Combining physical and mental components, is tennis the hardest sport in the world?

Is tennis the hardest sport in the world?

  • Yes

    Votes: 15 35.7%
  • No

    Votes: 24 57.1%
  • It depends on circumstances

    Votes: 3 7.1%

  • Total voters
    42

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Even in a skill based sport like golf, athleticism is quite important (the greats like Nicklaus, Woods could hit well above average driving distances - each year, the tour's average driving distance is also increasing because of better golf clubs and better fitness routines of the players)

Yes, so which is easier to get to intermediate level?
 

Zoid

Hall of Fame
Imo, when comparing badminton and tennis at equivalent (higher) levels, badminton is much harder when it comes to endurance. I didn’t get this until I played with high level players. If you watch footage from a match from the sideview it become apparent.

«A typical three-game match is far shorter than a tennis match, lasting about 45 minutes, according to badminton authorities. But the shuttle is in play, on average, for about 20 minutes, or twice as long as a ball in tennis. The highly skilled badminton player runs about four miles during a match, compared with the tennis player's two. He or she changes direction as many as 350 times or more, striking the shuttle 400 times, twice as frequently as a competitive tennis player hits a ball.»



You're sort of comparing apples to oranges here - "I didn't get this until played with high level players" . So you've played with high level badminton players, have you done the same for tennis?

One thing to consider - although badminton rallies are on average longer, the equipment is far lighter - both racquet and shuttlecock. This adds up. The difference is massive. Even experienced players in tennis who regularly use a 320g racquet, will tire in less than a set if they use a pro frame in the 340/350/360 swingweight category. Hard to argue that one has more endurance than the other really. the court is also far smaller. You change direction more in badminton, but you only have to travel a few metres, tennis you can be pulled ten metres in either direction.
 

Rocket54

New User
I’m not necessarily sure this is the right forum for this topic, but let’s discuss.

Tennis takes a lot of physical well-being in order to be successful, especially in 5 set matches that can last upwards of 4 hours. There’s a lot of vertical and lateral movement at insane speeds, attempting to produce world class shots, there’s 120+ mph serves that need to be read and returned, not to mention the toll things like sliding take on your body. In order for maximum shot proficiency, upper-body strength and core strength are absolute musts. You sort of need the whole package if you want to compete at the highest level.

Tennis is also, for the most part, a 1v1 sport. The importance of big points is paramount. You can lose every return game 0-40, and hold serve after 5 deuces on every game, and you can still have a a chance to win the set. Mentality plays an immense role in tennis, as it’s just you out there, no teammates to back you up and no coach to sub you off.

Would you agree with the assessment that, when combining physical and mental levels, tennis is the most difficult sport in the world? If not, explain why you disagree.
Boxing. Many similar mental challenges, greater physical demands and you're being hit at the same time.
 

mahesh69a

Semi-Pro
Yes, so which is easier to get to intermediate level?
Golf has access issues also - especially in a country like India where tennis is considered a rich man's sport, golf is not even in the discussion. So, yeah, people can't get to beginner level let alone intermediate/pro level in golf.
 
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Rosstour

G.O.A.T.
What about boxing? The physical component is obvious. The mental component (courage, strategy, analytical skill, courage to return after a defeat) is equally important.

How about some of the olympics sports like swimming or running? Again, physical component is obvious. But the mental component (peaking at the right time, having the courage to go for it considering the margins are of the order of milliseconds, you get an opportunity only once in 4 years) cannot be underestimated.

Most of the competitive sports do have a serious strategy/analytical/mental component.

Funny you mention boxing, there was an ESPN study done a few years ago that concluded that boxing was the #1 most physically demanding sport in existence.

Tennis, no slouch, was #7.
 

Rosstour

G.O.A.T.
Not even close tbh. Difficulty is ultimately a function of quality of competition. Any athletic skillset could be the hardest, if your competition was the fiercest. The reality is, the best athletes in the world play other sports. So while I love tennis, I would find it very difficult to ever claim it was the most challenging

I hear this a lot, but the guys who succeed in tennis are built for it, like the guys who succeed in football or basketball are built for those sports.

Jordan's stint in MLB didn't go well mostly because of his build. The long arms that proved so useful on a basketball court were slow and ungainly when trying to hit baseballs.

Safin at 6'4" is the tallest #1 in history, there is a reason for that. And 6'4" is just getting started for an NBA shooting guard.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Boxing is a brutal sport, mentally and physically.

Even sparring for a couple of rounds can physically wipe out a well conditioned and fit human being.

The mental and physical ability, stamina and focus it requires to stay switched on for a 12 round fight is crazy. A tennis match may last longer, but the energy it requires to last those 12 rounds in a boxing ring will probably exhaust a person much more.

All that, plus the danger to your health, I'd say boxing is far harder.
 

Rosstour

G.O.A.T.
Boxing is a brutal sport, mentally and physically.

Even sparring for a couple of rounds can physically wipe out a well conditioned and fit human being.

The mental and physical ability, stamina and focus it requires to stay switched on for a 12 round fight is crazy. A tennis match may last longer, but the energy it requires to last those 12 rounds in a boxing ring will probably exhaust a person much more.

All that, plus the danger to your health, I'd say boxing is far harder.

lol I had to fight a DOG once for like 30 seconds to get him off of my dog.

I felt like I was going to pass out afterwards. Boxing is nuts.
 

HuusHould

Hall of Fame
I would agree that tennis is right up there. Golf generally isn't as hard psychologically because the 1 on 1 element of tennis matchplay makes it harder. Golf is normally stroke or stableford against the rest of the field and even when it's matchplay it isn't as combative as noone else is hitting your ball -You're still essentially competing against the course and yourself, the dynamics between players and head to head records are largely irrelevant. But if you're in contention in golf be it matchplay or stroke, I think its a bit easier to choke (it generally happens quicker as well). Thats not to say its difficult to choke in tennis! Its also possible to choke repeatedly in the one match.

In a team sport you can let the whole team down and not just yourself, which can increase the pressure. Eg a penalty shoot out in soccer or a free throw to win the game in basketball. You can also get conflict between team members, it can be very hard psychologically when your teammates aren't supporting you.

Ive never done the combat sports, but apparently you have to be super fit to be a good boxer and errors can result in getting badly hurt, so it'd have to be up there as well. The same 1 on 1 head to head dynamics that are present in tennis apply here as well.

Any sport (be it mainstream or extreme) where getting it wrong can result in serious injury or death has to be difficult psychologically. A lot of the winter sports are very dangerous physically.

The endurance sports are tough physically and consequently psychologically toward the end of the race. Ive done long distance running and knowing that its going to be super tough to hold on in the last couple of kilometres when every step is hurting is tough.
 
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HuusHould

Hall of Fame
Im told badminton players are more agile than tennis players, but thats by a rec badminton/tennis player who's better at the former.
 

FatHead250

Professional
Tennis there’s a lot of waiting around, and the serve is a weapon, whereas in squash and badminton, it’s simply a way to get the rally started. There’s practically no aces or points lost with the serve. The average rally is therefore much longer and tasking compared to tennis
It's not. The racquets are lighter. The court you need to cover is much smaller. Not much work on the upper body
 

Pheasant

Legend
Tennis doesn’t quite top the list for me. You don’t need to be incredibly strong to play that sport. But I get why the question was asked. Tennis requires a lot of skill.

Gymnastics checks all of the boxes. It’s a sport that you must start age 5 at the very latest. It requires incredible speed, endurance, flexibility, and strength. The skill levels are off the charts. What gymnasts can do is mind-blowing.
 

RelentlessAttack

Hall of Fame
I hear this a lot, but the guys who succeed in tennis are built for it, like the guys who succeed in football or basketball are built for those sports.

Jordan's stint in MLB didn't go well mostly because of his build. The long arms that proved so useful on a basketball court were slow and ungainly when trying to hit baseballs.

Safin at 6'4" is the tallest #1 in history, there is a reason for that. And 6'4" is just getting started for an NBA shooting guard.

I’m not a reductionist when it comes to athleticism, who’s gonna be like, well JJ Watt is huge and jumps really high therefore he would be an amazing tennis player. Even though that attitude is prevalent in North American sports, we see the greatest QB ever isn’t exactly the most powerful or fastest guy. We see small high IQ athletes like Pat Kane or Quinn Hughes succeeding in the highly physical NHL. Etc

In tennis, we’re looking for things like, lateral mobility, straight line speed, agility, hand eye coordination, vision, improvisational ability (ability to make rapid adjustments), fast twitch ability, combination of endurance and rapid burst, throwing ability (translates to serve), IQ, 6’0-6’3” range, etc.
There are a lot of hockey, football, soccer players, fighters, etc who meet these criteria.

The big 3 are freak athletes in their own right, even if they’re not exactly Lebron. Especially Nadal, IMO.

My contention is there aren’t really that many truly impressive athletes on the ATP tour at any given time, when looking at the above criteria. Sure there’s the surface analysis that if I took Connor McDavid or Nathan Mackinnon or Patrick Mahomes and taught them tennis for childhood they would dominate, but these athletes also dominate their own sports so it doesn’t say much about tennis. The difference is, they face a lot more high quality depth athletes in those other sports.

Popularity aside, there are a lot of barriers to entry to playing tennis professionally that creates this lack of depth IMO.

FWIW, I spoke to Nick Bollettieri about this in 2008 when I was at IMG doing offseason work for another sport. He totally disagreed with the height thing - he was like, there’s no tall champions until there’s a tall champion. He contended that if you have him a top tier NBA talent as a child to train in tennis, that player would destroy the field in the ATP and change the game forever. He lamented that all the best US athletes go on to play other sports. He was almost 80 at the time though so take it for what it’s worth.
 

RelentlessAttack

Hall of Fame
You're sort of comparing apples to oranges here - "I didn't get this until played with high level players" . So you've played with high level badminton players, have you done the same for tennis?

One thing to consider - although badminton rallies are on average longer, the equipment is far lighter - both racquet and shuttlecock. This adds up. The difference is massive. Even experienced players in tennis who regularly use a 320g racquet, will tire in less than a set if they use a pro frame in the 340/350/360 swingweight category. Hard to argue that one has more endurance than the other really. the court is also far smaller. You change direction more in badminton, but you only have to travel a few metres, tennis you can be pulled ten metres in either direction.

Not only that but you’re comparing a sport that’s all about verticality and short range explosive movements vs tennis which has a lot more lateral movement and traditional running. The shuttle in badminton also decelerates a lot more than a ball, so the actual speed required to respond is somewhat deceptive. Totally different skill sets, hard to compare athletes.

I am not aware of depth of competition in badminton given that it’s mainly popular in Asia, to make an educated comparison of strength of field with western sports. I know the high level North American badminton players that I’ve met were not really impressive athletes, but I don’t know the situation in Asia.
 

kevaninho

Hall of Fame
Clearly it would be some form of combat sport IMO.

MMA, which ive dabbled in, was psychologically the toughest, knowing some dude is trying to beat your ass.

In tennis, yes it has its own problems, but no one is physically trying to harm you.

Put it this way. In practice, you can do fun drills in tennis, football/soccer, where it can be light hearted sparring.
In MMA, its difficult to find people who don't want to smash you up even in sparring.

There is no comparison IMO .
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
tennis is a difficult sport, a mix of fine motor skill, athleticism and endurance...and creativity i suppose. it’s up there for sure.

but boxing is the toughest, at least as empirically weighted by a panel of physiologists, sports experts etc according to a variety of criteria years ago. having done both i will say it’s not really a question between the two, boxing is supremely demanding and just...hard, man. getting punched sucks.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
tennis is a difficult sport, a mix of fine motor skill, athleticism and endurance...and creativity i suppose. it’s up there for sure.

but boxing is the toughest, at least as empirically weighted by a panel of physiologists, sports experts etc according to a variety of criteria years ago. having done both i will say it’s not really a question between the two, boxing is supremely demanding and just...hard, man. getting punched sucks.
No disrespect to them, but I will never understand people who do box for a living. Why destroy your head like that and risk damaging it for the rest of your life?
 

Bobby Jr

G.O.A.T.
Badminton is an insanely hard sport to be good at but, like squash, it requires vastly less skill than tennis. Both have far less technical focus, both have fewer tactical options paths to victory at a high level too. They're brutal physically no doubt, but in their own ways and neither can hold a torch to tennis in overall difficulty.
Badminton, falls under the family of racket sports, is also a game which requires high physical and mental attrition.

It requires less endurance than tennis, but it is incredibly quick so higher reflexive capabilities are required. Also all the lunging and running involved, very skillful. Badminton players are one of the most athletically built players across all sports

It's right up there with Tennis and Boxing!
 

smalahove

Hall of Fame
You're sort of comparing apples to oranges here - "I didn't get this until played with high level players" . So you've played with high level badminton players, have you done the same for tennis?

One thing to consider - although badminton rallies are on average longer, the equipment is far lighter - both racquet and shuttlecock. This adds up. The difference is massive. Even experienced players in tennis who regularly use a 320g racquet, will tire in less than a set if they use a pro frame in the 340/350/360 swingweight category. Hard to argue that one has more endurance than the other really. the court is also far smaller. You change direction more in badminton, but you only have to travel a few metres, tennis you can be pulled ten metres in either direction.

I reg play with high level (tennis) players :cool:

In this type of discussion/comparison there will always be an element of apples&oranges. But I will say this: when I play competitively against better players (trainers or college players),it’s hard for sure, but I rarely redline. It’s been a while since I played badminton, but iirc, I was pushed to the limits allmost all the time. to me, tennis feels like running, whilst badminton feels like sprinting. SO one conclusion to this comparison is: it depends ::))

I guess, since I’m 6’1 with low explosiveness, my body’s more adept to tennis than to badminton, which colors my perceiption. Which also explains why most top badminton players look lean and explosive, whilst in tennis there is a bigger variance as you can adjust your gamestyle to your frame.
 
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