1. Inner Game of Tennis (W. Timothy Gallwey): Arguably the most popular tennis book of all time. I love this book because it focuses on the mental side of tennis and shows us how to perform our best on the court, especially in high-pressure situations. The Inner Game of Tennis is a timeless classic. If you are having trouble overcoming mental obstacles or want to know how to properly approach the game, you need to get your hands on this book!

2. Tennis Fundamentals (Carol Matsuzaki): This book will teach you the basics about tennis. It has plenty of pictures and is easy to follow. A great book for those just starting to play tennis. It was published in 2004, so you may be able to find it at your local library.

3. World-Class Tennis Technique (Paul Roetert/Jack Groppel): This book was published in 2001, and has a ton of illustrations and explanations from several of the most legendary tennis coaches of all time. I remember reading this book in the library when I was a teenager. Hopefully they will have this book at your library too.

Step 4:

Watch VideosVideos are a fantastic way to learn how to play tennis. Most people learn skills faster when presented to them visually. 

When you watch tennis videos, take careful notes on how players use their entire body to hit a shot, and the position of the racquet throughout the stroke. Compare what you see to how you hit your strokes and figure out the differences. I especially like watching slow motion videos of pros because you can see each and every small detail.

However, as a beginner, make sure to watch high-quality instructional videos. Sometimes beginners make the mistake of trying to emulate professionals after seeing advanced techniques that are best implemented later on in a player’s career.

Here are my favorite youtube tennis channels that can help you learn proper tennis technique:

1. Feel Tennis Instruction: Tomaz from Feel Tennis Instruction emphasizes using your body’s natural mechanics to play tennis more efficiently. His philosophy makes sense and appeals to those who want to feel more relaxed and biomechanically sound on the tennis court. I interviewed Tomaz on Episode 6 of The Tennis Files Podcast, which you should definitely check out! He also has a fantastic online course called Serve Unlocked that will help you improve your tennis serve.

2. Jeff Salzenstein: Jeff Salzenstein is a former Top 100 ATP pro who has a bunch of short but helpful videos on tennis technique. He also has specific tips like “elbow the enemy” and “the buggy whip” that you may find to really help your game. I also recommend that you listen to my interview with Jeff on Episode 28 of The Tennis Files Podcast

3. Fuzzy Yellow Balls: Will Hamilton has put together a bunch of fantastic instructional videos that breaks down stroke mechanics in an easy to understand fashion. He also happens to live around my neighborhood! 

Step 5:

Focus on 3 Areas

To maximize your tennis game, it is vital that you have correct technique.  If you have bad technique, it will take a lot of time to fix later down the road (see #10 of this article). Make sure you develop efficient stroke mechanics so that your strokes will not break down under pressure. Find optimal technique and practice it as much as you can (especially your serve!).

When you first start playing, remember that it helps to use a shorter backswing. Many players like to overcomplicate strokes by taking big backswings. However, as a beginner, a longer backswing can make it harder to time your shots. Once you get the timing and mechanics of hitting a stroke down first, then you can add in a lengthier backswing if needed, but only if it helps make your shot more effective.

You also need to focus on excellent footwork. The foundation of tennis is getting into position to hit the ball. If you can’t get into position, then you won’t have a chance to use the strokes you learned.

Lastly, it is important to have fun while you play tennis, especially when first starting out. If you aren’t having fun playing tennis, you might as well do something else. Don’t stress on the fact that you aren’t very good at tennis. Instead, enjoy the challenge, health benefits, and different skill-sets that you will develop and improve by playing tennis. You are a lot more likely to keep playing tennis if you can enjoy it.

Step 6:

Find a Tennis Coach

If your budget allows, find a good tennis coach and take lessons. Having a coach to examine your technique and give you live feedback can accelerate your tennis growth immensely.  Instead of spending hours to figure out a flaw and the solution, a coach can spot issues in your game and give you a solution instantly.  Without a coach, you may never recognize your technical flaws, and you will have a tough time changing your technique later down the road.

You have two choices when it comes to coaches and lessons:

1.  Private Lessons – One-on-one. More expensive but you get all the attention from the teaching pro. Highly recommended if you are serious about your tennis game.

2.  Group Lessons – Two or more students to one coach. Cheaper. Recommended if you want a more social atmosphere or cannot find players to hit with. Allows the instructor to analyze your play against other players.

HOW TO FIND A TENNIS COACH:

Talk to other tennis players and get recommendations.  Call a tennis club in your area and ask them for their best or most popular coaches.  If possible, watch the tennis coach while he teaches a lesson to figure out if he is any good.

I suggest that you first find the name of some coaches that interest you, and google/facebook/linkedin research them to see their resume. Chances are a more experienced and successful coach will be better for you than one without as strong of a record.

You can also use PlayYourCourt and CourtPlay to find tennis coaches. After answering a couple questions, you’ll be matched up with tennis coaches in your area. PlayYourCourt (use code “TENNISFILES” for $25 off a lesson package) and CourtPlay provide players with a quick and easy way of finding a good tennis coach using the internet or a smartphone.

Step 7:

JOIN A TENNIS CLUB

Tennis clubs offer group clinics for all skill levels. This is an excellent way to start learning how to play tennis. There will usually be multiple instructors at a tennis club who teach group and private lessons.

The great thing about tennis clubs is they make it easier to find other players to play with. It is also nice to feel like you are part of a community when you are a member of a club. At some places, you must be a member of a club in order to participate in private or group lessons, or to use the club’s courts.

However, some tennis clubs can be pretty pricey. If you can afford it, join a tennis club. But only after you inspect the facility, find out about the coaching staff and amenities, cost, and make sure the location is a good fit for you and your schedule.

You can find tennis clubs near your area on tennismaps.com (search results show tennis courts and private clubs). As a beginner, I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to join a tennis club. But if you think it will benefit your game, go for it.

Note: If you click on the above product links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission off the sale. I only recommend products that I have used and found to be of excellent value. The only exception here is the Wilson Junior racquet and the Volkl V1, both of which I found to be highly rated after extensive research. If you make a purchase through my links, I really appreciate it! And if you don’t, I appreciate you too 🙂

I hope you found my ultimate guide to tennis for beginners helpful. If there are other things you want to know about as a beginning tennis player that were not covered in this article, comment below or email me at mehrban@tennisfiles.com and I will add them to this guide!

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I wish you all the best in your tennis journey!