Looking to get fit and have fun? Try tennis!
A favourite pastime for some and a flourishing professional career for others, tennis is an internationally recognized and historically significant sport that dates back hundreds of years.
Whether you’ve spent some time on the court, or you’ve never picked up a racquet, tennis is a well-rounded sport with infinite benefits. Why start now? Here are a few reasons to get you going.
Super easy to start
Are you up for a scavenger hunt? Grab a t-shirt, shorts and dig out your runners. Look around for a tennis ball, preferably one that bounces. It’s acceptable to borrow one from your dog. Now dust off your racquet. Don’t have one? Ask a friend/family member/neighbour, ask anyone who will lend you one. If that doesn’t work, you can purchase a used one.
Last step, go to your community’s web page and look up public tennis courts, there is likely one in close proximity. Grab all your gear and head there. You may not even need a partner, you can ask to sub for someone at the court. If that doesn’t work, you can always practice your technique against a solid wall – simple.
Perhaps one of the most attractive things about tennis: it’s approachable and uncomplicated. It’s a sport you can join with very little commitment, as chances are you already have most of the gear lying around your house and whatever you are missing, you can usually source quite easily.
Sport for all ages
Not only is tennis easy to start, you can pick up a racquet at any age.
Starting as a child when dexterity and hand-eye coordination are still being learned, tennis provides a tangible and fun example of the mechanics of these skills. It allows children to socialize and develop in an exciting and engaging atmosphere.
Introducing tennis to teens serves as both a social activity, as well as a physical one. It provides an avenue to improve skills learned as a child, while developing new ones. Teens are able to improve agility and strength, while spending time with like-minded friends. Not to mention learning the value of healthy competition.
Starting tennis as an adult is easy, you can find a partner in any age group and you already possess most of the fundamental skills to get you started. As an adult, you have already learned to walk and run and have some level of coordination that directly applies to the game of tennis. Bring your skills and runners to the court and you will be well on your way.
Social game at heart
Perhaps touted as one of the most significant benefits by tennis lovers of any age, is the sense of camaraderie felt amongst the players. Played at any age and at any level, it draws people in through their love of the game. And those that share an interest in the same sport often have other commonalities, forging the way for lasting friendships. If you feel like taking a day off, you can always head to the court or your tennis club to cheer on your new friends.
Unlimited health benefits
At first glance, the physical impact of tennis may be obvious. Providing the body with aerobic activity strengthens the cardiovascular system (heart and lungs), while anaerobic increases the function in the musculoskeletal system (muscles and joints). However, the physical benefits go much deeper.
Both aerobic and anaerobic activity produce peptides that enable the body to grow new tissue, repair torn muscles and fight against inflammatory diseases. Tennis is both an aerobic and anaerobic exercise and directly aids in the support of a healthy endocrine system.
The biomechanics of the sport engage major muscle groups and joints, compelling them to work simultaneously, while your racquet meets the ball. This motion enables you to improve such skills as coordination, dexterity, muscle movement, not to mention speed and agility.
The positive impact doesn’t just reside on the court. Tennis provides a foundation for learning discipline, responsibility, respect and sportsmanship, while impacting critical and analytical thinking, all transferrable life-skills.
It’s encouraging to know that tennis is internationally recognized, respected and played. The game itself hasn’t changed much since the 19th century, but its popularity has grown tremendously. Competition is internationally recognized through the four Grand Slam tournaments; Australian Open, French Open, US Open and Wimbledon, as well as the professional men’s (ATP World Tour) and women’s (WTA) circuits, of which Canada’s Rogers Cup presented by National Bank is a part. Tennis crosses borders.
Think back to the last resort you visited or hotel you stayed at, it’s likely that there was a tennis court on site. Easier to pack than your bicycle, racquets weigh next to nothing and can sit flat on the top of your suitcase. And if you’re feeling daring, ask a stranger to play a game with you. The rules are consistent from country to country.
Unless you’re playing doubles, tennis is a sport that is very much one-on-one. It urges you to be self-reliant and self-disciplined on the court. You can be part of a team, but in a match it is up to you to win. The more you play and practice, you develop a synergy in the way you move and your capacity to focus. This energy often translates into confidence both on and off the court – it improves your game and your willingness to face the next challenge head-on.
Sense of community
Tennis challenges you to step out of your comfort zone and change your daily routine. The love of the game provides an opportunity to explore your neighbourhood while you’re on the hunt for a new court to play at. This discovery can lend itself to a deeper sense of community and better familiarity with your surroundings.
Fun for the whole family
Finding a sport that the family can participate in together is important for many people, and tennis is no exception. Whether the whole family is learning the game for the first time, or you’re all experts, spending a day at the court is a great way to enjoy quality time, improve your game and keep fit. And it doesn’t matter the age gaps, tennis is intergenerational; have the older players teach something to the younger ones or vice versa. You can even get a little competitive and score a rally with a prize; winner walks the dog! Get creative and have fun with it.
Not only are the psychological skills learned through tennis transferrable, so too are the physical. The skills learned through tennis are universal and can directly impact how you perform in other sports. How so?
Agility: In tennis you accelerate in short bursts to meet and return the ball. Sometimes you find yourself pivoting and moving side-to-side on the court to reach those fast slams and tough lobs. These skills are essential when playing both soccer and basketball, especially to ensure you don’t trip over your feet.
Balance and control: Although sometimes you may want to, you can’t just run and hit the ball at full speed – unless you want to go searching for it over the fence. It is essential to maintain balance and control with each movement and hit. Both balance and control are necessary when playing hockey; balance keeps you upright and control keeps you centered.
Mind/body connection: Albeit rapid, the mind is in constant thought during a match. Tennis demands immediate reactions as well as well-timed plays. This can also be found when practicing yoga; mind, breath and body must move together, or you may just lose your balance!
Tennis can produce a well-rounded athlete, so don’t be surprised when you make the all-star team in your other favourite sport.
A game for life
Tennis is a sport for all ages, and it regularly becomes a lifestyle. It’s a segmented sport; there isn’t one age group that dominates more than 20% of the total player population (The Active Network, 2009). This means that even when you are 93 years old, you can still find someone to play a match against you and you won’t have to go easy on them!
The longevity of tennis not only applies to time, but also to skill. There’s no ceiling, you can always improve your game. You can fine-tune your technique, simplify your footwork, improve the accuracy of your serve… and the list goes on!
Tennis is a grassroots sport that crosses barriers and invites all to join. It’s fun to play and it’s fun to watch. It can be a social pastime or a challenging career – the possibilities are endless. Tennis is an efficient and exhilarating way to get in shape. Grab a racquet: Your body and mind will thank you!