Is tennis the toughest sport to play? Can you think of another sport that has a season as long, where players compete in so many matches and where games can go on for hours and hours?
The physical demands required to be successful in any sport are increasing all the time but can you think of any other sports where the professional season is 11 months long and athletes compete several times in a week, often in consecutive days? Is there any other sport quite like tennis where there is no time limit on matches and contests continue until there is a winner?
Whilst in football, many players aren’t able to play more than one match in a week (and even then they may be substituted) tennis players keep going and the better they are, the more they play. The professional tennis season is long and hard and whilst tennis doesn’t have the physical contact of a sport like boxing, the matches are often a fight from start to finish, particularly in the grand slams.
At a junior level in Great Britain, players seem to be competing more than ever and there is no off-season like there is in most other children’s sports. If you want to play a tournament every weekend, you probably can and tennis venues run their programmes for as many weeks of the year as possible. Junior players appear to be training and competing 12 months of the year and little thought is given to breaks and rest time. When young players begin to compete internationally in Tennis Europe and ITF events there are rules in place to limit the number of events that they can compete in but this does not exist domestically. Tennis has become a non-stop sport and players and their parents seem reluctant to have breaks in case they lose ground on their peers and rivals.
Consequently, strength and conditioning is becoming even more important. Players who compete and train regularly need to ensure they have the physical base on which to build their games. The older you get, the faster the game gets and the harder your opponents hit the ball and so all players must ensure they have the necessary fitness to compete but also to prevent injuries. Exercises and activities that promote recovery are also important to ensure players can give their best when they need to in tournaments.
As tennis continues to develop as a sport, the physicality involved is only going to get more and more prominent. What is important for all players is to prepare for competition effectively, recover well and ensure that rest is given more priority. Whatever your level, staying in the game has to be the number one goal rather than burning out.
Do you think tennis is the toughest sport? What are your thoughts on the physical side of the game and do you think that some players are playing too much?