If you play the game of tennis, then you may go through a few rituals when you are on the court. These might include tying your shoelaces in a certain way, bouncing the ball before you serve, touching an earring before or after each point, and, the topic we are going to discuss here, hitting your shoes with your racquet.
So why do tennis players hit their shoes with their racquets is a question one has heard many ask?
One of the top reasons why players do this is to remove any material stuck on to their shoes including clay or grass. This allows the shoes to perform to their best of their capability on those surfaces.
However, there could be other reasons too and we are going to go over all the reasons why tennis players hit their shoes with their racquets, and you can decide if you want to hit yours or not.
Cleaning your Tennis Shoes
When you play tennis on a clay or a grass court, you may well get some of the materials stuck in the bottom of your shoes. Having grass or dirt in your shoes, or clay or gravel, means our game may be a little off. You might not have such a tight foot grip, you may be anxious about slipping, or you may well slip.
Hitting your shoes with your racquet is the most practical way to remove the material that has got stuck, short of sitting on the court with a cloth and a brush, which you cannot do!
Getting anything stuck at the bottom of your shoes is going to make your feet feel heavy, and you may not move as quickly as you normally would. So for starters, it’s necessary to have the right kind of shoes* for different surfaces but even beyond that, a sportsperson and especially a tennis player needs to ensure there is no extra material sticking out of his/her shoes during a match.
A lack of traction makes it tougher as the match progresses especially in a sport of tennis where one is sliding and turning directions multiple times in the match.
For this reason, if you do get any grass, dirt, mud or clay, stuck in your shoes, hit your shoes with your tennis racquet.
It will dislodge anything that is impinging on your game. Dislodge all dirt from under your shoes as it is your shoes that give you the traction and grip and you don’t want to lose either of these things. Our only advice would be to do this on the side of the court, and not ON the court, for obvious reasons.
*A good pair of tennis shoes is vital. Apart from your fancy footwork, and a good racquet, and of course all the strokes, you cannot play tennis without a good pair of shoes. Well, you can if you have no choice, but good tennis shoes make all the difference. They give you grip, they maintain friction and they give you stability.
They make you feel light, they help you with speed, and they could be all the difference in you reaching the tennis ball to hit that incredible volley shot.
A Ritual for Some?
We mentioned that many tennis players have rituals. This does not only apply to tennis players by the way; most sportsmen and women have rituals.
Knocking your shoes with your tennis racquet may have started as something practical – dislodging dirt from under your shoes – but given it is usually only on a grass or clay court that you get dirt under your shoes – it may well have become a ritual. You are not going to get any material under your shoes when playing on a hardcourt, and yet, we see top tennis players constantly hitting their shoes when playing on such surfaces too. This means it has become a ritual or a habit.
Rituals are a good thing, so long as they don’t overshadow what you are actually doing.
You are on the tennis court to play tennis and to win. Focus on the game itself. If your shoe banging is becoming ‘a thing,’ find a way to stop doing it.
It’s okay every now and again. Some players even do it before every serve, or point. But – is it helping you? Rituals are good, they are there to help you focus and feel positive, but if they become obsessive then they are not going to do you any good at all.
Interestingly, tennis players are associated with a plethora of rituals and superstitions and these include some of the top players like Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova.
Getting Rid of Your Frustration or Anger
Tennis players get angry. Anger is not a bad thing, and neither is frustration, as long as it is channeled the right way.
As soon as anger or frustration gets the better of a player, the standard of tennis deteriorates. If a tennis player is banging his racquet against his shoe to get rid of frustration, it’s okay, as long as it just every now and again. If it is after every point, or a few times in a game – STOP. Find another way to get your frustration out of you.
A big part of tennis coaching, especially with professional tennis players, is all about the mind. Staying calm, cool, focused and determined is vitally important.
A tennis player can lose his or her temper once or twice, although in professional tennis today there are repercussions to this. The most important thing is to be able to ‘get back into the game.’ Don’t let your anger or frustration get the better of you. Rather than throw your racquet (racquet abuse) breathe in, focus, and regroup. If the occasional tap on your shoe makes you feel better, tap away.
Regroup and Focus
Sometimes, while playing tennis, it is easy to lose focus. Although, to be clear, the professional players do not lose focus which is exactly why they are playing at Wimbledon or at any of the major tennis tournaments. Yet we have all seen scores like 7-6, 0-6, 7-6.
It makes you wonder what happened in that middle game. Likely, the player lost complete and utter focus, and had to regroup before moving on to the next set.
If the player has a way to get his focus back, all the better. Again, almost all professional players work not only on their physical tennis game but also on their emotional tennis game.
Frustration in small doses is fine. Anger in teeny doses, as long as it does not lead to a fine during the game, is okay. Anything more is not good for your game. If hitting your racquet against your shoe helps you to refocus, which we think is why so many players do it, so be it.