One of the most well-known nicknames for tennis is the ‘Sport of a Lifetime.’ Most of the time, when people reference tennis this way, they are focused on the fact that tennis is a sport that can be played right on into retirement. While this is absolutely true, we also like to remind everyone that a lifetime also includes our childhoods.
We believe it is a great idea to start playing tennis a young age and foster a life-long passion. That’s not to say that if you are nearing retirement you have missed the boat, but if you start playing and find you love tennis when you are 55, think of all the years of fun and practice you have missed!
However, there are so many great reasons why we believe we should give children the opportunity to play tennis – not only to improve their lives now, but as a life-long gift that can continue to surprise and bless them throughout their lives.
Here a few of the benefits tennis players receive throughout their entire life:
Exercise is one of the many constants in life; from childhood through to our golden years, exercise has an indisputably positive influence on our lives, both physically and mentally.
A study undertaken by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) a few years ago verified what common sense would tell us: ‘Comparatively lower percentages of tennis participants reported being overweight or at risk for overweight than non-athletes and participants in contact and other non-contact sports.’ Additionally, the report found that adolescent tennis players were ‘less prone to key adolescent health-risk behaviors than non-athletes and contact sports participants,’ including underage binge drinking, tobacco use and marijuana use.
Exercising regularly is also one of the best ways to reduce your chance of Alzheimer’s – maybe not something we think about much when we are younger, but something that is increasingly important as we get older. So not only is it a sport that can be played throughout your lifetime, but there are important health benefits along the way!
Overall, many of the benefits children get from playing tennis are the same as those from other sports. For example, many people believe that a little competition for children is actually quite healthy – it can help get them ready for ‘wins and losses later in life’ and develop important skills like ‘taking turns, developing empathy, and tenacity.’
However, as we learn from the USTA study, ‘The findings reported above strongly suggest that, when compared to non-athletes and participants in many other sports, young people who participate in tennis get better grades, devote more hours to studying, think about the future, aspire to attend and graduate from university, and are less likely to report being suspended or expelled from school.’ This even holds independently of things like socioeconomic class.
You may have heard from your parents or grandparents that you ‘need to learn to play golf and tennis to get a leg up in business!’ Well, we aren’t your grandparents...BUT, they do have a point – for good or ill, many business discussions or networking opportunities happen on the links or the hardcourt. Even in your social life, however, tennis is a hobby that can have a great impact on your social life. Turns out, playing tennis by yourself, Forrest Gump style, isn’t nearly as fun as playing against other people. Playing tennis can be a great way to join a network of other tennis players to meet and play in your communities; whether this is a local park when you are in high school or at the courts in your retirement community.
Tennis Life-Lessons from Julian Krinsky:
As Julian Krinsky points out, there are also a lot of great life lessons to be learned through tennis:
- Problem solving – In tennis, you need to solve all sorts of practical and tactical problems on the court, by yourself. How many professional sports can you think of, besides, tennis, where the players are prohibited from having any communication with their coaches during a match? This also teaches confidence and teaches people to trust in themselves.
- ‘Keep your head down and watch the ball’ – this is one of the best business disciplines Julian has learned from his career in Tennis. It’s about focus, determination and not losing sight of the fundamentals.
- Teamwork – playing doubles requires an insane amount of team work and chemistry – you need to be able to communicate clearly and read off each other to make sure you are both in the correct positions and on the same page throughout each rally.
Most importantly, we encourage children to play tennis because it is fun! The earlier you start, the longer you have to hone your game, stay fit and enjoy the game of tennis.
Tennis is neither a cause nor an effect in relation to educational advancement, but rather, the sport unfolds at an intersection among family, school, community, youth peer groups, coaches and teachers, and cultural beliefs that—when activated and sewn into a young person’s identity and development—can foster favorable educational and behavioral outcomes.
USTA Serves Special Report – ‘More than a Sport: Tennis, Education and Health.’