For some players, competing on clay can feel like an entirely different sport.

Between the sliding, tricky bounces and heavier conditions, it tests you in ways not found on a harder surface. But it’s not just added patience and defter footwork that are required on the dirt; fine-tuning your equipment can help maximize your performance as well.

Here are some options:

Babolat Pure Aero

Babolat Pure Aero



The grit of a clay court slows down shots and promotes a higher bounce. An effective way to take advantage of this characteristic is to hit with more topspin. While stroke mechanics will hold the greatest influence over this trait, there are racquets designed to enhance it. The most notable feature they possess is a wider string pattern; fewer strings with larger spacing means they have more room to move freely at contact. When the ball leaves the strings, they snap back into position, which can accentuate the brushing motion of a topspin swing.

The sweet spot for the category is a 16x19 configuration in a 100 sq. inch head. Many of these frames also have thicker, stiffer beams with variable widths to add juice to shots—a handy quality when trying to power the ball through a clay court.

Top Picks: Babolat Pure Aero (pictured), Head Extreme MP, Yonex VCORE 100

Luxilon ALU Power Rough Strings

Luxilon ALU Power Rough Strings


Polyester strings are popular regardless of surface, but they’re particularly advantageous on a clay court. For one thing, they’re highly durable and better suited than a multifilament to withstand the additional wear of longer rallies, and the roughness and moisture presented by a clay-covered ball. From a performance standpoint, the stiffness of polys promotes added control for more consistency during long exchanges. And the enhanced string snapback at contact means extra spin to exploit higher bounces.

Polyester strings come in different varietals—thin gauges, shaped, textured—that dig into the ball at contact to create even more bite on shots. Paired with a spin-friendly frame, it’s a dynamic duo on clay.

Top Picks: Luxilon ALU Power Rough (pictured), Babolat RPM Blast, Solinco Hyper-G


Diadora Blushield Fly
3 Clay

Diadora Blushield Fly 3 Clay


The uneven, slippery nature of clay requires footwear that provides enough traction for balance, while still allowing the ability to slide into shots for efficient movement.

This is why there are clay-court specific shoes with special outsoles delivering the best combination of grip and give. These typically have a tight, herringbone tread that isn’t as thick or heavy as an outsole designed to weather the abrasion of a hard court. So they’re often lighter, which is appreciated during lengthier and demanding points. The uppers on a clay-court shoe may also have additional material or barriers to prevent clay granules from getting inside the shoe, staining socks and potentially irritating the foot.

Top Picks: Diadora Blushield Fly 3 Clay (pictured), Adidas Ubersonic 4 Clay, Asics Gel Resolution 8 Clay