It’s trite to say that the mindset you’re in when you hit the court is a key determinant of your performance. We all know and have grappled with that. If you’re running onto the court in an anxious and frazzled state, you’re unlikely easily switch gears and immediately start focusing on your game. Conversely, if you take the court after warming up, stretching and carefully packing your tennis bag, the likelihood of being able to calmly execute your strategy one point at a time is vastly higher.
When reading up on habit formation and productivity tips, a lot of emphasis is placed on preparation. For instance: remove a barrier to reliably going to the gym before work by setting out your fitness apparel before you go to bed. Want to feel more energetic and stay hydrated throughout the day? Get into the habit of having a glass of water as soon as you wake up. A lot of thinking within the habit formation discipline distills down to incrementally making small changes as the basis upon which more substantial adjustments can be ingrained in your lifestyle down the road.
Against this backdrop, we thought it would be useful to generate a check list of items that you should carry in your 3-racket tennis bag to make sure you’re not scrambling during training or a match and compromising your concentration as a result. Simply make sure that your tennis bag is stocked with the items below and you focus your attention on more important items like striking a clean ball and avoiding that dangerous forehand!
A Epirus, we designed all of our bags to hold at least 2 rackets and 3 in some cases (our Weekend bags both hold 3 rackets). Why carry multiple rackets onto the court? As we enter the summer season and play moves outside, the dust and dirt from the courts getting onto and between your strings can cause them to break quicker compared to playing inside. There’s nothing more disruptive to your game than having to borrow an entirely different racket with specifications that are foreign to you mid-session or especially mid-match(!). Having an extra racket or two if you’re a prolific string breaker is well worth the investment as is carrying extra string - particularly if you have an affinity for the rarer options out there.
Ever bonked? It’s not fun. The physical and mental consequences of seriously depleted glucose levels are severe. If you’re playing a marathon match or multiple matches in one day - particularly in hot and humid conditions - it’s smart to have a sugar hit source in your bag for emergencies. You can see pros using gels or eating a bit of banana during changeovers but a handful of skittles or peanut butter M&Ms can do in a pinch if you’re feeling your blood sugar levels tanking.
Playing with worn out grips is a pet peeve of ours. Not only are dirty grips unsightly (we have a solution for that) but when the tackiness or absorbency is lost you end up white knuckling your racket and losing fluidity in your strokes. Loss of fluidity impairs your control and ability to hit pace and spin, making for a long day out there between the lines. Tossing in a couple of overgrips in your racket bag doesn’t take much space can definitely come in handy.
Having your own source of water - ideally in a reusable bottle - eliminates the distracting need to head to the water fountain during breaks. If you’re committed to playing for multiple hours consider bringing electrolyte tabs or a sports drink to dilute (they’re typically made too concentrated). The heat radiating from a hard court can rapidly deplete you of essential salts in your system so it’s important to take precautions with your hydrating strategy.
Having accessories dedicated to keeping you dry in your bag will come in handy when the temperature soars. An added plus? Using the ritual of towelling off between points to mentally reset is a well-known gamit used by pros and worth a try to keep your focus on the present.
Scrambling to find sport-specific sunscreen at the proper SPF when you’ve forgotten yours is something to avoid. Keeping sunscreen for your face and body stocked in your racket bag is imperative during the outdoor season.
Just split sets and starting to feel like you’re slowly melting into the plexi? Even if it’s primarily a (somewhat unwarranted) psychological reaction, it’s amazing how good it feels to switch out your sweaty socks for a fresh pair.
In our experience tennis shoes are satisfactorily comfortable at best. Due to the extra support required for bursts of lateral movement and hard, flat soles needed for durability, tennis shoes are never our first choice to wear off the court. That’s why we always keep flip flops in the summer and running shoes in the winter to change into as soon as the session is over.
Playing in a tournament or dual match which necessitates that you hang around the courts all day? Watching other matches or chatting the whole time can be mentally fatiguing for some. Having your headphones handy to pop on and get into the proper headspace before you play can be a godsend.
Warm up gear - at least a sweatshirt - comes in handy before and after you play. If you’re not able to change right after you hit, it’s ideal to be able to pop on a sweatshirt to keep your muscles warm while you stretch and gradually cool down.
We have touted the virtues of dynamic stretching in a previous post and having an accessory like a collapsable roller or theraband in your bag leaves you with no excuses. If you catch footage of pros on the practice court, warming up with bands is a ubiquitous part of their routine to ensure they stay flexible, balanced and strong.
Last but certainly not least, having a can of balls in your bag is imperative - especially in instances where the pro shop isn’t open or there’s no close pro shop at all.
When we designed our collection of tennis bags at Epirus, we had this list in mind and carefully filled each iteration of the samples with the items noted above to make sure the shape, size and pocketing of the bags functioned optimally. Thus, if you're in the market for a new bag to hold three rackets and all of your gear, it's well worth considering our versatile, handmade designer tennis bag collection.