Hard vs. Clay vs. Grass: What’s the Difference?

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There are many different types of tennis court surfaces. The three main surfaces professionals play on are hard court, clay, and grass. There are major differences between the three surfaces and players need to consider what shoes to wear, balls to use, and strategies to employ for each unique surface. Below, with the help of http://www.healthyliving.com, the three surfaces are outlined.

Hard Court

Both the U.S. Open and the Australian Open tournaments take place on hard court surfaces. Hard courts are typically made from plastic or cement, and is a “fast” surface that results in short rallies that favor hard serves. According to Healthy Living, “many professionals consider hard court the most democratic of surfaces in terms of playing style. The amount of sand in the topcoat and the type of substrate underneath affects ball speed, and its sticky, gripping surface can increase the likelihood of player injury. Most common tennis shoes are made for hard court surfaces and extra-duty balls are the best to play with. Consider playing on clay if you have knee problems or are looking for a slower game.

Clay

The French Open features red clay courts. Red clay courts are made of crushed natural materials such as shale or brick, making clay courts the slowest of all surfaces. Typically, baseline players who shoot with consistency and use heavy spin appreciate the longer points and higher bounces that clay courts accommodate. American clay courts — commonly called Har-Tru — move the ball more quickly than the traditional red clay courts, but still permit slower volleys. Consider using sneakers specifically designed for clay courts and regular-duty balls while playing on clay.

Grass

The courts at Wimbledon feature grass. Similar in complexion to the golf putting green, the grass surface moves the ball the fastest of every Grand Slam surface because it lets the ball slide. Grass surfaces favor serve-and-volley players who rush the net following serve to take advantage of an opponent’s slower foot speed following return. “Constant mowing and frequent watering make grass courts expensive to maintain; as a result, they are unusual.” Consider wearing shoes such as the Adidas “Barricade Grass” while playing on grass and using regular-duty balls.

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