The game of tennis, when played to a high standard, involves a lot of sprinting, lunging and jumping, and a Grand Slam match can go on for 5 hours or more. It is a type of high-intensity interval training, and will enhance strength and stamina. Even for those who play at a lower level, and are slightly less dynamic than Nadal and Djokovic, it provides a good workout for their core, upper and lower body, while helping co-ordination and bone density.
Regular play can also boost speed, agility, balance, and flexibility. On top of all of this, tennis is likely to burn a large number of calories, which will be welcomed by many. There is no simple answer to the question of how many calories you will use playing tennis, as a lot depends on how you play, but we will look at some of the possibilities here.
On average, a tennis player will burn about 400 calories per hour of tennis, but it can range from 200 to 600 depending heavily on intensity and body weight. Research has suggested that tennis is one of the best sports for burning calories, although high-intensity singles obviously uses far more than gentle doubles.
Similarly, if you play against a wall you can still use a lot of energy, but only if you keep moving and hitting with enthusiasm. A professional tennis player will typically use more energy than an amateur, due to the hard-hitting and sustained intensity.
Calories Burned Per Hour Of Tennis
This will vary according to the form of the game you are playing, and how hard you are trying. The more sprints, lunges, and jumps you perform, and the harder you attempt to hit the ball, the more energy you will use. Some coaches even run ‘cardio tennis’ sessions, designed to produce a hard physical workout based on playing tennis.
Another important factor is your own weight. Running around the court for two hours will use a lot more energy for a 280-pound man than it would for a 95-pound woman, for example. It is therefore impossible to generalize, but there are several ‘calculators’ available online which will give you an estimate.
The online energy calculators use the concept of ‘Metabolic Equivalents’ or ‘METS’. You use 1 MET if you are sitting still doing nothing, so if an activity uses 4 METS this means that it requires 4 times as much energy as sitting still. The online calculators use data about tennis and a person’s height, weight and age to estimate the number of METS and their Base Metabolic Rate or ‘BMR’ (being the number of calories they use when at rest).
These enable the number of calories used in a session to be calculated. Keisan offers a good example of such a calculator. Using this, a 35-year-old man weighing 160 pounds and 6 feet in height might expect to use 580 calories in an hour of singles. A 76-year-old woman weighing 90 lbs and 5 feet tall might use 242 calories in an hour of doubles.
Calories Burned Playing Singles vs Doubles vs Against A Wall
Singles is the most energy-intensive form of the game, with an estimated METS value of somewhere near 8. Doubles can also incorporate a lot of fast movements and powerful shots, but it requires less running, resulting in a typical METS value of around 6.
The energy used playing against a wall can vary hugely, as hitting a few gentle volleys without moving your feet will consume a lot less than running around playing and retrieving aggressive groundstrokes. It might be reasonable, on average, to equate this to a moderate hitting session, to which the Keisan calculator allocates 5 METS.
Given this, a 25-year-old male tennis player, weighing 154 pounds and 5 feet 11 inches tall, might use 583 calories per hour of singles; 437 calories per hour of doubles; and 364 calories hitting against a wall.
To find your own estimates, try Keisan’s calculator for yourself.
Is Tennis A Good Sport To Burn Calories?
The answer to this is a resounding ‘yes’. Using estimates uncovered by brobible.com, tennis is considered to be the second best of the sports popular in North America for burning calories.
They use a similar estimate to that listed in the previous paragraph to calculate that a tough tennis match might burn over 1,600 calories. Other sports like basketball suffer in comparison, largely because they are team games and players spend a significant proportion of the game resting. Golf scores surprisingly highly due to the long walk, but still markedly less than tennis.
Somewhat controversially, the sport estimated to use the most calories is American Football, despite the long periods of inactivity experienced by many players. However, it is true that NFL players are often huge, giving them a high BMR, and meaning that even moderate activity will use a lot of calories. In any event, tennis is undoubtedly one of the most energy-intensive sports.
How Many Calories Does A Professional Tennis Player Burn?
This will be at the higher end of the estimates we were looking at earlier, as professional players hit the ball harder and run faster than most of us.
It is reasonable to assume that, during a tough match, a professional tennis player might burn 600 calories per hour, meaning that a Grand Slam epic could use 3,000 or more.
This emphasizes the importance of players refueling during matches to avoid weakening as the game goes on. It also goes a long way towards explaining why players who have won a long, tough match can find it difficult to win again the next day.
Tennis is a great sport for burning calories, although the actual energy used will depend on your build and what form of the game you are playing.