of our sport that usually convinces non-players that you have
to be a little crazy to be a paddle player is the fact that
the game must ‘go on’ in all types of weather. The
sight of grown men and women running around on a platform court
in the middle of winter is odd enough, but adding a snowstorm,
sleet, or a driving rain makes for a scene that gets very strange
this fanatical image of paddle players, in actuality most
players would probably prefer never to have to venture out
on the court again during wet conditions. However, if you
play in leagues and tournaments you will have to deal with
the elements sooner or later.
“in the wet" poses some unique challenges.
1. The ball will hydroplane along the court, making it very
difficult, if not impossible, to hit a drive from the baseline.
This is especially true in response to a serve or a well-hit
2. The footing can be very slippery on some courts when they’re
wet, making it hard to change directions, and sometimes dangerous
to chase after a ball.
3. The paddle will tend to turn in your hand when making contact
with the ball, due to a slippery grip.
4. Seeing the ball may be difficult, especially if you wear
glasses or goggles for eye protection.
5. The ball will tend to slide off your paddle face, making
it hard to hit with any accuracy, especially if you attempt
to hit with a lot of spin. This effect is worse during freezing
conditions which will cause ice to form on the face of the
a serve that is hydroplaning, stay very low to the court and
set up farther back than normal. Assume that the ball is going
to stay low and skid into the back screen. Next, just try to
lob the ball back into play. If you feel that you have any chance
of driving the return, use a flatter, more level swing. This
will work better than a big topspin stroke since you need to
meet the ball as squarely as possible for a solid hit. Players
with western grips and big topspin forehands are usually going
to be completely unable to drive under these circumstances because
they are unable to "grab" the ball with the face of
their paddle. Returning serve under these conditions reminds
me of my old grass court tennis days: never assume a true bounce
and be ready for anything!
solve the problem of a slippery court, I recommend wearing shoes
with natural rubber soles. These shoes are usually designed
for squash or racquetball and will grip the court much more
effectively than the normal tough rubber soles found on most
tennis shoes. I always keep a pair handy in case of slippery
conditions. If you use them only when the court is slippery,
they’ll last probably a couple of seasons and will give
you a huge advantage over your opponents, as well as making
it much safer for you to play. It’s well worth the investment
for players of any ability.
as holding on to the paddle itself, I suggest using an absorbent
over-grip such as Tourna-grip or Head Control grip, as opposed
to some of the rubbery, tacky-feeling grips that are excellent
during normal conditions.
the ball during rainy or snowy conditions can be difficult.
A hat is an obvious necessity. The brim of the hat will help
keep your eyes sheltered from the elements. If you wear glasses
you are at a big disadvantage. Contact lenses are a much better
ball is sliding off your paddle it is probably because your
paddle has become too smooth from use, or that it is icing up.
Most of the new paddles have an excellent surface for gripping
the ball. If your paddle ices up, however, the ball will be
impossible to control. Viking Athletics makes a "paddle
scraper" that is easy to put in your pocket and is invaluable
during icy conditions.
frustrating stroke under these conditions is often the spin
serve. The ball seems to consistently land about five feet to
the left of where it normally would end up, or it slides off
the paddle into the net. In this case it helps to "open
up" your grip (towards the forehand). This will give you
more contact with the ball and help reduce the sliding effect.
that can be deadly to use during "the wet" is the
undercut-swinging volley. Let the ball drop as low as possible,
while having your paddle cocked up and tilted back, and then
slice through and under the ball. Drive the ball low and hard
into the back screens and corners. Your opponents won’t
like it, but you will. You really can you hit an easy winner
if you’re heading for a tournament that threatens to be
a wet weekend, take plenty of clothes including a breathable
waterproof outer jacket, towels, hats, and at least one extra
pair of tennis shoes. Remember also that if the weather is more
bothersome to your opponents than it is to you, it gives you
instead of complaining about the bad weather, use it to your