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Tennis | Healthy Sport Index | Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program

3rd

out of 10

Tennis

Girls

Tennis is a sport that involves start-and-stop movements, upper-body strength and mental challenges, and it requires hand-eye coordination, endurance, agility, flexibility, balance and footwork. Recommended complementary/alternate sports for tennis players include track and field and cross country.

Rankings in orange circles compare this sport with nine other sports offered for this gender before customization – meaning each of the three health categories is given an equal one-third weighting. The ranking is comprised of data collected or developed from various sources (75% of score) and expert opinion (25% of score). The healthiest sports in each of the three categories – physical activity, safety and psychosocial benefits – and in each data measurement are ranked No. 1. Note: Some sports did not have significant differences between each other in the data. Learn more about our methodology.

7th

out of 10

Physical Activity

Expert Opinion Rank: 5th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Tennis physical activity at practices ranks seventh among the 10 girls sports studied by North Carolina State University. Tennis has 35.7 percent vigorous activity; the 10 girls sports average 39.6 percent. Thirty-seven percent of tennis practice time focuses on skills compared to 14 percent on fitness.

1 North Carolina State University research observing high school athletes in North Carolina, 2017-18.

1st

out of 10

Safety

3.3

Injury Rate2

(2nd out of 10)

5%

Injury Time/Loss3

(1st out of 10)

0

Catastrophic Rate4

(T-1st out of 10)

5%

Injuries Requiring Surgery5

(7th out of 10)

0

Concussion Rate6

(T-1st out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: 2nd Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Tennis has the second-lowest injury rate among girls sports, according to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study. Elbow and shoulder injuries tend to be the most common ailments, often due to overuse. Tennis players miss the least amount of time due to injury among the evaluated girls sports.

2 Injury rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
3 Percentage of all injuries resulting in greater than three weeks of time loss from the sport, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
4 Non-fatal catastrophic injury/illness rate per 100,000 exposures, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 1982-2016.
5 Percentage of all injuries requiring surgery, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
6 Concussion rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

4th

out of 10

Psychosocial

Aspen Psychosocial Survey7

3.59

Personal Social Skills

(6th out of 10)

2.34

Cognitive Skills

(9th out of 10)

3.688

Goal-Setting

(4th out of 10)

3.667

Initiative

(10th out of 10)

3.686

Health

(5th out of 10)

1.356

Negative Experiences

(1st out of 10)

Substance Abuse

Cigarette Use8
9.1%

(5th out of 10)

Binge Drinking9
17.6%

(4th out of 10)

Marijuana Use10
13.7%

(2nd out of 10)

Academic Achievement

Cut Class11
25.6%

(3rd out of 10)

A/A- Student12
59.7%

(1st out of 10)

Graduate From College13
86.7%

(1st out of 10)

Psychological health14

4.13

Self-Esteem

(T-5th out of 10)

2.1

Fatalism

(3rd out of 10)

3.9

Self-Efficacy

(T-2nd out of 10)

2.76

Loneliness

(6th out of 10)

2.05

Self-Derogation

(T-6th out of 10)

4.3

Social Support

(T-2nd out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: T-4th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Tennis rates seventh among the 10 girls sports in the Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial survey, though the gap isn’t large compared to No. 1 softball. A lack of negative experiences is a strength for tennis. The sport has the highest rate of players who are an A/A- student and expect to graduate from a four-year college, according to Women’s Sports Foundation data.

7 Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial benefits survey of high school athletes nationally, 2018. Scoring ranges from 1-4, with 4 being the best except for the Negative Experiences category.

8 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

9 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport binge drinking alcohol in the past two weeks. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

10 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport using marijuana in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

11 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who cut class for a full day in the past month. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

12 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who have an average grade of an A or A-. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

13 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who expect to graduate from a four-year college. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

14 Average scores of high school seniors in the sport in psychological health report card. Data for these six categories came from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters. Scoring ranges from 1-5, with 5 being the best for self-esteem, self-efficacy and social support.

Compare Tool

Select Other Girls Sports to Compare and Scroll Down

Tennis (Girls)
Basketball (Girls)
Cheerleading (Girls)
Cross Country (Girls)
Lacrosse (Girls)
Soccer (Girls)
Softball (Girls)
Swimming (Girls)
Track and Field (Girls)
Volleyball (Girls)

Complementary Sports

Healthy Sport Index recognizes the benefits of youth engaging in more than one sport during the year, through organized or casual play. Some youth also may want or need to find alternate sports, due to interest or roster-size limitations. There are two types of benefits to sport sampling: athletic/skill development in their primary sport, and overall health. First, let’s take a look at sports that can help develop athletic/skill development.

Athletic/Skill Development

For youth whose primary sport is tennis, the U.S. Tennis Association recommends the following complementary sports.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Skills

Yoga

Rationale: Basketball offers similar demands as tennis. The ability of basketball players to coordinate their upper and lower body limbs to bounce the ball and then run is similar to tennis, whose players have to coordinate swings from their upper body and positive themselves behind the ball to hit the ball back. Also, tennis involves a lot of start-and-stop movements that are identical to the movement patterns of basketball.

Not chasing an athletic scholarship or elite performance? Let’s now explore complementary sports that are less tailored to develop skills in this particular sport but can help build a well-rounded athlete for life.

Overall Health

For youth focused on this sport, the following are activities worth considering to build overall health and fitness. They are recommended by the Healthy Sport Index Advisory Group in consultation with the American College of Sports Medicine. Considerations include whether the primary sport is a team or individual sport, the amount of time the primary sport spends at practice on fitness, and options for sports that carry low-injury risks.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Health

Golf, Field Hockey, Hiking, Kayak, Martial Arts, Pilates, Rowing, Skiing, Ultimate Frisbee, Weight Training

Rationale: Tennis is an individual sport that would benefit from a companion team sport. Since tennis has a limited fitness component, a preferable companion sport would be one with more physical activity. Tennis is one of the safest sports.

Best Practices

Tips on how to make tennis active and safer

  1. Be mindful of strains on joints. When tennis rackets shifted to light graphite, and became a game of strength and power, wrist injuries became more common. The modern game uses a topspin heavy, aggressive stroke. The sport has seen more ulnar wrist injuries as a result.
  2. Don’t cut high school tennis players. The U.S. Tennis Association’s recommendation of no-cut tennis teams allow students of all abilities to join a team representing their school. This helps created well-rounded students, develops leadership, teaches responsibility – and gets adolescents moving who otherwise might not be.
  3. Find the right level for you. Even if you’re not playing high school tennis, the beauty of the sport is that it grows with you. There are a wide array of rackets, balls and courts to match different levels of play and athleticism. Tennis is a great sport to continue playing as you get older.
  4. Utilize different drills at practices to develop skills and fitness so the sessions are not just game play. Examples include side-to-side line hops on two feet, underhand partner toss while moving laterally, and 50-hit rallies with a partner while mixing up forehand/backhand and down the line/crosscourt shots.
  5. Sample another sport. Trying different sports and activities could reduce the risk of overuse injuries and burnout in tennis.

Learn More About Best Practices
High School Tennis for Coaches (U.S. Tennis Association)

High School Tennis: Organize Your Season (U.S. Tennis Association)

What Tennis Level is Right for Me? (U.S. Tennis Association)

Net Generation High School Coaches (U.S. Tennis Association)

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)