Natural Gut Tennis Strings
In 1875, natural gut tennis strings were first developed and, up until the 1990s, reigned supreme as the gold standard for our sport.
However, due to the labor-intensive process that transforms the outermost layer of cow intestine into tennis strings, they’re by far the most expensive type of strings available.
As a result, most players rarely, if ever, give themselves a chance to play with natural gut and instead opt for less expensive synthetic alternatives such as polyester or multifilaments. Despite that, natural gut is still popular on the pro tour, with players like Roger Federer using it.
With that in mind, purchasing a set of natural gut strings make for a fun gift idea and a memorable hitting experience. Here are the two most popular natural gut tennis strings on the market:
- Babolat natural gut
- Wilson natural gut
We prefer Babolat’s natural gut, but both are excellent. Players can expect exceptional power, comfort, and feel using these strings, and they also make for a perfect hybrid string setup.
If you opt for these strings as a gift, we’d encourage you to pick up the tab for restringing the racquet, which usually runs between $15 and $ 20.
Sports Towel & Dry Bag
Whether it’s tennis or any other sport, sweating is just part of the game. Having a quality towel on hand to wipe down during a match or practice to feel refreshed is a no-brainer, but most recreational players don’t have one in their bag.
If you can splurge, we recommend buying two so that your player can break out a fresh one halfway through a match.
Our favorite is the Youphoria Sports Microfiber towel. Here’s why:
- Super affordable
- It comes in three sizes (we like the 24×40 or 28×56)
- There are ten color options
- Incredibly soft
- Super absorbent
- Quick-dry microfiber
- Easy to wash
By themselves, these towels make a great gift idea. However, we’ve also recommended a dry bag because, at the end of a hot day, you don’t want to stick your used towels in your bag along with all your other gear and stink everything up.
A dry bag is a simple solution, and your recipient can comfortably fit a few towels and their dirty clothes if they want to change after a match.
Having a place to stash dirty clothes and towels is particularly useful for away matches in high school and college because players can change before they hop back on the bus or van traveling home.
Bundle these together for an affordable tennis gift that is a sure-fire winner.
Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle
Proper hydration is an absolute necessity in tennis. Unfortunately, many players overlook hydration, and a lack of it can negatively impact their performance, especially when matches go the distance.
Of course, when you’re out in the heat of the summer, a bottle of hot water isn’t exactly the most appealing. That’s where the Hydroflask double-wall vacuum insulated stainless steel sports water bottle comes into play.
Not only will it store your player’s favorite liquid, but it will keep it cold for a full 24 hours. That means they’ll have a cool refreshment waiting for them during a changeover, even on the hottest of days. Trust us – it works incredibly well!
We’ll typically pack ours with half water and half ice in the morning, toss it in our bag, and by the afternoon, the ice still won’t have melted. As if that’s not sweet enough, it also keeps liquids hot for 12 hours for when the moment strikes – think a few cups of coffee on a long drive.
Our favorite is the 32-once size because it works great for everyday use without being too small or large, but plenty of bigger and smaller sizes are also available.
The 32-ounce comes with a single top that has a durable handle. It works great, but we also love the wide-mouth travel mug flip lid. It can be a bit easier to drink out of for daily use, and we’ll switch the tops depending on the day’s activities.
Helpful Tip: You can encourage your player to drink at least two of the 32-ounce size a day, which will help them get their minimum daily intake of eight cups of water a day.
Overall, the Hydroflask water bottle is a great gift idea that your recipient will love for tennis and daily use.
After a few hours on the court, stretching is critical to aid in recovery and avoid sore muscles and stiffness the following day. However, if you’re like us, you find that stretching helps, but it doesn’t completely relieve soreness that’s so common after a long day of tennis.
Thankfully for us, we stumbled upon The Stick a few years back. To be completely honest, we were a bit skeptical at first, but after our first few uses, we became big-time believers, and it’s one of those items that never leave our bag.
The Stick is a plastic device that you hold at each end by the handles and roll across your leg muscles and lower back after practice or a match. It has rings that allow it to roll across your muscles with ease, and you apply pressure that feels good to give yourself a massage.
Our favorite is the 19-inch model with gray handles, but the smallest 14-inch Stick with green handles is perfect for travel.
This unassuming device works incredibly well. After playing tennis, we usually start with a quick five to 10-minute stretch. Then we bust out The Stick and work each muscle on our legs and lower back for another five to 10 minutes.
When we go through these motions, the difference the next day is enormous, and we notice our muscles aren’t near as sore. As a result, we recover faster and feel ready to play the very next day.
Here are a few helpful tips to share with your recipient:
- At first, it might feel tender to use a massage stick on your legs, but that changes after a few weeks of use. Just be patient and stay with it because it will become more comfortable over time and pay huge dividends, aiding in faster recovery.
- When we first started using ours, we were a bit overzealous one day and massaged too hard, causing extra soreness the following day. When your recipient uses it, they’ll intuitively know how much pressure to apply. Just tell them to keep in mind that it may have the reverse effect if they press too hard.
- For the guys in your life, you can assure them it won’t pull their leg hair as we thought it would at first. The rings have a unique design that somehow prevents this from happening, so they’ll be good to go!
After using the stick for a few years, we happened upon another device that’s a fantastic pairing gift with The Stick.
It’s called the Foot Log, and it’s a similar device to The Stick, but it works for your feet. All you do is place the Foot Log on the floor and then roll your foot (shoes off) back and forth for a massage, and it feels incredible while also providing tremendous relief. You can do both feet while sitting, but we’ve found one foot at a time standing to be a bit more effective.
Like The Stick, there’s no need to apply too much pressure, just what feels right. We recommend using it with socks on because we’ve found it to be more comfortable that way.
The Stick and The Log fit in a tennis bag, and they’re one of those gifts any player will start to recommend to their friends and family after having used it for a while themselves.
Case of Tennis Balls & Ball Hopper
While a can of tennis balls might not be a groundbreaking gift idea for someone who loves tennis, opening a case of tennis balls will put a smile on any player’s face.
Here are two great reasons we love giving cases of tennis balls:
- Balls Aren’t Cheap: As tennis players, we’re always buying tennis balls, and the expense just adds up. Not having to pay for them for a while is a welcome surprise.
- Convenience: When we’re ready to play, we don’t want the hassle of chasing down a can of balls from the store or local pro shop – just grabbing one or two and heading out to the courts is ideal.
A case of Wilson or Penn extra duty tennis balls that comes with 24 cans in the pack is what we’d recommend.
By itself, a case of tennis balls is an excellent gift for any tennis player. However, when paired with a ball hopper, you can take your gift-giving up a notch.
That’s because now, we can crack open a few cans of tennis balls, dump them in the ball hopper, head out to the court with a friend and take turns feeding balls to each other to practice our game.
It’s also a great option if we’re looking to practice our serve on our own without having to chase down balls constantly.
A ball hopper serves three great purposes:
- First, it holds tennis balls and is great for transportation.
- Second, a good ball hopper has handles that fold down to serve as legs so we can easily grab tennis balls.
- Third, when the ball hopper presses down on top of a ball, they go straight through, which makes picking up balls much quicker without having to bend down.
We recommend Wilson’s Ball Hopper for a few reasons:
- It’s made of durable metal and will last for years.
- It has a 75 ball capacity, which is more than enough.
- It has handles that swing down below the basket to serve as legs.
- There are small inserts at the bottom of the basket where the handles can lock into place, so the basket is sturdy when standing.
When a player gets a case of tennis balls and a ball hopper, it can be tempting for them to open up all the tennis balls and fill the basket to the brim for practice. There’s certainly nothing wrong with opening all the balls, but they have a pretty short lifespan once you open them.
So, to get the most out of the case of balls, we recommend opening roughly six cans at a time. That’s 18 tennis balls for practice, and your recipient will extend the life of their gift that way.
At the same time, even pressurized cans don’t last forever. You’ll want to encourage your player to use all of the balls within the year for the best result. We find this usually isn’t a problem for most players :)
Tennis Racquet Bag
A tennis racquet bag isn’t a necessity for playing tennis. However, any serious player will attest that their bag is essential because it carries everything they need to play and compete in a tennis match.
First and foremost, a tennis bag serves to protect our tennis racquets. However, beyond that, our bag stores a slew of essentials.
After all, once you start your match, it’s not like you can go running down to the store if you need something.
Here’s a list of what we keep in our bag:
- Three strung tennis racquets
- A can of tennis balls
- Pack of replacement grips
- Large water bottle
- Two sports towels
- Two pairs of socks
- Two shirts
- One pair of comfy running shoes
- Dry bag for dirty clothes/towels
- Headphones and cell phone
- The Stick leg massager
- The Log foot massager
- Hyperice massage gun
- Yoga strap for stretching
- Energy bars
- Hydration packets or tabs, i.e., Liquid IV, LMNT, Nuun
- Tiger Balm
- Hand sanitizer
- Kinesiology tape
- Neutrogena facial wipes
- Tape for blisters
- Sunscreen, a small bottle of zinc, lip balm with SPF
For every player, what they like to stock in their bag is different, and even if we had half of what we listed here, we’d still want something to hold it all. That’s why we think it’s essential.
Our pick for a bag that we think makes a great gift is the Vessel Baseline racquet bag. We opt for a six racquet bag even though we don’t need to hold that many racquets because we like the extra space to keep all the items listed above.
A few reasons we like the Vessel Baseline racquet bag:
- Exceptional materials and craftmanship
- Stylish appearance and multiple colors
- Multiple colors for different tastes
- Spacious for storing all of our gear
- Removable backpack straps for comfortably carrying around
- Plenty of small pockets for organization
- Thermal insulation for protecting our strung racquets from the heat and cold, which can
- change the tension of our racquets
- A separate breathable compartment for our shoes
- It’s a unique brand that doesn’t make racquets, so if you’re a Babolat user today and Head user tomorrow, you don’t have to worry about switching bags for them to match (if you’re into that)
One thing to keep in mind when giving a bag as a gift is that some players are picky about matching the brand of their bag with the brand of their racquet. We prefer to use the bag that best serves its purpose, but it’s worth keeping in mind, and one of the main reasons the Vessel Baseline racquet bag makes our list of the best tennis gifts.
If you’re looking for another fantastic option from a different brand, we’d recommend the Babolat 12 racquet bag or the Wilson Federer DNA 12 racquet bag – both are excellent choices.
Headphones make a great gift for any tennis player. However, they’re particularly awesome for the competitor or student-athlete.
For the competitor, headphones serve as an excellent means to clear your head, stay focused, and drown out any noise and distraction before a match. As any player can attest, tennis is a sport of mental strength, and headphones can help put a player in the zone with the right music.
For the student-athlete, the same benefits apply to competition. However, if they’re on a tennis team in high school or college, they’ll regularly travel with their team. It may be by bus, van, car, or plane, but they typically travel as a group. Here are two excellent reasons we loved to drown out the noise with a quality pair of headphones.
- Studying: Without headphones, studying while traveling would have been nearly impossible. There’s just too much distraction. However, a good pair of headphones allowed us to focus on getting work done. When you’re spending a few hours traveling a couple of times a week during the season, this can pay huge dividends for a student-athlete.
- Zone Out or Sleep: As much as we love our teammates, sometimes, after a stressful day, a tough loss, or just pure exhaustion, it can be nice to zone out – and if the mood strikes, shut our eyes and get a little sleep. Again, without a quality pair of headphones, this would be nearly impossible when surrounded by a group of teammates.
Our pick for our favorite headphones for tennis players is Beats by Dre over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones. Here are a few reasons we love our Beats headphones:
- Sound: Beats makes great headphones with excellent sound, and they’ve only become better after Apple purchased the company.
- Comfort: We think over-the-hear headphones are some of the most comfortable. We can wear them for long periods without our ears hurting or getting a headache.
- Noise Cancellation: With music on or no music at all, this feature sets these headphones apart from others.
- Colors: They come in various colors that you can choose to match your gift recipient’s style.
We also think Bose over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones are equally as great an option with high-quality sound. Of course, if you can’t swing the expense of noise-canceling headphones, another pair from either of these companies will still do the trick.
Beyond their uses for tennis players, everyone can use a great pair of headphones, whether traveling or around town, so we think it’s a fantastic gift option for anyone.
Growing up and watching the pros on TV or at the occasional tournament, we loved keeping an eye on the speed of serves. It’s a unique element of watching professional tennis that we always enjoyed, so naturally, we wanted to know how fast we could serve.
When we were younger, we recall our tennis club having a radar detector on hand where we all got to measure the speed of our serves – it was an absolute blast seeing how we stacked up against our expectations and peers.
Unfortunately, the price of a radar detector for the value made it an unrealistic purchase. Until, of course, we found the Ball Coach Pocket Radar.
Here are a few reasons we fell in love with this gadget:
- Cost: It’s a fraction of the cost of high-end radar guns.
- Accuracy: Less expensive doesn’t mean less accurate. The Pocket Radar has been tested alongside considerably more costly radar guns and shown to be just as precise.
- Size: We can easily store the pocket radar in our tennis bag, and it lives up to its name as you can slide it into your pocket or hold it comfortably in the palm of your hand.
As for our favorite feature, you can set it up to continually record up to 25 serves, which is useful if you’re practicing alone. You can place the Pocket Radar on the other side of the court or behind you near the fence to record the speed of your serves.
We have to admit, the Pocket Radar is a bit of a splurge, but that’s part of what makes it such a fun gift. It’s great for the tennis instructor or coach in your life because they’ll get a ton of use out of it regularly. However, high school and college players will also have a lot of fun measuring the speed of their serves with their teammates.
Pair the Ball Coach Pocket Radar with a simple, inexpensive tripod like the Daisen Camera Tripod. That way, it can be set up on the opposite side of the net or attached to the fence to monitor the speed of shots, and both can easily store in a player’s bag.
While serving might be the primary use for many players, it does just as well at measuring the speed of groundstrokes and other tennis shots, too.
Muscle Massage Gun
Over the past few years, muscle massage guns have exploded in popularity, and for a good reason, they work incredibly well.
To be honest, when they first came out, we were a bit unsure of them, and the whole product seemed a bit gimmicky, especially with the slow-motion videos of muscles vibrating and all.
However, for us, all that changed when we were at a running store and had an opportunity to try a Hyperice massage gun, and to be honest, we were shocked at how good they felt and, more importantly, how effective they were at relieving tension.
We still love The Stick and Foot Log roller mentioned earlier in this guide, but as good as they are, those two products are somewhat limited in the body’s parts that they can help relieve tension. For example, as a tennis player, you’d likely want to massage your arms and shoulders.
Of course, there’s a bit of a price difference, so if you’re on a budget, then The Stick and Foot Log roller are still excellent options. Honestly, we use all of them and find they each provide different benefits.
However, if you can swing the extra cash to get a massage gun, it’s going to be a slam dunk gift that they can use for any fitness recovery, including tennis. Plus, the recipient will get to keep using it for years.
When it comes to massage guns, there are many different brands to consider, but two, in particular, stand out from the crowd:
We’re using the Hyperice Hypervolt and have loved the product since day one. It performs as advertised, runs effectively for years, and is a gift we’re sure any tennis player will love.
Apple Watch or Fitbit
As an athlete, tracking and measuring our fitness is incredibly insightful and rewarding.
When it comes to tennis, the quality of our fitness is just as important as our technique or ability to hit the ball well. Lack of conditioning or being out of shape can quickly degrade the quality of our tennis and can also hold us back when competing at higher levels.
On the other hand, a fit player can maintain the quality of their technique throughout an intense three-set match. Proper conditioning can serve as a considerable edge over players who aren’t willing to work hard.
Fitness trackers help because they bring context to the quality of our training. When monitored and used as a goal-setting tool, they can help us improve and become stronger players.
First off, a fitness tracker gives players concrete data for how well or hard we’re training. For example, if we’re looking to improve our endurance, we may want to set goals for the number of steps we take during a workout. Similarly, we may want to shoot for a specific heart rate that helps us better understand the intensity of our training, which we’d expect to improve over time.
We also like to track our tennis matches as workouts. This way, we can use this data to reflect on our results and then set specific goals around where we see opportunities for improvement.
For example, suppose our heart rate during a tennis match exceeds what we typically reach during practice. In that case, it gives us a sense of what we need to strive for in our training to be comfortable at a certain level of intensity during a tennis match.
Our two favorite picks for fitness trackers are:
- Apple Watch
- Fitbit tracker
Both are terrific options for comprehensive fitness tracking and provide companion smartphone apps for monitoring a player’s fitness.
Regardless of which brand you choose, we highly recommend getting a waterproof version because we’ve personally killed our watch when we forgot to remove it before jumping into a pool. In our opinion, a device you’re supposed to wear all day just has to be waterproof.
We also like a watch with a full screen to monitor our results throughout the day. Plus, the larger screen allows us to take advantage of the other cool features like music and apps.
For Apple, that means getting the Series 3, SE, or Series 7, and for Fitbit, that means getting the Icon, Sense, or Versa – all of which are waterproof and have full screens.
For tennis players, a smartwatch or fitness tracker is the perfect gift. It helps improve our fitness, and it also has a wealth of other uses beyond tennis that make it a sure-fire winner.
Tennis Racquet Stringer
Over the years, we’ve found most players don’t even consider the fact that they can purchase a tennis stringer. We believe that’s because the general assumption is that tennis stringers are way too expensive.
The truth is, there are terrific stringers that are surprisingly affordable. Of course, as with anything, there are versions with extra features that can quickly become more expensive, too.
However, the unique thing about a stringer is that they pay for themselves if you frequently string over time. Consider the fact that, on average, the cost of stringing a racquet (minus the price of the string) is $15, i.e., just for the labor.
Next, let’s assume you play competitively all year long and string your racquet every two weeks on average. That’s $390 every year!
Over a four-year high school career, you’d see $1,560 in savings. Add in an additional four years at college, and we’re up to $3,120. Some families may even have multiple players racking up those costs.
For us, we’d even use our stringer to string our teammates’ tennis racquets, and we’d charge $10 for the restring. Since most players on our team didn’t own a stringer, we made a few hundred dollars each season and helped our teammates out, too.
As a parent who tends to foot the bill for the cost of restringing, it’s a no-brainer purchase if you can afford it, assuming your son or daughter would be open to learning how to string.
Of course, it’s a gift, so we don’t need to expect by default that it will pay for itself, but it’s a nice side benefit when considering whether to buy one.
However, there are many reasons why we think a stringer makes a great gift idea beyond the cost savings or even the ability to make a little extra cash on the side stringing for friends and family.
Here are some of the top reasons:
Strings are Key
When it comes to tennis equipment, tennis strings and the tension we string our racquets at is highly underrated. As players, we often put so much time and energy into finding the perfect tennis racquet, but we tend to overlook the strings.
In our opinion, we often neglect our strings because it’s expensive to test and learn what string setup and tension enhances our game. When you own a stringer, you can drastically reduce the cost of each string job and experiment with both the tension and type of tennis strings to get the most out of your racquet.
If you’ve ever broken a string the day before a match, then you know how frustrating it can be to try to get your racquet restrung in a hurry. Even when you’re not competing, getting your racquet restrung often means an extra trip to drop off your racquet and pick it up before you play next. All in all, it’s just a hassle.
When you have a stringer at home, you can always spend some time in the evening restringing a racquet. Whether you broke a string or you’re looking for a fresh string job before you compete, it’s easy to make it happen when you’re the stringer.
Hopefully, you have access to someone who takes great care and is meticulous in their stringing process, so you get a consistent result each time you restring. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for some of us, and we don’t always get our money’s worth.
However, when you’re the stringer, you have complete control over the process and can ensure that you get a consistent result each time. It will take some time to become proficient as a seasoned stringer, but the payoff is enormous in the long run.
While this may not be true for all players, we love stringing our racquets. We get a lot of satisfaction out of owning the process, and there’s nothing better than flipping on the TV, watching some tennis, and stringing our racquet to get excited to play the next day.
If buying a stringer for your favorite tennis player makes sense for you, then you should check out the Gamma line for quality and affordability. Here are a few options to explore – generally speaking, the more you spend, the more features you get for making stringing quicker, easier, and more accurate.
The Gamma X-2 is going to be one of your most affordable options for a stringer, which makes it a fantastic gift. Here are some key features:
- Drop weight tensioning
- Two-point mounting
- Floating clamps
- Includes basic tools
Gamma X-ST: RECOMMENDED
An excellent step-up from the X-2 is the X-ST. We like this machine because the spring tension winder that you crank to tension your strings is easier and faster to use, the six-point mounting system holds the racquet more securely, and the quick action swivel clamp base makes clamping after tensioning each string a breeze.
- Spring tension winder
- Six-point mounting
- Quick action swivel clamp base
- Includes basic tools
Gamma Progression II Els
Last but certainly not least is the Progression II Els. The primary upgrade from the X-ST is that the Els provides an electronic controlled constant pull tensioner instead of the spring tension winder. Stringers may find it’s a bit faster to string with the X-ST, but the main advantage is accuracy and consistency when stringing.
- Electronic controlled constant pull tensioner
- Six-point mounting
- Quick action swivel clamp base
- Includes basic tools
Whichever stringing machine you choose as a gift, you’re going to put a massive smile on the recipient’s face. It’s indeed the gift that keeps on giving for many years to come.
In the long run, one of the additional ways a stringing machine can help save money is by purchasing reels of string instead of individual packages. Buying in bulk means you save per string job, so once your player settles on a type of string they can’t live without, buying a reel is ideal for maximizing your savings.
For the tennis player that has pretty much everything or is looking to take their game to the next level, a ball machine might just be the perfect gift.
Here are a few reasons why we love the idea of a ball machine as a gift for tennis players:
- Repetition: As with learning pretty much anything, practice or repetition combined with proper instruction is essential for taking your game to the next level. For tennis, a ball machine fulfills that need by providing players with a tool that allows them to hit the same shots over and over to help perfect their technique while developing a good solid feel.
- Consistency: Developing consistency is critical to success on the court. Of course, building up the ability to keep the ball in play over and over takes time and practice. Once again, a ball machine is an excellent tool for helping players develop consistency.
- No Partner Needed: Sometimes, players will find themselves in a situation where they want to hit, but no one is available to play. With a ball machine, they can still get out on the court to get some exercise and have some fun.
- Save Money: While the upfront cost of a ball machine may be a bit pricey, there are opportunities for some players to save money by reducing their cost of lessons. For example, say a player takes tennis lessons once a week at $50 per lesson. Instead, if they moved to every other week and substituted each private lesson with practice on a ball machine, they could save $100 per month. While there’s no substitution for quality instruction, it’s a worthwhile consideration – mainly because a player would likely get much more hitting time in on a ball machine than they would during a group lesson.
- Great Workout: It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but a ball machine can give a player a fantastic workout. Many ball machines can load up over 100 balls, and the good ones have programmed drills that can keep you moving around the court for a solid workout to help players improve their conditioning.
- Fun: Last but not least, ball machines are just plain fun to use, which makes them a terrific gift.
There are quite a few ball machines out there, but we’d recommend Lobster ball machines as the perfect gift idea, with a few different models to choose from at varying price points.
One of our favorites for a terrific mix of features and price points is the Lobster Elite 2. We wrote an entire article on this ball machine, so if you’re considering this as a gift, we’d highly recommend you check it out.
There you have it – our list of the top 12 gift ideas for tennis players. Of course, that’s just the beginning. Keep reading for loads more fresh gift ideas that tennis players will love.