You might be surprised with the headline, but read on and realize the factors on which I’ve based my decision. Take note I’m not considering any extreme sports, like Formula One Racing or snowboarding, because they are all of course very hard, dangerous, and many of us will never try these sports. It’s the mainstream sports I’m basing my decision on, so I see tennis being harder to master than the likes of football, basketball, swimming, rugby, cricket, etc.
Sports like boxing and rowing aren’t extreme sports, but they’re not mainstream either, so I didn’t take them into consideration. This doesn’t mean that tennis is harder to play than the mainstream sports; it means tennis is harder to be a specialist at than those sports. See the difference?
There are a number of reasons why I consider tennis to be the most difficult sport to master. Firstly tennis is a solo sport, which are usually harder to master than team sports, as less support is received and all the success and failures are determined by an individual’s performances, which isn’t the case with team sports. That might sound like a vague generalization, however just think about it for a bit – aren’t sports like football and basketball easier to integrate in compared to sports like swimming and golf? Pretty much so. In addition, the two latter sports require a lot more concentration compared to the two former sports, which is another aspect that makes solo sports harder. They require the athlete to have much higher concentration levels in contrast to team sports, as they can afford to (not always) lose their focus at a given time they choose to as they’re competing with their team.
However, can you imagine a golfer, swimmer, or tennis player switching off during play? The opposition would exploit their lack of focus immediately whereas in team sports, a player can often come to the rescue if one of their teammates makes a mistake.
So now you’re probably wondering: what makes tennis harder to master than the other solo mainstream sports such as swimming, golf, track racing, and even other racket sports like badminton, ping-pong and squash? Well that’s simple; there’s much more to learn in tennis.
Tennis is by far the hardest racket sport to play for most people, as there are many types of shots involved in a game of tennis compared to the other racket sport. These shots include the forehand, backhand, volley, and the single most important type in tennis: the serve! Ask any professional tennis player what they practice on the most in their training, and most of them will tell you their serve. If you can’t serve in tennis, you can’t be a good tennis player – simple. It is probably one of the hardest bit of skill to perfect in all of sport, as it is based on a great deal of technique and skill.
Golf is similar to tennis in this sense, as golf also has many different types of shots to learn; however tennis requires much higher energy levels, which accordingly makes it more difficult to play. Therefore to master tennis, you have to perfect your serve and most of your strokes and your positioning around the court while having high fitness and stamina levels.
In contrast, swimming and running require just one type of skill to practice: swimming and running respectively, while also having high fitness levels.
So next time you see Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic up on court, just watch and appreciate their mastery of a very tough sport, as they most likely have trained and worked much more than the likes of Ronaldo, Phelps, Woods, Bryant, Bolt, and Tendulkar to get where they are today.