I thought I’d share with you some of my essential items that I carry on court. There are several things that I found useful, but there are also a few new products that are coming on to the market which look good too.

1) Stringing Machine – A tennis racket is strung by stringing it in a very strong net, which is pulled tight and attached onto the frame of the racket. There are over six thousand individual strings on a typical tennis racquet! Some people change their racquet strings more often than others, some say every 3-4 months while some say every 6-8 months depending how often they play. For myself its about 4 months because when I do hit with them quite regularly, they start moving around a lot.

2) String – There are so many types of string available on the market today, from natural gut to synthetic gut and even Kevlar string! Some strings have been designed to have a ‘trampoline effect’ which means that they will bend more and maintain their stiffness for longer whereas others may be a little stiffer and tighter once strung. Also some strings come with a low or high gauge. A lower gauge string is thinner, but it also offers less resistance through your stroke – therefore you can hit through the ball better because there is less impact coming back at you. Higher gauge strings are thicker and therefore offer greater control as well as power especially if you strike through them slightly harder because there’s actually not much response through your arm. Tennis players often use a mixture of both, so you will find everything from 16g to 18+g on the market.

3) Tapes – There are lots of different tapes available which are used to tape up the handle of the racquet for extra support and comfort when playing. I like to use over grips which you then stick onto the handle of your racquet (like bubble wrap). Particularly useful if you want to prevent blistering on your hands!

4) Grips – It is usual practice to change grips around every 3 months or so because they become worn and flattened, therefore providing less grip and comfort when playing. Grips come in all sorts of shapes and sizes (flat, round, various thicknesses etc.). You can also get a textured grip which helps with extra grip when playing especially in the wet.

5) Re-gripping – As mentioned above, grips have a tendency to become worn and flattened over time. Often players re-grip their racquets between 1-2 times a year depending on how much they play and how often they change their grips. A lot of companies now offer this service using different types of adhesives to make sure the grip stays stuck for longer.

6) Racket Cover – If you are going away or travelling abroad it is always advisable to take your racket cover with you, because you never know if it might rain! It only takes one of water going through your bag and down your stringing and you will find it costs a lot of money to get new strings on your racquet. A good cover is always worth taking away with you – I even put one on my racket when it’s in the car if we are going for a drive!