Tennis is truly a global sport, played by all ages and backgrounds. The simple art of hitting a ball over a net with a racket has captured the imagination of millions. You needn’t wait until Wimbledon to enjoy the cardio and muscle benefits provided by a regular game of tennis. Getting the body of Rafael Nadal, or the stamina of Novak Djokovic, requires a lot of work but even the ameteur tennis player shoud reap the fitness rewards.
Strength and Tone Benefits
Tennis strengthens a number of muscles groups. Running around the court exercises leg muscles, while playing a shot exerts the core and upper body. Your overall muscle workout should be well balanced, although obviously your racket arm will be exercised more than the non-racket one. Core muscle groups strengthened include:
|Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.|
|Back and abdominal muscles, especially the obliques|
|Chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps|
Tennis is a great exercise. Playing regularly will burn calories, build muscles, improve reflexes and benefit cardiovascular health. Regular exercise greatly reduces your risk of heart disease. Playing outdoors you’ll enjoy plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
A good tennis club is a hive of activity. You’ll meet plenty of like-minded people, many of whom live locally. Tennis requires a playing partner so the sport itself is essentially sociable. Many couples play doubles match with friends and neighbours.
Common Tennis Injuries and Prevention
A pulled muscle or sprain is always a possibility. Taking a tumble on hardcourts can hurt and produce the odd cut or graze. As with all high cardio exercises, if you are over 40, overweight or have an underlying medical condition, check with your doctor before you take it up. Below we list three common tennis injuries and how to prevent them:
|Cause||Excessive exertion to unprepared muscles|
|Prevention||Warm up thoroughly for at least 5 -10 minutes|
|Cause||Weak or “unreactive” ankle ligaments|
|Prevention||Protect your ankles by increasing the reactivity of your ligaments. Do this by using a bosu ball or balance ball. Build up your strength by balancing on one leg for 30 second intervals and try to increase this over time under observation, or with surrounding support.|
|Cause||Strenuous overuse of the elbow muscles, and tendons around the forearm|
|Prevention||Stretch your arms thoroughly before and after tennis. Consult a tennis coach to ensure your hitting technique is sound – tennis elbow is often caused by bad technique.|
Not familiar with tennis? Never fear! The essential equipment you’ll require is described below, as is the cost of playing tennis regularly. Finally we run the rule over a few tennis gadgets; non-essential but certainly fun.
The stuff you literally can’t play tennis without…
- Racket – can be purchased from most sports retailers.
- Court – many parks have tennis courts, and practically every sports club will. (Most park courts will be hard: for grass courts you’ll probably need a club.) Find your nearest tennis club online.
- Tennis balls – Use extra duty balls for outside courts (hard or grass), and regular duty balls for playing indoors.
- Playing partner – such is the popularity of the sport, finding a playing partner of similar ability shouldn’t be too difficult. If you can’t find suitable partner, join a sports club and they’ll quickly find you someone of similar ability.
How Expensive is Tennis?
Rackets can come very cheap, a set of tennis balls costs a few pounds, and you can play for free on any park court. Even top quality tennis rackets, used by professionals, cost under £150. Tennis or sports clubs will charge an annual fee. Most clubs have coaches happy to provide lessons for a price. Obviously, if you buy the gadgets described below your outlay will rise considerably.
Get the Gadgets
Rackets are all very well but sometimes you want a little more bang for your buck. Fear not! Any number of tennis gadgets await your perusal, ranging from the relatively basic to the ultra sophisticated. Consider these four:
- Vibration Dampeners: Attach to your racket strings to lessen vibrations when hitting the ball. Simple and cheap.
- Tennis Ball Dryer: Outdoor courts are often damp, potentially ruining wet tennis balls. This clever gadget dries up to four balls in three hours, and also keeps your drink cool.
- Rackets Sensors: attached to your racket these gizmos record all your vital statistics. We’re talking ball impact spot, ball spin, ball speed, swing speed – all measured and stored.
- Air-Suspension Tee: For the practice courts. An air stream levitates the tennis ball in mid-air, allowing you to approach and hit your shot at whatever speed or angle you desire. Plus you’ll feel like a wizard.