Unlike the grass of a soccer field or the wood of a basketball court, the sport of tennis is played on all different surfaces around the world. In this article, I will be explaining how to effectively play on all tennis surfaces, and how to adjust your game when playing on them!
The three main surfaces you will encounter are hard courts (concrete), clay, and grass.
All three surfaces are different in their makeup which forces you to play a certain way to maximize your game.
First tennis surface: Hard Courts
Hard courts are the most prevalent type of surface tennis is played on throughout the world.
If you go down to your local park or high school, odds are they have hard tennis courts. Two of the four professional Grand Slam tournaments are played on this surface.
These courts are usually constructed out of acrylic, asphalt, or concrete. The main difference between the three materials is how well they hold up in outdoor elements.
Hard courts are the fastest of the three main surfaces tennis is played on. They are bouncy and slick which make it easier to hit the ball past your opponent.
You will often hear people refer to the tennis ball “skipping” off the hard court due to the little resistance the surface offers.
Hard courts are by far the most common surface tennis is played on because they are the cheapest to build and maintain.
When playing on hard courts, you want to look to be aggressive with your shots. Because the ball skids quickly on this surface, it lends itself to you hitting the ball by your opponent.
The mindset you want to have when playing on a hard court is one of aggression and deceviness. You want to be the one dictating the point.
With that said, hard courts do the most damage to your body.
The hard nature of these courts offer very little give when you change directions and perform any stop/start motions. Over time, this can cause pain and damage to your joints.
For most younger folks and those who just play doubles, these effects will be limited. Those that are a little bit older and are playing singles, you will likely feel more sore after a session on a hard court compared to the other surfaces we will discuss.
Refer to these tips from Steward Medical Group to make sure your body is prepared and in shape to avoid injury!
Second tennis surface: Clay Courts
Clay courts are the second most prevalent type of surface tennis is played on.
Clay courts are typically found in warm climates, specifically in Europe and South America. One of the four professional Grand Slam tournaments is played on clay courts.
Clay courts, often referred to as just “the clay”, is the slowest surface that tennis is played on. Because of this, clay is a great surface for those who are older or just starting their tennis journey.
When the ball hits off the clay, it will slow down and take a higher than normal bounce. This gives you more time to approach the ball and set up your shot. Because of this, rallies are typically longer on this surface.
To maximize your game on the clay, you will want to change your approach from one of trying to hit winners to one of avoiding errors.
Do NOT take this as playing scared or defensive.
This just means that because of the slow nature of the surface, it is much harder to hit it by your opponent. Focus on shot placement instead of power.
The other wrinkle that clay has is the ability for players to slide into shots. In order to maximize your movement, you will want to learn how to slide when you are changing directions.
This is a skill developed over time with no true way to practice it besides playing on this surface.
Third tennis surface: Grass Courts
The final surface we will go over is grass. Grass is by far the least prevalent of the three surfaces and has become somewhat of a lost art in the 21st century.
One of the four professional Grand Slam tournaments is played on this surface.
Grass tennis courts can be hard to find and are often located in more expensive areas and tennis clubs. This is because they are by far the hardest court to maintain.
The most common areas where grass courts are found is in the United Kingdom and Australia.
If you are lucky enough to ever play on this surface, expect a very fast game. The ball slides off the court when it bounces.
It stays very low to the ground requiring you to have very strong hand-eye coordination.
To get a better grasp of the game on grass, watch this video of 8x-Wimbledon champion Roger Federer practicing on the surface.
Let’s play tennis!
Now that you know how to play on all tennis surfaces, get out there and practice!
The best way to assimilate your game onto these surfaces is through practice!
Head over to HOKALI and book your set of tennis lessons today! Our coaches will help you master your skills on whatever surface you are looking to play on.
Wanna keep on reading about tennis? Have a look at this article!