001. Practicing different racquet sports, beneficial or detrimental to our game?

I am making my debut in this section of the website where we will deal with topics related to the daily practice of racquet sports. Today I present chapter 1 where we will deal with a topic that creates controversy among the practitioners of these sports.

Since I was a child, I was always attracted to tennis, maybe because I lived a golden age or maybe because my father practiced it, the fact is that I followed tennis and soccer in equal parts. I remember with a very special affection those summer afternoons, in the late 80’s and early 90’s in an extinct campsite in Prat, watching Roland Garros matches.

In those days we lived a total explosion of Spanish tennis, both in the women’s and men’s circuit: Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Conchita Martínez, Alberto Berasategui, Sergi Bruguera or in doubles with the mythical couple Emilio Sánchez Vicario and Sergio Casal (a merger that years later led to the creation of a well-known tennis academy). The Grand Slams began to add up more frequently in the Spanish list of winners, Roland Garros being our amulet (23/35 of the total number of GS won).

Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, the day he conquered Roland Garros for the first time (1989)

This wave had its predecessor with tennis players from other countries where the duel between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe between the late 70s and early 80s that made tennis at the top. I recommend you watch the 2017 film “Borg McEnroe” where it shows how two giants were completely different from a mental and preparation point of view. John broke the canons of sporting discipline, but he was saved by his extraordinary class and mentality.

As the years went by, I began to practice other racquet sports such as paddle tennis, beach tennis and, recently, pickleball. There are many friends who ask me or are surprised when they see me alternating between tennis, paddle tennis and pickleball. To all of them I usually answer the same thing, if you master the basic tennis strokes it will be very easy to acquire a decent level in the other sports. Mixing sports helps me to complement my game by adapting certain strokes from another racquet sport.

For example, in padel you volley a lot and in tennis not so much. The fact of playing a lot of padel makes you acquire some automatisms when it comes to volleying that you can then take advantage of playing tennis. Taking it to pickleball you could take advantage of the same, although the volley in that sport is a little different, especially when we talk about attacking.

From another point of view, something similar happens in reverse. When I start playing paddle, I adopt certain tennis movements (it is the sport of my childhood and the one that already stays inside you) that can be useful to hit the ball better, I’m talking about the drive or the backhand for example. Let’s say that these are the basic strokes, along with volleys, and the ones that we perform most often in a match.

Therefore, that technique acquired in tennis can be perfectly applied to paddle, but beware, not everything will be benefits and I advise you that if you go from tennis to paddle, try to drive / backhand shots flat or cut and not lifted to prevent the ball rises too much to touch the wall and that helps the opponent in his attack.

Wimbledon final
Wimbledon final contested by Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in 1980.

We also have things that can harm us as is the fact of realizing that the tennis racket has strings that release the ball with great speed and the paddle racket does not. There are many times that we hear tennis players playing paddle say to themselves “but don’t you see that it has no strings!” after throwing the ball directly against the glass of the opponent’s court without bouncing it. I can assure you that I am one of them .

Another point against us who usually blame those who mix the practice of several sports, is when the time interval between one game and another is very short. For example, play a game of tennis and, immediately after, start playing a game of paddle tennis. In that change, most likely you will have a few minutes of adaptation where you think you do not know how to play that sport. Don’t worry, in a few minutes you will have adapted, and you will be able to enjoy the other sport in a normal way 😉 although, it is true that it is not a very common practice to play 2 games in a row and 2 different sports.

If you notice, I have not mentioned the serve and it has its explanation. This type of stroke is very particular to the four sports mentioned and, in each of them, is performed with a different mechanics so it is more complicated to take advantage of something for another sport.

We will talk about the balloons in other posts, although a key point is the size of each court, being pickleball the sport where it is more difficult to perform this type of strokes.

Saque En Padel
Saque en pádel.

In conclusion, and like almost everything in life, it has its advantages and disadvantages but putting them on a scale I am inclined to be more beneficial than harmful although, if you want to have a high level in any of the sports, you must have very well assimilated his technique leaving aside the possible “vices” of other disciplines… now the decision is yours!

See you in the next chapters of the GM Racket Sports blog.

Paco Marín