If you’re thinking of taking up tennis as a hobby or learning to play as a professional, then it is important that you have the right gear for the job. Here are some of the essentials you’ll need and some key things to look out for.

A good racket

The racket is the most important piece of equipment you’ll need as a tennis player. It will affect your game and ability enormously, so it is not something that you should choose in a hurry or without some prior research. If you’re only thinking of playing tennis once in a blue moon, then a cheap racket will do the job, but if you’re looking at a more regular hobby or pursuit, then you should go for a more expensive version. Avoid metal or aluminium frames, and instead, look for one that is made from graphite fibres. If cost is still an issue, it is better to buy a good second-hand racket than a cheaper new one.

The power of your serve or volley is influenced by your racket’s head, with a bigger racket head generating more power. The centre of the racket is the most effective area when hitting the ball, and this is known as the sweet spot. A bigger racket head gives a larger sweet spot, although you will have more control with a smaller head.

Racket grips are available in different sizes too, from zero to five. You should try a few out to see what feels comfortable, but smaller hands generally prefer a lower number. Your index finger of your non-racket hand should fit comfortably between the index finger and thumb when holding the racket.

Weight and balance are other important factors, and this is often only truly appreciated when actually hitting the ball. A racket which is too light will mean that you overuse your arm when swinging to hit the ball hard. Aim for a racket which doesn’t feel too heavy one way or the other when you hold it in the middle.

Clothing and footwear

The clothes and shoes you wear when playing will affect how comfortable you feel during a game, which will then also most likely affect your performance. What’s more, tennis clubs are notoriously picky about the clothing they accept on their courts – don’t just think you can turn up in your usual workout gear and be allowed to play! Look for clothing which is made from a breathable fabric to keep you cool and wick away moisture. Also look out for shorts that have pockets so that you can have somewhere for your spare tennis balls.

When it comes to shoes, you will need some that are specifically designed for the job, allowing you to grip and move in all directions quickly and easily without straining or spraining your muscles. They are also likely to become worn quickly, so choose some with a good, hard-wearing sole, and one that will be suitable for your chosen playing surface.

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