We’ve all had those days when we’re feeling good and pumped to go play a league match or even just practice, but when you open the door it hits you… a giant gust of wind! The first thought to cross my mind is usually something to the tune of “great, this should be fun” (in a very sarcastic tone.) I was playing in the wind the other day and trying to process what I need to do to enjoy my time out on the courts a little more, because let’s face it, no one likes playing in the wind!
Here is a guide for you to reference the next time you have to play in the wind, and hopefully increase your enjoyment level.
1.) Remember that you’re not the only one playing in the wind – I have been playing/coaching tennis for thousands of years in many different places and have only ever heard one person tell me they enjoy playing in the wind. Shortly thereafter, I was taken to the hospital due to the shock I was in! My point is, the odds are on your side that your opponent most likely hates playing in the wind as well. Even if you are having an especially hard time try to remind yourself that your opponent has to play in the same conditions.
2.) It’s gonna be ugly – Do not go into your match or practice expecting everything to go your way, or even play the way you want. You’re going to have some ugly points, hit balls in awkward places and awkward strike zones. Expect to play ugly going into the match. It’s extremely difficult for anyone to play their “normal” game in the wind.
3.) Fitness & Breathing – Playing in the wind will take a higher fitness level because of the quick changes in direction and sudden movements you will need to make to adjust your feet. It’s easy to forget to breathe when this chaos is happening. Always remember to breath when swinging and TAKE YOUR TIME in between points/games.
4.) Playing into the wind – Personally, I like playing into the wind (wind coming towards you) rather than with the wind (wind blowing away from you.) Use the wind to your advantage and crank up the heat on your shots. The wind will help keep the ball in the court. Adding pace will also help keep the ball from landing short and your opponent from taking the net advantage. Avoid too much topspin, as it can make the ball land short and float.
• Hit flatter
• Hit harder
• Shorten your backswing
• Aim deeper
• Keep your follow through
5.) Playing with the wind – (Wind blowing away from you) This is a little trickier. In this situation you will want to play with heavy topspin and aim shorter in the court.
• Hit with heavy topspin
• Aim shorter in the court (Make adjustments depending on force of wind.)
• Look for short balls and be ready to come in. (Your opponent is playing against the wind here)
• Come to the net more
• Don’t slice as much. Slices tend to sail long with the wind.
6.) Playing in Crosswinds – This is usually the hardest to play in, at least in my opinion. Spacing yourself properly will be crucial in this situation.
• Keep your feet moving at all times. LOTS of small steps!
• Anticipate early. Even if your way off in your anticipation, you’ll be way better off than “waiting” to see where the ball finally ends up.
• Play into the wind. Example: If the wind is blowing right, hit towards the left.
• Play very high percentage tennis. Do not aim anywhere near the lines.
• Attack the net whenever possible. Especially playing into the wind, as the resistance of the wind will slow down your opponent’s passing shots. You won’t be passed as much.
7.) Serving – Take your time and think about your timing. Don’t let the wind take control of your timing.
• Toss the ball lower, so the wind doesn’t affect it as much.
• Make first serves and keep your first serve percentage as high as possible.
• Don’t slow down your arm speed. In all wind scenarios keep that racket speed fast!
• Use the wind to your advantage as much as possible. Think tactically! Examples: Hit kick or topspin serves with the wind, so the ball bounces out at your opponent and also has the wind to carry it along even more. Hit harder and flatter into the wind. In cross winds the slice serve is very effective. If wind is blowing to the left slice the ball to the left and just watch the wind carry it away from your opponent and also into them for the body jammer.
Conclusion: Positivity and patience – Try to remain as positive as possible and remember that the more patient player usually comes out on top in the wind. It is normal to not play as well in the wind, and that goes for everybody. Try to use the wind to your advantage as much as possible!
I hope this helps, and as always please let me know if you have any questions or comments below! Thank you for reading!
– Carlos Bermudez Tennis