A recent study found that tennis players add an average of 9.7 years to their lives compared to those who live sedentary lifestyles. Similar research into other racquet sports has come up with similar findings.
If you are considering taking on a racquet sport, or two, you are on track to add so much value to your life. If you’re still debating on whether or not to start playing a racquet sport, read on to find out why you should.
These are 20 plus reasons why you should play racquet sports.
1. Mental challenge.
On the court, it is not, only, your strength that will win you a game; it is how you think and how you read your opponent. Racquet sports are a great challenge to your thinking, as you have to process several visual and strategic cues, and execute moves to outsmart your opponents.
2. Refine your planning and decision-making abilities.
While playing racquet sports, you’ll think about ball placement, your next move, reading your opponent, and so much more. All of this occurs within seconds, which is a fantastic simulation of some real-life decisions that you’ll have to make in a split second. This goes beyond the court, and you will, probably, find yourself applying the same strategic thinking in other spheres of your life.
3. Get a total body exercise.
You will run sideways, forwards, backward, bending low, reaching high- you will engage your entire body. This boosts overall balance, agility, stamina, and coordination. You don’t get this kind of holistic body workout with many other sports, not to mention you will have fun and enjoy yourself.
. Meet new people.
In most racquet sports, you certainly need an opponent, and occasionally, a doubles partner. In either case, you are bound to meet new people. They might become your good friends or prove to be resourceful networks. Not to mention, you will constantly be exchanging ideas that might help you see things differently and enrich your worldview.
5. Reduce health risks.
Playing racquet sports will get you a whole-body exercise while having a great time with others. As a result, some of the benefits are better metabolic function, lower body fat, a decrease in stress levels, lower blood pressure, among others. Different studies have found evidence that aerobic activities reduce health risks, like heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, as well as strokes.
6. Maintain a healthy weight.
Racquet sports, which involve a great deal of cardio and aerobic activity, are naturally holistic to total body exercise. Because of this, they can help you burn unwanted calories, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
7. You can start at any point in your life.
Whether you are a child or an elderly individual, there is no reason you cannot pick up a racquet and begin playing. Racquet sports are adaptive to one’s ability. If you are younger, you can play with more vigor, if you so choose, and if you are older, you can play to levels which you feel comfortable. The key is to have a partner that is willing to play at your level.
8. Develop self-discipline.
There is quite a bit of patience and learning that takes place when taking on a racquet sport. Improving your technique and skills requires hard work and consistency in practice. Fostering discipline is vital in committing to training. Whatever your age, you will enjoy learning the art of self-discipline, which can enrich your life beyond the court.
9. Bring your family and friends on board.
You can play racquet sports with anyone. This makes this activity a fantastic family activity. With racquets available in a variety of sizes, even your little ones can take part in a family game day. Playing together enhances family bonds while enjoying a day out.
10. Play indoors or outdoors; all year round.
Depending on the available facilities in your area, you may be able to play all racquet sports indoors and outdoors. Squash and badminton are generally played indoors, but some recreational centers have outdoor courts. Likewise, tennis, pickleball, and others are traditionally played outdoors, but some facilities would have indoor courts. This means that you can be playing your favorite racquet sport regardless of the weather. No excuses not to play!
11. Racquets sports can be recreational, as well as competitive.
If you are beginning to play any racquet sport, you will soon realize that you are in charge of how you want to play. Perhaps you want to play recreationally, or you want to play competitively. In either case, you are more than likely to find a group of people at your chosen level. With them, you will create friendships that extend beyond the court.
12. Become part of a supportive group.
You will soon realize that playing a racquet sport comes with an entire community. This will be apparent whether you are picking up the racquet for the first time or taking part in a competition. The culture surrounding racquet sports is a supportive one, in which all players encourage each other and offer support to help participants improve.
13. Build physical strength.
Some may be quick to dismiss racquet sports as non-serious exercises incapable of building any real physical strength. The truth is that racquet sports require tremendous physical strength, and as you continue to play, you will build it through practice. With time and consistency, you will develop strength in key muscle areas.
14. Most of them are affordable to play and practice.
To play racquet sports, you only need to look at your closest recreational center or public park to find facilities. Some may require a small fee, but most are free for public use. Beyond that, you would need to invest a small amount of money to purchase your gear, including racquets (or paddles), balls, and appropriate shoes. You don’t need much else.
15. You are in charge of your own progress.
In racquet sports, there is no obligation to perform at a certain level because you choose how you want to play. Unlike team sports, there is little pressure from others on your on-court performance. With that in mind, you are in charge of your progress, as well as development by determining your practice frequency and sticking to a schedule.
16. They can (potentially) increase your life expectancy.
A 2017 study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, followed about 80,000 British citizens to find out whether there is a difference in life expectancy between people who practice different sports. They found that racquet sports players outlived all other sports practitioners. The researchers looked at a variety of reasons why that was the case and purported that the social aspect of racquet sports did better in supporting healthy living than other types of sports.
Also, the 25-years Copenhagen City Heart Study examined what sports can, potentially, extend your life expectancy and found that racquet sports are the way to go. Tennis and badminton came in first and second place. They conclude that tennis and badminton could increase one’s life expectancy by 9 and 6 years, respectively.
17. Become a fan.
When you become part of a racquet sports community, you are not only a player but also a fan. Whether you are cheering on your friends, teammates, or international professional players, you become part of something bigger. You will learn about top performers through history, and appreciate racquet sports’ rich history. At professional levels, you will get to value the hard work and effort players have to put in to reach those heights because you now know what it takes.
18. Become inspired.
While being involved in a broader community of like-minded people with similar interests to yours, knowledge exchange happens. You get to see your friends’ progress through different levels and draw inspiration from their persistent effort. Even if you play only one racquet sport, chances are you will come to know and interact with players of other racquet sports. It’s these interactions and relationships that will expose you to others’ stories, and they likely will inspire you on and off the court.
19. Fills your time with meaningful activities.
Nowadays, individuals suffer immensely from informational overload. Everywhere we turn there’s an ad, a movie, an article, gossip, that screams for our attention. What happens as a result is we feel overwhelmed and freeze. Freezing takes many forms. It could be spending hours on end on social media sites, binge-watching your favorite TV show, and being unproductive.
Taking on a sport is a fantastic way to break this cycle, and racquet sports not only break that cycle, but they fill your time with meaning. Taking into account the social enrichment aspect of racquet sports, as well as the physical and mental challenges it poses that build you as a person, you truly get an exhilarating experience that is freeing, challenging, and meaningful. The best part is that with discipline, you can carry it on for the rest of your life.
20. You have many options to choose from.
When you look at activities and sports such as jogging, swimming, and others, there is really not much variation to choose from. If you are a person who likes a little spice on your life, racquet sports will add just that.
Most racquet sports are essentially similar, in that you will use a racquet or a paddle within a court to play against an opponent. However, the many variations of the sport put a unique spin on that general rule. In table tennis, you have a small paddle that requires you to focus on the details and fine-tune your motor skills; in squash, you have to be sharp maneuver within a small court to beat your opponent; in tennis, you are in charge of a large court area which you must strategize on how to cover it all.
Besides the racquet sports, already mentioned, you can play beach tennis, padel, badminton, pickleball, touch tennis, pop tennis, platform tennis, amongst others. You aren’t likely to get bored here because there are many variations of the sports and the great thing is that they require similar sets of skills, so you will be more than capable of trying each one of them.
21. You can invent your own racquet sport.
That’s right. All the variations in the different racquet sports were products of a player’s curiosity on what they could do differently to make the game more fun or accessible. You, as a racquet sports player, can also get creative and put your own twist on your favorite racquet sport. Not only will you get to call it yours, but also enjoy your own unique game with friends and family.
22. Builds your self-esteem.
In order to learn and play racquet sports, you’ll need to put in the time and effort to meet your goals, and, eventually, you’ll see the results of your hard work. That is a rewarding source of achievement, and it works wonders in building self-esteem.
With time, you will see yourself get better at your sport and improve your skills. You will be able to look back and point out how you’ve achieved your results and celebrate your journey. This feeling cannot be taken away from you, and you will carry it even beyond the court, knowing you are a determined and disciplined person whose efforts give results.
23. Reduce stress, anger, and anxiety.
It has been widely documented that exercise and physical activity reduces stress through a variety of physiological feedback loops. The fact is true for racquet sports. By being deeply engaged in a sport, you let your mind refocus attention from stressors and to the game itself. Physiologically, your body produces adrenaline and endorphins, giving a boost to your mood and overall feelings of mental well-being.
24. Increase focus, attention, and alertness.
Being engaged in a game needs full attention, focus, and alertness. Over time, this becomes the norm at which your mind operates on the court, and with consistent practice, it becomes part of your life.
Taking everything into account
The best way to see all these reasons in action is to dive right in. Join a club, try different sports, choose your favorite, and grow as a player. It will challenge you, get you excited, and inspired. You will not only be building a healthy lifestyle for your body, but also for your mind. Racquet sports are, arguably, the true gems of sports.