Tennis is a sport played using a racket. It can be played individually against one opponent (called singles) or between two pairs of players (called doubles). The player uses the racket which has been strung with a cord to strike a felt-covered hollow rubber ball over a net into the opponent’s court. A player gains a point if the opponent is unable to return the shot in a valid way. It can also be played for recreational purposes besides playing it professionally. Tennis as a recreational and a professional career as well has a lot of benefits to the players. This article explores some of the benefits associated with playing tennis.
Benefits of Tennis
1. Stimulates muscle movement.
In playing tennis, one has to run and strike the ball. There is no way of playing tennis that doesn’t require movement and use of a considerable amount of power. This is because the tennis racquet is heavy itself (1).
Besides this, the tennis ball can bounce over to any area of the pitch and therefore the player has to run and strike the ball regardless of how far it is from them. Tennis is a recommendable sport for stimulating the muscle movement even in kids and requires even more stamina as compared to other similar sports such as badminton.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis helps to stimulate muscle movement because the player has to move around to reach for and to strike the ball.
2. Exercises one to be more active
So as to strike the tennis ball, the player has to move in various random directions according to the movement of the ball in order to strike it (2). This movement as already stated stimulates muscle movement which consequently makes the player to become faster as the bones follow the movement of the muscles. The player becomes swifter and feels more active as a result of this stimulation of the muscles.
Bottom Line: Moving in the various directions – left, right, back, forward – stimulates the muscle movement followed by the bones which causes the player to be more active and fast.
3. Shaping the body
As evidenced by the shapes of many famous tennis players, tennis helps to keep the body in good shape. The body gains an ideal slim and muscular body which keeps the athlete healthy and good looking (3).
The various movements when playing help them to burn fat and calories and also improves their metabolism. Therefore, tennis is one good sport to put into consideration when looking to gain a good body shape.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis helps to burn fat and calories and helps the player to gain an ideal slim and muscular body resulting to good body shape.
4. Improve the human brain
As affirmed by Dr. Joan Finn of the Southern Connecticut State University, tennis may generate new nerve connections in the brain since the quick and random movement of the ball requires one to be alert and tactful (4). This promotes a lifelong continuous development of the brain as collaborated by scientists at the University of Illinois.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis may generate new connections of the nerves in the brain thereby causing lifelong continuous brain development.
5. Decrease the risk of mortality
A study conducted by scientists taking a shot at identifying the different benefits of various sports interestingly found that playing sports such as tennis or badminton reduced the risk of death at any given age by nearly 50%. In this sense, one wanting to stave off death for some time might consider taking tennis as the free time game of choice (5).
Although not conclusive, the researchers found out that running and football had less effect as compared to tennis.
Bottom Line: Research has shown that tennis reduces the risk of mortality by almost 50% at any age, more than even football and running.
6. Cut the risk of cardiovascular disease
Tennis players exercise a lot when playing because of a lot of movements on the pitch. This helps their respiratory system to keep fit and prevents accumulation of bad cholesterol which may predispose one to cardiovascular disease. This therefore significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (6).
Swift movement of the various body parts when playing aid in improvement of the health of the human heart as the fat layer is maintained at a preferable level. By regulating the fat layer covering the vital organ, the efficiency of the heart to pump blood to the different body parts is increased as well as preventing different heart diseases.
Bottom Line: According to a number of researches, playing table tennis prevents a number of heart diseases.
7. Cut the risk of diabetes mellitus
By playing tennis, the unhealthy body fats are decreased and consequently the risk of diabetes mellitus is considerably reduced (7). As a matter of fact, tennis is good for people suffering from diabetes. It helps them to keep fit and healthy.
Bottom Line: Tennis helps in reduction of the risk of diabetes mellitus and also serves in keeping diabetic people fit and healthy.
8. Decreases the risk of osteoporosis
Playing tennis improves and maintains bone health. The activity strengthens bones and increases their density. In the long run, continuous playing of tennis reduces the risk of osteoporosis (8). Bone mass peak at around the age of 30 and begins to decline gradually afterwards according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
By exercising regularly, one can achieve this bone mass prior to the age of 30 and continued exercise after that can help reduce the bone loss after 30.
Bottom Line: Regular playing helps one to exercise and maximize bone mass prior to the age of 30 and reduce bone loss afterwards.
9. Improves agility
Due to the nature of the game, tennis players need to move quickly and in random directions when playing. This movement builds up agility such that a player is able to move over a distance in a short time and still be accurate in striking the ball (9). This agility is also transferred into the other activities the player is involved in. Tennis also involves a lot of body movement and thus physically exercises the player.
Bottom Line: The nature of the sport of the player having to cover distances within a short time and still strike the ball accurately develops agility on the part of the player.
10. Cross training
This means that tennis can be effectively used for exercising for other sports since its exercise is similar to that of most other sports. Quick-fire changes in speed and direction of player is involved in tennis as the player struggle to return the serves and volleys of the opponent (10).
According to researchers, this requires uses 300 to 500 bursts of energy per match and can be equaled to running for 3 to 5 miles. Therefore, playing tennis is a brilliant way of speeding up your sprinting and enhancing your endurance.
Bottom Line: Tennis can be used to train for other sports since it helps improve the sprinting speed and enhances endurance.
11. Dynamic balance
Because a tennis athlete moves in all directions and in short amounts of time, dynamic balance is very important when the player is moving across the court. They therefore have to practice how to maintain balance even when under pressure and when moving in all the directions (11). This can be achieved by exercising by doing stops, starts, side to side directional changes and back to forward movements.
Bottom Line: The movement of tennis athletes in all directions helps one to develop balance when playing or making movements.
12. Gross motor control
From the movement on the court and ball striking, the body of a tennis player is accustomed to control of large groups of muscles because a lot of muscle movement is involved. It can help the body to exercise the control of gross motor (12).
Additionally, by using touch shoot, drop shoot and lobs, tennis can be used to exercise player control and fine motor.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis helps a player to exercise player control of large groups of muscles and also to exercise gross motor.
13. Nutritional habits
As a tennis player, one need to maintain proper eating habits. Proper diet before a match boosts the player and enhances energy production and thus promotes the performance of the player. A good meal after the match is also good to help recover the energy used up during playing (13).
These good eating habits developed by playing tennis come along with many other benefits of having nutritious diet. Tennis therefor can help one improve their nutritional habits.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis helps the player to develop good nutritional habits which help the benefit from the benefits which come along with a good diet.
14. Improves coordination
According to science, playing tennis aids the mind in stimulating the development of tactical strategy, concentration and also mental alertness (14). This cumulatively sharpens young people’s reflexes and refines tactics in older people.
Improved coordination gained from the game is useful in execution of some tactics in particular occupations which require varying levels of coordination. An example of such a field is computing.
Bottom Line: The coordination gained by playing tennis helps to increase concentration, develop tactical strategy and mental alertness, which can also be useful in other occupations.
15. Improves physical speed and strength
Continuously done starts and stops help in strengthening the leg muscles. As a matter of fact, that is how leg exercises are done (15). Tennis players do a lot of starts and stops when playing thus their leg muscles are strong. Additionally, playing tennis can increase one’s speed by having to sprint to the left and to the right in pursuit of the ball.
The tennis player also gets to exercise the first step and get used to the anticipation, quick reaction and readiness to react. Through this, they gain the ability to accelerate and to sprint more quickly. As a result, the player has to move to the position at which the ball is coming and be ready to strike the ball accurately with the upper body. This promotes a general body coordination.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis helps the player to gain physical strength and speed when playing.
16. Strengthens Immune system
Through playing tennis, the physical activity can aid in flushing bacteria out of the airways and out of the lungs. This can effectively lower the chances of contracting a flu, cold or other related illnesses (16). The physical exercise also causes changes in antibodies and the white blood cells. The white blood cells are the cells of the immune system that help in fighting diseases.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis can help improve the immunity of the player by flushing bacteria out of the airways and the lungs thus preventing the infection by illnesses such as cold or flu.
Playing tennis requires the whole body to cooperate. The feet are responsible for timely positioning of the body on the correct position and the hands and arms are responsible for positioning the racquet to strike the ball. The body trunk and the legs provide the power to strike the ball and send it flying over the net (17).
All these components are applied each time the person hits the ball and each of these requires coordination, balance and flexibility. Flexibility gives you a wider range of motion and is therefore an important aspect. It also aids in prevention of injuries and even reduces muscle strain.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis helps the player to develop flexibility because he or she has to cover a wide range of motion when playing and also to prevent injury and reduce muscle strain.
18. Full body workout
Unlike some sports which only exclusively exercise specific parts of the body, tennis is a great workout for the whole body (18). The lower body is used for starts and stops, running, jumping, crouching and maintaining stability. The action of hitting the tennis ball also works out the trunk as well, mostly the shoulders and the upper back, regardless of whether it is single or double-handed.
Bottom Line: Tennis helps to work out the entire body unlike other sports which are specific to particular parts of the body.
19. Improved aerobic and anaerobic health
When playing tennis, oxygen intake is increased, consequently increasing your heart rate and promoting efficient delivery of blood to all the body muscles. This also helps in the formation of numerous capillaries and capillary beds within the muscles such that the muscles have enough and better blood supply and flow (19).
This delays fatigue of the muscles and improves their performance. It also helps in maintenance of aerobic health which promotes better usage of oxygen and provides quick energy shots for explosive power and for the quick, reaction movements.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis improves oxygen intake and promotes efficient supply of oxygen to the muscles which improves their performance and slows down the rate of fatigue of the muscles.
20. Burns calories and fat
With the right opponent, the swinging of the racquet, reaching out, pivoting and running can be quite a work out given that the sport involves the whole body. This way, a lot of calories are burned since one is always constantly on the move. As a matter of fact, majority of people actually burn more calories than other popular types of physical activity such as weight lifting, golfing, leisurely cycling, playing volleyball or dancing (20).
Consequently, tennis has been shown to reduce body fat. A singles tennis can burn between 400-600 calories per hour which is not a bad figure for recreational sport which can be played by almost everybody.
Bottom Line: Tennis helps burn between 400-600 calories per hour which is good for a sport that can be played for recreation and by almost everyone.
21. Improves bone health
Playing tennis has been shown to have benefits not only to the muscles but also to the bones as well. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), bone mass is usually at maximum at around the age of 30. After that age, the bone mass begins to decline gradually (21). Regular bone exercise, however, can help one to maximize the bone mass before the age of 30 and then afterwards slow down the rate of bone loss. Tennis has been named by NIH as being among the weight bearing activities which is most suited to building of strong bones.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis has been shown to help maximize the bone mass before the age of 30 and afterwards help to slow down bone loss.
22. Improves heart health
When playing tennis, the quick anaerobic sprints that are involved in the sport burn a lot of fat, increases the rate of the heart and increases the energy levels (22). In a full match of tennis which can take from one to two hours and at intervals which are most suitable for cardiovascular health improvement, one can lower the risk of a heart disease, stroke or heart attack.
Bottom Line: The sport can help to lower the risk of heart diseases, stroke or heart attack and improve cardiovascular health.
23. Boosts brain power
Tennis demands creativity, wit, planning and tactical thinking, agility and efficient body coordination. The more one plays tennis, the more one is able to enhance each of these skills and abilities by making the neural connections which are related to these capabilities stronger (23). Apart from this, research has shown that sports such as tennis which require a lot of thinking can help in improvement of brain function in manners that help memory, learning, behavior and social skills.
Bottom Line: Playing tennis often can help to enhance abilities of planning, tactical thinking, agility and body coordination as well as memory, social skills, learning and behavior.
24. Improves discipline and social skills
The skills needed to master the game require patience, time and a lot of dedication. A lot of time is spent on practicing and focusing on bettering oneself (24). In this way, tennis helps a person to become more disciplined and achieving a better socialization as there is interaction with other players, all of whom have different personalities and varying views on issues.
Bottom Line: The time, dedication and patience required in mastering tennis helps one to develop discipline and the interaction with other players helps to improve the person’s degree of socialization.
25. Boosts mood
According to scientists, a tennis player usually has a higher self-esteem, is optimistic and generally happy (25). Tennis players are also less depressed, less anxious and angry, unlike players of other sports or are sedentary.
Bottom Line: Tennis helps to boost the mood of players more than other sports.
26. Improves social bonding
Playing tennis aids different players and people from various grounds to interact physically thus offering an opportunity for bond strengthening which can be used positively on different grounds (26). Involving in the game professionally advantages the players since their loneliness is reduced as their fans support them during the game sessions.
The support helps them to win directly and also leads to a healthier lifestyle since the diseases resulting from loneliness such as depression are reduced. Tennis also helps to boost the family members’ relationship whenever they involve themselves in the game reducing the negative effect of minimal time spent by family members.
Bottom line: People who actively engage themselves in playing tennis have a reduced level of loneliness which consequently reduces the risk of depression. Family members who engage themselves in the game improve their relationship and therefore easily dealing with the relationship challenges especially the husband-wife relationship.
27. Improves memory
A scientific research has proven that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor level is boosted by many aerobic activities. Through participation in the aerobic activities, new brain cells are developed in the hippocampus even if the brain cells that one was born with tend to remain constant except development (27).
The neurotrophic factor protein aids in the promotion of survival of a neuron and hence curbing different diseases including the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Different brain parts are stimulated to perform their functions effectively as one participates in playing the game. Playing tennis as one of the various kinds of aerobic exercises is found to stimulate longer brain survival periods and also correlating to an increase of various animal memories.
Bottom line: Engaging in table tennis helps to lengthen the lifespan of various brain cells and improving human memory as well as animal brain.
28. Increases stamina levels
Another advantage of playing tennis is the increment of one’s stamina levels whenever involved in the activity for a longer period of time. This is as a result of body parts being engaged in the activity and the strengthening of the muscle tendons in the body. Whenever young people engage in the exercise, bone deposition and distribution of the strengthening mineral calcium occurs (28).
Through the strengthening of body tendons and bones in various body parts, one’s stamina is improved and therefore the likelihood of performing other tasks is improved.
Bottom line: Body stamina is improved through engagement of aerobic activities and therefore tennis as one of the active games plays a role in the boost consequently improving the body efficiency in performing other tasks.
29. Improves the body’s reflexes
According to various scientific researches, participating in tennis offers a health advantage to the players since different body parts are actively involved as they play the game. Their bodies therefore have to develop and improve the reflexes of the parts especially the limbs and the brain (29).
The limbs have to develop a simultaneous effect whenever the brain makes the decisions of where to move and where to strike the ball in order to keep up with the opponent. The co-ordination may be of great importance whether in playing the game or outside the field. The co-ordination triggers the brain and the bodies to develop a good reflex as different hormones are involved during the engagement and when exercised repeatedly different body parts develop a high level of co-ordination.
Bottom line: Playing tennis helps in the improvement of body co-ordination which in turn improves the body’s reflexes.
30. Increases alertness
As people involve themselves in playing tennis frequently, their ability to shift and focus attention is improved. This is due to the anticipation created by the ball as one is not sure where the ball lands. In order to keep up with the game pace attention is created to help the player to target where the opponent kicks the ball to and try as much as possible to strike the opponent. In day to day lives, alertness is required in several fields and therefore as one plays it benefits from the advantage (30).
Bottom line: Playing tennis is one of different methods that help to replenish one’s attention and hence improving skills in different areas including the careers requiring a high level of alertness such as medicine and security sectors.
31. Increases motivation
Since tennis is played against opponents, a stiff competition ground is built. The game is beneficial and ideal to different age groups which include students, those working or those in their retirement age as it aids in the relation of the brain off the respective fields (31). Whenever a competition prevails, the winners are greatly motivated to perform the other tasks in the same level of accuracy they employed in order to win the game. This greatly improves the body functioning which in turn correlates the improved motivation of performing various tasks offered to children either at school or at home. Winning the tennis competition also develops a positive self-esteem and therefore making it easier to carry on with various tasks which seem hard to perform.
Bottom line: Participating in tennis offers a ground for the improvement of motivation as well as development of a positive self-esteem triggering the ability of carrying out various functions which may seem hard.
32. Improves decision making skills
Making decisions is one of the major requirements of playing tennis as one is doubtful of where the ball lands after the opponent strikes it in order to maintain the initial game pace and to win the game (32).
The repeated exercise plays a role in training the participants how to make decisions within short periods of time as the game involves a fast pace. As the players make their decisions during the period, they also learn how to exercise the decisions made to strike and try as much as they can to gain points from them. This in turn helps to improve the decision making skills to be used in various sectors that the participants fall in.
Bottom line: Playing tennis helps the players to make their decisions upon many choices and put them into practice for the best results to be expressed.
33. Improves the joint health
Tennis involves striking of the ball into different parts of the pitch which therefore leads to continuous movement to reach out the ball and save it throughout the game period (33). The limb movement stresses the joints together and therefore reducing the likelihood of diseases associated by joint idleness such as osteoarthritis in both the elbows and the knees. The vigorous activity helps in maintaining the ‘joint fluid’ and enabling easy joint movement and consequently improving their health.
Bottom line: Playing tennis plays an important role in improving and maintaining the joint health.
34. Improves eyesight
The fast speed experienced while playing the game plays a role in improving the eyesight as one focuses on maintaining the play. It is evident in different studies that people who engage themselves in playing the game have lower percentage level of development of cataracts which in most cases lead to loss of eyesight. The advantage is generalized to all the age groups and for a number of purposes especially on the young generation which has numerous growing cells (34).
Bottom line: Tennis is one of the few games which help people to maintain their eyesight as they try to focus on the ball and concentrate during the whole period of the game.
35. Improves hand grip strength
Tennis also improves hand grip strength. This is due to the force that one applies while striking the ball or whenever one is stopping the opponent’s ball (35).
The frequency that one engages in the game is directly proportional to the grip strength improved as the tendons require continuous exercise to maintain and improve their strength. The constant change of the position of the upper limbs greatly triggers muscle development which in turn improve grip required during various exercises.
Bottom line: Playing tennis helps in boosting the muscle strength, preventing muscle loss as well as improving the hand grip strength as one involves swinging of the upper limbs throughout the whole play time.
Tips for Beginners
Playing tennis can be quite a challenging experience and requires one to be well prepared and with enough patience to wait to learn. Do not expect immediate good results just after some weeks of play especially if you are a complete beginner. The following are some tips on things to observe if you are a beginner in tennis.
1. Choose your racket well
To be able to play tennis properly, one needs to choose his or her racket wisely. There are a variety of rackets that one can choose from, with the standard quality being pretty good even on the lower end of the scale. Junior-sized rackets and rackets for beginners are usually not very expensive. However, do not just buy a racket because it is cheap, make sure it is comfortable for you to use (36).
When purchasing one, do not hesitate to ask for assistance from the sales assistant. A broken racket can also be repaired by re-stringing it and adjusting its tension to suit the play rather than just disposing it.
2. Do a lot of practice
It requires a lot of practice, patience and determination to become a good tennis player. Dedicate a lot of time to practicing and give it your all. Do not give up just because you didn’t perform to your best in one match, one can play very well one week and then the following week he or she plays appallingly; it happens even to the best of players. Just keep on it and eventually you shall get the hang of it.
3. Take some tennis lessons
The best and probably the quickest way to improve your tennis game is by taking some lesson. This helps you from picking up bad habits and presents the opportunity to meet people of a similar standard as you and see how they play. It is important to also do some research into the local sports centers and tennis clubs to see what they offer. You can also join one of the tennis clubs for moral support and in order to interact with other people of similar interest.
4. Warm-up before play and cool-down after play
It is important to always do some warm-up before playing and then do the same after playing. These involve stretching the arms and legs and doing some jogging to release the tension in the muscles. They should also be done at the end of a match. Conclude the cool-down with the stretches (36).
5. Stay refreshed all the time
Ensure you are well hydrated throughout the game by taking plenty of water or an electrolyte especially during warm weather. You can also take snack in between the plays during breaks like the professional players do.
6. Strike the ball properly
You need to learn the best timing for striking the ball properly when playing. It is usually easier to strike the ball at waist height after it has bounced and is on the way downwards after reaching the highest point in the air (36). This ensures your strikes are well served.
7. Improve your playing speed
Tennis can sometimes be a very quick game if the players return serves and volleys fast. It needs total alertness and speed for the player to be able to strike the ball properly and get in position on time. It requires you to move swiftly across the court to be able to react to the opponent’s shots. Feet speed and coordination can be improved by skipping with a rope and doing some stretches. Frequent practice also helps to improve speed.
8. Learn the right grip
There are various types of grips, each for a different shot. You can learn the right grips for shots by either taking lessons or talking to an experienced player. It is good to learn the different grips for different shots at the beginner level before you pick up bad habits which are often difficult to undo when you are already used to them.
9. Improve your stamina
Regardless of how fast you are on the court, it is not good if you lose your strength just after some few games. This can be avoided through regular and frequent aerobic workout (36). Playing tennis or any other sports more can also help to gain some strength and endurance.
10. Take one point at a time
It is important when playing to forget about the point you have lost in the past and focus on the next point which you are currently playing. The term “tilt” is often used in sports to refer to a state of the player where emotions overrides a cool, collected and calm approach (36). The player becomes frustrated and angry, which more often than not leads to the players losing altogether rather than help them better their game.