What Makes Tennis Such a Challenging Sport?


Tennis is definitely one of the most interesting sports out there, but have you ever wondered why this is? There are many ways to think of tennis and approach the game, but have you ever sat down to have a think through what makes the sport so appealing?

Well, for some, it's checking the live tennis odds and trying to get the winner of the next game. But it's not all there is. The appeal of tennis is in how challenging it is to actually play. Surely, you can try and play tennis, but trying to play at the level that Djokovic or Nadal do is a whole new level of physical prowess.

Beauty and tennis both have to do with their individualistic nature. There is hardly any other sport that relies as much on the player. Even in boxing, you have an entire team taking care of you in-between rounds. That is not really the case in tennis. If you are playing the game, you are really trying to go it alone.

#1 You Won't Have Your Coach with You

Alright, so the first thing to notice is that you won't have a coach looking over your every move. Tennis doesn't allow coaches on the court, or at least not in a coaching capacity. You have to go it alone, and your coach can give you notes only after the game has ended. 

That makes the game even more individualistic in nature, but it also makes it a game where you have to be capable of making quick decisions on your own, and quick. Lack of coaching is not something that you may have considered important, but there is a reason why teams in every sport pay millions annually to maintain a cutting-edge coaching staff that is there just to offer advice during breaks.


#2 You Have an Injury? You Got to Push Through

When Djokovic walked away from the US open with a shoulder injury, the crowds booed him. That was one of the best players in the history of the game, but fans still paid him the utmost disrespect. Why? Because if you are injured and decide to forfeit a game, there is nothing left to see.

You don't have a full bench of players who are keen to prove themselves in your stead, which makes tennis even more individualist, and why it's important that players get proper and adequate rest. However, if an injury occurs, you are on your own, and that is simply how it works in tennis.

#3 You Don't Get a Time Out

Tennis is a challenging game because you also don't get any type of rest. Sure, there are short sit-downs that are actually pre-agreed with the other player where you can have a gulp of water, but you can't use the bathroom, take showers in-between sets or simply have medics look at your injury. You are forced to stay involved even if you are physically or mentally at a disadvantage. 

#4 There Are No Time Limits

A tennis game can go on, and on, and on. It solely depends on how much the players can put in and how well they can perform. Therefore, stamina is not just mandatory in tennis – it's the only way you have a shot at winning. To get an idea of what the longest tennis game could be, the longest one on record is 11 hours. That is right – 11 hours of play which you can imagine, is quite exhaustive. In football, you have 20+ players splitting the distance and making sure they stay alert and fresh in their half of the game. Can you imagine a football game go on for 11 hours? The lack of time limits is definitely exciting in tennis, but it also shows why the sport is so challenging to get into seriously.

#5 You Can't Give In to Emotions

Tennis is not easy, and some sets may just not go in your favor, but when this happens, you have to be firmly in control. Adrenaline and emotional spikes are quite common, and some players can easily give in to these emotions that will cloud their judgment and make it hard to play. 

Look, this happens in every sport, and that is a fact, but as we have already noticed on several occasions – tennis is an individual sport and all eyeballs are on you. If you misbehave, you set up a poor example, and people watching, including many children, look up to you to be a good sportsman. 

#6 Constant Decision Making

Tennis is a game that requires a lot of focus, and if you want to really be successful, you will have to be able to make snap decisions quickly. Both you and your opponent are constantly looking for ways to disrupt the other party's game. How you change the ball and spin direction will have immediate effects on the pace of play. 

Speaking of pace, that is another thing that you have to decide on. When do you try to hit the ball harder, and when do you slow down? Is your opponent slowing down because they are tired, or are they trying to identify a weakness in your play? This all comes down to one thing – snap decision-making. 

#7 Tennis Demands a Lot of Strength

You won't see a tennis player sport muscles all over their body, because that is not what is required to be good at tennis. Strength and stamina can be built without any visible manifestations, and that is precisely what tennis is all about. 

Players, who want to enter tennis and compete, or even play recreationally though, will have to figure out that much of their success will depend on how much strength they have – in terms of enduring long stretches of play and having that explosive power to send the ball back.

It's not just that, though. It's proven that tennis requires much more endurance than, say, an NFL or NBA player, who definitely put in a lot of effort, but often not as much as the top tennis players who have to be back at it time and again. 

#8 You Need to Fine-Tune Your Motor Skills

Tennis requires from you on point around the clock. While other games have many players who can share the load, tennis is solely pinned on one player. To put things in perspective, a soccer player will interact with the ball around 60 to 120 times a game, whereas an MVP NBA player will score around 35 times on average if they are playing a truly exceptional game. 

This still means that they are only interacting with the ball around 40-50 times a game and around 120 for a soccer player. Okay, so how is this important to tennis? Well, a tennis player will hit the ball around 500 times in a three-set match that is not one-sided. What this means is that a tennis player has no one but themselves to rely on and as such, they must fine-tune their skills to perfection. Missing a slow ball or just making a mistake is not an option, as it will reflect poorly back on the final score.

#9 Making It to the Top Is Difficult

There is no doubt about that. Tennis is a game that is not as well-salaried unless you are in the top teams. It's easy to make a living as a soccer player, especially if you put consistency and determination in your training sessions, but the truth about tennis is much different. There are limited spots and to climb to the top is a lot of personal effort.

However, there is also the competition. Many people who go into tennis and decide to train hard do so fully aware of what slim chances they have to make it to the Top 100. As such, they are pushing a lot – same as all other players – and that means that you will face some serious challenges in climbing the rankings. This makes many players ask themselves early in their careers if they really want to go pro – many hesitate.

#10 Tennis Has Benefits Too

As a sport, tennis isn't entirely bad. For example, you won't have fans chant or boo you or disrespect you as they would in many other sports where the crowd thinks they can just diminish an athlete's performance. Tennis players don't get to contact other players in physical altercations, which could lead to injuries, even though injuries in tennis are actually quite common. 

Tennis is also not a sport where players get ostracized by teammates, but rather a sport where the individual has the full responsibility to make a strategy work and work well. Stress is still there, but knowing that you have yourself to rely on is definitely a huge benefit to many athletes who would rather analyze their own errors than add the complexity of group sports, which can often end up with players shifting blame.