Our weather here in the Lowcountry is generally mild, even in December. It’s hard to imagine winter is truly coming. But, it is!

We’re heading into the holiday season with typically cooler temperatures. So, if your Christmas wish list includes some tennis gear that you’ll be excited to get out there and enjoy, it’s a good idea to think about making some adjustments to keep the cold weather from affecting your tennis game.

Since you can’t readily play indoors (like some of us did when we lived up north), here are some suggestions for playing tennis in the cooler, outdoor conditions of our Lowcountry winter.

• Layer up: Playing in 40 degrees compared to 90 degrees is a big change, and you’ll have to dress accordingly. Wearing thin layers, removing them as you warm up and putting them back on as needed will help better control your body’s heat. It is key in keeping you from getting chilled and maybe catching cold.

• Hats, gloves, socks and sunglasses: Since the majority of body heat is lost from your head, wearing a hat is a no-brainer. It serves double duty in the winter since the sun is still a factor. UV rays don’t ever stop.

Keeping your hands and feet warm will also increase your ability to play in the cold. Even if you think wearing a glove on your dominant hand won’t work for you, it’s surprising how warm you feel by wearing one on your “off” hand.

As for socks, try wearing a thin cotton pair under your regular tennis socks. This not only promotes warmth, it’ll keep you from the possibility of getting blisters.

Sunglasses are as important to wear in the winter as they are in the summer. Although the sun isn’t as hot, the UV rays and glare still have an effect, and it’s not a good one over the long term.

• Stretch before and after you play: When it’s cold outside, your muscles will take longer to loosen up. To prevent strains, pulls and tears, take a few minutes to stretch before you start play and again when you finish. Also, take your time when warming up – 5 to 10 minutes longer than you usually would, to be on the safe side.

• Hydrate: Even though it’s cooler out, your body’s need for water and hydration is still there. In fact, you might not sweat as much, but keeping your system flushed is just healthy, plain and simple.

With these suggestions in mind, I hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season, and are ready to enjoy the winter tennis season!

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. lwmarino@hotmail.com