Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Courts

The unique aspect of tennis is that the sport is remarkably different depending on the surface and whether it is played indoors or outside.  

Indoor tennis is known for being a much faster game.  The lack of wind and artificial surfaces reduce the risk of bad bounces so players can be more accurate.  The bounce height also tends to be lower inside so players need to adapt their technique.

Outdoor tennis tends to be more challenging because there are several different conditions to deal with.   The main one is the the wind, which can affect both the bounce and the flight of the ball. The sun also plays as a distraction attribute for players as well, while surfaces tend to be slower, which allows a higher bounce of the ball. There are also changing temperatures to deal with and the risk of rain slowing or delaying play.

In the end, tennis becomes a completely different game depending on the setting it is played in.   

If you are a player who likes power and like to end points quickly, indoor tennis will be the most suited to your game where points are shorter and aggressive play is rewarded. Hitting flat with less spin is the winning recipe for most of the professional players on tour. On doubles, get to the net and finish points with put-away shots! For players that are quick and fast constantly try to poach and be very active at the net.

If you’re a patient player (the one that likes to solve problems all the time), outdoor tennis is probably more suitable for you. Many players embrace the outer elements we mentioned above and use them against their opponents by getting them frustrated and getting them to play impatiently. Spin plays a massive part in outdoor tennis. The wind affects the ball weirdly when we don’t use spin. Those overheads in the sun and wind are not easy and balls that are easy put-away shots indoors keep coming back outdoors more often. In essence, we need to play tennis smarter and be more patient and execute more shots outdoors to be effective.

Let’s take this article from the New York Times about the subject, where they talk about the differences between indoor and outdoor courts with great insights by the pros:

The most obvious difference indoors is the lack of sun and wind, which allows servers to toss the ball where they want it. “If you have a huge serve, you can be more aggressive indoors,” David Macpherson, who coaches John Isner, said via email.

Ivan Ljubicic, the former world No. 3 who now coaches Federer, said in an email some intangible factor helped with serving indoors, even if he could not precisely pinpoint it.

“People don’t realize how much players rely on sound to judge the speed and where on the racket your opponent hit the ball,” said Bethanie Mattek-Sands, winner of five women’s doubles Grand Slams. “It takes a little adjustment.”

The major difference is the way the ball bounces — or rather, doesn’t.

Then, on what Brad Gilbert, an ESPN analyst, called the “crazy fast” surfaces (including carpets), “big servers dominated indoors. There wasn’t a lot of tennis played because the points were so short.”

Contemporary indoor courts provide better tennis, but have what MacPherson called a deadening effect on the ball, which he and Ljubicic both said neutralized the kick serve, which was, for years, Nadal’s favorite weapon against many players, especially Federer.

“We can say a night session outdoors without wind is the same, but it is not,” he said. “I think there is something to do also with the roof above as a reference for a ball toss.”

“On the second serve, the advantage really goes to the returner,” said MacPherson, who added that the wind outdoors, combined with kick or spin, can make teeing off on a second serve more challenging.

Ultimately, Isner argued, arena conditions help big servers like him less than his opponents. “It makes a bigger difference for the really good ball strikers to have no wind and can hit the ball so cleanly,” he said. “It favors quick players who can counterpunch.”

Ljubicic partially agreed, saying that without wind, the slow, low-bouncing courts make it difficult to beat great movers who can control the ball. He cites Djokovic as the prime example.

Djokovic, unlike Nadal, hits fairly flat shots that penetrate the court. “Players that hit flatter have an advantage,” MacPherson said. “By contrast, a player like Nadal finds it hard to use his excessive topspin because he can’t get the same bounce.”

Ljubicic said players should capitalize on conditions by becoming more ambitious. “Aggressive players with less margin for error benefit inside where there’s no wind, which is why Federer is so spectacular because he can take the ball early and play offense,” said Paul Annacone, a Tennis Channel analyst.


So there you have it.

The differences between Indoor and Outdoor courts!

For the fall and winter season here in Vancouver (September to April) we switch our trainings indoors!

Come join us today and be active during the cold and rainy weather!