Owner Science in Tennis (www.scienceintennis.com)
Everyone has a story why they began playing tennis. Often it is a family member or friend having a decisive influence. Otherwise living close to a tennis club or being inspired by watching the game on television may have led to picking up a racket. No matter the reason, tennis offers lifelong participation and the opportunity for continued development through a ‘journey’ of discovery. Sometimes this journey seems easy; groundstrokes and strategies are executed with efficiency whilst other days no matter the effort nothing seems to work effectively. This mirrors life, some days everything falls into place, we seem to achieve all we set out to do feeling energised and positive. Others days are a challenge: we come across barriers, frustrations feeling exhausted and drained. This ‘trauma’ tennis links to life are unparalleled. It is important the journey is embraced but also recognised how it helps us develop as people.
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”
The cognitive element focuses on developing problem solving, decision making, enhancing productivity and increased mental alertness (Bailey, 2006, Groppel and Di Nubile, 2009). Tennis is a game of ‘chaos’ with tactical intention changing regularly and technical inaccuracies needing to be addressed often without coach support. We must be able to problem solve and adapt. Tennis teaches us discipline, be that on a technical element, using a game plan or following a conditioning program. It shows us we must take responsibility for our actions and that we’re in full control of what we chose to do. Tennis challenges us to develop a growth mindset. We need to embrace challenges, deal with setbacks positively whilst striving to improve ourselves each day. If we fail to do this in tennis, like in life we may not achieve our full potential on and off court.
Evidence suggests improved self-esteem, confidence, reduced stress, anxiety and depression are positive influences from participating in tennis (Groppel and Di Nubile, 2009, Yazici et al. 2016). This affective development with perceptions of competency, ability to achieve, self-worth and psychological well being have far reaching benefits (Bailey, 2006). Furthermore, it has been well documented that sport and exercise releases endorphins improving mental wellbeing (Harber and Sutton, 1984).
The last two areas interrelate to the above developments. From a social aspect tennis can lead to new friendships due to the interactive element of the sport and club environment. Players compete ungoverned developing fairness and respect for each other alongside taking personal responsibility. Tennis teaches you skills such as perseverance, commitment, good habits and behaviours that can last a life time from living a healthier lifestyle to be able to cope in challenging situations.
That is why tennis is a sport which provide players opportunities to constantly develop helping them both on and off court.
Take Home Messages:
- Coaches must promote the long-term benefits of tennis to significant others linked to the physical, cognitive, affective, social and lifestyle development areas. This can be used to support a growth mindset of players.
- As a player embracing the challenges tennis offers provides a ‘journey’ of discovery and you can use these skills in a vast number of scenarios such as in school, at work and social situations.
- Tennis is a sport no matter your age or ability which requires you to pursue improvement and this development benefits you in wide ranging ways through improved health and well being.
Bailey, R. (2006). Physical education and sport in our schools: a review of benefits and outcomes. Journal of School Health, 76 (8), 397-401.
Groppel, J., & Di Nubile, N. (2009). Tennis for the health of it! The Physician and Sports Medicine, 37 (2), 40-50.
Harber, V.J., & Sutton, J.R. (1984). Endorphins and exercise. Sports Medicine, 1 (2), 154-171.
Pluim, B.M., Stall, J.B., Marks, B.L., Miller, S., & Miley, D. (2007). Health benefits of tennis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41, 760-768.
Yazici, A.B., Gul, M.,Yazici, E & Gul, G.K. (2016). Tennis enhances wellbeing in university students. Mental Illness, 8, 21-25.