Tennis is easily amongst the most watched and played sports in the world today. It is estimated that there are over 1 billion fans in the Americas, Europe and Asia (sporteology.com). The 2014 Wimbledon men’s final in which Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer drew a peak audience of 10 million viewers (BBC).
Tennis is an excellent way to improve your health and fitness. It requires alertness, tactical thinking, quick reactions and sudden bursts of speed. Activities that may generate new neurological connections and thus promote continued brain development. Playing competitively even burns more calories than aerobics or even cycling.
However, you don’t have to be a Nadal, a Djokovic or a Williams to benefit from playing tennis. Playing at any level will get your heart pumping, your body moving and your brain working at a faster pace. Indeed, novices probably do considerable more running for the ball!
Whilst conventional tennis is played in singles or doubles, cardio tennis is a new approach to the game, which is played in sociable groups on a tennis court supported by music. The focus is on wellbeing, while sessions include dynamic stretching, aerobics and tennis, and you get to hit loads of balls as well as put your skills into practice in fun tennis games. Open to all ages, cardio tennis is a fun way to get into the game that provides an opportunity for families to “play” tennis together.
For players that wish to improve their game, there are many exercises and drills available that build speed, agility, strength and coordination. However, the key to being an excellent player is more about how you practice and your mental attitude.
In terms of how you practice, it is important that you regularly play different people, and preferably people who are better players and play in different styles. If you play the same person all the time it will be hard to improve your game, as you will become familiar with the way they play.
Playing different players will force you to develop new strategies to respond to their tennis style. A vital component to becoming a serious tennis player is knowing and being able to recognise the various game styles so you can defend against them and also adopt them based on your strengths and weaknesses.
The main tennis game styles are categorised as:
- Counterpuncher – the player who hugs the baseline but returns every shot and waits for you to make a mistake,
- Aggressive base liner – the player who plays long powerful strokes, with a very strong serve and master of the forehand or backhand for high endurance long rallies.
- Volleyer or Net Rusher – a fast mover who moves straight to the net following a powerful serve where they slam volleys home to win the point
- All-court player – versatile and unpredictable, this player has mastered all of the above
The right mental attitude is as important as the game you play. A less skilled player who is focused, confident and has self-belief will easily beat a brilliant technical player who doesn’t believe in their abilities. When you’re playing a game, these should be your watchwords.
Finally, if you really want to improve your game, before you play every match, decide in advance to have fun, first and foremost. After all, there is a reason that it is referred to as “playing” tennis! Having fun whilst playing tennis is a major positive that can be derived from playing the game. Tennis is a great boost to both your physical and emotional wellbeing.