Tennis and the Brain

Paul Hamori, MD

Ballroom dancing: number one in reducing dementia risk.

Martin Samuels, the famous Harvard neurologist has said, "your brain is you." This article explores the miracle that is the brain and how it allows us to play our beloved sport, tennis.

In the course of my work as a physician I've uniformly found that the one disease people fear the most is dementia. More than cancer, more than heart disease, more than infections, people are worried about losing brain function–because your brain is you, and when you lose it you lose you.

The good news is that tennis helps preserve the brain. So not only is tennis fun, it turns out to be great for you.

In a now famous study by Dr. Jacqueline Dominguez, it was found that the number one activity that correlates with reduced risk of dementia was ballroom dancing. It reduced the chance of developing dementia by a whopping 76%.

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I began writing the book that is the basis for this article - The Art and Science of Ball Watching - in August of 2019 and finished it in January of 2021. In a sense, though, I have been working on it since I started playing tennis fifty-five years ago at the age of five. In high school I played four years of varsity tennis in addition to sanctioned USTA junior tournaments. I probably reached a 4.5-5.0 level. I considered playing small college tennis, but by then I was burned out on the sport, and knew that my pre-med studies wouldn't allow time for college tennis.

But tennis was in my blood, and I started playing again with a passion after medical school. During this time, I really started to study the technical aspects of the game.

My idea for the book started out with various technical ideas that I had been kicking around by watching great players over several generations. In the end I came to the conclusion that good racket to ball contact depends on good ball watching. I wrote the book to teach myself how to see racket to ball contact and my hope is it can help you do the same.

The Art and Science of Ball Watching

The Art and Science of Ball Watching takes the reader through the scientific principles involved in tennis ball watching, with a focus on those aspects of Physical and Biologic science that facilitate the ability to see ball contact.

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