Tennis players now have lots of possibilities when it comes to the clothes that they can wear on the tennis court. The situation has changed significantly since the early 20th century, when people had to follow strict rules. Players used to wear only white, trousers, cotton shirts and full-length dresses, since that was the norm. Even though a norm had to be fulfilled, style always went hand in hand with the game of tennis. The beauty of this century became the freedom to build your style as you see fit, since the norms are not so important anymore.
However, fabric technology became equally important and players can now choose from a variety of technologically advanced clothing to help manage weather conditions and perform better. The production technology of tennis gear is constantly modifying and upgrading. It is made to perfectly suit players’ bodies, fit in their hands and on their feet, all with the sole purpose to eliminate distractions and discomforts and maximize performance. Uncomfortable clothes can break concentration and influence game quality, so tennis players need to be careful when choosing footwear, apparel and accessories. Of course, the style is as important as always in tennis world, but that’s just the fun part of choosing gear.
Tennis apparel is a rapidly growing and developing industry and thanks to players like Roger Federer, tennis is equally about technology as it is about style and appearance.
Today, tennis clothes are made of high-tech materials (Dri-Fit, Climalite, etc.) which completely replaced sticky cotton and unbreathable polyester. It’s all about that “smart-design”, nanotechnology and laser cutting- all efforts are towards creating clothes that primarily secure full, unobstructed movement, with specific smart solutions for the pockets or smart cooling zones, located on body areas where tennis players sweat the most. Some tennis clothes have UVA and UVB light protection layer, some can spread the sweat along garment’s surface, while most of better shirts and dresses have anti-microbial polymers designed to eliminate odors and staining.
Of course, it is well known that tennis players like to look good, especially on the court, so brands are competing to produce attractive, slick clothes which will make players both look and feel good. For example, it seemed that Nike dominated the beginning of 2017, Adidas presented new Roland Garros collection that got a lot of attention.
The ultimate advice would be: follow basic guidelines on what to wear when playing tennis presented below and looking good on the court is something you don't tips for.
When it comes to the clothes that male tennis players wear on the court, two most important things are the ability to move freely and keeping cool. Keep in mind that wearing shirts made completely of cotton is not a good idea, since the shirt will stick to your body which is uncomfortable and distracting. Even if a weekend warrior or you play tennis just a couple of times a month, you should consider investing in a shirt designed specifically for tennis players. Most tennis shirts are made of synthetic fabric, which gives comfort you need without being soaking wet. On the other hand, shorts need to be practical, allow pleanty of movement in all directions, and of course, have pockets.
To give an example of tennis clothing of today, we’ll take a look at the 2017 Roland Garros Men’s Singles finalists, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka's outfits. Nadal wore Nike and Wawrinka Yonex. Rafa’s Nike Challenger Premier shirt is 78% polyester and 22% nylon, and it represents Nike AeroReact technology. This technology uses special fibers that open when sweating only to keep the player cool and comfortable. Maximum movement is ensured by mobility gusset in the underarm, and special attention was given to a slim, comfortable fit. His shorts are made of Nike Flex fabric which stretches together with the body for optimal range of motion. Other features are deep side pockets and flex waistband which provides breathability and comfort. Stan’s polo short is 100% polyester and it has Mesh ventilation inserts at the back, under arms and at the front. The fabric is low crease, fast drying and structured. His shorts also have Mesh ventilation inserts at the back.To give an example of tennis clothing of today, we’ll take a look at the 2017 Roland Garros Men’s Singles finalists, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka. Nadal wore Nike and Wawrinka Yonex. Rafa’s Nike Challenger Premier shirt is 78% polyester and 22% nylon, and it represents Nike AeroReact technology. This technology uses special fibers that open when sweating only to keep the player cool and comfortable. Maximum movement is ensured by mobility gusset in the underarm, and special attention was given to a slim, comfortable fit. His shorts are made of Nike Flex fabric which stretches together with the body for optimal range of motion. Other features are deep side pockets and flex waistband which provides breathability and comfort. Stan’s polo short is 100% polyester and it has Mesh ventilation inserts at the back, under arms and at the front. The fabric is low crease, fast drying and structured. His shorts also have Mesh ventilation inserts at the back.
Female tennis players can choose between shorts, skirts or dresses. Comfort and freedom of movement are once again one of the most important factors, since it is necessary to be able to perform all the moves without any distractions. Female players who wear skirts or dresses need to wear a ball clip on the waistband, since it is quite practical. Sports bras are essential, so players need to find bras that provide support, but are also made of comfortable and breathable materials.
Let’s have a look at the 2017 Roland Garros Women’s Singles finalists. Both Jelena Ostapenko and Simona Halep were wearing Adidas Roland Garros outfits. Their Adidas tennis tanks are 94% polyester and 6% elasthane, and the Climacool technology helps staying dry and fresh. The tank has striped, elasticized straps and integrated bra. The skirts are 86% polyamide and 14% elasthane, and the Climalite fabric prevents sweat and heat build-up. The skirt has flat, elasticized waistband and integrated fitted shorties. The jackets and practice ¾ sleeve t-shorts are also made of Climalite fabric, jackets being 100% Polyester French terry, and practice shirt 88% recycle polyester and 12% elasthane.
Court shoes suffer a great deal of abuse, since court sports require a lot of forward, backward and side-to-side movement. Tennis players, like other court athletes, require good, endurable shoes that provide stability to the foot. Tennis requires a lot of running, but it also means a lot explosive movements and changing directions, so you need to choose tennis shoes that can handle the pressure and keep your feet safe. This is one of the most important decisions that you’ll need to make, besides choosing a good tennis racket. Don’t buy shoes that are designed for other sports (e.g. running shoes), because that’s just what they are – shoes for other types of sports. The most important factors that you’ll need to consider are: durability, support, comfort and ventilation. You also need to make sure your shoe fits your foot perfectly (Cinderella-style), because you can’t have extra space and your feet moving inside the shoe, and you can’t have shoes that are too snug. Wrong kind of shoes can lead to discomfort and fatigue, pain and joint problems, so you better realize the importance of having a good tennis shoe that fits.
The type of the surface you usually play on, as well as your game-style, can be important factors to consider when choosing tennis footwear. Of course, there are tons of different tennis shoe brands and types. For example, two broad categories would be shoes for soft (grass and clay) and hard surfaces. Shoes designed for soft courts have softer soles which allow better traction and their uppers are usually made of synthetic. Shoes designed for hard courts have more durable sole, tougher upper and outsole materials which provide cushioning and greater shock absorption. And since some players play on both softer and harder surfaces, most major brands offer multi-court shoes that took a little bit of both worlds.
As for your game-style, baseline players need a shoe with durable sole, strong lateral support and cushioning. Serve-and-volley players, on the other hand will need a durable toecap, arch support and more flexible shoes, because they stay on the balls of their feet most of the match time.
However, our tip for choosing tennis shoes would be to check your foot type and look for shoes that would be a perfect fit (after all, a tailored suit is the best kind of suit there is). There are three types of foot: supinated (high arch), pronated (low arch) and neutral (neutral arch). The type of foot defers based on the size of the visible area on the foot print (simple “wet test” will do the job). Supinated foot leaves a large open area on the foot print, since the foot tends to roll outwards. On the other hand, the pronated foot is just the opposite – it leaves a complete impression of your foot, because the foot tends to roll inwards. The neutral foot, naturally, leaves moderate visible space in the arch area.
Since your big and second toes take most of the pressure and your weight is transferred to inner part of the foot, you’ll need a stabilizing shoe with superior lateral support, as lateral support will prevent hurting your knees or ankles.
Since your feet distribute weight and pressure evenly, you don’t have to worry much about things like extra space for the heel or ankle stability - the world is your oyster! You can choose shoes based on favorite brand, appeal, and of course, budget.
Since most of the pressure goes on your smaller toes and a lot of shock gets transmitted through the lower leg, you’ll need shoes with superior flexibility, good shock absorption and added space for the heel, as the pressure is the highest on the outside of the heel and forefoot.
Most big brands today make equivalent types of tennis shoes for men and for women, like Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour, Adidas Barricade 9 Boost, New Balance 996 V2, Dunlop Flash Team II, Head Revolt Pro, Artengo TS990, Asics GEL Solution Speed 3. Some brands are praised to produce better tennis shoes for women, like Wilson, and some for men, like Babolat. Perhaps the problem is too much of a choice – which shoes should you choose when there are so many and all claim to be exceptional? The best is to consult your friends, read some forum posts and hear other players’ experiences, or simply ask the salesperson at the store about the recommendations.
Players who want to protect their feet even more use cushioned socks as well. You just can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your health, so consider these socks which have extra cushioning in the forefoot and heel. As for the material, cotton socks are also a big no-no, because, like the rest of your body, cotton can’t make your feat stay dry, and wet feet can cause irritation and blisters. Make sure you choose synthetic socks, as synthetic socks can release sweat and prevent irritation.
Tennis players find sweatbands quite helpful. There are wrist sweatbands are used to wipe perspiration from the forehead and eyes when preparing to serve, and forehead sweatbands prevent the sweat from reaching the eyes.
When sun is low, players usually use caps, visors or sunglasses to protect their eyes and to be able to see clearly. The lens technology of the sunglasses used for tennis developed extensively, so players can now choose glasses which by default protect their eyes against UV light, while some go even a step further, like improving yellow optic properties of the tennis ball resulting in better visiability.
Last updated: JUN 12, 2017