Tennis Talk with Bill Mountford: The Sport for a Lifetime
December 26, 2017
Tennis is a great sport to begin playing at any age - it has even been considered ‘the sport for a lifetime’ because players can begin playing during early childhood and continue all the way through to super-seniors (including the 90 and over age group.) There are not many other sports that can stake that claim. For children who are sampling many sports, tennis is ideal because it involves hand-eye and foot-eye coordination, balance, agility, decision-making, accountability, and a lot of movement. For adults, it is a terrific way to burn calories while participating in a fun, social activity. Not only is almost every muscle in your body used during tennis but so is your brain, making it incredibly engaging.
Tennis is a movement sport making it beneficial to overall fitness. Players are constantly shifting, adjusting, sprinting, stopping, and recovering between every shot. The rotation - or twisting - on every forehand, backhand, and serve is great exercise for your core muscles while striking the ball consistently tones your upper body muscles. Exhaling when making contact with the ball is also a great stress release. While tennis players tend to be very fit and enjoy the game, it is physically taxing to your system.
If you’re trying to get into the game of tennis, it is suggested that you find a racquet that is comfortable and feels good in your hand. It’s essential that you can swing the racquet freely but with a bit of mass as well. Modern racquets make learning the game so much easier.
We coaches can often complicate things. The object of tennis is simple: to hit one more ball over the net and inside the lines than your opponent. Naturally, new players should learn a technique that will allow for consistency and eventually power, leaving room for individuality. Find a place – an indoor club, local courts, a private club, etc. – and ask a manager or a teaching pro to help set up some games or to include you in a drill with players of a similar playing level. If it is not a fun environment, leave immediately and find another place! This is your recreation time, so it needs to be fun for you. It can be serious-fun or silly-fun, but it has to be appealing.
When it comes to joining an indoor tennis club, it is essential to find a place that is inclusive and willing to accommodate your specific needs. The advantage of a club with a wide array of programming is that there tends to be flexibility and choices for the consumer. Ideally, find a place where there is an attractive blend of instructional clinics and match play. You could join a USTA or inter-club team because that dynamic provides like-minded – and hopefully supportive – teammates as well as competitive matches to help gauge your progress. Those league teams are usually quite social so joining a friend or meeting new pals is one of the treasures of tennis.
If you are looking for a club to introduce your children to the sport of tennis or to help them reach their potential as tournament players, you'll want to be choosy. Clubs that have embraced red, orange and green ball progressions for young children make sense, as these lower-compression balls enable kids to learn more quickly than ever. As importantly, having some early success in rallying the ball back and forth helps kids to enjoy the sport. If your child has experience and is looking for expert coaching and stiff competition, then do some research on the qualifications and backgrounds of the coaches. Appropriately trained and experienced coaches with long track records of success tend to attract similarly-minded students and families to their respective programs.
From a game improvement standpoint, when you try to get a little better each time you are on the court, you’ll enjoy the process of mastering specific strokes and understanding tactics. Taking it all in at once could make things feel complicated, so instead focus on one thing at a time for speedy progress.
Senior Director of Racquets at Chelsea Piers Connecticut