Ever wondered how the weather conditions of the place where you live affect your training for tennis? If you haven't, well... how can I blame you!
After all, whether you live in a country where it's warm the whole year ☀ or not, you probably got used to it by now and don't even think that somewhere else may be different.
But who knows, maybe now that you think of it, you're curious to know whether it's that different or not to train in a place where winter actually feels like winter!
Or maybe you're planning to move to the other side of the planet (or even only to the other side of your country) and wouldn't mind knowing what to expect!
Either way, keep reading because when it comes to cold weather and finding ways to keep training for tennis no matter what, I've got some experience!
Why you may ask? Because even though I'm Italian, I've recently moved from Côte d'Azur (France) to Finland, and guess what?
The shock (not only thermal, but that's another story! I wasn't small and had to learn and adapt quickly not to get frozen right away during the winter!
So here's the info package for the tennis player moving to a place with cold weather.
Unfortunately, that's a fact. Actually, to be completely honest, most of the time you cannot even find an hour within the same week, let alone the day before!
And the reason is simple. The public tennis courts and all the outdoor courts are out of use (of course), so the number of available courts is pretty much halved during winter. This means, the earlier you plan your sessions and reserve your courts, the better it is!
Solution #1 - Plan your tennis practices and matches well in advance to have a chance to choose the most convenient times for you.
Solution #2 - Otherwise, be prepared to make some sacrifices and either play super early in the morning (that's what I do!) or super late in the evening.
In other words, you can forget about them! I know, it might be tempting when there's no snow and a blue sky, but don't be fooled: it's not those you should care about, but the temperature!
And trust me, if going for a long run is still something you can try if you're particularly brave and have the right clothes on, you definitely don't wanna be doing sprints or circuits outside when it's super cold.
Not only it'll take you much longer to get your muscles warmed up and ready for the session, but you'll cool down pretty quickly during the rest time and end up feeling cold and sweaty at the same time!
Solution #1 - Find a big indoor space, possibly not too crowded, that you can use for your agility and speed sessions, and use the gym for the aerobic ones (unless you have the equipment at home).
Solution #2 - If that's not possible, resign yourself to the idea of booking a tennis court (well in advance!) for the fitness sessions that require a big space! Trust me, doing this seems harder than it is: I tried it myself, and once you get used to it, it becomes "normal".
Solution #3 - If even that is not an option, then you have to make the most of what you have, which means focusing on strength, power, and flexibility during the colder months and leaving the agility and speed workouts for later when the weather gets better!
In this case, consider following a flexible fitness program like the Total Tennis Home Workout for example, that comes with 5 different plans or schedules (among which a strength tennis workout plan and a movement workout plan) that you can alternate according to the season and temperature.
Whether you're going to play tennis or having a fitness session, you cannot just arrive at the court 5-10 minutes earlier because that's not gonna do any good to your muscles, plus you're gonna be late for sure. And here's why.
First of all, you'll have many more clothes to take off. And no, getting ready at home is not really an option, given the cold temperature you have to deal with on the way.
And as if that wasn't enough, you won't even take your extra clothes off all at once, or you'll get cold even inside the hall. Instead, you'll be wearing layers and take them off in stages, while you warm up.
And finally, your warm-up will clearly take longer than when it's warm and sunny outside since your body will need extra time to get first used to the new warmer temperature and then ready to move properly.
So before you get the brilliant idea to skip your warm-up or cut it in half because you're late, remember that the goal of the warm-up is not only to increase performance but decrease the risk of injury too. And you don't want to get injured and risk to compromise your season or career, do you?
Solution - Head to the court at least 20 min before so your muscles have time to first defrost and then warm up, and wear layers that you can easily take off while warming up.
That's right! And you know why? Because with lack of degrees comes a lack of thirst, which means you cannot wait until you're thirsty to drink. I know that's what you should avoid in any conditions, but when it's cold that's even more true, trust me!
And science even confirms it. In practice, here's what happens when it's cold. Our body tends to keep all the blood to its core to guarantee the most vital functions, preventing it from flowing to the extremities.
In this way, yes it conserves heat but also tricks itself into thinking it's properly hydrated, which then results in less thirst (and, at the same time, more urine production).
And our body isn't even the only one to be fooled, we are too! We think there's no need to drink so much because our skin doesn't feel that wet as our sweat evaporates almost right away in the cold air, but in reality, we're still sweating and we should keep compensating for this liquid loss just as always!
Solution - Force yourself to drink before you start and whenever you take a break, even though you don't feel like it. Make it a habit or you'll forget as you won't be reminded by your own thirst and end up dehydrated!
Voilà, that's all I can think of when it comes to training in a place where winter really feels like winter. I hope my personal experience is gonna help you somehow!
Either to be more prepared in case you're planning to move to a colder place or just appreciate how lucky you are to live in a place where it's warm all year round!
If you have any questions or doubts, don't hesitate to ask. I'm here to help!
Elena Margaria from Tennis Rematch 🥶
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