Embracing the Chill: Why Platform Tennis is Played Outdoors in Winter

Platform Tennis in Chicago

Winter is typically the time when outdoor activities are limited and people transition to staying active indoors. However, there is one unique sport that embraces the chill of winter – platform tennis. This unique racquet sport is played outdoors in the winter, and its appeal is a testament to the remarkable ways in which athletes and outdoor enthusiasts embrace the cold. So why is platform tennis played outdoors in the winter?

A Brief Introduction to Platform Tennis

Platform tennis, often referred to as “paddle” by enthusiasts, is a racquet sport that combines elements of tennis and racquetball. The sport traces its origins to Scarsdale, New York, in the early 20th century, where players were looking for a winter sport they could play close to home.  The game is typically played on a smaller court, measuring 44 feet in length and 20 feet in width, enclosed by 12-foot high fencing. The smaller court sizes of platform tennis demand finesse, patience, and strategic thinking. The court’s surface is made of a specialized rough material that allows for gripping even in slippery, snowy conditions. Players use perforated paddles to hit a rubberized ball over the net. The rules are similar to tennis, but the unique court and conditions make platform tennis a sport unto itself.

Embracing the Cold Weather

One of the most distinctive features of platform tennis is its insistence on outdoor winter play. While it can be played any time of year, the sport typically runs from October to March in regions where winter weather is prevalent. But why do players willingly subject themselves to frigid temperatures, snow, and ice when they could easily play other sports indoors in more comfortable conditions?

A lot of platform tennis players will tell you it’s a cure for the “winter blues” – a fun way to stay active in regions where cold weather is more prevalent. Some players just crave a sport that can be played in the fresh air, no matter the conditions. For others, it’s strategic in how the ball reacts to the conditions. No matter the case, platform tennis players love the camaraderie that comes with sharing the love of the game with one another.

Built for Winter Play

Platform tennis can be played year-round, but typically is played from October through March, and the equipment reflects this:

Heated Courts: The courts are on a raised platform equipped with underground heating systems that melt snow and ice. This allows for consistent gameplay in any weather condition.

Rubber Balls: The balls used in platform tennis are made of a rubber compound, which are much heavier than a traditional tennis ball. The reason why players prefer to play platform tennis in the winter is because the ball gets firmer in cold weather, thus making the bounces a little easier to control.

Perforated Paddles: Players use paddles with perforations, which improve their aerodynamics. This will help you control your shots in the cold conditions.

Fenced In: You won’t need to go chasing balls because platform tennis courts are surrounded by chicken wire fences, which come into play. Players need to quickly adapt to shots that ricochet off the fence.

Play Under the Lights: Daylight is limited during the cold-weather months, so platform tennis courts are surrounded by lights allowing players to continue play long after the sun sets.

Platform tennis is a testament to the love for outdoor activities, even in the harshest of winter conditions. It offers a unique blend of competition, community, and camaraderie that is cherished by those who brave the cold to play. So, if you find yourself yearning for a unique winter sport experience, consider giving platform tennis a try – it might just be the chilly thrill you’ve been seeking.

Sign up for platform tennis leagues and lessons at Lakeshore Sport & Fitness!

Play Platform Tennis in Chicago

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