A Beginners Guide to Buying Tennis Gear

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Updated: May 21, 2008

Tennis Beginner

Beginning tennis? It sure beats the treadmill. Here’s the gear you need to get started.

Shorts (or skirt) and a top. Be sure they have pockets (or compression shorts) for holding extra balls when you serve.

The outfit should be completely comfortable, not too loose, heavy or restricting so you can move and stretch in all directions. Recent innovations include super breathable fabrics, and built-in UV protection. There is a look, style and price point for absolutely every personality and wallet. Check out some of the newest men’s and women’s clothing styles on Tennisidentity.com.

Adidas BarricadeSmooth soled tennis sneakers. Don’t even think about wearing running shoes which restrict side to side motion and damage courts (not to mention your knees).

Shopping a tennis retailer will ensure you get a pair designed for the courts. Your footwear should feel light and comfortable, snug so your foot does not slide from side to side. The prices on sneakers range dramatically from on-sale, past-season lows to $120 plus for models new to the market. Go with a brand you like already or try something new. There’s great technology in tennis shoes these days.

Babolat NSDrive RacquetRacquet. You might be tempted to buy the model that your favorite pro is using but please don’t. Their racquets are designed for high-level play and will do nothing for your game.

What you can opt for is the more recreational version of that player’s racquet. They look just as cool and will help your game grow much more quickly.

A few racquet recommendations for adult beginners include:
- Dunlop Aerogel 700
- Prince O3 Speedport Platinum and O3 Speedport Gold
- Slazenger Quadflex Lite
- Babolat Drive Z 110
- Babolat NSDrive OS.

Check out the individual manufacturer sites (Dunlop, Prince, Slazenger, Babolat) for details on each model.

Your local tennis shop may offer demos or you can try Tennis-Warehouse.com’s program. Ask to have the frame you choose strung according to recommended specifications; a mid priced 16 gauge synthetic string is fine to start with. There are pre-strung racquets in-store at many sporting good retailers. If price is a big concern that might be the way to go.

You will also need to know your grip size, as racquet handles come in different circumferences for different size hands.

You can determine what size you need by going to Tennis Warehouse’s website.

Other racquet differences you will see include racquet length (standard 27” should be fine unless you are super tall) and head size; an “oversized” head is going to offer a larger “sweet spot” than a smaller one, basically this offers forgiveness for less-than-dead-on-center hits.

OvergripOvergrips. You may not need these right away but if your hands sweat, or you’d like a tackier grip, these tapes are designed to roll on right over the grip the racquet comes with.

They take a little practice to get on right but can make a big difference in how the racquet feels in your hand.

Prince Racquet BagA racquet bag is a good idea for holding all your essentials. Again, browse for a style that suits you best. A three-racquet bag offers space for stowing everything alongside your racquet, even if you only have one (at the moment).

For balls, any make will do, but look to make sure that the ones you choose are designed for the surface you will play on, clay (Har tru) or hard-court.

Line up some lessons. There is no substitute for instruction from a qualified pro to get started. If you don’t take lessons you will spend most of your time collecting errant balls. Lessons (and of course practice) will fuel your passion. The better you hit, the better the rallies.

Watch professional tennis. Marvel at the shot-making abilities of the ranked, but notice what they do with their feet and how they set up for shots. Your game will not develop through osmosis – we wish — but when your pro tells you to move your feet you will understand exactly what he or she really means.

Karin Burgess is the editor of Tennisidentity.com. Tennisidentity.com is a site for avid recreational tennis players looking for the best new looks, gear and essentials to hone their good game.

What are the pros using? What’s new on the market? Find it all at tennisidentity.com. Check back regularly or sign up for monthly updates.

This article is part of On the Baseline’s Tennis 101 series. Please click here to find the rest of the series.

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