Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2019

Report: Tennis Participation Remains Consistent

By Dave Ramont

Recently, the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), in partnership with the Physical Activity Council (PAC), published the 26-page Tennis Participation Report, which includes data through the end of 2018. The report examines trends in tennis participation, tennis interest and cross participation in other sports, among other things, and is part of a broader, annual PAC study which takes a look at 123 different sports and activities.

Overall tennis participation has remained somewhat consistent in recent years, with an average annual change of -0.4 percent from 2010 to 2018. However, according to the report, 2018 was the second straight year the participation rate in the United States was below 6 percent, which has not happened since the PAC study was introduced in 2007. The total number of tennis participants in 2018 did grow by 0.9 percent over 2017, to 17.84 million players.

Those who play tennis 10 or more times a year are considered "core" tennis participants, and their numbers increased 1.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, rising to 9.67 million people. Core players account for 93 percent of all tennis activity, while also being accountable for more than 80 percent of all cash output when it comes to the tennis economy. However, since 2009, core participation has gone down by nearly 15 percent while non-core participation has risen by nearly 14 percent.

In 2018, the number of times that players hit the tennis courts once again went down. The 17.84 million total participants played 383.9 million times, for an average of 22 play instances per player. This is down 3.3 percent, from 396.9 million play occasions in 2017.

The report also tells us that in 2018, 14 million people who consider themselves tennis players say that they have not played in the past two years. Additionally, 16.32 million non-players indicated that they were interested in playing tennis.

Cardio Tennis, which has grown 201 percent since it was first measured in 2008, is an activity that features many of the latest fitness trends, including technology use, interval training and social engagement. In 2018, Cardio Tennis participation rose by 12.6 percent from the previous year, growing to 2.5 million players.

When it comes to alternative activities for tennis players, the most popular ones included walking for fitness (50 percent of tennis players); bowling (43 percent); running or jogging (42 percent); treadmill use (38 percent); free weights/dumbbells (36 percent); hiking (36 percent); and bicycling (32 percent). The report also tells us that in 2018, youth tennis participation increased to 4.64 million players, up 1.6 percent from 2017.

The PAC study is the largest single-source research study of sports, recreation and leisure activity participation in the country. A total of 20,069 online interviews were completed for the recent report.

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