While it is true that most tennis players never used to wear sunglasses on the tennis court, this has changed over the last few years. More and more tennis players have begun to wear sunglasses while playing the sport over time and here’s more on the options on hand for those looking to do the same.
In the days of Chris Evert, Bjorn Bjorg or Jimmy Connors, sunglass technology was not very well developed and it was hard for players to wear a pair of shades and still play great tennis.
The sunglasses were too distracting, fell off, and also, did not offer the best clarity. On top of that, players twenty years ago were not overly aware of the damage sun can do to eyes and chose not to wear sunglasses.
Tennis players today have options, and while many choose not to wear sunglasses, as many choose to wear them!
What do tennis players do to protect themselves from the sun?
- They wear a good peak cap
- They smother a high factor SPF sunblock over their face.
- They wear appropriate clothing.
- They hydrate.
These things though are not enough to protect a tennis player’s eyes. Too many professional tennis players who spent years and years in the harsh sunshine, without glasses, exposed their eyes to dangerous rays from the sun and are paying the consequence today.
Because people are more aware today, many players are wearing glasses on the tennis court, but these need to be specially designed tennis or sport sunglasses.
The difficult relationship between tennis and the sun
In the same way the sun can be really tricky – throwing a ball up in the air and squinting into the sun is not easy – it can be just as hard to wear sunglasses that don’t offer complete clarity. To play tennis well, one needs to have 100% brilliant eyesight.
It is vital that a player can see and sense exactly where the ball is going to land and how high or low it is going to bounce. If sunglasses alter the perception of depth or height, or placement of the ball, then they are going to hinder the tennis player who will not play his or her best game.
It is for this reason that many players choose not to wear glasses. Sure, the sun may be irritating and the glare can be really hard, but a player needs to be able to see perfectly, and sometimes glasses can change or alter vision.
We should say, in the past, sunglasses could change or alter vision.
Today, sunglass technology has developed hugely and the tennis players who do wear sunglasses make use of speciality sports sunglasses, specially designed for the game of tennis or similar outdoor sports, with glasses that do not alter vision in any way.
Why should a tennis player choose to wear sunglasses?
- To avoid sun damage to the eyes
- To avoid the glare of the sun.
- To ensure they can see when they serve, especially when the sun is directly ahead
- Because technology has changed and sunglasses today will stay on.
- Because sunglasses today can offer complete protection while ensuring 100% visual perception.
- In the same way that people walk wearing sunglasses, hike wearing sunglasses and jog wearing sunglasses, it would be a good idea for all outdoor sports people to wear sunglasses.
It’s safe, especially when the quality of the sunglasses are good.
Why would a tennis player choose NOT to wear sunglasses
- They can be a distraction
- They can slip on and off
- They can let in slithers of light.
- They do not allow the eye to adjust quickly when weather conditions change.
- They can alter visual perception and depth perception.
- They can get steamed up or misty.
- They are not that easy to wear when you are running very fast or make quick movements
Let’s take a look at some of the tennis players who do wear sunglasses.
Chung is a professional Korean tennis player, well known not just for his brilliant game but also for his choice in eyewear. His glasses are prescription glasses and oddly, it was because of his bad eyesight that he started playing tennis to improve his vision.
He wears stylish, quirky, white eyeglasses, and is certainly not distracted by them. They are wrap around glasses and do not slip or fall off.
Tipsarevic is known for his stylish green Oakley sunglasses which he usually matches with his tennis clothing too. Glasses have not hindered his game in any way.
It’s that thing of getting used to something and then, not needing to change it.
Navratilova played tennis for most of her career wearing prescription glasses. Given she played professional tennis many years ago, these were also not the most high-tech of glasses.
Martina is considered to be the most successful woman tennis player of all times, and if she could wear eye glasses on the court, so can you!
What about today’s top-ranked tennis players?
You may be reading the above and noticing we are not mentioning the top ranked players. Yes, it’s true, most of them do not wear sunglasses for their professional and tournament matches, but they may well be wearing sunglasses when they practice.
It can take time to get used to playing a sport wearing sunglasses, and if players have been playing for years without them, it is unlikely they are going to change.
What makes a good pair of tennis sunglasses?
- A wrap around frame.
- Snug fitting but not tight fitting.
- Ear, nose and temple grips, perfect for hot or humid conditions.
- Vented sunglasses to allow air, cooling down the face.
- Brown, amber or grey tinted lenses, toning down the light.
- Polarized lenses that reduce the glare.
- Polarized lenses that improve definition.
- Lightweight lenses with a mirror finish for clarity.
The best tennis sunglasses
We suggest you look online and do your research as different styles suit different people, and new sports sunglasses do come on to the market all the time.
Top sport sunglass brands include:
- Smith Optics
- Rudy Project
All these brands use top quality materials, have excellent polarised lenses and come with a wraparound frame. The lens can be a single or a double lens.
Single lenses gives better clarity of vision and uninterrupted views, most especially important for a game like tennis where the players need to be quick, strategic and able to think while moving on their feet.
The frame of a pair of sports sunglasses can be a half frame or a full frame. Very often this depends on the player.
Hyeong Chung, for example, prefers a half frame and has become pretty well known for his funky half frame sunglasses. It’s a personal choice.
Do tennis coaches recommend tennis sunglasses?
The only sure thing a tennis coach will ever recommend to his tennis players is that they practice, practice, practice. A coach will also help with recommendations for tennis rackets and for tennis balls.
As far as clothing goes, it is unlikely a tennis coach will make recommendations other than giving the names of stores or suppliers. And as far as sunglasses go, well, it’s personal.
If a player has strong reactions to the sun, and has sensitive eyes, then yes, a coach will probably recommend tennis sunglasses. If the player is playing somewhere with extreme heat – and many tournaments today are played in extreme heat – then a coach may recommend sunglasses too.
Of course the other thing a tennis coach will always ask is ‘where is your cap?’ Because no tennis player should play outdoor tennis without a cap and sunblock too.
How to choose the right pair of tennis sunglasses?
If you know the style that suits you, it is quite easy to buy a pair of sports sunglasses online. If you do not know or have never worn sunglasses before, then go into a sports store in your area, or a specialist sunglass store, and try on a few styles.
Of course you will not know if the glasses are great until you are running very fast on a tennis court, or serving or lobbying a ball, but you can move around in the store and try and get a sense of what they may be like.
For your first pair, and if you are unsure about wearing sports glasses, it might be best NOT to spend a small fortune.
If you like the feel of the sunglasses, then go up in brand or quality for the next time you buy a pair.
Remember, a good pair of sports sunglasses will look after your eyes and your eyesight, protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays, and also, protect your skin. Nobody wants crows feet too early!
Remember the following:
- Good quality sports glasses work for clear and precise vision.
- Wrap around sports glasses are best for any fast sport.
- Single lenses offer better clarity of vision than double lenses.
- Tinted lenses should be brown, grey or amber. Pink can work too!
- Practice often, practice well and practice while wearing your sunglasses!