Don’t let UV smash you down the line

Tennis is typically a summer sport with players regularly exposed to high UV, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Players are often outside for extended periods of time for training and competition and are subject to the UV reflected off the court as well as directly from above increasing overall UV exposure. Even at very low levels of UV, the extended periods outdoors mean good sun protection is needed all year round.

Former Australian World No.1 John Newcombe had a very public battle with skin cancer, and former US tennis great Chris Evert claimed UV radiation permanently damaged her eyes. Professional and recreational players alike need to ensure adequate sun protection on the court all year round.

Five tips for how to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide without compromising your game

1. Cover up exposed skin: SLIP on clothing designed for athletes that covers as much skin as possible. Long-sleeved shirts with collars are ideal. Look for fabric that is rated UPF50.

2. Apply sunscreen correctly and frequently: SLOP on SPF50+ broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to any exposed skin at least 20 minutes before play. Sunscreen won’t provide 100% protection but used in conjunction with other sun protection methods it will greatly reduce your risk of skin damage.  

  • Look for a dry touch or active formula that won’t be greasy and impact your racquet grip.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours and more regularly if you’re sweating, so put some in your tennis bag. Aim to reapply at the end of each set.
  • Correct application of sunscreen is essential. 85% of Aussies don’t use enough sunscreen putting themselves at risk. Check out our sunscreen calculator.

3. Protect your face, neck and ears on and off court: SLAP on a broad-brimmed hat when you’re off-court to protect your face from the intense UV. When on the court, help protect your eyes and nose with a cap or, for full protection, aim for a legionnaire hat (Marc Polman style) that will also help protect the cheeks, ears and neck. You’ll have to be extra careful with your sunscreen application to your face, ears and neck if wearing a cap.

4. Avoid peak UV times: SEEK shade between games and try to schedule training and matches earlier in the morning or later in the day when the sun’s UV isn’t as intense. Download the free SunSmart app to stay on top of UV levels and sun protection times.

5. Protect your eyes: SLIDE on sunglasses to help protect your eyes from UV and sun glare. Court surfaces can reflect high levels of UV so eye protection is a must. For best protection, look for wrap-around sunglasses which meet the Australian standard (ASNZS:067). There are sunglasses made specifically for tennis which are designed to prevent slippage when moving around, and offering better peripheral vision.