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USTA Serves report reinforces benefits of youth playing tennis

Feb 27, 2013

USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the United States Tennis Association, today announced the results of the USTA Serves Special Report, More Than a Sport: Tennis, Education and Health. The study, conducted among high school students, is the first nationwide study to analyze the educational, behavioral and health benefits to adolescents who participate in tennis. Results from the study show that, when compared to non-athletes and participants in many other sports, young people who participate in tennis get better grades, devote more hours to studying, think more about their future, aspire to attend and graduate from college, and have lower suspension and expulsion rates.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Tennis is a unique catalyst for educational advantage.

Tennis players spent more time doing homework, and were more likely to report receiving “A” grades. A full 48% of students in the report have an “A” average and 81% say they will attend college.

  • Tennis players had significantly lower rates of suspension from school and other disciplinary measures than participants in other sports and non-athletes.

In fact, 73% have never been sent to the principal’s office.

  • Educational advantages among tennis players occurred across all socioeconomic levels.
  • Adolescent tennis players are well-rounded.

Participation rates within extracurricular activities and community involvement were higher among adolescent tennis players. Indeed, 82% volunteer in their communities.

  • Tennis contributes to adolescent health.

Tennis players reported lower rates of unhealthy behavior such as drinking and smoking, and are less likely to be overweight or become obese.

  • Adolescent participation in tennis varies by race/ethnicity and gender, as well as across geographic regions.

Among all adolescent tennis players in the U.S., whites constituted 77%, Hispanics 14%, and Blacks 9%.

“While most people may not be surprised to learn that the majority of adolescent tennis players score better than most other athletes (and all non-athletes) on education and social behavior, what is less known is that those benefits also cross all socioeconomics levels in varying degrees,” said Deborah Slaner Larkin, Executive Director of USTA Serves.  “Hopefully, this evidence-based research will encourage more educators, health policy makers and parents to promote tennis in physical education classes as well as in school and community-based sports programs so that students across the country will reap these important education and health benefits.”

“The evidence shows that tennis participation is clearly linked with educational achievement, health, and social involvement among U.S. adolescents,” said Don Sabo, Ph.D., principal investigator. “USTA Serves is commended for its use of evidence-based research to evaluate the contributions that tennis makes in the lives of U.S. adolescents”.

The results confirm USTA Serves’ belief in tennis as a sport of opportunity and validate its mission to support programs that enhance the lives of children and families through the integration of tennis, health and education. To date, USTA Serves has awarded more than $15 million in grants and scholarships to people and programs throughout the country in order to provide at-risk and underserved youth with greater opportunities to realize success.

The report used data from Monitoring the Future (MTF), a federally-funded survey, in order to compare the education and health profiles of tennis players with other high school athletes, as well as with high school students who do not participate in sports.

For the full executive summary and report, click here.

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