Executive Point: Dr. Jack Groppel
The Tennis Industry’s new Health & Wellness Advisor wants to promote tennis as a fitness activity.
Shortly after the US Open, Dr. Jack Groppel, an internationally recognized medical authority and pioneer in the science of human performance, was named the Health & Wellness Advisor for the Tennis Industry. We caught up with Groppel, who has a long history in tennis, to discuss his new position and objectives.
Tell us about your new role. What will this mean for the sport?
Most people recognize tennis is a great activity, but it’s not at the front of people’s minds when they think of getting healthier or improving their fitness levels. As Health & Wellness Advisor, my role is to help our sport become front and center in the health, wellness and well-being industry, and to raise awareness that tennis is a tremendous vehicle for people of all ages to become fitter and healthier.
Currently, we are assembling a Task Force to develop an action plan. I am truly excited about the work we will be doing through the Tennis Industry Association and all the various organizations in our sport.
What is your history in tennis?
I began playing at age 11, played high-school tennis in Alton, Ill., then walked on to the tennis team at the University of Illinois. After studying for a Ph.D. at Florida State, I was hired back at the University of Illinois as the men’s varsity tennis coach and an assistant professor of kinesiology, and then received a joint appointment in bioengineering. I left tenure at Illinois to be Director of Player Development for Harry Hopman/Saddlebrook International Tennis, as well as the Director of Sports and Health Development at the resort. In 1986, I was appointed chair of the USTA’s National Sport Science Committee. I served as an instruction editor for Tennis magazine and am an honored member of both PTR and USPTA.
I’ve worked with Jim Loehr since the late-1970s, and in 1992, Jim and I started the Human Performance Institute, working with tennis players, other athletes, business professionals, law enforcement, military special forces and critical care units in medicine to help individuals, teams and organizations improve their health and performance in high-stress arenas. In 2008, the Human Performance Institute was acquired by Johnson & Johnson as part of its Health & Wellness Solutions business strategy.
What are you doing now with the J&J Human Performance Institute?
As co-founder, I serve as a thought leader, developing and representing new ways of thinking about health and well-being solutions and to support our JJHPI business development strategy. I’ve spoken at two Congressional Briefings, at the United Nations Side Event on Physical Activity & Non-Communicable Disease, and I was honored to represent the worksite wellness industry at the U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking & Walkable Communities.
You’re now getting back involved in tennis. Why?
Tennis has played an incredible role in my own personal and professional growth. It’s given me so much and taught me how to compete both on the court and in life. Tennis has also served as the foundation and launching pad from where Jim Loehr and I began our work in sport science. I’m honored to be able to give back to the game.
Why is tennis the best fitness activity for health and wellness? What’s your “elevator pitch” for the sport?
There is no sport that matches tennis for both its physiological and psychological benefits. Some sports are outstanding for the physical benefits they offer, and some are great for the mental benefits, but tennis serves us in all dimensions of life. You can also play tennis from a very young age to very late in life. Tennis is truly the sport for a lifetime.
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