My friends know how much of a tennis advocate I am, so when it comes to questions about anything related to the sport, I usually get the call. Recently, I was asked what the “round, black thing” does for the racquet. After pondering the question for a few seconds, I realized what my friend was inquiring about is the dampener.
With the advancement that has taken place in tennis over the last two decades, it’s forgivable if new age tennis players and fans are unaware of what some tennis accessories are used for. As a young player, I never knew what purpose the dampener served either. I just assumed it was strictly for aesthetic purposes.
So if you’re new to the sport, here are some items you may need to get match ready. Plus, a couple that could help you define your court persona while driving performance.
Dampeners: It may not be too common on the tennis scene today, but long-term tennis fans can remember the period when lots of players used dampeners. Dampeners, which either look like a small round button or a finger-size stick, alter the sound you hear, and the vibration you feel when a racquet’s strings make contact with the ball. Using one doesn’t give any known significant advantage over your opponent; it’s merely a matter of preference. So if you’re interested in getting rid of that annoying “ping” sound every time you strike the ball, then invest in one like the ASICS Tennis Dampener or the Babolat Vibrakill Dampener, which are inexpensive.
String Savers: You may have noticed a few pro players fiddling with their strings mid-match, using a small instrument the size of a pinky finger. Tennis legend Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have been known to utilize this accessory on the court. Just like its name implies, the string saver prolongs the life of your string and improves ball control by limiting string movement on impact with the ball. The Tourna Cross String Saver gives you great results.
Ball Clips & Holders: This is another accessory that’s become obsolete with time. Old school players, especially women, hooked ball holders on the back of their skirts to store an extra ball in the middle of play. Women’s skirts and dresses weren’t always designed with built-in tights, which allow you wedge balls against your thigh; they were more like underpants. I’ve spotted a few players paying homage to the throwback tennis style by using a ball holder. You can join in on the trend or scoop up a ball holder, like the Gamma Love Cup Ball Clip, for the next costume party you attend dressed like a tennis player.
Headbands and Wristbands: This is a must-have item if you sweat a lot, especially during the summer months. The adidas Interval Reversible Tennis Headband and adidas Interval Reversible Tennis Wristbands have the combination of performance and “cool factor” down to the tee. Plus they absorb moisture excellently so your forehead and wrists are soaking wet by the end of your match. Did I mention that you can flip and wear ’em both ways?
Head Covers: When tennis emerged as a mainstream sport in the ‘70s, stars like Jimmy Connors, Billie Jean King, Boris Becker and Chris Evert became household names. Yet many big name players were relatively unrecognizable because everyone dressed alike. Today, the sport has come a long way with so many recognizable stars, each with a personalized style of dressing. Head covers have become one of the most unique ways of showing off a player’s style while offering protection from the intense sun. Who wasn’t captivated by Andre Agassi’s bold decision to rock a bandanna? Now players like Federer and Rafael Nadal rock toned down versions of bandannas. The Nike Tennis Swoosh Bandanna is an excellent choice to provide coverage and sweat assumption. If bandannas are not your style, then you can’t go wrong with a classic tennis cap or visor. On that hot, sunny day, you can catch stars like Andy Murray spotting a retro Under Armour cap similar to the Men’s Headline Stretch Fit Cap and Maria Sharapova going for a colorful Nike visor similar to the Women’s Featherlight 2.0.
Think you’re ready to hit the court now? Let us know what accessory you find most useful on the court, and don’t forget to pack some sunscreen and plenty of water or sports drink to stay hydrated.