What Parents Should Know About Tennis: Why Children Should Pick Up a Racquet - USTA Southern California







MAY 17, 2024



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In a world that has become increasingly dominated by screens and electronics, the importance of physical activity can not be overstated, especially for the youth. With an abundance of options to choose from, parents should look no further than tennis when finding a sport for their child to become involved in. Beyond its immediate advantages, tennis uniquely contributes to the social, mental, and physical development of a child, fostering skills and attributes that endure through the years. 

Tennis Offers Health Benefits

When thinking about what is gained from playing tennis, the first thing that comes to mind for many are its health benefits. Tennis, much like other sports, offers tremendous value for physical well-being. However, what often goes unnoticed is the multitude of ways in which tennis positively influences overall health, especially for children. 

Recently proven to be the number one way to increase life expectancy, tennis is emerging as the healthiest sport that one can play. According to multiple sources and studies, tennis has been shown to have a significant positive impact on the health of participants. Tennis players on average lived an additional 9.7 years than sedentary individuals. The 9.7 additional years for tennis players ranked highest among all sports included within the study, beating out soccer by 5 years (4.7), cycling by 6 years (3.7), swimming by 6.3 years (3.4) and jogging by 6.5 years (3.2). In being such a fantastic form of exercise, tennis also functions as a great workout for the heart, boosting heart rates and lowering chances of cardiovascular disease. Participation in racquet sports, including tennis, reduces risk of all-cause mortality by 47 percent and cardiovascular-related death by 56 percent. 

Like basketball and soccer, an open-skill sport like tennis requires the player to both act and react, fully engaging the major networks of the brain. On the court, preparation for hitting the ball requires the brain to synthesize complex and rapidly shifting real-time information from the inside out (mid-point strategic shift to outsmart an opponent who is out of position and processing between two points) – and the outside in (watching the ball to make the millions of mental and physical calculations needed to hit it on the sweet spot at just the right time.) Tennis places demands on the integrated mental, physical, emotional and purpose-driven spiritual resources that closed-skill sports that take place in static and predictable settings, don’t.

Tennis has also been shown to be one of the premier workouts that anyone can do, as it engages all of your muscles while simultaneously burning an immense amount of calories. Tennis uses your entire body as your legs are worked out when running across court, your core is activated while you keep your balance following the ball, your arms are utilized to provide strength as you hit the ball, and your brain provides you awareness to make critical decisions mid-match. 

More so, playing tennis also offers a plethora of perks that extend beyond just physical fitness. Engaging in this dynamic sport not only improves balance, reaction time, coordination, and agility, but also strengthens bones due to the weight-bearing nature of the activity. The constant movement and rapid shifts in direction required in tennis help to enhance these aspects of physical fitness, leading to overall improved athleticism and reduced risk of injury. The challenges presented in tennis, such as quick decision-making and strategic thinking, can significantly increase one’s capacity to manage stress effectively, both on and off the court. The continuous movement involved in playing tennis helps to release endorphins, promoting a sense of well-being and reducing stress levels, thus contributing to a healthier mind and body. Not only that, but kids who play tennis are more likely to gain physical skills that can keep them active for a lifetime and less likely to take up drinking and smoking.

Tennis Teaches The Importance of Sportsmanship 

One of the largest components of tennis, sportsmanship, is a value that can not be emphasized enough when playing the sport. Not only is sportsmanship a valuable characteristic to hone in tennis, but more importantly in life. As a primarily individual-based sport, players learn very quickly how important this attribute is to the game whether exemplifying it themselves or seeing the lack thereof from someone else. With more opportunities than not where one is tasked to be sportsmanlike on court, there are not many sports that instill this trait in its players like tennis does. 

Especially at a young age, players are forced into making tough decisions on the court. Playing matches where there is not always an official present, players are relied on to call shots correctly out of respect to their opponent and themselves. These decisions encourage players to be honest and fair throughout their match and provide correct calls on their side of the court. In doing so, players display good sportsmanship by always giving their opponent the benefit of the doubt on a call.

Sportsmanship is also shown through the way a player carries themself based on the result of a match. Although not the easiest thing to do, it is important to show humility in victory or decency in defeat, as it is respectful to your opponent.

As a parent or a coach, it is important to remember that people, especially children, are extremely impressionable. Teaching children now how to behave and even showing them examples of good sportsmanship on the court is valuable to their growth. These lessons help shape their daily interactions on and off the court. Tennis is fantastic in the way it provides learning opportunities to alter behavior and improve attitude toward opponents, officials and spectators. How you treat people on the court and in life matters and learning how to do so through a fun activity like tennis offers an effective means of teaching this skill.

Learn more about Nurturing Sportsmanship in Kids.

Tennis Fosters Life Skills

While the teachings of sportsmanship offer invaluable lessons, tennis also serves as a profound platform for cultivating invaluable life skills in youth, spanning beyond the realm of physical activity. In a both physically and emotionally demanding sport, tennis instills resilience, strength, respect and determination, among many other qualities, in young athletes. 

Through the journey of playing tennis, children develop essential people skills such as perseverance and the ability to seize learning opportunities through their everyday practices and hard-fought matches. These skills are not only applicable on the court but are easily transferable to various facets of life.

Learning from losses and understanding areas for improvement mirrors the process of self-development in life—setting goals, practicing diligently, and witnessing tangible progress. Understanding defeat as a natural part of life and realizing that failure is not permanent promotes resilience and a healthy perspective on setbacks. While a loss may sting in the moment, how one is able to respond helps demonstrate their character and helps them see that there is always another opportunity to succeed. 

Embracing imperfection as part of the journey teaches children to celebrate effort and participation rather than solely focusing on outcomes. Understanding that you won’t always win every point or even every match is crucial, as it teaches kids that you are not always going to get what you desire in life. Although not always victorious, every moment on court can be seen as one to learn from and improve on in the future. 

One of its largest components as a primarily individualized sport, tennis instills responsibility, emphasizing that each player is accountable for their actions and outcomes on the court. In tennis, unlike team sports, there’s no one to blame or credit but oneself, creating a sense of ownership and accountability that extends far beyond the boundaries of the court.

“Tennis as an individual sport instills character traits unique to other team sports. Accountability, self-motivation, commitment and self-confidence take center stage since players at a young age are forced to do the majority of work on their own,” stated USTA Southern California Junior Team Tennis Manager, Jason Cook. “Although you have a coach, you often see them for a small portion of your overall practice time. Individual practice matches, clinics and even hitting against a wall or ball machine, the player is often forced to be their own coach. Tennis players are left to fend for themselves and do what they think is best for improving.” 

Tennis Forges Relationships

Tennis not only enhances physical fitness and skill development, but also plays a significant role in fostering and managing relationships among youth. Through tennis, children have the opportunity to form lifelong friendships with peers who share their passion for the sport. Whether it’s through regular practice sessions, friendly matches, or tournaments, young players often bond over their shared experiences and mutual love for tennis. 

Additionally, participation in Junior Team Tennis offers a unique setting for children to learn the importance of teamwork and collaboration. By working together towards common goals, whether in practices or competitive matches, young athletes develop essential communication and interpersonal skills. Learning to support and rely on teammates not only strengthens their bonds, but also teaches valuable lessons in cooperation and mutual respect. Additionally, the competitive, yet supportive environment of team tennis provides children with opportunities to navigate challenges, resolve conflicts, and celebrate successes as a group.

A universal love language, tennis brings together people of all backgrounds, providing children with the opportunity to learn about lifestyles and cultures that they may not be exposed to otherwise.

In creating relationships, children often see these bonds extend beyond the court, forming a supportive network that transcends the boundaries of tennis. They forge connections built on mutual respect, trust, and camaraderie, sharing not only the thrill of competition, but also the joys and challenges of growing up. These friendships often blossom into lifelong companionships, as players support each other through the highs and lows of life, creating cherished memories that stand the test of time.

How To Get Involved

With thirteen areas, almost 3,000 facilities, and over 25,000 courts, there are endless possibilities for those interested to get involved in tennis within Southern California. If you, your child, or someone you know may be interested in playing, please check out the contact links  to help you get started!

Contact the USTA Southern California Junior Staff

Maria Goldberg, Senior Director of Competition: goldberg@scta.usta.com
Dianne Matias, Director of Junior Tennis: dmatias@scta.usta.com
Ai Takamori, Assistant Director of Junior Tennis: takamori@scta.usta.com
Jason Cook, Manager of Junior Team Tennis: jcook@scta.usta.com
Jaycee Cruz, Junior Tennis Coordinator: jcruz@scta.usta.com
Marcelo Hernandez-Games, Junior Tennis Coordinator mhernandezgamez@scta.usta.com

(310) 208-3838 | M-F 9AM-5PM


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