2 December 2020

The Benefits of Competition on the Tennis Court

Watching the professionals play on TV is often inspiring. Seeing them play so consistently and effortlessly can make you wonder, “how would I get on in a real match?”. Well, now is the time to get out there and get competing!

 

Playing tennis is a great way to stay fit, get active, and have fun! Many budding tennis players will go down to their local club and enjoy a game with a friend or family member as a social way to get exercise, but adding a competitive element to your game of tennis can have a lot of benefits! 

 

Mental Health

 

One of the often-overlooked benefits of healthy competition on the tennis court is the positive impact it can have on your mental health. 

Learning how to focus your mind on the task at hand, staying present, and not allowing the past to influence the future are all key skills that a tennis player must learn to be successful. The scoring system in tennis means that oftentimes, it is not about how many points you win, but when you win your points. 

For example, if you are 40-30 up on your serve in the first game in the match, winning the next point is unlikely to play a big role in the outcome of the match. But being 30-40 down on your serve at 4-5 in the set will determine whether you save a set point or concede the set altogether. 

Therefore, being able to put yourself in pressurised situations and learning how to deal with these effectively is a major benefit of adding healthy competition to your tennis sessions. Learning techniques to help you stay calm under pressure, accepting and moving on when things don’t go your way, and understanding how to win and lose are all things you will learn on the tennis court, that will benefit your life off it. 

Being able to solve problems is a major part of winning tennis matches too. If you can out-think your opponents, whilst playing to your strengths and to their weaknesses, you will give yourself more opportunities to win. 

So, when you next go down to your local courts or club, challenge your friend to a match and exercise your mind! 

 

Goal Setting

 

Playing tennis matches helps create focus in your practice sessions. If you know you will be playing a match at the weekend, then you will want to work on specific areas of your game that will give you the best preparation possible. 

Purposeful practice helps you focus your mind and really prioritise what you need to improve in your game, giving you a greater sense of direction in your tennis sessions. 

Adding healthy competition to your schedule also helps you test your skills and track your progress. Joining a local league, leaderboard, or tennis team is a great way to constantly test your ability and improve how you handle pressure situations on court.  

 

Being Part of a Team

 

Being an individual sport, tennis can sometimes be lonely and unforgiving. Tennis players are forced to deal with their wins and losses on their own, often being very self-critical which can lead to setting unrealistic expectations. 

This can in turn lead to a poor relationship with the sport. However, being part of a tennis team or local league is a great way to overcome this issue, as you can experience the highs and lows with other people. This helps you be realistic about your performance and get your teammates to give you honest feedback, which is a great way to improve your game. 

 

Healthy vs Unhealthy Competition

 

Now, we have explored how adding a competitive element to your tennis sessions can pose a number of benefits to your physical and mental health. But, what exactly is ‘healthy competition’?

Well, simply put, healthy competition focuses on enjoying the process of competing and improving your standard of the task at hand. This means you are competing with the goal of improving your tennis, whilst looking at the bigger picture of enjoying the game and having fun at the same time. 

Whilst winning is important and a goal you will certainly want to have, it’s not the be-all and end-all of why you step onto a tennis court. 

By contrast, unhealthy competition is when you focus disproportionately on the outcome of a match, without caring how you play or whether you actually enjoyed yourself. 

So, next time you pick up a racket, try to stay positive out there and focus on having fun too! 

 

Takeaways 

 

Competition is an intrinsic part of tennis, and while at times it can be frustrating, for many of us, it’s the part that keeps pulling us back. However, it’s important to make sure you’re practicing healthy competition that improves your game and your enjoyment of life. 

While winning is important, it’s not everything, and if you focus on enjoying healthy competition, you might find you end up winning more tennis matches anyway. 

 

Written by guest writer, William Palmer, from The Tennis Bros. Check them out here!