Here in the Northern Hemisphere, winter sports like skiing and ice hockey are just as beloved as field sports. But not everyone is eager to switch out the cleats for snowshoes come fall. Good news: there are plenty of awesome summer sports you probably didn’t know you could play in the winter!
1. Beach Volleyball
Who says you need a beach to play beach volleyball? Although the game may have originated as a summer pastime, it has evolved into a sanctioned Olympic sport practiced by serious athletes.
There are now indoor beach volleyball facilities (sand and all) built for year-round play. Sports domes like the Volleydome in Calgary boast courts for traditional indoor volleyball and the two-on-two beach game.
Of course, the game changes quite a bit when the green turns to white, and not necessarily for the better. The ball skips and glides across the snowy pitch with ease but is much harder to keep in control. The low-friction playing surface also puts players at risk of injury.
Playing soccer outdoors in the cold isn’t ideal unless the season runs long or winter comes early. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: the soccer dome.
Just be sure to dress for the weather with a moisture-wicking base layer and lots of insulating layers on top.
Believe it or not, there are lots of ways to experience the joys of cycling in the winter.
If you’re brave enough to venture outdoors, it’s possible to outfit your regular commuter bicycle to tackle the slippery roads ahead. However, it does require some extra maintenance; MEC recommends that you wipe down the chain after every ride, apply lube to the chain at least three times a month, and spray aerosol lube on all the moving parts once another.
For cyclists who prefer to stay warm, there’s track cycling, a lesser-known Olympic event that provides an incredible workout and a great show for spectators. Thanks to air-supported structures like the Team USA Velodrome, you can pick up this sport at any time of year.
5. Ultimate Frisbee
It might not have made the Olympics yet, but Ultimate Frisbee has been soaring in popularity ever since its inception in the 1960s. It’s become a favourite of college students and rec leagues around North America.
Trouble is, it’s not easy to catch and throw a plastic disc with mittens on.
Tennis as a winter sport? It’s possible. With the right gear and a fiery spirit, you can continue to sharpen your tennis skills throughout the winter months! Here are some practical tips for playing tennis in cold weather, with or without an air-supported dome.
It takes a bit longer to loosen up in low temperatures. Give your body a chance to warm up with a 10-minute stretching routine before you begin playing. Your muscles will thank you the next day!
2. Stay Hydrated
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can cut back your water intake. You won’t feel as thirsty playing in the winter, but your body still needs water to stay strong, fast and healthy. Drink plenty of water before you go outside and bring a bottle of water with you. If freezing is a problem, use a wide-mouthed bottle and store it upside-down.
3. Wear Shades
Sunglasses are a touchy topic in the world of tennis, but one thing is clear: the winter sun hangs lower in the sky, and the snow makes its glare even worse. If you have a personal rule against wearing sunglasses, you might make an exception for winter tennis.
4. Switch to Softer Strings
The lower the temperature, the stiffer racquet strings become. High-tension stings are prone to break in the cold. Softer string compositions, like multifilament or natural gut, perform better in the winter.
5. Adjust Your Play Style
Frigid weather has an interesting effect on tennis balls. The rubber hardens, and the air pressure inside the ball drops. The result? The ball feels softer in hand, but much harder on impact – which makes for a very different kind of tennis.
Since the ball has far less bounce, and the racquets are less elastic, you must aim deeper and hit harder to get the ball over the net. Topspins lose their edge; drop shots, slices, and flat serves are deadly. Winter tennis demands even more movement than summer tennis, with players travelling deeper in the court to catch the low ball.
It’s practically a whole new game!
6. Protect Yourself
Are you brave enough to venture out in freezing weather? Your dedication to the sport is admirable. But without proper preparation, exercising in sub-zero temperatures can be hazardous to your health. Any exposed skin can be at risk of freezing, which leads to frostbite, and wearing sweat-soaked clothing can increase the risk of hypothermia.
Proper winter tennis attire consists of a lightweight, moisture-wicking base beneath layers of insulating fabrics. Be sure that the outer layer or water-repellent. Gloves are important, even if they hinder your grip. Finally, don’t forget to wear a hat — you lose about 50% of body heat from your head.
Too Cold for Tennis? Use an Air-Supported Dome
Snow and ice add a cool twist to tennis, but cold-weather tennis is not for everyone. That’s why sports domes were invented! An air-supported dome structure provides shelter from the snow and a comfortable playing temperature all throughout the winter. We have the pictures to prove it!
Like all athletes, tennis players benefit from a balanced, full-body workout. Whether you’re playing outdoors in the summer or under a dome in the winter, the following are great all-season exercises for tennis players of all skill levels.
1. Bench Press
The bench press is a powerful compound movement that engages the chest, triceps and shoulders: all key ingredients of a killer tennis serve. Few exercises build upper body strength as effectively as a properly-performed bench press.
Beginners should master the movement with lightweight dumbbells before progressing to heavier weights.
Sometimes, you've got to leap to counter a powerful slam. Box jumps are a fun, low-impact exercise that helps tennis players prepare for the explosive jumping and diving movements. It also improves your ability to absorb the shock of touching back down, which is essential for avoiding foot and leg injuries.
The rotator cuff is the four muscles and tendons that enable your arm to roll fluidly in its shoulder socket. Serious tennis players push those muscles to their limit. When the muscles are strained or torn, it can become painful or even impossible to continue playing.
The best way to prevent rotator cuff injuries in tennis is to strengthen those four key muscles. Internal and external dumbbell rotations are a great exercise to do this. They in a standing or lying position, and you don’t have to use heavy weights to benefit.
Medicine ball slams are an effective, full-body movement with emphasis on the abdominal muscles. The force you use to slam the ball translates into better core strength and more powerful swings on the court.
Medicine ball slams also require minimal skill in weight training to perform and pose little to no risk of injury, even in when you’re fatigued.
Soccer is an incredibly demanding sport which requires players to be in tip-top shape for optimal performance. Great soccer players do more than just train by playing one game, though. Other sports can help soccer players become better by helping to focus their skill development.
Because soccer demands so much and is so multi-faceted, narrowing down the skills you want to develop and then finding other sports or activities that hone them can really improve your performance on the soccer field!
Here are a few sports that soccer players should try out.
We talked about how much tennis players can get out of playing soccer in this article, but it also works in the opposite direction.
Soccer players can practice changing directions quickly and anticipating the movement of the ball. No, you’re not using your feet to move the ball across the court, but the sport can still improve your ability to track the ball and anticipate trajectories.
Also, reading your opponent is a big part of tennis. In soccer, you only really get to do that in a penalty kick situation. Staring down your opponent and anticipating their reaction is something you do all the time in tennis.
Basketball is one of the largest North American sports, so much so that it’s unlikely that you’ll see a school gym or park without a basketball court. But while the sport may look very different from soccer, some shared principles could, with practice, really improve your soccer skills.
A large part of basketball is simply moving the ball down the court. This requires fancy footwork, slick moves, and most importantly, passing. Even though you pass with your hands and not your feet, it’s the same idea. You want to look for your opening, react to it quickly, and outsmart your opponent—just like playing soccer.
Volleyball is a fast-paced game with a much smaller play area than soccer, but it can still work on key parts of your soccer game.
Much of volleyball is spent in the air, jumping up as high as possible to block or reach high-flying balls. Jumping and diving for the ball can help you drill down on your vertical game if you find yourself being beaten out at the net reaching for those corner kicks.
And playing beach volleyball is great for the legs—the sand is perfect for resistance training!
Swimming might not directly help with your soccer skills, but it is an excellent activity for developing strength and endurance.
The resistance provided by the water can work your muscles to the limit faster and more effectively than on land. Swimming will improve your overall strength to help add power to your kicks, speed to your sprints, and stamina to those long run-downs.
If none of the sports above is your cup of tea, any sport you choose could have some component that is useful for soccer. It’s just such a physically demanding sport that whatever skill you decide to focus on can make a significant impact on your level of play.
The takeaway is not to pigeon-hole yourself to only playing one sport. Being well-rounded is important in sports as well as life!
If you’re looking to boost your tennis game, it might be worth looking at another sport played in a dome: soccer! Tennis and soccer might seem like two completely different sports, but like many sports, playing soccer builds transferrable skills that could push your tennis skills to the next level.
It’s long been known that multidisciplinary athletes tend to do well in any sport they try. Just look at an athlete like Bo Jackson (who you can learn more about in this blog and this one, where we talk about him and his Elite Sports Dome projects) that not only played at the top level of both football and baseball, but was actually named an all-star in both sports.
So how can soccer help your tennis game? Here are just a few ways:
Improves Your Footwork
It’s no surprise that soccer requires heavy use of your feet, but the fancy foot skills you learn on the soccer pitch could translate quickly to the court.
Soccer requires you to change directions quickly while running, make unique foot movements to control and kick the ball, and power up and power down leg muscles as they’re needed. All these skills and exercises can help on the court to get to the ball quickly, change directions on a whim, and quickly improvise with fast feet on-the-fly.
Boosts Your Fitness and Cardio
For most players on the soccer field, you’re in constant movement. It’s estimated that at the pro-level, a midfielder might run 7 miles in a game. Now the amount of running you do in tennis is very much decided by your play style, but if you’re looking to get a more high-energy style going, soccer could help to increase your stamina.
Many players don’t even realize the amount of running they do because of the quick pace of soccer. Being a timed sport with no stopping of the clock, the game is go-go-go, and you won’t realize how much training you just squeezed in until the game has ended. Or maybe not even until the next day when you realize how sore your legs are…
Helps Learning to Anticipate
Most sports, especially at the top level, require just as much strategy as skill. Soccer might look like a bunch of runners chasing a ball, but the strategy of soccer is much deeper. Running around the pitch is a sure way to burn yourself out quickly, so a good soccer player needs to be able to look where the ball is going, analyze other players and teammates, and react quickly to any situation.
With the possible exception of having a teammate (unless playing doubles), all these skills are invaluable when you have a racket in your hands.
Being able to think five steps ahead of your opponent will help you keep your cool, better conserve your energy, and make your explosive attacks all the more effective.
So if you’re looking for another sport to play that will help you to improve your tennis skills, look no further than soccer. And if you happen to play tennis in a multisport air supported structure, you might not need to travel any further than your dome to jump into a game.
Tennis Evolution: How Rule Changes May Help the Sport Remain Relevant
It is not at all uncommon for sports to evolve over time. Sometimes this happens to accommodate changes in technology, requests from players and owners, or a need to deliver what the public now wants from a sport. The latter reason is behind some proposed tennis rule changes announced recently.
The longest professional tennis match took place in 2010. John Isner and Nicholas Mahut battled it out over the course of three days before the former finally triumphed. In all, the contest lasted a staggering 11 hours and 5 minutes.
However, as the Wall Street Journal reported, the actual tennis playing accounted for less than two hours of that time.
With attention spans shortening and so many entertainment options available, there is concern that both current and potential viewers may not watch professional tennis as we know it. The proposed solution? Speed things up.
Association of Tennis Professionals President Chris Kermode feels these suggested changes are, "not only about the next generation of players, but also about the next generation of fans."
"We will be sure to safeguard the integrity of our product when assessing if any changes should eventually be carried forward onto regular ATP World Tour events in the future," he says.
Here are the proposed rule alterations:
The number of seeds would drop from 32 to 16. The idea here is to make the early matches more exciting due to the higher caliber of players. Viewers would become hooked from the beginning and then keep watching right through the championship.
First to six game sets would drop to first to four, with a tiebreaker resolving a 3-3 deadlock. Also, a sudden death deuce point (allowing the receiver to choose their court side) would replace so-called advantage scoring. Sets would be best of five.
Reduced Starting Time
Once the second player steps onto the court, the match must begin in five minutes, down from the previous ten.
Already tested at the U.S. Open qualifying and the Next Gen ATP Finals, this would ensure players adhere to the 25-second rule between serves. The clock would also time the warm-up, set breaks, and medical timeouts.
A no-let rule for serving.
Player and Coach Communication
While communication would still be possible between players and coaches at certain points during the match, the latter could no longer step onto the court.
Electronic Line Calling
There would be only the chair umpire on the court. An electronic line calling system would signal unsuccessful serves and when the ball is out, replacing its human equivalent.
Increased Spectator Freedom
Elimination of the rule restricting spectators from coming or going during a match.
Kermode stated that these alterations should not alienate the current fanbase. A shorter format and faster pace may well stop people from changing channels, but that remains to be seen. If these come to pass, it will certainly be interesting to gauge player reactions, particularly veterans who made their reputations via the traditional form of play.
Changing demographics are also clearly a factor. As the veterans who reliably drew viewers enter retirement, executives hope to attract a younger demographic to the sport. The thinking is that a swifter game, and not just exciting personalities, is key to making that change.
Why Indoor Tennis Season is the Best Time to Get a New Racquet
As the outdoor tennis season winds to a close, it’s time to move your tennis training indoors. It might also be time to look at getting some new gear. If you need to get a new racquet, now might be the perfect time to do so.
Can’t tell if you need a new racquet, though? Some of the tell-tale signs that it’s time to get a new one are:Why Indoor Tennis Season is the Best Time to Get a New Racquet
Dents and Damage—If your racket bounces off the ground enough times, there might be enough damage to the structural integrity that it might be better to get a new one than wait until it fails during a game.
Falling apart—When pieces start to fall off, it’s likely time to get a new one
Doesn’t feel right—It doesn’t always have to be the racket’s fault. Perhaps your game has changed or you feel you’ve outgrown your racquet. A racquet should match your style and if the one you’re using isn’t up to the task, you should get a new one.
Also keep in mind that your old racquet might just need to be re-strung. A good quality racquet can be restrung a good number of times before you have to move on. A good rule of thumb for how often to restring your racquet is to take the number of times you play per week, and that’s the number of times you should restring in a year. Of course, if you play hard and for long periods of time, you might want to double or even triple that.
Depending on your level of play though, you might be changing racquets every year, and if so here are a few tips to help you choose a racquet.
Get the Right Grip Size
Tennis racquet grips range in size from 4” to 5 5/8”. You probably already have an idea if a thinner or wider grip size feels right for you, but be sure to try out a slightly smaller or larger grip size. You might find a new preference.
Choose the Right Length
The standard racquet is 27” long but if you’re looking to add more power to your swing, you may want to go to a longer racquet. Of course, if you already have a preference, stick to what you know. Some players know the feel of exactly how much power to put in to get the shot they want, changing your racquet could throw this off.
Look for Signs of a Quality Racquet
Racquets come in all different shapes, sizes and materials as no racquet is perfect for everyone. Because of this, it’s hard to just point at a racquet and say, “that’s the best one that you should buy.”
A few signs of a quality racquet that you should look out for are that the racquet is strung with high quality strings, the brand is something you can recognize, and the racquet feels balanced in the hand.
There are plenty of other signs of a poor-quality racquet, but those should be obvious when you pick it up.
What it comes down to at the end of the day is that you should pick a racquet that fits your playing style and works well for you. Keep this in mind when you’re choosing a new racquet for this season of indoor tennis training. If you like your new racquet, you’ll be all set for next summer’s outdoor season!
Tennis is both a wonderful sport and an excellent way to stay in shape, though it can be a bit of a challenge in Canada.
Let’s face it, you can only comfortably play tennis outdoors for about half of the year. This may not even be the case from coast to coast. Fortunately, indoor tennis in air-supported domes makes the harsh conditions of fall and winter an afterthought when it comes to playing tennis. The only potential trouble you have now is negotiating a few snow-covered roads in your car on the way to the game.
Regardless, we suspect there might still be a few sceptics out there who feel indoor tennis is a compromise that does not present this time-honoured game in its truest form. This is a myth! Here are seven more indoor tennis myths that also deserve immediate debunking.
1. It’s Stuffy and Uncomfortable to Play Inside a Dome
The great outdoors means fresh air, a nice breeze, and ideal playing conditions, right? Not necessarily. In fact, your wonderful afternoon on the courts could easily fall apart thanks to high humidity, blinding sun, troubling wind gusts, and unexpected rain.
Domes are completely climate controlled and offer optimal, predictable comfort 365 days a year. It will be just as nice to play in a dome on January 1st as it is on July 1st.
2. Playing Indoors Causes Major Changes in Your Game
For the vast majority of players, this will not be the case. The only point of interest here is that domes will offer a cooler playing temperature during the warmer months than outdoor play. This can cause balls to bounce slower indoors, but most any player can quickly adjust their game accordingly to accommodate this difference.
3. There Isn’t Sufficient Lighting to Play Properly
Domes are huge; how can they have enough lighting to keep the courts properly illuminated? Well, they can and do thanks to the miracle of dome LED lighting systems, which are bright, dependable, and use less energy than older forms.
4. It’s Too Cramped Inside a Dome
This is not the case. Careful planning allows domes to make maximum use of the available space. This ensures sufficient room for the tennis courts and any other activities housed inside.
5. The Dome Ceiling Will Limit My Game
Unless your game strategy involves hitting the ball dozens of feet in the air and having it rain down on your opponents, a dome’s ceiling height will not come close to being a factor.
6. You Can’t Play a Round Robin Inside a Dome
See #4. A carefully organized Round Robin can occur either outside or indoors. Planners simply figure out the space they have available, decide on how many players can participate, and schedule the matches accordingly. Playing inside or outside does not factor into it.
7. You Can’t Find Partners to Play During the Winter
We may not know where you play, but a lack of players has not been our experience. In fact, once a dome opens in an area and announces they have tennis courts, people are often scrambling to book court time. This is especially true when it is no longer comfortable to use the outdoor courts.
The Perfect Place for an Air Dome: Why Air Domes Can be Built Nearly Anywhere
Early in the decision to build an air dome, a common question is, “Is this a good spot for a bubble?” Odds are that, yes, you can build an air dome there, and yes, we’ve most likely already done it before.
Whether it be a lone bubble in the middle of an empty field, or a dome squeezed into the heart of a city, domes are remarkably adaptable. Because of the simplicity of the design, it’s actually a lot easier to get a dome into some places than to build something out of steel and bricks.
Dome in the Country
Air supported structures are appealing when you’re looking to build something big. And the best place to build something big is where you have a lot of space. The problem though, is that building something large like an indoor sports complex, can be a challenge.
Big buildings typically need lots of materials, lots of time, and lots of money. This isn’t true for an air supported structure, though. Domes don’t need near as many materials to build. After the foundation is built, the fabric for an air dome takes up very little room at all. This makes them ideal for transporting long distances.
If you need to build a large indoor sports facility in a remote location, bringing in an air dome might be the simplest, and best, solution.
Dome in the City
Modern cities are so jam-packed that it’s hard to fit in anything new, especially when it’s something as big as an air dome. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t done it.
Historically, the way to make the most of the limited space in a city is to build up. Tall buildings mean more floors for more offices and apartments for people to live and work in. It’s the footprint that matters when building in a city.
When looking for a place to put an indoor tennis or soccer facility, it can be tricky to find a spot with a large enough footprint to give players and athletes the room they need to play and train.
Luckily, air domes are a perfect solution to make the most of unused spaces. Bubbles have been installed on top of other structures like short buildings or parking structures. Of course, there’s a limit to how high a dome can be installed—you wouldn’t want one high up on a windy, swaying sky-scraper—but plenty of unused rooftops have been converted to indoor tennis courts.
You can even place air domes over unused parking lots. And if the city ever needs that parking space back, the dome can be deflated and quickly taken away.
And finally, building a dome inside the heart of a city is a lot easier than building another brick and mortar facility. The hassle of obstructing traffic, and getting in people’s way is much less when building a dome that can be brought in on a single truck.
Wherever you’re looking to build a dome, it’s always going to be a perfect fit!
Winter is here and that means professional tennis players are hard at work training (on indoor tennis bubble courts, hopefully) in preparation for the 2017 season. While 2017 is only a few days old, fans have already begun to speculate on who might dominate the courts in the coming year.
Since we ended 2016 with a roundup of the year in tennis, this week we weigh in on what the ESPN experts had to say. This may help you to decide which players to root for during this year’s tournaments.
The Australian Open
This tournament starts the season and takes place in the latter half January. The consensus is that on the men’s side, Andy Murray will dominate despite having lost the final match in this tournament five times over the past 7 years.
On the women’s side, it could be a tossup between Serena Williams and last year’s champ, Angelique Kerber.
The French Open
Occurring from the 28th of May to the 11th of April, the second Grand Slam event looks to be an interesting one. The predictions are a little less definitive, but it looks like Rafael Nadal might be the one to come out on top. He seems to be the most deadly on a clay surface.
Last year, Serena Williams lost to Garbine Muzura in last year’s final at the French Open. Because of Garbine’s strength on the clay, most writers agreed that it could likely be a repeat from last year.
The famous English tournament is happening from the 3rd to the 16th of July this year and it looks to be another doozy. For the men’s, Murray is naturally a top pick for some, but a couple others are picking the veteran, Roger Federer. If Roger wins, it would be his 18th Grand slam title—an achievement that just might motivate him enough to give it everything he’s got left.
It looks like Serena Williams is the by far favourite for this tournament, taking place on her strongest surface: grass. It would be a surprise to see her lose a tournament she’s been so successful at in the past.
The US Open
The bookend Grand Slam event will be starting on the 28th of August and ending on the 10th of September. Historically, Murray hasn’t done his best at this tournament, but a couple writers think he may just turn it around. The other top pick is Juan Martin Del Potro, who just might find himself at home on this surface.
For the women, the writers don’t really have a favorite, so it looks like this one could be anyone’s tournament. Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber, Maria Sharapova… Be careful if you’re betting on this one!
What do you think? Are ESPN’s predictions on target? It will be fun to look back at the end of 2017 and see just how close they were!