Updated: Sep 3
Tennis is the best sport in the world, in my unbiased opinion. It offers a wide range of mental health benefits, provides a great workout and is a great way to meet new people. But in the modern world, with so much choice, competition and the cost of living rising, why play tennis compared to other sports?
In this article, I will explain the key benefits of Tennis and why it is a good sport for people of all ages and standards.
And we will start right now!
Introduction to Why you should play Tennis
When I worked in a commercial health club, my tennis programme had massive competition from the swimming programme. I had many conversations with parents and tried to convince them why Tennis is a great sport to play from a young age. Parents often would tell me that Tennis was a simple sport and swimming was a life skill. I would tell them that the children would learn more life skills on a tennis court, hitting a tennis ball more than if they fell into the water and splashed around.
I would always focus on how Tennis would develop them or their child as a person. Their goal was never to become a professional tennis player, but if they became the next Roger Federer, that would be a bonus. My talk with the parent would cover how Tennis would develop the Head, Heart and Legs of the player/child.
Why Play Tennis?: It develops the Head (Mental Skills)
Tennis is not just about trying to become the next Serena Williams or winning your local club tournament. Tennis is a very mental sport, and you will hear the commentator at Wimbledon each year talk about the cognitive skills of Novak Djokovic. But what mental benefits does Tennis provide to a player:
The game of Tennis is often referred to as a game of chess, and players must carefully select where, when and how to hit the ball to try and win a point. Unlike many other racket sports, Tennis is played on a large court area offering multiple decisions. Tennis players need quick decision-making, with an average of 1.5 seconds between hitting the ball and coming back.
Tennis is not about having the correct technique, and it's more about outsmarting your opponent. Each player will have a unique playing style, technique and various strengths and weaknesses. In my tennis lessons, I constantly give my players problems to solve, and they must find the best way to overcome them. According to a 2013 United States Tennis Association study, children who played Tennis achieved higher grades.
Tennis is a unique sport. Being an individual sport, you must deal with the pressure of sport on your own. Unlike team sports, where the responsibility, ownership and performance can be shared, tennis players must be able to handle this all by themselves. Tennis players are comfortable playing under pressure, which will translate to school and work life, which is only a massive benefit for overall health.
Tennis may be an individual sport, but you need a team around you. Tennis requires many support personnel from practice partners, coaches, physios, parents, and sponsors. At the young level, players need to learn how to share, corporate, communicate and organise with their fellow players. The social interaction element of tennis lessons is huge, asking questions, listening, and working as a team to solve a common problem. These are all common skills a young player can take into adulthood.
Professional Tennis players at grand slams, these players must learn how to run a business. Logistics, marketing, time management and finance are all important social or business skills players come out of the sport with. The prize money in Tennis is low, and players must learn how to budget, negotiate and improvise to make the pennies stretch. These are all essential skills people miss when thinking about Tennis as a game for life.
Older adults can use tennis to stay in touch with friends, meet new people or play a team sport such as doubles.
Tennis is great for your mental health. Exercise's physical effects will improve your mental health. Still, the added confidence from your enhanced ability to deal with pressure and solve problems and a supportive social network can only be a huge benefit. This could be your main reason for picking up a racket and that's why is ranked at the top of my list.
Why Play Tennis?: It develops the Heart
Not only will the physical element of tennis improve your cardiovascular fitness and lower the risk of heart disease, but it will also give you unique qualities and values that we call the Heart of a player in Tennis coaching terms.
Tennis is demanding, with short rallies and lots of mistakes, and you must deal with losing a lot. If you read my article on the ultimate tennis statistics, you will know that tennis players lose a lot of points, generally around 50'% of what they play. Tennis players such as Maria Sharapova will have great determination and the sheer grit to keep moving forwards when dealing with negative moments. In life, we deal with setbacks every day, and tennis increases that intensity with players dealing with setbacks every few minutes.
Tennis is a game of highs and lows, and it's like a rollercoaster of emotions. You can win one point, lose three and then win three! It's crazy!
It would be best if you bounced back from setbacks, bad calls, luck, and changes in conditions such as weather or courts. I tell my players that tennis players must be able to adapt, adjust and bounce back when things are going against them. This will determination makes tennis players very tough, and they must have a big heart to play the game.
Love may mean nothing in terms of the score, but it develops your love for a popular sport and your mental and physical well-being. This can only be a great thing for your life or your children's lives. Once you start to play tennis, you will be looking for outdoor courts and then indoor courts for you to play your tennis matches on. You may not play major tournaments like the U.S. Open or win a gold medal at the summer Olympics, but you will have a game or hobby for life.
Why Play Tennis: It develops the legs
Tennis is a very physical sport, and you need good hand-eye coordination and lower-body agility and s, peed to hit a good shot. You need to use your entire body. Don't worry about tennis elbow. That's often the result of poor equipment, such as the tennis racquet. You can see the best racquets to buy in a recent blog are there.
Like most professional sports, lawn tennis, to use its official title, has many physical benefits. Players will develop critical core skills such as agility, balance, coordination and speed. These primary motor skills are transferable to every sport and quality of life. The nature of tennis as a non-contact sport also has benefits, such as a reduced risk of injury compared to football. Tennis players are some of the best athletes in the world, with a mix of strength, speed and agility. You can only compare them to MMA fighters in terms of overall physical development.
Tennis is a great workout; you don't have to be on the International Tennis Federation ranking list to get the health benefits. The average group of tennis fans who play once a week can get their heart rate high enough through the high-intensity nature of the game to help with weight loss. In a modern age with obesity, lower life expectancy and more underlying health conditions, we must promote sports to our friends and relatives. If you play Tennis once or twice a week and have a good diet, you will see significant changes in your body composition.
Why Play Tennis: Final Thoughts
Tennis may have a complex scoring system. You may not yet know your first serve from a second one, but look past the tired stereotypes of tennis and see the game's hidden physical and mental benefits. Tennis can be played by anyone, any age and anywhere. You don't have to join your local tennis club to play, and you can get a good workout and improve your mental and physical health in the park or at home.
What to read next
If I have encouraged you to pick up a tennis racket for the first time, check out the following articles for further help and support. Please feel free to reach out below to me if you need any bespoke advice.
How To Play Tennis
The Different Types of Tennis Shots Explained (Full Overview with Video)
The Best Tennis Drills For Beginners (With Video)
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My Tennis Coach
Written by Steve Whelan
Steve has developed thousands of tennis players and tennis coaches over the past twenty years as a coach and educator.
Steve has over 20 million social media views in 2022 alone.
Read About Steve's fantastic career here.