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One aspect 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 looking indeed.

Despite 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.

Playing “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 deep overhead.
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 paddle.

When returning 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!
To help 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 far 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.

Seeing 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 alternative.
If the 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.
The most 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.
A shot 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 in paddle!
Finally, 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 an edge.
Next time, instead of complaining about the bad weather, use it to your advantage!.

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