Blind tennis originated in Japan when Myoshi Takei invented the sport in the 1980s before the first national tournament took place in 1990.
Myoshi lost his sight through cancer when he was 18 months old. He is totally blind; and currently works as a masseur in Tokyo. As a high school student he decided he wanted to play tennis and sought the help of his teacher Ayako to help develop the sport – not an easy feat considering a blind person can only imagine how tennis is played in the first instance, having never actually seen the game.
The Tennis Foundation is working with the Japanese Blind Tennis Association to develop the rules of the sport so there can be a consistent approach as the game expands both within our own country and overseas.
Key to the game is being able to hear the ball travel through the air. The ‘soundball’ is a table tennis ball with ball bearings inside for weight and noise; encased inside a foam casing which will not hurt a player should it hit them. It takes a lot of skill and practise for players to judge a ball’s height, direction and speed from the sound. It is advisable to start with some simple sound awareness exercises and drills.
It is important to find a quiet place to play for the player to hear the ball. For players with some sight; light/shade distraction from sunlight or confusing court colouration can also impact playing ability.
Players are classified according to their visual ability. The server will call out ‘ready’ and the receiver ‘yes’ before play starts. The one major rule difference is that three bounces of the ball are allowed for totally blind player (B1) and two bounces for B2 or B3 visually impaired players.
Players use a mini-tennis racquet, which has shorter grips. Court markings are reinforced by having string such as baling twine fixed down with masking tape, which the players can feel with their feet if they wear thin soled shoes; or locate with their racquet. A mini tennis net is used for B1 (totally blind) players, with a typical tennis court and normal net height for B2 or B3 visually impaired players.
30-Love: Tennis Guidelines for Players with Visual Impairments or Blindness
Learn this new and exciting sport that's making news around the world! Whether practicing against a wall, playing singles against an opponent, or participating in a round of doubles, adaptive tennis is a great sport for practicing sound localization skills and socialization. Meets national standards on physical education.
Helps players develop: ability to accelerate, leg strength, general body coordination, gross motor control, fine motor control, bone strength, agility, balance, and flexibility. Players learn a variety of skills, including: competing one-on-one, accepting responsibility, managing adversity, accommodating stress, planning and implementing strategies, solving problems, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
- 2 blindfolds
- 2 rackets
- Set of 6 sound-adapted tennis balls
- 30-Love: Tennis Guidelines for Players with Visual Impairments, Large Print
- 30-Love: Tennis Guidelines for Players with Visual Impairments, Braille
Watch videos of tennis on: www.aph.org/pe/features.html
Note: Extra sound-adapted tennis balls are available as replacement parts.
Catalog Number: 1-08110-00
Click this link to purchase 30-Love: Tennis Guidelines for Players with Visual Impairments or Blindness.