Plain and simple: Tennis is a sport. So why don't folks treat it like one?
A tennis match, even played between friends, can and should be an intense workout that conditions the whole body. Yet, players often turn tennis into a game of strategy, and the physical conditioning suffers as a result.
"Tennis isn't a mental game, it's physical," says Bill Wright, former men's tennis head coach at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Arizona. "If you want a mental workout, go play a game of chess."
Wright should know. The longtime collegiate and junior's tennis coach had an epiphany during his 12-year stint at Cal State. Players were often over-coached and the spontaneous, physical nature of the game was lost.
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Wright changed his approach. Instead of focusing entirely on technique, he turned his attention to making his players put their whole body into the game.
Players improved tremendously; their strokes went from mechanical and choppy to flowing and spontaneous. They were running, lunging, jumping, and reaching. Wright, who later wrote Aerobic Tennis, is still a staunch advocate and promoter of the approach.