I've been playing tennis for decades, and it's fair to say that I'm a huge enthusiast. The sport is great fun, keeps me fit, and provides me with a social circle that I appreciate.
However, I thought it would be useful to list and explore seven of the downsides of playing tennis that I've encountered. My intention is not to put people off participating in the sport, but rather to give a realistic appraisal of the potential negatives.
7 Disadvantages of Playing Tennis
Here are seven downsides of playing the sport:
- Weather Problems
- Finding Other Players
- Not a Team Sport
- Coaching and Learning Time
- Finding Courts
I examine each negative in more detail below.
1. The Weather
While indoor courts do exist, tennis is almost always played outdoors. This puts you at the mercy of the elements.
Even here in sunny Florida, where I live, I can't tell you the number of times I've had matches and practices called off due to rain. In the summer months, the heat and humidity can also be a big problem here.
In the more northern climes, there can be other weather hazards to contend with and the temperatures can effectively be too low to play for large chunks of the year.
Contrast that with indoor sports, such as basketball, badminton, squash, and table tennis, where the weather is never a factor.
2. Finding Other Players
Tennis requires an exact number of players to work. For singles, you need to two people, and for doubles, you need four. Odd numbers are problematic.
In practice, this means that your tennis buddies need to be reliable people, because if somebody fails to turn up to play, it affects everyone.
It also helps when the players participating are of a similar standard. Playing with or against people who are at a very different skill level can undermine the fun.
Sometimes it's easiest just to bite the bullet and join a club or team, where hopefully there will be a big enough pool of players to find suitable people to hit with.
In theory, tennis is a relatively affordable sport to play. However, in practice, the costs often mount up.
Expenses are certainly higher if you join a club or team and have to pay membership fees, but even without this, they can still be substantial. Racquets, shoes, clothing, bags, balls, appropriate clothing, and a host of various other accessories all cost money and aren't necessarily cheap.
There can also be less visible costs such as travel. You may have to drive out of town if you participate in tournaments or competitions, even have to fork out for overnight accommodation.
Injuries are an occupational hazard when it comes to tennis. They can happen at any age, but they tend to become more common as you get older, in my experience.
Most injuries tend to be minor in nature and can be fixed by rest and recuperation. However, more serious conditions can require medical treatments, such as physiotherapy or even surgery.
Examples of common tennis injuries, all of which I've experienced myself, are:
- Tennis elbow (so common that they named it after the sport!)
- Rotator cuff tears
- Knee pain
- Calf and Achilles tendon strains
- Back pain
- Tennis toe
- Wrist strains
5. Not a Team Sport
Some people love the camaraderie and sense of interdependence that goes with being part of a larger sporting group, like in a football, soccer, or basketball team.
Members of a larger team often take on different roles, and there will generally be a captain to lead. The players will usually bond with each other and sometimes socialize outside of the sport.
Playing tennis generally means playing singles or doubles. Even if you are representing a larger team, your time on the court is spent either on your own or with a partner.
A sense of self-reliance can often be more important in tennis than teamwork. Playing singles in particular can be a stressful and lonely business, especially if you lose.
6. Coaching and Learning Time
Learning the sport can be a frustrating and lengthy process for a beginner. Much of the positioning, strokes, strategy and tactics in tennis can seem counterintuitive. Shots like the serve and backhand do not feel like natural actions when you first encounter them.
It requires a lot of coaching and experience just to become competent at the sport. The truth is, though, that no matter how experienced you are, there is always room for improvement, and this generally means more coaching.
Coaching can be fun and relatively affordable when you do it as a participant in a group. However, if you require one-to-one attention, it becomes much more pricey.
7. Finding Courts
Depending where you live, finding courts to play on can be relatively easy or very difficult.
Some cities have excellent tennis facilities, with plenty of well-maintained and free or inexpensive playing options available. Others, however, offer much more limited opportunities. Struggling to find a place to play, or ending up on inadequate or badly maintained courts can be very frustrating.
Joining a club can make things easier, but it's often not a cheap option.
© 2022 Paul Goodman