How technical is tennis vs other sports?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Bergboy123, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

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    I just wonder relatively how technical and difficult tennis is compared to most other sports. Thoughts?
     
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  2. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Every tried pitching a baseball? Hitting a baseball?

    Hitting a golf ball (golf is not a sport, yes it is, not its not....)?

    How about sprinting? High hurdles?

    Ever do any gymnastics?

    How about dancing?

    Figure skating?

    Skiing? Moguls?
     
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  3. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    What do you mean by technical?
     
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  4. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    While every sport--from darts to full contact fighting--has its own particular skills set that distinguishes the "skilled" from the "unskilled", tennis certainly offers up a wide range of technical "Needs" to master in order to compete at high levels.

    Certainly, one could argue the degree of those skills and the co-contributing sub skills sets, would identify some sports as more "techniqually challenging" than others.

    Tennis, in my subjective opinion, falls in one of the most demanding, if we look at it from a skilled level of play standpoint. All sports can be attempted--and even accomplished--within very mediocre levels of technical aptitude. We have all seen the typical beginner push, slap, swat, dink, and other applicable terms that describe the amaturish attempts.

    We see this certainly in all sports: the hacker in golf, the granny shot in basketball, the inability to throw a ball across an infield in baseball, and the wiff in badminton.

    If we look at the need for footwork, (speed, quickness, and shot-specific footwork needs), swinging an impliment (racquet), meeting a moving obect, (ball), being hit away from us, and the need to distinguish and hit specific kinds of spin with pace, touch, and directional aim, yes, tennis is technically demanding in virtually every aspect of athletic movement and need.

    Most demanding or more technical than other demanding or technical sports?

    That is always going to be open to discussion.
     
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  5. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    How about this definition: the more someone can be old, fat, and out of shape and still excell at the sport, the more technical it is.

    Just kidding . . . kinda.
     
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  6. sportsfan1

    sportsfan1 Hall of Fame

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    golf: Looks entirely technical.
     
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  7. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    actually - I think this is an EXCELLENT definition.

    any sport where only superb athletes can excel at, like basket ball you need to be 6'5'' minimum, football you need to be 250lbs - that is evidence that the technical piece is a smaller portion than a sport like golf (where John Daly can be a champ), or baseball (where John Kruk can).

    so obviously tennis is less technical than golf... I'd rate tennis similar to hockey - the average NHL guy's athleticism is similar to an average ATP pro.
     
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  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I would say that golf and tennis require a higher level of skill than any other sport. I equate the skill level of both to the skill needed playing a musical instrument.
     
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  9. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Do not, I repeat, do not set foot in a boxing ring or on a wrestling mat.........unless you are carrying a piccolo.
     
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  10. HunterST

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    Likewise, crazy good athletes can become elite at a lot of sports without years of training. UFC champ Jon Jones has only been doing MMA around 5 years, Brock Lesnar almost made the cut as a pro linemen with virtually no football experience.

    I don't care how great of an athlete you are, you'll never be a pro tennis player unless you started very young.
     
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  11. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    i don't play golf but my observation is that in golf, your opponents don't rush you into making a bad shot like in tennis.
     
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  12. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I've done both many times. And I've never seen a piccolo doing either.
     
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  13. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I don't think that's too subjective really, more objective.

    Tennis is clearly one sport where there are dozens of areas where you need to be above average at or you can't really compete to any high level. While fitness per se is not a technical skill, the fact that it's important impacts on the technical aspect of tennis in a way which, for example, golfers rarely ever have to consider.

    The hand-eye coordination required combined with technique which must hold up under pressure (mental or physical) is immense in high level tennis.

    That said, there are sports like gymnastics where absolute perfection is required and the ability to repeat the exact same movements over and over and over is required. They are highly technical but in a different way to tennis. Tennis has many ways to be technically proficient, whereas the range in gymnastics may be narrower. Whether this makes one harder than the other is up for debate I guess.
     
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  14. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    i think the only sport tougher than tennis is hockey
     
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  15. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

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    Good input guys!

    I guess I should have defined what I meant more clearly. What I was thinking when I asked this was about how tennis requires so much more work than just swinging a racket. There's the footwork, the physical demand, the mental aspect, the shot selection, etc.

    I was wondering if all sports are similar in the depth and level of skills needed.

    Sorry, but I've never played any sport besides tennis! :D
     
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  16. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    It's interesting that you bring up "darts." It's one of the few competitions/sports (that's another discussion entirely) where you must achieve a certain end ("01/zero" or the Cricket palette)...quicker/sooner than your opponent. Most sports involve scoring more (or less) points than your opponent...often with them actively trying to prevent you from doing so.

    All (true) sports involve some inherent technical aspects. Some of the other posters have made some good points about how/why tennis is highly technical. It's an open-ended question that'll never have a definitive answer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
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  17. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    Tennis is probably more technical than a lot of sports, but my impression is that a lot of people aren't familiar with technical aspects of other sports like swimming, running, soccer, basketball, etc.

    I think tennis is more challenging than some team sports because you cannot just play "a role" in team sports. You have to be above certain level in all areas of tennis to be a successful tennis player. In basketball, you may not be a as good of shooter, but you could excel in some other areas and be part of the team. On the other hand, it all depends on you in tennis. You go out there and bring results, you automatically move up in the ranking (not quite as simple as that.). In team sports, if your style doesn't fit with what the coach wants, then you could be on the bench for a long time. And, you make not get a chance to start for a long time as well.

    I think one of the biggest challenges of being a professional tennis player (especially mediocre ones) is the travelling part. You can be in a very unfamiliar place where you don't understand the language, food, or anything. And, the only person you know maybe your coach. You don't quite have this part in team sports where you are taken care of by the team management.
     
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  18. drnantu

    drnantu New User

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    Golf, 90%technical,10%physical
    Tennis,70%technical,30%physical
    Basketball,50,50
    Scoccer,40,60
    ......
    Ball size,court size,technical,physical have some relationships
     
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  19. Netzroller

    Netzroller Semi-Pro

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    I agree with the overall tendency. The more you can benefit from excellent technique compared to physical attributes, the more 'technical' a sport is. I'm not sure if 'how good fat guys can be' is the optimal definition since there is also a lot if technique in footwork. You can be very fast but without efficient footwork it's worth a lot less.

    But I don't think it's possible to add up percentages. For example it depends on how you play the game, (with the exceptoin of golf) you can usually rely on different qualities to be succesful: You can win tennis matches due to brilliant technique and strategy or superb fitness and will. In soccer you can be the fastest guy around or be very skilled with the ball etc.
    At higher leves, you cannot be succesful with deficits in any department.
     
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  20. RoddickAce

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GHI34RphiA&t=0m14s

    I think soccer is more like 65-70% technical. Granted, not everyone can play like Ronaldinho, but the level of ball control any pro soccer player has is incredible.
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Golf seems much more technical and much more resistant to hacker methods.
     
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  22. tennis-kid

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    +1. I think tennis is the most technically challeging sports in every aspects
     
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  23. tennis-kid

    tennis-kid Rookie

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    I never thought hockey can be so challenging technically. I never played it so no argument. but :shock:
     
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  24. Maui19

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    I think you need quite a bit of athletic ability to play tennis. As for the technical side, tennis is not as demanding. Golf is a brutally difficult sport, requiring great technical skills, but not as much athleticism. There are sports that require more athleticism/less technical skill than tennis (basketball comes to mind), but I would say generally that tennis doesn't require a whole lot of technical skill.
     
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  25. sonicare

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    Golf is not a sport, cos your opponent cannot directly effect your play. neither is gymnastics.

    My definition of a sport is where your opponent can directly effect your play.
     
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  26. tennis-kid

    tennis-kid Rookie

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    I wonder what Federer would say to your statement.
     
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  27. soyelmocano

    soyelmocano Rookie

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    While I jokingly say that golf is not a sport; it is a leisure activity.... I will admit that golf is the most precise sport. You have a club head traveling at 100+ MPH and a fraction of an inch in the angle of the club face or swing plane or alignment of the moons of Jupiter can cause your shot to be MANY yards offline.
    With tennis, if you are off on the face angle by a fraction of an inch, you shot may be a couple of inches different. If this causes your shot to be out, you are either aiming too close to the lines, or really good to try aiming on the line. I'm going with the first.

    I've played both quite a bit, and I still say:
    tennis = sport
    golf = leisure activity
     
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  28. Xizel

    Xizel Professional

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    What interests me about this definition is not that I disagree with it, but when you compare (with this definition in mind) golf and sprinting, the gap between the level of effort and physical power is so vastly wide and far.
     
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  29. escii_35

    escii_35 Rookie

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    Me likey.

    Tennis is far more technical then physical until you get over a certain level. 5.5+ sgls as a wild guess.
     
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  30. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    it's quite a good summary.

    at lower levels, it's about who has less swing flaws and makes less UEs.

    at higher levels, it's about who can out physical the other guy.... e.g. Nole vs. Rafa.
     
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  31. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    No kidding, i watched old overweight Ivan lendl with no footspeed playing fit and (relativily) fast young Edberg and Kraijek this weekend. Close matches, with him having the upperhand strokewise only to succumb because of fatigue.
     
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  32. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    soccer is definately more technical than it appears.

    Why i rate tennis and golf as some of the most technical sports, is because they take so many years to master compared to some of the sports that require more brute force and talent.
    In rugby one will have techniques to pass the ball, kick the ball, running technique, tackling technique and so forth...with tennis, its as if these techniques are more subtle and precision based. A serve can have a minute adjustment to the technique, and have massive concequence, whereas, in something like rugby, the technique is much broader based.
     
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  33. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    definition of most technical sport: the amount of frustration energy it can produce ;)
     
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  34. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    There's far less margin for error in golf.
     
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  35. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Which is one of the reasons it is such a brutally difficult sport.
     
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  36. pondus

    pondus Rookie

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    Some of the things that make tennis technically challenging from my perspective are:

    1. Your feet and lower must be fast and intense, yet somehow you must train your upper body to be relaxed and smooth even as your legs are moving like crazy.
    2. When a ball comes at you fast, you must swing at it slower (goes against natural instinct)
    3. You stand there at the baseline taking cuts at the ball every day, and then suddenly you must hold the racquet still at impact when going for a half volley or drop volley, tough for the brain to adjust.
    4. You must track an object that is going all over the place and try to predict where it will land, over and over and over, which when done properly with full attention is very taxing on the brain.

    Just giving you the 3.5 adult learners perspective. Hope it help.

    PS. Windsurfing on the North Shore of Maui when the wind is 30 knots and the waves are 40 ft. and launching yourself off one of those breakers 50 feet into the air and doing a double backwards loop is has to be more technical than tennis. :)
     
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  37. Mikeadelic

    Mikeadelic New User

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    I played hockey growing up, then switched to tennis, so I can comment :)

    Hockey is definitely a "tougher" sport physically, but not technically. It is physically demanding and the pain tolerance among hockey players is insane.

    However, tennis is unsurpassed technically except for maybe golf. But then again, golf is a stationary sport, whereas tennis requires fine motor control ON the move.

    There are NBA / NFL pro players who never played a single moment in their respective sports until maybe in their late teens, and then still went pro. Have you ever heard of a pro tennis player doing that? I haven't. And unless someone can prove me wrong, that is my argument for why tennis is among the most technical sports anywhere.
     
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  38. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Tennis is at or near the apex of what your are specifically describing. Name another sport where there as many varied ways of winning: pace, spin, stamina/retriever, mental game, hitting winners, avoiding errors the list is quite long.
     
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  39. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Technical Tennis see Biomechanics Research

    The highest level of knowledge in tennis is probably in the field of tennis biomechanics research. As far as the next important technique goes in my opinion the creative players & coaches are leading the way.

    This tennis biomechanics paper emphasizes some very basic points of technical tennis.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2577481/

    In addition, early next year there is a Tennis Biomechanics conference, date to be determined, and the proceedings will be published as below.

    "Sports Biomechanics Special Issue on Tennis Biomechanics
    Sports Biomechanics Call for Papers:
    Special Issue on 'Tennis Biomechanics' - Published in Association with the International Tennis Federation (ITF)

    In a major attempt to emphasize the importance of biomechanics research in advancing all aspects of tennis performance, the Sports Biomechanics journal will publish a special issue on Tennis Biomechanics in early 2012. Tennis is one of the world’s most popular sports enjoyed by millions of people of all ages and abilities."

    An earlier ITF publication on tennis, Biomechanics of Advanced Tennis, 2003, was expensive and hard to find. Now $25, but the research is over 9 years old.

    https://store.itftennis.com/product.asp?pid=50&previousscript=/home.asp

    I hope the next ITF publication in 2012 will be affordable.
     
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  40. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Me, not sure what "technical" refers too.
    Boxing and karate are pansy sports! Try racing motorcycles. You pay the big PENALTY when you make a mistake!
    Windsurfing is a pansy sport. You only fall in the water mixed up with a 40 lbs rig.
    Now try WW11 airplane racing. That is a technical sport!
     
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  41. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I was using the OP's in post #15.
     
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  42. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well geez, I'm pretty sure ALL OF YOU can just hop on a surfboard, paddle out at 8' jacking Pipeline, and ride waves with a big healthy smile.
    And for sure you all can just hop on a modern motocross bike and lay out a few backflips on your way to a SupercrossFinals win.
    And we know for sure, anyone can line up at the top of Chute75 at Squaw, air out a 20' drop, and bomb the mostly 20' wide chute styling all the way to the MountainRun eyeing for hot chick on boards.
    You don't need to try at any sport if you just focus inwards only.
     
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  43. GuyClinch

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    It's a very technical sport IMHO.

    As another poster said its because someone fat and out of shape can beat someone in good shape and a good athlete.
    This even extends to great athletes..

    Give a world class athlete - even say a Calvin Johnson or a Michael Vick 4 weeks of training and they will STILL get owned by that 60 year old coach who is the world champion at 60 and over..

    That's just not true in alot of other sports.. And even tennis players like me can be on the recieving end of this.. In hoops I can totally dominate almost any women who I play tennis against because I am very tall and fairly strong. I can just back em en and shoot over them..

    But in tennis some of the better women - can beat me (granted there aren't alot of women out there like this but I am not afraid to say there are some..). My physical size isn't such a compelling advantage. It helps sure but its not enough if I lack in skill.. It's the same with size and strength. Go down to some tennis academy and watch little 11-12 year old girls pound the ball harder then any of your buddies..

    This is to me what makes tennis so great - it has enough athleticism for players to really feel the benefits of being more athletic. But at the same time we can take pride in beating younger more athletic players when we get older because we have developed superior skill..

    I actually find this alot more fun. When I play good tennis - people will complement me. In hoops people used to just get out of my way and think anything I do well is just because of my size..
     
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  44. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    Well...top players have coaches to a game they are forever learning, even technique...and even if they have been playing it their whole lives.

    As for the movement thing...it's strange, but i hit a golf ball better on the move (Happy Gilmore style), then when standing still....this must be because of the tennis...I also cannot unlearn the upward motion of tennis when wanting to hit a golfball - muscle memory

    Personally, i have rated golf and tennis to be the most technical sports (that i could think of) - golf probably being more technical and technically subtle.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
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  45. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    Golf is absolutely the most technically demanding sport/game around. You can put a racquet in a non-player's hands and they can at least make contact with the ball and get it over the net in most cases. Do that with a golf club and you will probably see 50% whiffs and 50% advancing the ball maybe 30ft.

    The sizes of the ball and club head, the length of the club, and the fact that the ball is stationary and requires the player to initiate movement are the reasons golf is so hard to master.

    IMO the learning curve for tennis is not steep at lower levels, but steepens dramatically as the skill level increases. Plus it is one of the few sports where a low level player can stand a chance of beating a higher level player by using the right strategy.
     
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  46. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    in tennis, there are also a larger variation of techniques to be learnt. For example the serve, backhand, forehand, footwork...each having very specific techniques to master...
     
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  47. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    Drive, fairway, pitch, chip, sand shot, putt...
     
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  48. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    fair enough...wasn't saying tennis is more technical than golf...was just adding to why tennis is so technical...

    overall, excluding the putting aspect, the scale vs. accuracy ratio of golf probably makes it more technical overall...
     
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  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Are you saying tennis is more "technical" than driving a race car?
     
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  50. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    considering that Danica Patrick has won an Indycar race, and made top 10s in Nascars, while the women golfers have not even made a cut in the PGA events, and the women top tennis players are blown off the court by the 1000th ranked ATP guy.

    in terms of 'technical'

    race car > golf > tennis.
     
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