Andre Agassi likened his racket bag to an “Assassin’s kit”. He and only he prepared it with exactly what he needed for battle. The average tournament player may not take their equipment preparation as seriously as Andre but making sure you are prepared for whatever comes your way during a match or tournament is mentally important. It gives you the edge. You are about to enter into a gladiatorial arena. You need to know you are ready for whatever your opponent, the weather or even your own body will throw at you! Below is a list of the top ten items you should include in your “Assassin’s Kit”.
– This one is obviously a no brainer. You need rackets to play the game. Make sure you have spare ones. Having spare racquets that are the same type, strung the same way, and gripped the same will make the transition easier if you are to break a string or crack a frame. The smoother this transition, the less likely you are to lose precious points adjusting to an alternate frame or string job. It could make the difference in saving or converting a match point!
– A towel is sometimes a tennis players only friend on the court. Having a towel on hand keeps the sweat at bay, provides a place of solitude between changeovers, but more importantly is a huge momentum tool. You have 20 seconds to spare between points and if you have a towel, it gives you something to do while you slow the play down and figure out a game plan for the next point. Or just to make your opponent wait a little if things are running away from you too fast. Next time you watch tennis on TV, note how many times the pros go to the towel, Especially on big points!
– Pre match hydration is most important to an athlete. Keep the process rolling during your match by bringing a combination of water and sport drinks will keep your engine oiled and prevent your body from breaking down during a long match. Carbohydrate gels and sports drink powders are great things to have in your bag.
4. Extra Clothes
-Spare tennis shirts/skirts/shorts, socks, shoe laces, underwear, hats, and sweatbands are crucial for a tournament. You never know if your match will last you 30 mins, or 3 hours 30 mins. Having a fresh set of clothes to change into during a bathroom break or end of set can give you a mental refresh.
5. Grip Reel
-Keep a reel of grips in your bag. Grips expire fast over the course of a match so having the same grips, (and being able to put them on yourself!) will make sure you aren’t running to the pro shop whenever your hands get sweaty.
6. String Reel
– Chances are if you travel to tournaments you are not lugging a stringing machine with you. Although most tournaments will have a stringing service near by they won’t always carry your preferred type of string. Invest in a reel of string (good for about 20 re-strings) and not only will you have your racquets prepared, you will be saving money.
7. Jump Rope
– Sometimes it will be hard for you to get a good warm up in prior to your match. Often tournament matches are behind schedule and they will be forced to cut down on practice court time in order to get matches completed. Jumping rope is a great way to get your body prepared for the match. It works your footwork and upper body and gets your muscles warm in a way that requires very little space to operate. A must have for a tournament player.
8. Foam Roller
-In the last 10 years the foam roller has become a favorite recovery and preparation tool for athletes in all sports. Although the pain is real, rolling out your IT bands, quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and back on a foam roller post match will help your muscles recover faster, and avoid lactic acid build up that leads to delayed onset muscle soreness. An inevitable and often fatal by product of long matches.
9. Medical Tubing/ Resistance bands
– These are typically inexpensive rubber bands that players use to warm up, rehab and exercise muscles on the road during tournaments or in hotel rooms. Patrick Rafter made this popular on tour after having rotator cuff issues. He was known to attach medical tubing to his racquet and the net post and run through his service motion to strengthen and warm up the support muscles around the shoulder. Best thing about these is that you can use them anywhere!
10. Tennis Balls
– Probably should be higher on the list, but having a fresh can of tennis balls in your bag means you are always ready to practice and warm up with quality balls. Older balls as every player knows, are much softer than the new ones you will be playing with so it is important to practice with new balls to become comfortable with their feel and responsiveness off the strings. When their done, use them to massage trouble spots in your back, feet, legs and anywhere else that ails you.
Add these items to your racket bag and prepare for battle.
See you on the courts!
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