TENNIS is one of the most popular sports in the world — both in terms of spectator figures and participation.
The Wimbledon effect is a prime example, with the tournament action gripping legions of fans, and inspiring countless others to pick up a racquet and get into the swing of the game themselves.
Tempted to tackle tennis yourself? Here, top coach Dan Bloxham, rallies five ace facts about the sport...
1. Family fun
Tennis is one of those sports that can be enjoyed from childhood through to later life, making it a great way of keeping fit and having an activity the whole family can enjoy.
The competitive edge adds an extra twist, but even if you’re just in it for the exercise and fun, there are boundless benefits.
Whether it’s parent and teenager time, or something to keep the kids occupied on a Sunday morning, why not check out tennis courts in your area?
2. Social sport
Bloxham believes tennis is a great way to combine exercise and socialising.
“[The] gym is great, swimming is great, but it’s pretty tough to have a chat when you’re on the cycling machine in the gym. Tennis is a really nice way to meet people,” he says.
A weekly game of tennis can be a great way to keep in touch with friends, and a fantastic way for kids to build up social skills and self-confidence.
You could even join a tennis club and become part of a community with a shared interest at its heart — a great way to make friends and keep up those social engagements, particularly as you get older.
3. Skill for life
In addition to the above, tennis isn’t only something you can enjoy throughout life — it’s also, as Bloxham notes, a sport where it’s possible to “get better as you get older”, because it’s a game of skill and technique, not just fitness.
4. Workout wonder
“The nice thing with tennis is you forget you’re doing your workout,” says Bloxham.
“We’ve all sat on the bike in the gym thinking, ‘10 minutes gone’, or, ‘20 minutes left’. But when you’re rushing to your forehand [in a game of tennis], you actually forget you’re working out.
“I think in years to come, in the next five years or so, people will lose interest in the gym and try and find things they can do that are also a little bit more exciting,” Bloxham adds.
Indeed, where other activities can seem repetitive, traditional sports like tennis offer something more action-packed and lively.
You’ll be so engrossed you’ll lose track of time, rather than counting down the minutes to the end of your workout.
It’s great for overall fitness too — you get a cardiovascular workout with the short sprints and dashing back and forth, head-to-toe muscle groups benefit (it’s not just the arms and thighs!), not to mention the hand-eye co-ordination and response skills you’re improving.
5. It’s everywhere
As Bloxham adds, tennis is played “all over the world”, which means it’s usually not too difficult — within reason — to find somewhere to play.
“If you move to another country or your family goes to another city or town, if you can play tennis to a reasonable level or to a club level, you can walk into any club in the world and you have a social network,” says Bloxham.
“So I think it’s a great sport to invest your time in as a young player, and also as an adult.”
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