Whether you’re just hitting at a practice session or advancing through the draw in a tournament, it’s always beneficial to show up prepared.
We’ve devised a checklist of items to keep in your tennis bag so that you don’t have to spend any precious mental energy troubleshooting last minute issues due to your preparation oversights (we’ve all been there!).
This way you can focus on more important scenarios like the pivotal points you want to convert in the seventh game…
We all know that staying hydrated is key to top performance on the court. Viewers of professional tennis on TV will notice that players often have two bottles on hand at changeovers: one with regular water and one that has a colorful hue. The latter is most likely to be a custom made electrolyte-rich drink.
Even if you aren’t involved in 3.5 hour 5 set epics, the fact that you’re sweating means that you will need to replace lost minerals, specifically sodium (important for fluid balance), potassium (prevents muscle cramps), magnesium (relaxes muscles) and calcium (essential for normal muscle function).
Our favourite option for replenishment? Nuun tablets come in a variety of flavours and formulas tailored towards different types of exertion. They are comprised of clean ingredients and (critically) contain one gram of sugar or less. They are also very conveniently packaged and easy to transport. Ditch the plastic option and fire one of these tablets into a Swell bottle which keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours.
Fun fact: Novak Djokovic often consumes magnesium and calcium from raw dates at changeovers. Maybe it’s time to switch out the traditional banana
If you don’t have access to a gym or are pressed for time, keeping a skipping rope in your tennis bag is a great way to get your blood pumping before your training/match.
Studies have shown that using a skipping rope for 10 minutes is roughly equivalent to running an 8-minute-mile. Not bad, huh? Jumping around also enables you to activate your mind-body connection and start to feel coordinated after a sedentary day sitting at your desk (some days this is no small feat!).
Let’s be honest: there is nothing worse than pulling your rackets out of your tennis bag and realising you forgot to replace your worn out grips. The obvious problem with expired grips is that they can cause blisters. However the less well known effects of having a hard time holding onto your racket are that it can also cause issues with your strokes.
Gripping your racket too tightly makes it much more difficult to ‘release your hands’ and get the consequent power and control on your groundstrokes and serve. Best to leave the inevitable white-knuckling to those crucial break points late in the set rather than have no option because of equipment failure!
This is an obvious one but after playing indoors for most of the winter, it’s easy to forget to stow a hat in your bag for outdoor hitting. Similarly - especially if you are playing on hard courts in extreme temperatures - having sunscreen on hand to re-apply is also key.
Tennis players need to avoid greasy products that can compromise your ability to grip your racket, so a spray or even solid formulation are better options than traditional lotion. An option like MD Solar Sciences Quick Dry Body Spray SPF 40+ isn’t sticky, protects against both UVA and UVB rays and is water resistant for 80 minutes. Sounds like a winner to us!
Another admittedly obvious one, but assuming that you can easily grab a towel at an ‘away’ match is a bit dicey. Beyond keeping you dry, towels can become an important part of your ritual between points.
Having the ability to stay in the moment and focus on the next point (rather than dwell on that sitter you just bricked on break point) is facilitated by establishing a common routine or pattern to be used automatically at each interval. You can see this method in action on the tour as most players are zealous adherents of this technique.
The Official Wimbledon Shop sells branded towels that you can have personalized for added inspiration.
Your match has lasted a couple of hours and you have drink plans afterwards. After showering and changing, the last thing you want to happen is the odour of your used kit to permeate outside your bag.
A plastic bag isn’t ideal because the moisture is trapped and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. A better alternative is to use a waterproof wet bag like this one from the Epirus Everyday Collection. These waterproof bags trap any wetness and scent to ensure that your kit doesn’t become a health hazard. They also separate your used clothing items and shoes from the other clean contents of your bag and your valuable electronics.
It’s always a good idea to carry an extra tennis outfit with you for unexpected situations that can pose logistical challenges. Whether it’s putting on a fresh shirt and pair of socks for the third set or needing to be prepared to play a match re-scheduled at the last minute, grabbing a change of clothes from your bag is far preferable to hitting the pro shop for a panicked shopping session!
Let’s be honest: tennis doesn’t qualify as an extreme sport. Even if you get picked off in a doubles match, you can usually walk off the sting of the ball. That said, annoyances like blisters and muscle tightness are common for regular players.
Keeping a compact kit in your bag that has bandages, second skin, ibuprofen and topical creams for temporary muscle pain relief is a good call. Our current favourite is a new product from tried-and-tested Tiger Balm. Their shoulder and back rub isn’t greasy and has the same natural ingredients as the original range: Menthol, Eucalyptus Oil and Camphor.
This is the most discretionary item on the list, but a smart one to add to your belongings if you’re out there multiple times a week. Most people are familiar with foam rollers which work to release trigger points in your fascia.
Conveniently, you can buy a similar product from Trigger Point which is available in dimensions that can travel without being cumbersome. What are the benefits? Beyond helping you detoxify, the roller works through muscle knots that can evolve into more serious conditions or injuries over time.
Tennis players are always fighting the battle of maintaining balanced bodies (the dominant side being much more taxed when playing). Using rollers can help stave off tightness and inflexibility that can land you in physiotherapy if left unaddressed.
Now that you have all the equipment you need, what about a nice bag to carry it all? The racket bags pictured below are made for working professionals with active lifestyles who need a bag that works both on and off the court. Take a look at the full range of bags here.