Training woman holding tennis balls

Published on October 17th, 2013 | by Joe Starks

Exercise Spotlight: Tennis

It is a sport loved in Europe and played all over the world. Tennis can be extremely fun, exciting and challenging for everyone, from the humble rookie to the professional player. The first real evidence we have of a game similar to tennis being played dates back to the 11th and 12th century, when some French monks would spend their free time in the court of their monasteries, throwing balls against a wall. The nobility later copied the game from the monks and refined it with better courts, structured rules and improved equipment. At first equipment of wood, leather and hair was used, which made the game quite dull and hard to play.

In 1850 rubber changed all that, as good racquets and bouncing balls were made a reality. By 1875 tennis became extremely popular and it remains that until this day. Elastic racquets and bouncing balls made this game challenging and fun.

What is tennis?

In our modern days tennis is played on a grass or rubber court, divided by a low hanging net into two parts. It can be played with two opposing players or four, two couples playing against each other.  The racquet is usually made of a wooden, steel or graphite frame and uses catgut, cord or nylon for the webbing in its elliptical shape.

The goal of each player is to have the ball bounce into the opposing half of the court and then bounce out without being hit by the other player.  Usually this happens after the two players keep hitting the ball back and forth between the two halves of the courts, until one of them can’t reach the ball in time and lets it hit his court and bounce away.

Each rally begins with a serve, where one player is the server and the other the receiver. The server has to send the ball into the diagonally opposite box of the rival. When that is achieved they will begin hitting the ball back and forth, until one of the scores a point. Each player can hit the ball only once every time it enters his court and the ball is allowed to bounce only twice at most.

After a series of points have been won, one of the players wins the set. Every game has either three or five sets in it and the player who wins the most wins it all.

How to train for tennis

Tennis is one of the most mixed aerobic-anaerobic sports out there. You have to run and stay mobile all the time, breathing as much air as possible, but you also have to hit, sprint and retaliate sometimes, entering your body into brief anaerobic modes. Training to be good at that is of course extremely hard. A good tennis player need to be strong, fast and flexible and that reflects in the training as well.

The largest problem with training for tennis is that most exercises have to be about the game. Serving, hitting and controlling your court are the basic things each player has to master. The time that is left is usually spent doing strength exercises to balance out the fact that you use one dominant side much more than the other when playing tennis. This can lead to injuries if the player does not train to equal his sides out in training.

Benefits of tennis

Tennis is good for all ages, from child to elder. The impact of the sport is moderate and the exercise is extremely good to keep the heart healthy. Children can learn coordination and flexibility from tennis, while elderly people can retain their health through the fun aerobic exercise. Tennis isn’t a team sport usually, but player do often train in teams and play against each other on the court, which means that there can be a lot of socialization going on, just not a lot of cooperation. This makes tennis socially fun if you join a tennis club, but it won’t teach children the meaning of cooperation like team sports do.

Many players fall in love with tennis exactly because it is an individual sport where you are very close with your rival player. Couples love to play it as well, since a bit of good-willed rivalry can keep the romance hot and strengthen bonds.

All in all tennis is good for everyone that wants to have a try at it. If you suffer from a chronic disease get the “ok” of your physician first before playing tennis. So, pick up your racquet and serve!

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