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Tennis is a great sport to test your mobility, stamina, strength, and accuracy. It's an aggressive yet fun challenge that can push you to your limits. Sometimes those limits can be pushed very far. This can cause lots of sweat, a need for water, or to want to play when it's not sunny out just for the coolness of the rain. But what happens to the racket? Can it get wet even in those conditions? After doing the research, we've found the answers you're looking for.
Your tennis racket can get wet. If it's the first time it gets wet, don't worry; no damage will be done. You will likely have a harder time playing, though. It can become harder to keep a good grip as you play. Depending on the racket lacing, it can lose tension while wet, meaning you'll need a more powerful swing.
Continue reading to better understand the effects of water on tennis rackets and other gear. While you can play in the rain, it might not be the best condition for your game.
The Effects of a Wet Tennis Racket
Using a wet tennis racket won't always have an immediate impact. The racket itself may be fine at first, but you'll need to adjust your gameplay. It's also wise not to use a wet racket often. Keep in mind the following possibilities as you play with a wet racket.
Loss of Grip
The only immediate impact you'll notice is your ability to grip the racket. The wetter it becomes, the more difficult it becomes to hold it. It will require you to hold a firmer grip.
Avoid this added playing difficulty by bringing a few small dry towels. Every time the racket grip gets wet, dry it off so you can hold on to it better. It's the safest thing to do. Not doing so will increase the chances of the racket slipping out of your hands during a swing. That could cause harm to your opponent or spectator(s) if it slips in the wrong direction.
One optional solution would be to use tennis gloves. Not all tennis players use this gear. But wearing gloves can prevent the racket grip from becoming sweaty. It sometimes will make swinging more comfortable. You can read more about it in "Can Tennis Players Wear Gloves?"
Tennis racket strings are made from various materials. Each one has its pros and cons and can significantly impact your game performance. Each one also eventually goes bad on their timing. Some of the main string types include natural gut, synthetic, multifilament, nylon, polyester, and Kevlar. Sometimes, there are hybrid strings that combine two or more of the previously mentioned string types.
If you're playing with a wet racket, try not to use natural gut strings. In dry conditions, natural gut strings are one of the best choices; they're durable, don't lose tension as easily as some others, and are user-friendly. In wet conditions, none of that is the case. A wet racket with natural gut strings is more prone to losing tension. You'll also have to put in more power with every swing. Unless you have a spare, a natural gut racket shouldn't be used in the long term when it's wet.
The same goes for multifilament strung rackets. Those aren't that durable, either. Consider looking into Kevlar strings if you feel like your racket will get wet often. This string type is the strongest, even in unfavorable conditions. However, it's also more likely to cause arm troubles so use with caution.
Is it Bad to Play Tennis in the Rain?
If you watch professional tennis matches, you've noticed that whenever it rains, the match is put on pause until it's over or canceled altogether, depending on the referee's decision. Some casual or club tennis players opt to continue playing even in the rain. Either scenario is fine, but it's safer to play when it's not raining.
When playing in the rain, you'll have to put in more effort than usual, especially with the footing. Because the ground is wet, you have to be careful how you move around or wear shoes with superior grip. Keep in mind the type of court you're playing on. According to Serve and Volley Tennis, you should stop playing on hard courts if puddles form or if it feels like mud on clay courts.
To play in the rain more safely, you'll want to bring the following equipment:
- A thin rain jacket
- Cap or visor to reduce rain blocking your vision
- Dry towels
- A waterproof bag to keep unused equipment dry
- Shoes with a strong grip
- Extra tennis balls --we'll explain why next
Even with the right gear, it's better not to play in the rain. Not just for your equipment but your physical safety as well. Shoes with great grip won't fully prevent you from slipping; you still can't make too rapid movements. You could still slip and fall, possibly on the racket. That can harm the racket and yourself. Neither sounds fun!
Are Tennis Balls Waterproof?
Playing in the rain has the greatest effect on tennis balls than other equipment. Tennis balls are only partially waterproof. The interior is tightly sealed and full of pressurized air. Meaning no water can get inside, and it'll float on a body of water. The exterior is a different story. The surface of a tennis ball will easily soak up water once it touches it. As you play in the rain, the tennis ball will become heavier, harder to hit, and less likely to bounce.
This is the reason why we suggest you have multiple tennis balls in your equipment bag. That being said, a wet tennis ball isn't completely unusable. If it was a clear day and it happened to land in a nearby puddle, for example, you can still use it. You'll just need to hit it on the ground a few times to shake the water off. After that, it's good as new again.
You'll want to swap tennis balls after it gets wet if its bounce has a noticeable decrease or your arm begins to hurt from trying to hit it. Continuing to use it will deform the ball's shape and/or cause elbow troubles.
There are tennis balls marketed as waterproof, but they're just super water-resistant. You'll still notice the effects of water, just not as soon as a regular ball. If you're looking for a great water-resistant tennis ball, look into the Wimbledon Ball. It repels 70% water and is designed for professional play.
Why is My Tennis Racket Sticky?
Moisture is the prime cause of sticky tennis rackets. Odds are, you'll only experience stickiness on the grip and not in other regions. There are a few ways to prevent future stickiness. One is to make sure you store your racket somewhere dry. If you store it somewhere that's a little humid and leave it untouched for a while, that moisture will affect the grip.
Another is to dry off the grip after every use. When you've done a match, use one of the dry towels you brought to dry off the grip. This will extend the grip's usefulness before needing to change it. Additionally, you can add an overgrip; this will extend the lifespan of the racket's current grip by a lot.
For the most safety, keep all of your equipment as dry as possible. While you can play in the rain, we strongly advise against it. It ends up being more work on your end when all you want to do is enjoy the game. If the sun is out, the turf is dry, and your equipment is fresh and ready, go ahead and enjoy your next tennis match!