Youth Tennis, Cardio Tennis Show Gains in Participation Report

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (March 27, 2018) — Among the bright spots in the most recent annual tennis participation study by the Physical Activity Council (PAC) is a 1.0 percent increase in youth tennis players to 4.57 million and a 4.5 percent increase in Cardio Tennis players to 2.22 million over the past year.

The increase in youngsters between ages 6 and 17 taking to the courts in 2017 was driven by the youngest players, ages 6 to 12, which were up 1.3 percent, while ages 13 to 17 increased 0.6 percent. Within the total number of young players, however, “core” youth players, those who play at least 10 times a year, decreased by 0.9 percent to 2.65 million.

“It’s gratifying to see our base of young players continue a six-year increase,” says Craig Morris, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief executive for Community Tennis. “But we still have work to do, as we begin to launch the ‘Net Generation’ initiative. We will continue to focus on supporting local tennis providers and making tennis more accessible and engaging to youth across the nation.”

Other findings of the PAC study, which surveyed 123 sports and activities, include:

* The largest focus continues to be toward fitness sports/activities, with 64 percent of the U.S. population age 6 and over engaging.

* Seventy-eight percent of individuals who had physical education in school remain active.

* Asked what would help get non-participants involved in sports or activities, the top three answers were similar to responses over the last three years: 1) having someone to take part with, 43 percent; 2) having a friend take me along, 31.7 percent; and 3) being in better health, 24.9 percent. Having fewer family or work commitments ranked just below those levels.

Cardio Tennis, with 2.22 million players in the U.S., has seen a 167 percent increase since first being measured in 2008. Of the sports and activities measured by the PAC study, Cardio Tennis remains the fasted growing sport over the previous three years. Cardio Tennis is a high-energy fitness workout that combines the best features of tennis with cardiovascular exercise, delivering a full-body, calorie-burning workout.

“We’re pleased with the increases for Cardio Tennis and youth tennis,” says Jolyn de Boer, the executive director of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), which manages Cardio Tennis in the U.S. and worldwide. “Overall, though, total tennis participation for year-end 2017 decreased slightly, bringing the total number of tennis players in the U.S. to 17.68 million.”

PAC data shows total U.S. participation fell 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017. The sport’s five-year average growth is up 0.8 percent and the total number of participants continues to stay above 2007 numbers. But along with the decrease in overall tennis participation, “core” participation (those who play 10 or more times a year), also declined in 2017, falling 3.5 percent to 9.52 million players.

“Despite tennis participation remaining fairly constant over the past seven years, the sport is experiencing its challenges,” de Boer adds. “’Core’ tennis participants—those who play 10 or more times a year and who account for about 90 percent of the money spent in the ‘tennis economy’—declined 3.5 percent in the past year to 9.52 million. This slip in core players is in line with a trend toward more casual play for sports overall, rising inactivity levels, aging baby-boomers, and new generations of players who are ‘samplers’ of multiple sports and activities.”

Since core players also account for 93 percent of all tennis play occasions, it’s no surprise that overall play occasions also declined year over year, down 6.6 percent to 396.9 million for 2017.

Some of the overall decline in play occasions, de Boer points out, can be attributed to extreme weather throughout the country in 2017, including floods, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes. NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), produces an annual “Climate Extremes Index,” which has increased over the last eight years, in line with the decrease in tennis play occasions.

On a positive note, latent demand increased, with nearly 14 million people who consider themselves a tennis player but did not play in the last year, and another nearly 16 million who are interested in and aspire to play tennis.

The 2018 Physical Activity Council Participation Report surveyed 123 sports and activities. The annual report is produced by a partnership of eight of the major governing bodies and trade associations in the U.S. sports and leisure industry (NGF, SIA, OIA & OF, TIA & USTA, IHRSA, USA Football and SFIA). Each partner produces more detailed reports on its specific areas of interest. PAC produces an overview report that summarizes “topline” data to establish levels of activity and identify key trends in sports, fitness and recreation participation in the USA.

The full TIA 2017 Tennis Participation Report produced in partnership with PAC is available to purchase. For more information, contact the TIA at research@tennisindustry.org or call 843-686-3036.