If you love to play tennis, you probably rely on a small group of people that also play — friends from a tennis club, neighbours, colleagues from work or college friends.
It’s good to know people who share your love for the sport, but depending on a small group of friends to play a match can be frustrating. A recent study conducted by Smash Tennis, an app for tennis players, with over 50 players in Miami, New York, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo shows that recreational tennis players have on average only 7 frequent opponents. This means that an amateur player is usually limited to 7 adversaries (and their availability).
And what’s the outcome of constantly playing against the same people? According to tennis specialists, this may slow down your progress and improvement. If you know your opponent too well, the game will become predictable, repetitive, and will lack stimulus. Your matches will be similar with little game variation. Also, you will not evolve your psychological game and your motivation will be affected.
It’s true we love to play with people we know and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s nice to chat with a friend before and after a game. Meeting new people is not easy at first and playing against someone we don’t know may feel sometimes awkward or embarrassing. However, it’s worth a try. Here’s why:
1. You will need to quickly learn about your new opponent during the game and you’ll become a more dynamic and versatile player in doing so.
2. You’ll be able to use your favorite moves efficiently. Remember, your new partner is also learning about you and your old tricks will work this time!
3. It will be a new challenge and this will increase your interest and motivation.
4. Learning about your opponent’s mental game is very stimulating.
To meet new opponents at your playing level, there are a couple of innovative apps like Smash Tennis (free on iOS and Android). With Smash Tennis, it’s easy to search for players in your area and filter by age, level, and gender. You can also see your friends’ profile and their past opponents.
Another way to connect with new players is to ask around your community — tennis clubs, friends, tennis instructors — for an introduction.
The important thing to keep in mind is that by playing against new players, your game will evolve quickly, regardless if you win or lose a match!