Recommended age group: 11–14
Time required: one 60 min session
Equipment: stopwatches, tennis rackets and balls, Pick up the beat worksheet, heart rate monitors (if available).


  1. Explain that the students are going to investigate different tennis-related exercises and ask how we can compare their effects on our bodies. Heart rate is a simple measure of how hard the heart is working to move blood around the body and carry oxygen to where it is needed.
  2. Demonstrate how to measure pulse rate. Students can either take a pulse in the traditional way from the wrist, or heart rate monitors can be worn and read.
  3. Discuss the benefits of exercise and its importance for health and wellbeing.
  4. In pairs, students begin the investigation, following the instructions on the Pick up the beat worksheet:
    • A measures B's pulse then B does one minute of throwing and catching a ball.
    • The results are recorded and the roles are reversed.
    • The pulse rate test is repeated with another activity, such as running between two markers and bouncing a tennis ball for a minute.
    • Finally, A and B complete a one-minute tennis rally (or another medium to high intensity activity) again testing starting and finishing pulse rates.
    The activities are flexible as long as a change in pulse rate can be detected.
  5. Students can plot a graph of their results on the worksheet to compare activities.
  6. Once finished, students can devise other tennis activities to test. To discuss how different types of activity improve fitness, students can place the activities they have tried on a scale, comparing their effects on heart rate. Explain why physical activity increases heart rate and why this is beneficial.


  • Compare other sports activities by measuring pulse, e.g. bouncing a basketball, dribbling a hockey ball, catching a cricket ball etc. Students can use ICT to plot a graph of their results and explain their findings in a short presentation to the class.
  • Students could investigate the effect of music on heart rate, thinking about why players might listen to certain types of music.
    Students can research cardio tennis and discuss how regular participation may improve physical fitness.