10 Mental and Physical Benefits of Playing Tennis
We all know that physical exercise has a range of mental and physical benefits, but tennis is a particularly rewarding and beneficial sport to play thanks to the unique challenges it presents.
Mastering the game of tennis takes a lot of mental and physical dedication, as it is a very demanding sport in both aspects. This is part of what makes tennis such a popular pursuit, and keeps people coming back to the court throughout their entire lives.
Why Tennis is a Great Sport to Play
Now, we may be a little biased, but we firmly believe that tennis is the best sport in the world! There are a number of good reasons for this, so don’t just take our word for it.
Tennis is a sport that demands a high degree of mental, physical, emotional and technical competency, so it is an incredibly difficult sport to play well.
Clearly, running around a tennis court is great for your overall fitness and learning a new skill such as tennis is a fantastic way to boost your mental sharpness. But, there are many more benefits of playing tennis regularly than you may have first thought.
Not only is there the fitness side of things, but hand eye coordination, muscle toning and improved range of motion also come from playing tennis.
What’s more, from a mental perspective, playing tennis improves your problem solving skills, increases mental resilience and improves your ability to think clearly under pressure.
One of the best parts is tennis is a sport that is enjoyed by people of all ages, from all walks of life and is played all over the globe.
Joining a local club, playing in the park or just finding a court and playing with a stranger are all great ways to meet new people and potentially make friends for life.
While tennis is a great sport to take up, you can of course have too much of a good thing. Playing too much can lead to injuries such as tennis elbow, so it is important to manage the amount of stress you put on body parts that are at the most risk.
That being said, here are the top 10 benefits of playing tennis for both your physical and mental health!
10 Mental and Physical Benefits of Playing Tennis
While there are more than just 10 benefits of playing tennis, we have picked some of the most pertinent, covering both the physical and mental side of things.
Perhaps the most obvious benefits tennis offers are the physical ones. There’s no substitute for getting out in the fresh air and running around, and tennis is the perfect motivation.
Heightened Hand Eye Coordination
Tennis is a sport that requires a high degree of hand eye coordination. This is because it requires you to have great timing, be able to move to the ball efficiently, produce a technically sound swing and recover.
All of these skills are only possible if you have great awareness of where your body parts are in space and you have great hand eye coordination – tennis is a sport that demands it from you!
In a sport like golf, you must be very technically sound to produce a solid swing, however you are stationary.
Anyone who has tried to reproduce the famous Happy Gilmore swing will know how difficult it is to swing a golf club whilst moving. Well, try doing that when the ball is moving towards you!
Of course, a tennis racket and tennis ball are far bigger than the head of a golf club and a golf ball, but the point still stands that you need to recognise where the ball is going to land, what it will do after it bounces and make very small adjustments very quickly if you want to hit the ball cleanly.
You also need to hit the ball on both sides of your body and use both hands in unison in tennis, which is another great benefit of the sport.
Keeping your eye on the ball and tracking where it will land and what you should do in preparation for your shot is a key element of playing good tennis.
Judging depth, analysing the geometry of the court and understanding how your inputs impact the outcome of the shot are also important factors that improve your hand eye coordination when playing tennis.
Improved Cardiovascular Capabilities
It goes without saying that playing tennis for hours on end will improve your cardiovascular capabilities.
There is a lot of running, jumping, sprinting, twisting, speeding up and slowing down involved in tennis, so it is a real multifunctional game to play.
In order to do this on a consistent level throughout the course of a training session or match, you have to have great cardio.
However, it may not be the same type of fitness as you are used to if you do a lot of long distance running or cycling for example.
There is a lot of explosive movement in tennis and you get short breaks in between each point, so building your fast twitch muscle capabilities up is a great way to improve your endurance on the tennis court.
Moving in Multiple Planes of Motion
Another physical benefit of playing tennis is that unlike a lot of other sports, you are moving in multiple planes of motion all the time.
Most of our movement in day to day life is forward facing, whereas in tennis we often move side to side and diagonally as well as both forwards and backwards.
This is great for developing new movement patterns, increasing your agility and improving your balance.
Improves Range of Motion
Since playing tennis requires you to use full swings and stretch to reach the ball it is great for improving your range of motion.
You can of course overstretch and cause an injury, but on the whole tennis is a great sport that naturally increases the range of motion in your hips, elbows, shoulders and knees, when played with sound technique of course!
Muscle Tone and Strength
One of the more underrated but still key benefits of playing tennis is the muscle toning and strength benefits you get out of it.
Of course tennis is a cardio based sport first and foremost, but it also plays its part in building up muscles in your legs, back, shoulders and arms.
It is also a great sport for improving your core strength as there is so much twisting, turning and changing direction involved. You may well feel more sore than you expect after an intense game of tennis!
Tennis is an incredibly mental sport. In fact, this is the area where most matches are won and lost.
Develops Problem Solving Skills
If there is one key aspect of the mental side of tennis, it’s that tennis is a game of problem solving. There aren’t many other sports that involve as much problem solving as tennis, as virtually every shot you hit is a reaction of what your opponent throws at you.
It is very easy to self-destruct when playing tennis if you let your expectations and ego get the better of you. Simply playing the ball that is in front of you is the simplest way to approach the game, along with taking each point at a time.
That being said, it is much easier said than done and you will always have to have some form of strategy when playing a tennis match.
Even if it is as simple as playing to your opponent’s backhand as much as possible, or aiming to hit as many balls cross court as you can, it is important to have a plan of attack if you want to be successful on the court.
However, being flexible and reacting to your opponent’s performance on the day is also important and requires a lot of creative thinking. You may have the best plan in the world, but if you aren’t performing well enough to execute it or your opponent cottons onto what you’re trying to do, you’ll need to adapt, improvise and overcome.
Adapting to new conditions, court surfaces, balls and playing styles is all part of becoming a better tennis player!
Increases Mental Resilience
The scoring system in tennis means that you can win more points than your opponent and still lose a match! This means you need to be incredibly resilient to play good tennis and overcome adversity.
Tennis is also about playing the big points well and understanding that not all points hold the same weight across the course of a match. Putting disappointment behind you and trying to play the next point with a positive attitude can be very difficult to do, but it is a key part of becoming a better tennis player.
Learning from your mistakes but not letting them get you down is something that the greats of the game have been able to do and is a great lesson to learn in life as well as on the tennis court!
Socialising and a Sense of Community
On the lighter side of things, playing tennis is also a great way to meet new people and most importantly, have fun!
Whether you are enjoying a game with friends and family, joining a local tennis club or meeting new people at a holiday camp, being able to play tennis is a great life skill that can help you socialise all over the world!
Also, playing doubles and being part of a team environment is a great way to share that competitive spirit with other like minded people, further adding to the enjoyment of the sport.
Sense of Accomplishment
Since tennis is such a difficult sport to master, when things are going well it can actually give you a great sense of accomplishment!
Like many other sports, when you just aren’t putting it all together and nothing seems to be going right, tennis can be an incredibly frustrating game to play.
But, it’s this high degree of difficulty that makes being in the zone and playing well so rewarding.
When your thought process is clear, you are feeling physically fresh and fit, you have a clear game plan and are able to execute it and can almost predict what your opponent is going to do before they even strike the ball, there aren’t many better feelings in the world!
Also, winning a tennis match (particularly when you aren’t playing your best) can give you a great sense of accomplishment too.
It is a great feeling when you come through the trials and tribulations of a close tennis match and are able to get over the finish line before your opponent, as the stresses and adversity faced in the match can sometimes not be reflected in the scoreline.
Improves Focus and Self Control
Another key mental benefit of playing tennis is that it forces you to think about yourself and understand what you can and can’t control. This is an incredibly important life skill as it can be easy to get caught up in things that are outside of our sphere of influence.
However, whilst you may need to adapt to a different opponent each time you play, there is little point worrying about things that are out of your hands when it comes to playing tennis.
Appreciating when your opponent hits a good shot rather than blaming yourself for not hitting the ball well enough, accepting that you are going to lose a lot of points even in a straightforward victory on paper and understanding that no one has ever actually ‘completed’ tennis are all things you can do to take pressure off yourself, focus on what you can actually control and adjust your expectations.
Tennis is a game that brings with it a whole host of physical and mental benefits. These range from improved cardio health and agility to becoming better at problem solving and the sense of accomplishment you get from winning a close fought match.
So, what are you waiting for, get out on court today!
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