Swimming, Golf & Tennis: Which is the Most Demanding?

tennis

STARNBERG, September 6, 2021 (Guest post)

There are few sports which aren’t demanding on some level. By its very definition, sport is something which focuses very heavily on competition, and as such, you need to have a competitive attitude to excel at any of them.

Whether your sport of choice is a game of physical or mental toughness, there will be those participating who take it very, very seriously and will work to make sure that they perfect every aspect of competing.

While the majority of sports do require a high level of physical fitness, that’s not always the most difficult part. What is often more important than things like strength, speed and endurance are things like technique, focus and mentality. 

And these are all things which need to be trained, and which you need to practice regularly if you want to stand any chance of competing at the top level of a sport, because you can be sure that numerous others will be willing to put in the work.

For every single sport, there are competitors who spend hours and hours perfecting it. So, while the reality is that there is no sport which isn’t demanding, there are certainly some sports which have the reputation for not being demanding.

Golf, tennis and swimming regularly come up in such discussions. Now while being a master of any of these sports does require a serious amount of work, the reason why they might be thought of as less taxing may be due to the fact that they are accessible.

Being of any body type can take up these sports, and being older or having a lower level of fitness won’t stop you from pursuing them. So let’s take a look at what is challenging about each of these, and which one is the most demanding of the three:

Swimming

Something that’s quite interesting about swimming is that it’s one of the most popular sports in the Olympics every four years, despite not really having much of a following outside of the games. 

It’s possible that the reason for this is because it’s quite an easy sport to watch and understand and unlike some others, it tends not to last for very long. The fact that it’s easy to watch doesn’t mean he’s easy to participate in.

First of all, you have to consider that all-important fact we mentioned above, and that’s the importance of technique. Even if you only want to exclusively practice just one of the numerous specific swimming disciplines, to do it well takes a long time.

Every single stroke in a race has to matter, and to maintain that all the way through means that your technique has to be top-notch, and that takes years of practice. You also have to consider how different your physicality will be in the water than it is on dry land.

There is a lot more resistance than air, meaning it’s difficult to move quickly and efficiently, which is an extra hurdle and you also need to be prepared for different water temperatures too. There’s very few sports in the world with that particular skill as a necessity.

Tennis

Tennis has somewhat of a reputation for being an easy sport purely because it appears as if there isn’t a whole lot of movement involved in it. The court is small, and you are expected to stay within its bounds.

And yeah, I guess there is a bit less running around than some other sports and even if you aren’t the strongest person in the world you can still be a great tennis player, but it’s just as hard to master the technique as any other sport.

Hitting the kind of shots that are actually going to be difficult for your opponent to hit will require bringing your entire body into play. Every muscle in your torso comes into play, you need to be able to effectively rotate your shoulder and position your wrist.

Your stance will also help with the amount of power you put behind the shot so your legs are important too. Realistically, a full-body workout is essential to bring your tennis game up to scratch.

All of that stuff has to be done at the exact right moment to actually hit the ball and aim correctly, which means that your timing can’t be off by a single second. This requires impeccable hand eye coordination.

And contrary to popular belief, being born with bad hand-eye coordination doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to improve it. It is something that you can work on and improve, but it’s also one of the more difficult things to improve. 

Golf

Golf arguably has an even greater reputation for being less demanding than the other two, and in this case it’s probably due to its popularity with older people as well as people who are notoriously out of shape. 

When it comes to golf, the challenge is exclusively down to technique. But that’s not really a detraction from how demanding it is, because it is a very difficult technique to master. Think about a professional golf swing.

It looks effortless, but it sends the ball flying and almost always in the right direction on a sprawling green. Often putting it very close to the hole. You need a pretty incredible amount of power and dexterity to pull that off.

And speed is also a major factor. Improving your club head speed is a tricky thing and to do it right you usually need to work on strength and flexibility and harmonize these with your technique. 

This is all just driving we’re talking about, you also have to practice and perfect your putting, which is a whole other technique in and of itself.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, all three of these are extremely demanding sports in their own right, and comparing them is difficult because different people will be suited to developing each specific skill set than others. 

If I was to cast a judgement, I would probably say swimming is the most demanding of the three. It is probably the one that requires the most physical fitness, and the added challenge of having to practice and subsequently perform under water puts it just a head above the others.