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Players talk shop about packing the perfect tennis bag

If you’re new to the game or simply trying to tighten up a loose program, you’ve probably wondered what you should actually pack in your tennis bag.  

Honestly, we were curious too.  Were we hauling around way too much, or would we be caught in a jam without that one, must-have thing?  Of course, everybody is a little different, but there’s a fine line between overpacking and having what you need.  

In search of answers, we polled a handful of players to find our what’s in their bags.  Some items were super obvious, and others might surprise you.   

Check out our list of common and no-so-common items to keep in your tennis bag.  

“I always have a Sharpie because usually when someone asks me for an autograph, they don't have a pen. I carry one in my purse, as well as in my tennis bag.”

-- Maria Sharapova

The Usual Suspects

Compilation of items in a tennis bag, racquet, sunglasses, wallet, shoes, balls etc.

When it comes to packing for practice or a friendly pickup match, there are a few obvious things you’ll need.  Whether you change at the club or come ready to play will affect a few of these, but it’s safe to say this is the bare minimum for most players. 

  • Racquet (or two)
  • Sunscreen
  • Water Bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Visor or Hat
  • Can of Balls
  • Tennis Shoes + Socks
  • Tennis Outfit

The Contingencies

You’ve got the basics covered - now onto optional items to make play easier or prevent inconveniences from derailing your game.  You’ll be covered if the weather shifts or a rules discrepancy turns into a friendly debate.  

  • Fitness Tracker (Fitbit, Apple Watch)
  • Small Towel 
  • Extra Dampener
  • Snack or Energy Bar
  • USTA Rule Book
  • Extra Overgrip Tape
  • Warm Jacket
  • Extra Hair Tie

Close up of blue tennis overgrip tapePhoto credit: Adobe

The Aches & Pains 

We all know age and injury can take a toll on your body - they don’t call it tennis elbow for nothing.  From a simple anti-inflammatory to specialized orthotics and braces, we’re fans of folks who know how to get back in the game.  The players we surveyed had lots of tips and tricks of their own; here are a few of their go-to medical items to help keep you moving.

  • Kinesiology Tape (also called KT tape)
  • Aleve or Ibuprofen
  • Pepto Bismol (in case of pre-match jitters)
  • V Band or Tennis Elbow Band
  • Wrist, Elbow or Knee Brace 
  • Resistance Bands or Bars for Stretching 
  • Crack to Activate Ice Packs
  • First Aid Kit 
  • Moleskin or Blister Dressing 
  • Cool or Damp Towel 

The Sentimental and Uncommon 

It could be a silk scarf, a lucky keychain, or special gift from your coach to remind you to move your feet.  Silly or sophisticated - we’re all for dressing up your tennis bag and making it your own. If you’re not exactly the accessories type (or even if you are), we’ve thrown a few clever, “I never would have thought about that” items in here too.    

  • Good Luck Charm 
  • Scarf or Keychain 
  • Personalized Towel 
  • Tape Measure For Net
  • Hand Antiperspirant
  • Bag Tag / ID Card
Serena, wearing her swoosh charmPhoto by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images. Serena's '19 Wimbledon "broosh" Nike swoosh logo + brooch

The Après Match 

Depending on when and where you play, your post game kit could be all business or contain a few things that turn up the fun.  Do a little cross training, enjoy the facilities at your club, or relax with a cocktail.

Headed Out

Freshly showered woman with towel on her head dabbing on lip glossPhoto by Patrick Hodskins on Unsplash

If you play before work or simply need to get on with your day, freshening up is a must before heading out the door.  Of course, your post-game beauty regimen is contingent on the amenities where you play, but you should have a few basic grooming items on hand. 

  • Shower Essentials
  • Makeup + Toiletries 
  • Brush + Hair Dryer 
  • Change of Clothes

Winding Down 

Woman relaxing at the poolPhoto by Patrick Hodskins on Unsplash

Nothing beats steaming it up at the spa or relaxing at the club pool after your workout, and if you’ve got kids in tow, they’re probably ready for some freestyle fun too.  A few players we polled made the most of their park time with games or an impromptu picnic, and many say they slow down and enjoy their club’s facilities when they can. Here are a few items you might pack to wind down after a long day. 

  • Flip Flops 
  • Pool Towel & Bathing Suit 
  • Bottle of Wine 
  • Hearty Recovery Snack 

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