March 28th, 2017

TOM Conference Blog: Tennis Selling Itself Short as Healthiest Sport

General News

The latest tennis industry news and data was presented on the opening day of the 2017 Tennis Owners & Managers (TOM) Conference, March 27-29 in Orlando, Fla.

Besides the annual tennis industry stats, the overall message was fitness, health — and more fitness and health. For the majority of tennis facilities, tennis alone is not enough anymore according to industry experts.

Tennis growth swings were minimal according to the latest industry data presented by the Tennis Industry Association. Overall tennis participating was slightly up, but total play occasions were down 5 percent from a year ago. Youth play slightly increased, and Cardio Tennis has shown the greatest growth of any sport measured over the last year.

But health and wellness in regards to tennis took center stage. Tennis, argued speakers such as Dr. Jack Groppel, Dr. Brian Hainline, and Tom Richards of the American Council on Exercise, is suffering from its inability to, as an industry, voice its incredible health benefits and link to other health and wellness activities.

“The world is changing in regards to wellness,” said Casey Conrad, a club consultant and sports and fitness marketing expert. “You’ve got to use tennis as well as other health and fitness activities to bring people into your facilities and programs.”

Tennis, according to industry experts, needs to sell itself as one of the top if not No. 1 sports for life-long health and fitness. On the physical side, three hours of tennis a week at a moderate intensity cuts the risk of death in half. Tennis is one of the Top 5 activities for burning calories. It provides general body coordination and improved balance, increased bone strength for youngsters and seniors fighting osteoporosis, and tennis improves immune system strength.

On the psychological front experts are urging seniors to exercise 5-6 times a week to “stay young,” and tennis is one of the No. 1 activities recommended. Tennis helps participants manage adversity and control stress, solve problems and plan and implement strategies, and develop social skills and have fun.

“Scientists around the world view tennis as one of the most healthful activities you can participate in,” Groppel says. “Parents should want these benefits for their children and seniors should be getting these benefits through this ‘Sport for a Lifetime.'”

Other stats out of Day 1:

* 40 percent of U.S. military recruits can’t pass the basic military physical (distance run, push-ups and sit-ups)

* By the age of 14, sports lose 80 percent of beginning participants

* Tennis equipment sales in all categories have dropped, some significantly, due to 22 percent of chain sporting goods stores closing, reducing the availability of local equipment

* 10 million Millennials consider themselves players, but a new tennis model is needed to attract Millennials, who don’t like to commit and prefer to sample sports

The Tennis Owners & Managers (TOM) Conference continues through Wednesday in Orlando, for more info go to