Difficulty of tennis?

I recently joined a gym and I want to learn a new sport. Years ago I was a gymnast and into martial arts but now I’m looking to get into a more traditional sport like tennis. I was thinking of signing up for private lessons at my gym but I have a few questions.

1) 7 years ago when I was a teenager I briefly tried tennis and developed what’s called "tennis elbow." It hasn’t bothered me in a long time but is there a possibility it could become aggravated again by playing? I have an elbow brace, would that help?

2) How difficult is tennis? I’m in shape and naturally athletic, but it seems like tennis requires more of a technique?

3) How many lessons does it usually take to play decently? I’m not in any rush, just curious as to how most people progress. I assume it’s based on how much you practice?

4) Do you always have to practice (outside a lesson) with another player? Are their skills you can practice alone?

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Crimson, 07 February, 2010

    1) Tennis elbow usually does return, unfortunately, but it depends on how you train your arm.

    2) Tennis is very difficult. Mental toughness and readiness can possibly overcome skill.

    3) It’s the repetitive motion you’re looking for – muscle memory. Lessons teach you how to do it and how to improve but practice and dedication is usually the best way to get good taking lessons twice a week so they can help you tweak your shots if you’re doing something wrong.

    I suggest you find someone at your level and do the buddy system. Do lessons at least twice a week and try to play as often as you can. Watch some tournaments to see what competition is really like before you sign up for any. Don’t go after the hard shots right off, start out slow and controlled. Once you have everything perfectly controlled, that’s when you start experimenting with your shots, hitting harder or maybe a different stroke. Buy the right kind of equipment (shoes – tennis has more of a side to side motion rather than front and back, racket – demo them before you but it; it’s not necessary to buy very expensive rackets since I find there to be very little difference in a $50 racket and a $200 racket). If you can find an indoor court, it’s better to play on starting out because you don’t have to deal with outside factors and you can completely focus. Also try group lessons first before going after a one on one. One on one’s are extremely helpful, but group lessons help you watch people and you can mimic them and see that they’re doing wrong…it’s also a lot more fun.

    Good luck.

  2. pretty_priya, 07 February, 2010

    tennis will not be hard if you just keep on playing it. if u try tennis and then take a break and try again, i dont think you will ever get good at it. about 10 practices will do. but u have to keep on practicing. if u practice alone, u can do it one a board. it really helps. i play tennis. it is a wonderful game. u shud give it another try.

  3. Max B, 07 February, 2010

    Give it a try and see how your arm feels. I mean, you wont’ know till you try it. It is very possible that you were hitting the ball wrong, and that’s why you got tennis elbow.

    If you have natural athletic abilities, you should do fine in tennis. You do need technique and strategy, but that will come to you naturally. You’ll learn it in lessons.

    It depends how fast you learn. When I started I learned fast the first 2 years. But then I hit a slow point for almost the next 2 years. Then I zoomed up ahead and got tons better in a short time.

    You can practice against a wall.

  4. My Ann, 07 February, 2010

    1. it wont help u
    2. it’s difficult if u have no experience in it, if you’ve played things similar to it then it can be pretty easy.
    3. you should take lessons a few times a week for at least 3 months and if you can adapt to it easily then it’ll be faster but if u cant then it may take a while.
    4.yes, always practice, it’s the only way to get better because if you only play once a week then everytime you play, then it’ll be like when you played for the first time.
    and it’s alot better to play with someone who is better because they can improve you, if you practive alone, it’s not the same since you’re just playing with a wall

  5. winny.pinny, 07 February, 2010

    1) Ah, the old tennis elbow! I actually have chronic tendinitis in my wrist and elbow from tennis– but the truth is, if you listen to your body and stop at the first signs of pain, then you shouldn’t have to worry about it much.

    Drink lots of water, wear your brace. Don’t over-work your body. Precise and focused practice for a shorter time instead of brainless practice for a longer time will help prevent irritating your tendons.

    2) Tennis is actually a fairly difficult sport, in my opinion. But I’ve seen people who are in shape and naturally athletic like you, and they pick it up pretty fast. Soccer players around where I live, for some reason, get tennis really fast.

    My coach says once you have to the basics down, the form matters less than the mental game. If you can get the same effect as someone else with different form, it doesn’t matter as much. If you’re struggling to get that effect (spin, for instance), then maybe you should consider tweaking your technique. But for a beginner, really just focus on getting the ball back. Consistency will a beginner’s greatest weapon.

    3) I take two group lessons a week and one private lesson. Additionally, I hit almost every day with other players. But, as long as you’re consistent with your practice, it doesn’t matter really if you’re hitting like a thousand times a week. Just make sure the practice that you do is FOCUSED and that you practice with a goal. If you don’t, it’s likely that you’re only cementing bad habits.

    4) You don’t always have to practice with someone else, but once you feel a little sure of your shots, I recommend doing some match play with someone of your level. That’ll help your mental game, and you want to see if what you’re drilling is transitioning smoothly into a real match situation.

    The best shot to practice alone is your serve– you can even just practice your toss in your house. But, with a ball machine, you can really practice any shot you want. Beyond that, there’s training– like footwork training or endurance training that you can do on your own.

    Hope that helps! 🙂

  6. Sk8te, 07 February, 2010

    1) if you have a trainer, they will prolly tell you what to do
    2) Tennis required strength, technique and stamina… you are right, it does need technique, i assumed the other 2 you already have =)
    3)it’s different for every one, if you were born with talent, then you probably learn faster than any one else, i say about a year…
    4)you don’t always have to play with another player, there are different kind of stuff you can do alone with a wall…..

    If you play with a better tennis player than you, you will have the chance to increase your skill….

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