Tennis is by far one of the best sports you can learn to play: easy to pick up, extremely sociable and a fun way to exercise, it is a sport that stays with you throughout your life.
Before taking a look at how easy it is to get started, here are just a few reasons why it’s a sport worth picking up…
It can be played by anyone
Unlike most other sports, tennis can be played and enjoyed by a huge range of people. From the tiniest toddler playing with a short racquet and sponge balls, through to an active 80-year old. It can be adapted and played at varying paces and intensities to suit the needs of different players depending on age, health, fitness and ability.
It can be both gentle and fun exercise if you’re in recovery, and an intense cardiovascular activity for a professional athlete – the range is immense, making it incredibly accessible to all people. Wheelchair tennis has also become really popular, providing a fun and effective way of exercising. With just a few modifications, it can be made applicable to just about all.
It’s a good way to stay social
Tennis is a very social sport that gives people the opportunity to meet new and diverse people they would never normally have met. It’s a great way to make friends, and many people build their social lives around their tennis clubs, playing most weekends and attending club socials and events.
Starting to learn
While tennis has been known to have a reputation to not be a sport for all, this is slowly changing as more initiatives are being taken by schools, organisations and local authorities to introduce the sport to schools. This is giving children access to cheap or free tennis facilities and group coaching. This is positive, as even the most basic training at a young age is enough to start developing fundamental skills, a knowledge of the game’s rules and a love for the sport.
The most important thing in encouraging the sport is to get people to understand that tennis is not at all as complicated and exclusive sport as it is often perceived.
Even before a person ever steps onto a court, they have naturally learnt many of the most basic skills used in tennis. These basic skills are: reacting to a ball; receiving a ball; sending a ball; recovering after sending a ball.
Reacting to a ball
For most people the reaction stage of tennis is an automatic response, an action we make instinctively. If you throw a ball to the right of player on court they will automatically move to the right; they may not position themselves perfectly to catch it, they may drop it, but they will move towards the right direction. While you may see players go the wrong way if they try to guess by moving early, if they waited to see the ball leave your hand they would go the right way.
Receiving a ball
This may be a little harder. However, while some people think they can’t catch, what they absolutely can do is learn to watch the ball more intently and position themself to receive it.
While some people may have stronger natural abilities, what it ultimately comes down to is practise.
Sending a ball
While not everyone has a natural over-arm throwing action, most people can throw a ball underarm over a short distance with a certain degree of accuracy.
From this, it is a simple step to holding a racquet and hitting a ball. Gripping the racquet to keep the head firm and steady, your hand will be near to where the ball will hit by the strings (the contact point). With a similar action to throwing, you’ll be able to hit a basic forehand shot.
This is easy to learn, as it doesn’t involve the ball or the racquet. However, while it may be easy, it is not instinctive – what you naturally want to do after you hit the ball is stand and watch where it goes.
Recovery is often overlooked but it is as important as the other three skills. Moving back to a central position on the court gets you ready to start the sequence again and link one shot to another, enabling a rally.
Learning the fundamentals with racquet in hand
With these four basic skills, all that’s needed is to add on to this foundation is two basic strokes and one basic tactic – and, then you can play tennis! Throw in a bit of speed, agility, enthusiasm and a competitive nature and you’ll only get better and better.
A simple serve enables you to put the ball into play, i.e. to get the point started, while a simple forehand enables you to keep the ball in play, i.e. it enables you to trade shots back and forth with an opponent. With these two moves you’ll be able to play a game of tennis without a problem.
If you or your child is interested in learning to play tennis, David Lloyd Clubs offers excellent coaching for all abilities. Our All Star programme for 3 – 18 years olds provides kids with the best possible start to the sport, while a range of expert coaches are able to help adults learn and develop.