Tennis is a lifelong sport, which provides many advantages and benefits for players of all ages. Along with physical, psychological and social benefits, however, come a few disadvantages -- injuries and expenses. If you’ve never played and you’re trying to figure out if tennis is the right sport for you, weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.
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Being physically active is important in maintaining your overall health -- it reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes, helps you control your weight, strengthens your bones, relieves tension and can even improve your mood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity each week. Playing tennis two to three times each week can help you meet these guidelines and increase your chances for living longer.
Tennis is a fast-paced sport and places a lot of demands on your body. Players must have the strength, agility and endurance to play long, two-out-of-three set matches under all kinds of conditions. If players haven't trained properly to prepare their bodies or lack proper stroke mechanics, the repetitiveness of the movements can put undue stress on their joints and muscles. Possible injuries include tennis elbow, wrist tendinitis, inflammation of the shoulder and knee joints, and muscle strains, pulls and tears.
Mental and Psychological Benefits
These benefits range from building self-confidence and self-esteem in young players to reducing stress and maintaining cognitive abilities in adults and seniors, notes Jack Groppel, exercise physiologist and United States Tennis Association sport science adviser. Several studies show how tennis can help improve your mental awareness, your assertiveness, lower your levels of depression, help you portray a positive image and develop self-control, according to John Murray, sports psychologist. Tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking and because of this, playing tennis may generate new connections in the brain, which encourages continued brain development, claims researchers and scientists at the University of Illinois.
The cost of playing tennis can be a disadvantage, depending on your situation, budget and goals. If you don't have access to a public court, which many times are free or have very low per-hour fees, you'll have to join a club, pay monthly membership fees and high court fees. Equipment can be as expensive as you make it. Low-end rackets are affordable, available at many local sporting goods stores and are perfect for beginners who are new to the sport. Advanced players, however, prefer expensive, higher-end rackets with custom string jobs. If your goal is to be a successful player who plays tournaments, you'll have the expense of many private lessons, tournament entry fees and travel expenses.
Playing tennis is a great way to meet people, spend time with your friends, widen your social circles and build networks. No matter your age or skill level, you can usually find a competitive match, join a league or participate in a group lesson with people who have a similar ability. Playing doubles gives you the opportunity to work on your communication and team skills.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Tennis Play and Stay: Tennis: For the Health of It!
- United States Tennis Association: Health Benefits of Tennis: Why Play Tennis?
- The Tennis Server: Psychological Benefits of Tennis