You know that playing tennis is a great way to get exercise. And you also know what a wonderful way it is to socialize. But did you know that tennis can save your life? In this episode of Tennis Quick Tips, you'll learn ten surprising benefits you can get to playing tennis.
I've been playing tennis for a few years now and I'm constantly surprised at how tennis benefits so many aspects of my life. I first started playing because I knew it was good exercise and I also hoped it would be a fun way to socialize with my friends. And, I'm not going to lie, the clothes were so cute and I definitely wanted to be the mom who showed up at the PTA meeting in her tennis skirt.
But there are all kinds of bonuses that come with being a tennis player. Here are my favorites:
1. Tennis can lower your body fat.
Obviously any exercise is better than no exercise at reducing your weight and body fat percentage. But in a 2007 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that tennis can contribute to a leaner body and a more favorable lipid profile.
2. Tennis can give you better bones.
That same study concluded that long term tennis play can increase your bone density and your bone mineral content in your playing arm, your legs and your spine.
3. Tennis gives you better nutritional habits.
We tennis players are always looking for any competitive advantage we can get. And if that means increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables just to hit a better backhand, then bring on the broccoli. While eating healthy is a great concept in general, getting the nutrition that will help me last in a long match or give me quick on-court energy is something I can get serious about.
4. Tennis enhances your eye-hand coordination.
Tennis requires that you not only track a ball and hit that ball at exactly the right moment and in the right way to get the result you're after, but that you also keep an eye on your opponent while you're doing it. Over time, your eye-hand coordination improves through your tennis play without your even trying to make that happen. I know this is true because, over my years of tennis play, I have gone from being a complete and total klutz to being only somewhat less than graceful.
5. Tennis teaches you to make better decisions.
When things go wrong on the tennis court, as they so often do, we all know we have to come up with a new plan, a new strategy, a new way to win. You can't just have a Plan A. You often need Plans B, C and D to succeed. This ability to make new and better decisions on court can also carry over into your decision-making process in everyday life.
6. Tennis teaches you to compete graciously.
Maybe you enjoyed competition as a kid, but as adults, especially as adult women, we often find ourselves stifling our competitive drive. Something about being competitive comes off as immature or even unladylike. But being competitive is a great quality to have both out on the tennis court and in life. And, because tennis is a game, you can work on developing your competitiveness without too many real-world, off-court consequences. If you come into tennis and are not already a competitive person, you will quickly develop that aspect of your personality. Otherwise, you soon realize that you may never reach your true tennis potential. Tennis provides a wonderful, non-threatening context in which you can fully develop your competitive drive.
7. Tennis helps you deal with adversity.
Because it is usually in your face in every match you play, tennis teaches you very quickly how to handle adversity. For every match you easily win, and with me there aren't too many of those, there are just as many matches where you just barely win because you overcome your opponent, the elements, some other factor out of your control, or just your own self-doubt. And because you face these adverse situations constantly in tennis, the only way you can become a successful, or even a happy, tennis player, is to learn how to deal with them.
8. Tennis teaches you to work hard.
The only way to get better at tennis, to truly improve, is to work hard. Sometimes as adults, we forget that lesson because we've had enough experience in life to be great at our jobs or to be really good cooks or to be fabulous home decorators or even to be incredibly safe drivers. But with tennis, there's always another level of skill you can reach for and the only way you can get to that new, next level by putting in the hours on court. That means lessons, drills, clinics, practice sessions, matches, and lots and lots of hitting of tennis balls. In other words, hard work.
9. Tennis is truly a life-time sport.
How do I know that tennis is a lifetime sport? Because I personally have been beaten by women who are easily at least 15 years older than I am and I consistently see players in their 70s and 80s out on the courts. Not out on the football fields. But on the tennis courts. My husband plays tennis but he is an avid golfer and, between the two of us, we've played almost every competitive sport you can play here in the United States. And our kids have done it all – soccer, swimming, football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse. The only two sports any of us have continued with, as adults, are tennis and golf. Our conclusion – the only true lifetime sports are golf and tennis. And I'm sticking with tennis.
10. Tennis makes you friendlier.
The reason I think tennis beats out golf, as I've explained to my husband, is that, in tennis, you're forced to be social. You cannot play tennis without having an opponent. And, if you play a lot of doubles with a wide variety of partners like I do, you are pretty much forced to learn how to be a friendly, outgoing person. Sure, you can hit a ball against a wall all by yourself. You can practice serving all day everyday without another person. But the fact is, you have to socialize with other people, you have to actually speak to other people, to get a tennis match going. And that means becoming a more communicative, even a friendlier, person.
Why do you love tennis so much? What are the benefits you get from this great sport? Let me know in the comments below as I'd love to hear from you.
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