The current cold snap is not forecast to last for long, but another is bound to be along soon. If you are going to keep playing tennis over the winter, you need to know how to ward off the big chill
Hands are one of the first parts of the body to suffer when you play winter tennis. Surprisingly gloves are not necessarily the solution. Either they make the racket slip in your hand or you discover you can't feel the handle at all and you lose your grip.
Could the Tourna Hot Glove Tennis Mitt, £7.89, Amazon, be the answer? This unusual little garmet is a mitt with two holes, one at either end. Your hand goes in one end, and the racket in the other and they meet in the middle in the warmth of a fleecey mitt. Admittedly, everyone here at Tennis Towers thought it looked odd, but as comfort trumps aesthetics, we put it to the test. It actually works rather well, once you get used to it and its odd, pouchy shape allows you to adjust the racket to serve. But a colleague pointed out a basic flaw. If you have two handed back hand, one hand is still out in the cold. It will also be gripping a fistful of mitt. Despite that, we still think it's a glove worth getting your hands on, ideally in your Christmas stocking.
Scientists have long since proved that you do not lose most heat through your head. If that were true they say we would be just as cold if we went without a hat in winter as without trousers, which no one would advise. What's more, while it feels as if covering your face, head and chest makes you warmer, the boffins say it is not true. Covering one part of the body apparently has no more effect than covering any other part of the body. Yet we know our ears get cold. Whatever the scientists say, a Thermal Polar Fleece Ear Muff with Performance Stretch, £4.58 for 3, Amazon, sounded just the job. It was. The verdict on wearing these was warm ears, cool head and no loss of hearing with the added benefit of keeping long hair out of the way.
Don't forget to drink! Dehydration is commonly associated with the heat, but it can be just as much a problem in winter says the Summit Medical Group. Breathing cold, dry air is dehydrating even though you may not feel thirsty and cold weather also tends to move body fluids from your extremities to your core making you pee more, according to the Human Performance Resource Centre. There is no need to overdo it, but if you are playing for a couple of hours, do take some water with you.
Finally, layer up. The NHS's advice for what to wear when you run will work for tennis too. You need a base layer - a nice breathable fabric to wick away sweat - one of our new T-shirts, £20 would be perfect (cotton, which goes clammy when you sweat, is a definite no-no). Then you need a fleecey layer to keep you warm, finishing with a light water-resitant jacket to expel moisture and protect you from the wind. Game on!