Why Don’t Tennis Players Wear Sunglasses?

Tennis at any level takes place at all hours of the day. Not only is it easy to find local players playing in the middle of a sunny day, but tournaments have to schedule day and night matches as well.

With so much tennis being played during the day, a lot of people don’t understand why sunglasses aren’t more consistently worn. While there are a few professional players who use sunglasses on the court when necessary, most of them never attempt this.

Why don’t Tennis players wear sunglasses? Tennis players refuses to wear sunglasses because they feel like they are more of a hindrance than anything. Sunglasses do a great job of protecting the eyes from the sun, buy they can feel a bit restrictive for athletes.

The Disadvantages of Playing With Sunglasses

Talk to an optometrist, and they will strongly recommend wearing sunglasses for any outdoor activity, including tennis. While there are obvious benefits, players at the highest level feel like it puts them at a slight disadvantage if they usually do not wear glasses.

Vision is extremely important and tennis, as a player and needs to read a fast ball moving all over the court with various spin. Even the most technologically advanced sunglasses in the world still have some disadvantages. Remember that in tennis, being just a few fractions of an inch off can make a huge difference.

Serving issues

The sun comes into play most frequently during service and overheads. At certain times of the day, it can seem impossible to get a toss that is not directly in the sun. It would seem like sunglasses could help, but some feel like they actually get in the way.

That has a lot to do with the edges on sunglasses, as well as the field of view being slightly blocked at times. Once a serve is put in the play, there is a lot of head movement to prepare for the next shot. That means the sunglasses can move just a little bit on the face, putting a person in a vulnerable position.

Raising the head up and down for a serve also encourages the chances of sweat blocking the vision by dripping onto the sunglasses. It doesn’t take much to completely ruin a player’s ability to see clearly. This can pretty much ruin a person’s chances of winning a point.

Blindspot and edges

As touched on a little bit above, sunglasses are always going to have edges that can get in the way and small blind spots. It is simply impossible to make a pair of sunglasses that stay on the face securely without these troubling features.

Edges, in particular, are very troublesome for tennis players because they are moving around so much. Any person who wears sunglasses has experienced that glare temporarily showing up add just the wrong angle. If that happens during the middle of a point, it’s very difficult to overcome it.

Depth perception

The sunglasses today are much better at providing clear viewing for users, but some players still have issues with depth perception when something is on their face. This is obviously very huge in tennis, and even a small sacrifice in that department can ruin a person’s game. Players need to be as precise as possible.

Only players who consistently wear glasses would not have much of an issue with depth perception. Since the majority of players enjoy playing without sunglasses unless they absolutely have to, it is a bit of a struggle to make that sudden adjustment.

Messing with what works

Professional athletes in any sport are very reluctant to any change. Call it superstition, or just call it creatures of habit. Whatever the case is, nobody wants to start a losing streak because they decided to wear sunglasses. Maybe it didn’t make that much of a difference, but in the player’s mind, they are definitely thinking that.

Tennis players are very used to how balls bounce, how to read spin and just how the game goes without sunglasses on. It might seem like a very subtle difference, but changing the tint just a little bit is something that most players don’t feel like risking.

Is It Illegal To Play With Sunglasses?

Despite the lack of popularity, there is no reputable league around the world that makes it illegal to wear sunglasses during tennis play. It is a great way to protect the eyes from harmful rays during a match, and some people benefit from them.

Even indoors or during overcast days, some sunglasses actually brighten up a person’s vision. There are a select few players who use sunglasses at this time so they can see a little bit more clearly.

Players Who Wear Sunglasses

Throughout the years, it’s pretty hard to find a lot of tennis players who wear sunglasses regularly, but they do exist. A lot of them do it because they have some vision issues anyway, so they wear clear lenses during night matches or overcast days.

Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, and Janko Tipsarevic are probably the three most known players who used regular prescription glasses most of the time, and prescription sunglasses when it is sunny outside. It makes a lot of sense for them, because the glare can be pretty tough with standard glasses on during an extremely sunny day.

Tipsarevic, along with other modern players, have the advantage of using eyewear that is designed specifically for the sport of tennis. Manufacturers have found a way to reduce blindspots, take some of the glare out of the edges, and more. They aren’t 100% perfect, but they are much better than decades ago.

Not Used On Sunny Days

Finding a professional tennis player who wears eyewear during sunny days but not in other situations is a little bit rarer. Most players will opt for a hat to protect themselves from the sun and see better. Andre Agassi wore sunglasses a few times during matches, and Sam Stosur also would throw a pair on during the day. It was never an extremely consistent thing, but maybe they felt extreme circumstances call for extreme measures.

Even during practice, it is very rare to see professional players wear sunglasses when they are hitting. Everyone on their team usually has them on, and casually they have no problem wearing them as well. It’s just something about not messing with the vision during actual play on the court that keeps most away.

Should You Play With Sunglasses?

At the recreational level, it is a little more common to see sunglasses worn by players of all ages. Some parents require their children to wear sunglasses when they play, and it definitely helps reduce the risk of eye trouble down the road. A lot of young players are spending hours and hours outside in the sun every day, and I can really do some damage.

Eye issues: Older players who have some eye issues also are much more likely to wear sunglasses when they play tennis. It might not be something they find ideal, but it helps to protect them from any further injuries. Sports style sunglasses are popular, but so are models that completely surround the eye from all angles. They reduce peripheral vision quite a bit, but sometimes this is the only option for players with eye issues. Otherwise, they might be forced to play only at night, or to give up the sport entirely if that does not fit into their schedule.

Takes Time To Get Used To It

The very first time a player plays with sunglasses on, it’s going to feel a little weird. It’s really no different than wearing a sweatband for the first time, a hat for the first time or trying out a new racquet. Everyone is used to how they normally play, so adding something different to the equation will switch things up.

The more a person plays with sunglasses on, the easier it becomes. Most people who want to make sure they protect their eyes can do so without hurting their tennis game. Just because professional tennis players do not wear them does not mean that they are impossible to wear when playing competitive tennis. Many feel as though the added benefit when serving right in the sun is worth any of the negatives.

Try a few different styles of sunglasses out to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Some people are going to be completely fine with wearing any type of sunglasses, while others want something that is very specific for the sport.

A hat might be able to work in a lot of cases, but never underestimate the value of sunglasses to clear up vision a bit. Make sure that they are always kept clean so that they provide a clear line of vision. Sweat, dirt and other particles can accumulate on the lenses to cause some issues if a person is not careful.

Final Thoughts

Sunglasses are not very popular at the professional level, but some people stress eye protection more than others. After some consistent play with them on, they become easier and easier to wear without any issues. Give it a try and see what works best during sunny match or practice days.

Fred Simonsson

I'm Fred, the guy behind TennisPredict. Apart from writing here, I play tennis on a semi-professional level and coaches upcoming talents.

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