Frick Park Clay Court Tennis Club


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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Tips for Playing Tennis on Clay Courts

Balls and Racket Strings      
  • It is best to use tennis balls marked as "Regular Duty" or "Soft Court", which have less felt on them. These balls travel faster to compensate for the slower surface of clay, and they also pick up less clay. "Extra-Duty" tennis balls tend to pick up more clay because they have thicker felt cover, and they become slow and heavy.

  • Playing on clay will bring the tension in your strings down quicker, because in the slower game on clay you will be "counter-punching" less, "hitting-out" more, and hitting more balls per point. The balls also get a bit heavier as they pick up clay during play.

Performance and Fitness      
  • Come prepared to play long points, long rallies, and to run a lot around the court. On clay you will be able to get to balls that you wouldn't on hard courts.

  • Stay adequately hydrated and eat high potassium fruits like bananas as well as some high carbohydrate snack(s).

  • Do a "dynamic warm up" routine before you start playing (2).

  • Do a "static" stretching routine soon after you have finished playing (2).

  • Avoid wearing white or very light color clothing, because they become stained too quickly with the red clay. Bright red and orange are the best colors to wear because this is the color of the clay itself!

  • Only use clay court appropriate tennis shoes.

Some of the values instilled by playing on clay courts (1)  
  • Generosity: Groom the court with a drag mat (zig-zag sideline to sideline) and clean the lines for the next arriving players.

  • Solidarity: the playing quality of the surface of the courts is the result of all the players' efforts and care.

  • Honesty: It is very easy to tell on a clay court whether a ball bounced outside the lines or not, because of the mark left on the court.

  • Friendship: the surface is good for players of all ages.

  • Patience and Endurance: a slow surface means longer rallies in which you must wait for the best chance to make an offensive shot.

  • Aesthetics: importance is given daily to the look of the courts when it is groomed by the players.

  • Perseverance: it is more feasible to turn a game around when overall fitness is a factor in the outcome.

  • Intelligence: playing longer rallies gives you a better chance to develop your playing strategy.


(1) l'Association pour le Développement de la Terre Battue (ADTB) (Association for the Development of Clay Courts), Bénesse-Maremne, France.

(2) USTA Player Development, Strength and Conditioning:


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Nice shot! Good get! Nice Serve! Nice playing with you!

Good match! Nice Clay Courts!

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Copyright © by FPCCTC, Pittsburgh, PA, 2007-2010

Last modified on: February 6, 2010