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Winter Tennis Without a Court


Not all dedicated tennis players live near an indoor tennis club or in a climate that allows outdoor winter tennis. The snow belt is particularly tough, because no matter how willing you are to play in cold weather, shoveling a tennis court and hoping it will dry before the next snow is beyond sensible, unless you love shoveling for the exercise.

Sure, you can do a lot of training for tennis during the winter without a court, and such footwork, conditioning, weight training, and mental exercises can be highly valuable, but what do you do if you desperately want to play?

If you're lucky enough to have a platform tennis court in the area, a variation on the standard game, using a SpeedBall, feels a lot like tennis and provides good stroke practice. Unfortunately, platform tennis courts are fairly rare and especially so in the more rural areas that also lack indoor tennis courts.

Lacking a platform tennis court, your best bet for simulating tennis is to find a place to make your own small court for SpeedBall tennis. A SpeedBall doesn't fly nearly as fast or as far as a tennis ball, and it's too soft and light to do much damage, so a smaller court area works quite well. A platform court, at 30 by 60 feet (including margins), is only half as wide and long as a tennis court. Here are a few places you might make your own court:

  • A SpeedBall will skid much less than a tennis ball on the floor of a gymnasium or other large room with a smooth floor.
  • An outdoor park pavilion used to shelter picnickers in the summer will often offer a dry area during the winter.
  • Many parking lots are lightly used, but so well plowed that they're often quite dry the day after a big snow.
If a SpeedBall doesn't satisfy you, you might also try one of the various devices made of an anchor block and a tennis ball on a long elastic. These provide an intense workout similar to hitting on a backboard, but they have one flaw: if you hit much higher and harder than you could in real tennis, the elastic will still return a hittable ball. You'll get good footwork and point of contact practice, but you might reinforce a tendency to hit long.

You might also have some fun with various off-court hitting drills, some of which are described here.

If you have any further ideas for tennis players stranded in snow country, please post them here.

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