Ask The Pros: Cold Weather Paddle Tips
Peter Berka, Denise Murphy, and Heather Prop offer strategies to prepare for the deep freeze.
HP: The ball becomes considerably heavier in colder temperatures so many more drives will go into the net. Players need to move their feet and bend more while aiming higher over the net.
PB: If your drive is not ending points then you need to either be more patient (for the errors to come) or more accurate. Find the middle or the right hip of your opponent when they are at the net.
HP: As a volleyer, take a step closer to the net so those heavy balls will find their way over rather than falling short into the net. The net team will have the advantage—a great time to work on those successful drop-shot volleys!
DM: At the net, less is more. Soft overheads and drop shots will win you more points than hitting hard. Keep your overheads deep and soft and look for weak responses to drop at the net.
PB: Make decisions sooner on a side-back, back-side, or a one-screener because the ball is not going to sit up as long as it would in warm weather.
DM: The combination of a heavy ball and a frozen screen can be deadly. Try to block more and use the screen less. Position closer to the baseline to cover the short ball and block and protect your corner. Otherwise, get yourself close to the screen and keep your paddle low and open.
PB: For lobbing, a player needs to make sure they follow through above their head and aim higher than normal. It is amazing how many lobs stay in play in cold weather even when they’ve been hit with a little extra.
HP: Since the serving /net team has more of an advantage in cold temperatures, after winning the coin toss, elect to serve first and get a good start. If needed, play "I" or Australian formations, but try never to give up the net against the returning team.
PB: The last thing I’d mention is that there are a lot of benefits to cold weather paddle, too. Serving, volleying, and hitting overheads all get much easier in cold weather. The sweet spot might feel smaller because of the cold weather, but there are a lot of advantages of these conditions so do your best to adapt. Have fun on the courts!
Peter Berka is the Director of Racquet Sports at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Illinois. He can be seen on The Platform Files on YouTube.
Denise Murphy is the Head Platform Tennis Professional at Glenbrook Paddle Club in Northbrook, Illinois, and is currently ranked 19th with Olga Martinsone.
Heather Prop was the Director of Paddle at Hyde Park Golf and Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio for decades and was ranked in the top 10 until her recent retirement from competitive paddle tennis.