I decided to take up playing tennis again in September 2017 (after a gap of about 20 years!).
I absolutely love the sport, and enjoy trying to better my game, get fit and have fun in the process.
My only regret is that I didn’t take this sport more seriously as a teenager and into my early 20s.
Still it’s never too late to take it up again and see what level I can reach over the next few years.
There are many reasons why tennis is a great sport to play, but there are also some downsides, particularly on the toll it can take on your body if you are not in the best shape physically.
I thought for this blog post, I would look at the sport in more detail, as well as the pros and cons of playing it.
Short History of Tennis
Tennis has actually been around for thousands of years.
European monks created the game to be played during religious ceremonies as a form of entertainment. While the first tennis ball was wooden, it was quickly changed to a leather ball that was much bouncier, after which it became very popular in France.
The royal family loved playing tennis during the 16th and 18th centuries, until 1874 when Major Walter Wingfield got the patent rights for the rules and equipment of a game that closely resembles modern tennis.
That same year, tennis courts were made in the US, quickly spreading throughout the world.
The appearance of the court, the rules, and the equipment have all changed and been amended since that time, but this has all finally resulted in the popular modern game that so many people love and play today.
Some Cool Tennis Facts
- One cool fact about tennis is that the longest match took more than 11 hours to complete. Played between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner, this long match finally ended with John Isner triumphing. This game lasted over the course of 3 days and the length of the game was due in part to the tremendous serves that both opponents had.
- The shortest tennis match on record was almost a century ago in 1922. This took place during the Wimbledon Final between Molla Mallory and Suzanne Lenglen. Even though Mallory took two games during the first set, Lenglen was able to win the game and dispatched her in a shocking 23 minutes.
- While most people know that tennis strings are made from high-quality nylon fibers that are designed to offer great durability and feel to the racket, they weren’t always made with this material. In fact, in the past, tennis strings used to be made from sheep and cow guts.
- Most tennis courts are made from solid materials such as asphalt and clay, but in the past it was very common for courts to be made out of grass. It surprises some people to learn that Wimbledon is still played on grass. This is the only major tennis tournament in the world that is held on a grass court.
- The sport that inspired tennis was known as “jeu de paume,” or “game of the palm.” Players used their hands to try to volley balls back and forth. Over time players began to use gloves to protect their hands, and then it was a short leap to using a racket instead.
- “Love” is a score in tennis, but there isn’t a definitive reason that this is what players say. There are some players who think that it comes from the word “egg” in French, with is “l’oeuf” and would be used to say “zero.” Other’s think that it comes from Dutch. The expression “iets voor lof doen” means, “there’s no stake in the game.”
What are the benefits of playing tennis?
Tennis is not only a lot of fun, but it also has a number of health benefits, which makes it a great option for anyone who is looking for an enjoyable way to improve their health and get more exercise during the day.
There are actually a few reasons that tennis is so good for you.
The first reason has to do with the interval training that tennis provides and all of the health benefits that this offers.
Tennis is a great workout because it increases your aerobic capacities. When playing tennis, you will cause your heart to beat harder and faster, which is the best way to strengthen this important organ.
Playing tennis also improves your metabolic function, making it easier for you to lose weight if you are on a diet and helping your body burn calories more efficiently.
At the same time, you are lowering body fat as you move and exercise. This decrease in body fat is wonderful for your overall health not only because it reduces the risk of medical problems, but also because it makes it easier for you to move your body without pain.
Athletes who play tennis on a regular basis strengthen their muscles and increase their flexibility. The natural movements of tennis are a great workout for anyone, no matter their physical fitness level, and help not only to tone muscles, but also to make the body more flexible overall.
Because players are moving in all directions and need to be able to react quickly to the location of the ball, they work out muscles that may normally be neglected in other sports.
Unlike some other sports that offer a great workout but aren’t a lot of fun, or vice-versa, tennis gets your heart pumping, keeps your blood flowing, and it’s enjoyable.
When you play tennis you are almost constantly in motion, pushing and pulling muscles from every angle.
Many people don’t even realize that they are working out when they play tennis because they have so much fun.
Researchers think that the other reason that tennis is so good for you is that it is a social sport.
This is especially beneficial for people as they get older, as social interaction helps to support mental health.
Why is tennis the best sport?
Unlike other high-contact sports, tennis is very safe, which makes it a good sport for most people to play. There are some injuries that can occur when playing tennis, but most of them are related to overuse.
With time and practice, people can minimize or eliminate their risk of injury when playing this sport, which makes it a good option for most people.
Another thing that makes tennis a good sport is how affordable it is. Some sports require expensive protective gear and equipment, but all you need for tennis is a racket, shoes you can easily run around in, and a few balls.
Tennis courts are usually available to use for free at local parks, and tennis rackets can be relatively inexpensive, depending on where you buy yours.
Because there are both indoor and outdoor courts, tennis players can play this sport all year long. Unlike other sports that require an open field and are limited to being played during certain months of the year, tennis can be enjoyed no matter what the temperature or weather is like.
Not only can tennis be played anytime, it can be played by most anyone.
Children can start playing tennis when they are still in preschool, and there are some adults who play tennis well into their 80s and 90s. As long as you stay active on a regular basis and play with people who have your same skill level, it’s easy to keep playing tennis for decades.
This means that tennis is a great sport for the entire family to enjoy together.
Another thing that makes tennis a good sport is that it is a great stress release that you can enjoy by yourself. While playing with another person is certainly a lot of fun, practicing your serve by yourself is a great way to blow off some steam.
There are many tennis players who have perfected their shots by practicing solo, and learning how to hit the ball hard when serving can make you a formidable opponent on the court.
Pros and cons of playing tennis
It’s important before you start any sport that you make sure to consider both the pros and the cons of the sport so that you know what you are getting yourself into.
Otherwise you are likely to jump into something without proper preparation and forethought, which can be not only frustrating, but also dangerous if you get injured.
One major advantage of playing tennis is that it is a great activity that is helpful in maintaining and improving overall health.
Athletes who play tennis on a regular basis have a better chance of controlling their weight, reducing risk of diabetes and heart disease, and having a better mood and outlook on life.
Another advantage of tennis is that it offers great social benefits.
You can practice serves by yourself or even use a backboard to work on your returns, but tennis is meant to be played with other people. For some people, this is the only chance that they have during the day or during the week to spend time with others, making it even more important and beneficial.
Getting started playing tennis is generally fairly inexpensive, as it’s easy to buy a lower-end racket without overspending, which makes this a great sport for athletes on a budget.
On the other hand, a clear disadvantage of tennis is the toll that it can take on your body, especially if you are playing competitively.
While a friendly game of tennis is very unlikely to cause any physical injuries, fast-paced games put players at risk of muscle strains, inflammation of the knee joint, twisting the ankle, and tennis elbow.
For this reason, players must make sure that they are playing at a level that they are physically prepared for and that they listen to their body when they need a break.
The problem that some tennis players run into is when they are advancing and want to improve their game.
Custom string jobs on rackets can get really expensive, as can improved shoes, tennis outfits, and club memberships.
While it’s not expensive to play tennis with friends, if you are going to get serious about the sport, then you will need to be willing to spend a little more.
Benefits of Tennis for Young Players
Kids can play tennis from the time that they are really young, allowing them to enjoy great health benefits while having a lot of fun.
One of the main benefits of tennis for youth is that they are exercising while enjoying themselves, which makes them feel like they aren’t really working out.
Because players have to move all over the court and must respond to the ball quickly, they will enjoy faster reflexes at the same time.
Tennis is also great for brain development.
Players must have tactical thinking and remain alert during a game of tennis. This actually can generate connections between nerves in the brain to form, making it easier for tennis players to learn and develop their brains as they age.
Because kids are doing more than running around when playing tennis, they are working the entire body.
Tennis rackets can be heavy to hold for longer periods of time, which helps to strengthen the upper body. At the same time, youth who play tennis will enjoy better core strength, which can translate into better posture and reduce the risk of back pain and problems.
Youngsters who play tennis on a regular basis will also enjoy mental benefits as well as physical ones.
Playing tennis requires a lot of focus and a willingness to learn and to follow the rules, resulting in a better work ethic. Because players will often practice the same shot over and over again, youth learn about the value of discipline and working hard while still having fun.
Not only will kids learn about competition and the value of pushing themselves to improve, but they also have to learn how to be gracious losers and winners.
It’s impossible to win all of the time, and children can learn how to handle defeat and disappointment on the tennis court, which will help them in other areas of their lives.
Benefits of Tennis for Adults
It’s not only youth who can benefit from playing tennis. Older adults can also reap incredible benefits when they play tennis on a regular basis, making this a great sport for any adult who wants to stay as healthy as possible as they age.
One major benefit has nothing to do with the physical body but rather with the mental health of players.
Tennis players enjoy a boost in brain power when playing, as they must employ tactical thinking, creativity, coordination, and agility.
Players have to be able to “think on their feet” and not only anticipate where the ball will go, but also must know how to best move their body to meet it where it lands. This is great for improving reaction times, which is beneficial in all areas of life.
The socialization factor of tennis shouldn’t be understated as one of the main benefits for older adults who play this sport. Playing tennis allows them a great time to get out of the house, soak up some sun, and spend time with their friends.
For many adults, tennis is the only time that they have to really connect with their friends, which is imperative for staying happy and improving mental health.
Tennis is also a great sport for improving and supporting bone health. When older adults partake in weight bearing exercises, they are actually building stronger bones. Osteoporosis is a common health problem of older adults, but regularly playing tennis can help guard against this problem.
Finally, living a sedentary lifestyle can cause people to gain a lot of weight, but tennis is a great way to combat this weight gain. Adults who play tennis on a regular basis have a much easier time keeping their weight in a healthy range. This improves cardiovascular health and functional health and decreases weight-related medical problems.
Are there different strategies for playing singles and doubles tennis?
While skill sets for both singles and doubles tennis are going to be mostly the same, there are a few different strategies that players will need to understand in order to play singles and doubles tennis well. Players need to understand the differences in court coverage and in game movement if they are going to be able to correctly cover the court and move during a game.
What’s the best way to improve a tennis serve?
A great tennis serve is key to being a formidable tennis player. The real secret to improving a tennis serve is in the transition between the backswing and forward, or upward, swing. Players must learn how to improve leading upward with the edge of the racket for the best result, and then completing follow-through with the opposite edge of the racket.
What’s a good drill for beginners?
Improving hand eye coordination is one of the most important things that beginning tennis players can do if they want to quickly improve their game and ability. Dribbling the ball with the racket is a great way to improve hand eye coordination. Try dribbling the ball on the ground with the racket, and then, when this is too easy, bounce the ball on top of the racket, only allowing it to go a few feet into the air at a time.
How can you avoid tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is incredibly painful, and many tennis players want to do everything that they can do to avoid this injury. Since the backhand stroke is often what is responsible for tennis elbow, it makes sense to pay attention to technique. Make sure to always warm up the tendons to reduce the risk of injury and have a professional evaluate your technique if you are worried. Another thing to remember is to keep the wrist straight during tennis strokes to protect the tendon from injury.
I hope this article will inspire you to take up the sport and have fun in the process.
I got back into it after seeing an advert for weekly community tennis in my neighbourhood.
No need to join a tennis club, no expensive monthly fees.
It’s fantastic value and I have access to tennis courts in about 10 locations all for the price of £20 a year!
Can’t argue with that.
I highly recommend to ease into the sport gently if you want to give it a go. Play with a friend a few times, and then think about taking things more seriously if you get the tennis bug!
There might be singles and doubles leagues you can join in your area.
Playing doubles is great fun and that’s how I got back into tennis after all these years. It’s a great way to meet people, and for you to find others to play with and against.
So put on some trainers, grab a racket and just go and play!
Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a “little noise” about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.