Everything You Need to Know About Playing Hard Court Tennis

The Australian Open is now in full swing. There have already been a few high profile names fall by the wayside and while several of these have caused quite the commotion in the media, for others, it was simple a case of, ‘hard court is not their best surface’.

What is it about the different playing surfaces that make for such a varied list of names appearing in the later stages?

Hard Court Tennis

What Makes Hard Courts so Special?

Hard court surfaces are actually a multi layered creation. The bottom layer is often made of concrete, or asphalt. It is this that helps give the surface its famous speed and high bounce. The coating that sits atop this base, and forms the court we all see is a synthetic / acrylic layer. Because of the lack of shock absorption, the courts are known to play fast, and are therefore well suited to big serving styles, or those to play with a preference for top spin.

Hard court surfaces are the most common tennis surface, and for the likes of you and I, most local clubs will also be hard court. They are durable, and have the lowest levels of maintenance when compared to gravel and clay and grass.

Does a Different Style of Play Call for Different Equipment?

If you want to take your tennis game seriously, then there are certain items of tennis equipment that are better suited to play on hard court surfaces.

Hard court tennis is a fast game, the ball encounters less friction when it hits the surface, and so needs to be resilient enough to withstand the continued force of the impacts.

It does not matter which manufacturer you go with for your tennis balls; Wilson, Dunlop or Penn, for all three tennis balls manufacturers have the same differentiation when it comes to their product.

For hard court tennis, you are best to go for the professional quality tennis balls. This is opposed to the Championship or Recreational variants.

The Australian and US Open both tend to favour the Wilson Professional ball, as it is designed to travel slower and bounce slightly less, which acts as a nice counterbalance to the natural inclinations of the hard court surface.

 Tennis Ball on a Hard Court surface

Do I Need Any Special Clothing to Play Hard Court Tennis?

When it comes to clothing, the first thing I would recommend, for those serious about their sport, is a good pair of shoes. After a good ball, which makes the game more entertaining, a sturdy pair of shoes is the best thing you can own.

Unlike tennis balls, there is a much more crucial aspect to buying a tennis shoe, and that is personal -preference. While a court is (with some exception) a court, everybody’s feet are different.

The most important thing when looking for hard court tennis shoes is a good level of cushioning. Hard court tennis is unforgiving on the feet, so having a well cushioned tennis shoe is imperative.

After that, something with a tough outsole is important, because you are going to be turning and moving around a lot. These movements, combined with a hard court surface can make for a demanding workout for your feet, and shoes. A well cushioned shoe with a tough outer sole make the best combination.

I’m all Kitted Out, But What Sort of Game Should I Play

If you are a serious tennis player, at any level, there is different style of play that is needed depending on the surface you are playing on.

Hard court tennis favours those who play with a big serve and a strong forehand. For those that are of a level of ability that allow for such play, a serve and volley tactic can also be well employed on a hard court, especially those with a concrete base. The speed of the play coupled with the serve and volley means your opponent has even less time to prepare for their shots.

Hard court tennis is suited to an aggressive offensive game, and so for amateur players, or those playing just for fun, prepare yourselves for a good workout, that is heavier on the arms, and feet than the other courts.

Playing hard, play fast, and play safe.


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