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When you look at the professionals, you won’t find a lot of plus-sized tennis players. Some of them are bigger and stronger, but they still have the speed and agility needed to play the sport at a competitive level.
That being said, can fat people play tennis?
Fat people can play tennis but it is physically demanding. While most bigger guys and gals don’t have the speed and agility to play professionally, it is a really fun recreational support that is also a great cardiovascular activity. You’ll also find that your speed, stamina, and agility all improve with practice.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at why fat people can play tennis, as well as the physical demands of the sport. I’ll answer some FAQs about being overweight and playing tennis. Let’s jump in!
Can Fat People Play Tennis?
Yes, fat people can play tennis. When it comes to body types, it’s important to remember that the number on the scale has little to do with your physical fitness. It’s very possible to have a higher BMI and still be strong enough and in good enough shape to play tennis, but it does come with challenges simply because you may not move as fast as another player or have the same level of stamina when running across the court.
That being said, there is a big difference between playing a casual (or even competitive) game of tennis with a friend or your partner and playing competitively. Yes, bigger people can play tennis, but it is also a physically demanding sport that requires a lot of skill. It takes a lot of time and practice to get good at it.
If you’re out of shape, chances are your first tennis game will end with you being drenched in sweat, your lungs on fire, and your muscles sore from stretching and running around. While it is demanding, it’s also a great workout and if it’s something that you really enjoy, that alone is motivation enough to play.
Does Body Type Matter When Playing Tennis?
Well, yes and no. There is no weight limit for tennis because unlike a lot of other outdoor sports, you don’t really need any equipment that supports your weight. That being said, having certain body compositions does give you a competitive edge when playing tennis.
For big and tall guys, you might find that you have the benefit of being tall. When you’re taller, you of course have a longer arm span and that really comes in handy when you’re lunging after the ball. You’ll be able to make up some of what you may lack in speed from being less agile by having that longer arm span.
In addition to being taller, being more agile really does help. While people who are thinner or who have stronger legs might be more agile naturally, this is something that can be learned even if you are overweight.
Can Someone Who is Obese Play Tennis?
While obesity alone doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a friendly game of tennis, you do need to be able to physically play the game to get out on the court. It involves a lot of movement and a lot of stamina.
So, while it’s very possible for someone who is obese to be a great tennis player, there’s a good chance you’ll need to start with shorter matches and more casual games. Some people also find it is helpful to work on their physical fitness and stamina first before they start playing the game.
Something else to consider is the weight you’re putting on your joints. Even being just 50 pounds overweight, it’s estimated that a person exerts 200 extra pounds of force on joints in their knees, ankles, hips, and other key areas when they are physically active and doing the running and jumping required for tennis.
If you aren’t especially physically active, therefore, tennis might not be the best place to start. Swimming is a great activity for people who are overweight, simply because it gets them moving without all the pressure on the joints. Once you’ve mastered that, moving onto something that engages the cardiovascular system like using an exercise bike, jumping rope, or even CrossFit is a great way to build stamina for tennis.
What Are the Physical Requirements for Playing Tennis?
Tennis is a fast-paced, physically demanding game. It requires you to be quick and agile, but also have the stamina to keep chasing the ball all over the court.
One area that people who are overweight might struggle with is agility. Once the opposing player hits the ball, you have to read where the ball is going to go and then make it across the court to that area so you can return it.
That being said, I have seen players that don’t move as quickly, but who still get to where they need to just because they are so good at reading the ball. The ability to anticipate where the ball is going to be and where you are sending it (and how the other player will reply) is something that is more skill-based rather than based on the physical.
If you do love the game and want to play (and actually be good at it), building up cardio strength and your ability to move quickly across the court can be really helpful.
Some other physical skills that are helpful to tennis players are strength, balance, and flexibility. These are some that people who aren’t in the best shape can struggle with, however, most bigger people are strong just from carrying around their own weight, especially if they walk or move around a lot during the day. This strength is a great foundation when it comes to moving your body across the court.
Flexibility and balance are helpful as you lunge for the ball, extending your arms and legs and putting your body in awkward positions. Fortuantely, fat people can be flexible and even have good balance. Something that has helped me a lot with learning balance are sports like roller skating and paddleboarding, both of which are fat-friendly.
Why Aren’t There Many Overweight Tennis Players?
Chances are, if you’re at your local tennis court or sports club, you will see at least a few overweight tennis players. While people do get competitive while playing recreational tennis, it’s also a sport that can be played for fun. The physical demands also changed based on your setting and your opponent.
People who play tennis professionally are athletes. They spend hours and hours every week training and are in physically great condition, which is necessary when you’re playing against some of the best tennis players in the world. Tennis requires you to run from one side of the court to the other, anticipating where the ball is going to go and stretching in sometimes awkward positions to hit it back across.
And, while tennis players generally aren’t fat, a lot of them are bigger and stronger rather than being thin and quick. Their strong legs give them the power to launch themselves across the court and their upper body strength helps with serving and returning the ball.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Playing Tennis When You’re Overweight?
With tennis being such a physically demanding sport, it has tons of aerobic benefits that you experience as your heart starts pumping. It helps lower blood pressure, burn calories, build physical strength and agility, and so much more. With the way you have to follow and anticipate the ball during tennis, it’s also a great way to improve your reaction times.
Tennis also has benefits for social and mental health. It’s easy to meet people when you have something in common and there’s a good chance there are other larger tennis players at your local club. You might even be able to pick up a few tips by watching them play, especially if they have experience.
For mental health, tennis or any type of physical activity helps release feel-good hormones in the body that promote an overall better sense of well-being. It also helps you get a good night of sleep, which is also a critical pillar of mental health.
Finally, tennis is a great way to build your confidence in doing something that you love. Even if you aren’t any good at first, it’s a skill that can be built over time and as you learn that your body can do all types of incredible things, it’s great for your self-esteem.
So, can fat people play tennis? It really comes down to factors like how physically fit you are and if you have the strength, stamina, and flexibility to play the game. Stamina is something that a lot of beginner tennis players struggle with, overweight or not, simply because it takes a lot to move quickly from one side of the court to the other like you do in a game of tennis.
That being said, if you’re passionate about playing tennis, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t work toward your goals and get out on the court. There are tons of physical activities that you can do to boost stamina and most of us aren’t going to be playing at the professional level anyway. If you love it, you should do it!