How does Tennis compare to other sports for fitness?

Apr 15, 2021 | Coaches Insights

How Tennis compares 

To Other Sports for Fitness

 

It goes without saying that tennis is definitely one of the more physically demanding sports out there. The amount of strain that is put on the shoulders, legs, hips, etc. is almost unmatched in any sport. Taking into account the grueling number of matches a professional player has to play in a year, a tennis player needs to be in top notch physical condition in order to perform to the best of his or her ability.

However, from a leisure point of view it is one of the best sports to play recreationally in order to keep yourself in great physical condition. Some basic health and fitness benefits of tennis include increased aerobic capacities, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, improving metabolic function, increasing bone density and increasing reaction times. In fact, studies show that playing tennis is much better than hitting the gym, as tennis strengthens your entire body and at the same time enhances cardio whilst lowering your chances of getting injured.

comparing Tennis fitness

Now that we have a bit of an idea about the fitness aspect of tennis, let us delve into how tennis compares to other sports in terms of fitness. An important point to touch upon is that every sport requires a different type of fitness training which is suitable for that sport. 

A tennis player could probably not last more than 45 minutes on a squash court and at the same time a squash player could probably not last longer than an hour on a tennis court primarily owing to the fact that each person trains to be at a peak fitness level in the sport that they play.

Are sprinters fitter than tennis players

Firstly, compared to many other Olympic Sports, tennis requires a well-rounded athlete who has the capability of being as explosive as a 100-meter sprinter yet have adequate endurance and staying power to last marathon five-set matches which have the potential to go up to almost 5 hours or longer. 

This is not even taking into account the supreme technical skill and hand-eye coordination required to actually hit the ball accurately.

Is tennis similar to soccer?

Tennis, just like any other sport requires a certain kind of fitness. For example, a kid pursing soccer cannot have the same fitness regime as a kid pursing tennis. A person playing tennis basically uses every body part while playing. 

Soccer player dribbling ball

When a person hits a forehand, they need to use their shoulders and forearms to set up, as well as hit the shot and use their legs and hips as leverage to ensure the entire shot is hit correctly and accurately. On the contrary, a person playing soccer would mostly focus on drills to ensure quick movements and strengthen their legs as soccer uses very little upper body movement, with the exception of the goalkeeper.

How does tennis compare to other racquet sports?
People playing squash

Now let’s see how tennis compares to other racquet sports in terms of fitness. There has been a long debate which would probably never end between tennis and squash with regards to which is actually the more physically demanding sport. 

The answer to that is both sports require supreme levels of fitness in their own right. Squash matches although much shorter are much more intense and fast paced. Squash players basically get no rest and the rallies go on for a long time. A squash player would probably require a lot more flexibility and reflexes owing to the fast pace of the game and the fact that the ball hardly bounces.

Tennis players on the other hand use heavier equipment and go through more motions in terms of strokes and thereby need better hand eye coordination and need to be in a physical condition to play up to 5 hours. To put it in simple terms, Squash players need to have the fitness level of 1500 meter runner and a tennis player requires the fitness of a 10000-meter marathon runner. Badminton and table tennis are other racquet sports which require good levels of fitness, however are nowhere near as strenuous as squash and tennis.

Tennis versus Combat Sports

The last comparison is going to be between tennis and combat sports such as boxing and MMA. The obvious difference between tennis and combat sports is that tennis is non-contact and combat sports are all about contact. 

Woman boxing

Although, combat sports cause the athletes a lot of physical damage, most of the damage done is short term and can be recovered from in a few weeks. However, the duration of combat sport fights is significantly shorter than tennis.

Combat athletes require a lot more mental strength than tennis players owing to the fact they have to continuously push through the pain barrier and keep going. In terms of physical fitness, combat sport athletes and tennis players do require elite levels of fitness not only physically but mentally as well. With that being said it is a bit unfair to do a comparison, as these types of sports are completely different and both require unreal levels of fitness.

With everything being said tennis is a fantastic sport to play in terms of enhancing fitness, hand eye coordination, technical skills, etc. It is also one of the most difficult sports to learn and play, so if you do play tennis, you can hold your head up high and be proud of the fact that you are playing one of the most difficult sports out there!