Tennis is a very popular sport for many seniors, and for good reason. It can not only be extremely healthy, but it’s also a sport seniors can compete in and master. In fact, the International Tennis Federation has its own senior and Super-Seniors divisions! But, what makes tennis great for seniors?
You may remember we covered tennis as one of our three fun and competitive sports for seniors. We wanted to expand on that thinking, however, to reflect just how well-suited tennis can be for many seniors. It’s also an opportunity to look into a newer tennis variant that’s become a “smash hit” for seniors around the country!
Fit for Your Fitness
Perhaps the most significant reason tennis is a great sport for older Americans is because you can scale just how intense you play it. Tennis is a game where technique is as important as, if not more important than, physique. A sufficiently-skilled player can outclass a more athletic one. This allows less-fit people to enjoy a perfectly competitive match of tennis without feeling left behind. That’s not to say athleticism isn’t part of the game. If you’re physically fit enough, you and your opponent can go full pelt, sprinting around the court like you’re at Wimbledon. But the point is, tennis doesn’t need to be played at that speed to be enjoyable.
Tennis is a game where technique is as important as physique, where a sufficiently-skilled player can outclass a more athletic one.
If you’re not physically up for pro-speed tennis, and many of us aren’t (this writer included), then you can slow down and focus more on volleying the ball back and forth. In this way, tennis almost becomes a team sport, seeing how long you and your partner can keep a rally going. If you’re alone, you can even play against yourself, hitting the ball against a wall, utilizing a tennis ball machine, or practicing your serve. And if you have three friends who might be up for playing a match with you, you could always try playing doubles! You won’t have to cover as much area of the court, and it’s a great way to enjoy some friendly competition.
These are only a few examples of ways to play tennis, but they show just how adaptable tennis can be to your fitness level or how you might feel like playing one day versus the next. It’s adaptability is one of the main things that often makes the sport safe for seniors. Another way tennis is safer than some other sports is that it’s also largely a no-contact sport. Since opponents are on opposite sides of the court and are separated by a net, the likelihood of collisions is lower.
The Health Benefits of Tennis
For many seniors, tennis is a great way to achieve and maintain fitness and offers them many health benefits. One review of academic research into tennis’ effect on seniors found that veteran tennis players displayed high aerobic capacity, greater bone density in specific areas, lower body fat, and more strength. Another study found that playing tennis may increase your life expectancy by nearly 10 years!
Another study found that playing tennis may increase your life expectancy by nearly 10 years!
Tennis also can influence your general health. Playing tennis gets you active and helps you lose weight, which can lower your chances of heart disease. At the same time, it keeps your mind active, which is a great way to stay mentally sharp. If you join a club or just play tennis with other people, it can also help you avoid feeling socially isolated and enjoy the benefits of friendship.
Learning How to Play Tennis
Tennis can be a little difficult for some to pick up since you need equipment and a location to play. Even after you nab a new racket, tennis shoes (sneakers could work), and some tennis balls, you still need a court to play on. And if you want to play a match, you’ll also need an opponent to play against. Luckily, there are many different resources available to help teach you tennis if you’d like to learn how to play, though.
Tennis lessons are a great way to play tennis and improve your technique.
For beginners and experienced players alike, tennis lessons are a great way to play tennis and improve your technique. Most instructors can rework their lessons based on the skill of their student, with higher-level lessons becoming more of a practice match with tips and pointers mixed in. If you’re a do-it yourself type of person, there are many great YouTube training videos (like those we’ve linked above) and helpful internet articles and guides you can find by a simple search online. Additionally, you can find a tennis league or club at your local YMCA, sports complex, or country club.
The Rise of Pickleball
If tennis is a bit too fast for you, there still may be a way you can enjoy the sport at your speed. Pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, is the wiffleball of tennis. The game is played on a smaller section of the tennis court with a plastic ball and a paddle. These factors make it perfect for, and popular with, seniors around the country.
Pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, is the wiffleball of tennis.
It doesn’t hurt that pickleball is even easier than tennis on players and their joints, and it has its own set of health benefits. All it takes is getting the proper equipment and finding a place to play, which can easily be available at any tennis court!
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Tennis and, to a growing degree, pickleball are extremely popular with seniors around the country and around the world. What we’re seeing is that there’s good reason for this. Not only is tennis a fun and healthy sport for seniors to take part in, but also one that they can excel in no matter their age. With the prevalence of ways to get started, all you need to do is grab your racket and get a rally going with some friends!