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View Full Version : When does age start to decrease your level of play?


CrispyFritters
01-21-2010, 03:29 PM
I recently had a milestone birthday. I'm 4.5 and 31 years old. My bones aren't quite that old yet...but I think my dream of reaching 5.0 is getting just a little bit harder each day. I need to figure out haw many years I got left to gain that half level.

When did the "age" factor start to take a toll on your level of play? Ie...when does it start going downhill - when your mind says yes but your body says no.

Thoughts?

gameboy
01-21-2010, 03:35 PM
That really depends.

If you are at your physical peak shape right now, you are pretty much on the downside.

However, that is not the case for vast majority of the people. You can actually get better as you get older (into 40's) by training your body harder and getting into better shape.

But if you just do what you are doing right now, you will start to see that you lose speed and power (slowly) in the mid 30's.

CrispyFritters
01-21-2010, 04:03 PM
^^^ That's not good news...I think I peaked in my late twenties. I have more endurance now, but less strength. But that might be because I stopped lifting weights in favor of cardio.

How important is it to do strength training if I want to maintain / improve my level of play through my 30's? (Like on a scale of 1-10, 10 being critically necessary)

justinmadison
01-21-2010, 04:05 PM
I started playing consistently in my mid 30's. I was bumped to 4.0 when I was 39 and bumped to 4.5 two years ago when I was 44.

You have plenty of time to make it to 5.0, especially after the recent moves made to re-level players.

LeeD
01-21-2010, 04:07 PM
Depends.
As said, how good were you really 5 years ago?
And what shape are you gonna be in 5 years from now.
Injuries determines who gets good, and who doesn't. How injured are/where you?
Genetics tell you how long you have, but you have to search the whole gamut. Some guys mature at 15. Other guys mature at 23. Which are you?
Tennis is not only physical, but mental. As you get older, your skills might improve, but you body doesn't. Is skill improvement more important than just pure reflex/reaction/speed/recovery FOR YOU?
We don't know you, your game, your focus, your distractions, so we can't say.

pshulam
01-21-2010, 05:03 PM
I recently had a milestone birthday. I'm 4.5 and 31 years old. My bones aren't quite that old yet...but I think my dream of reaching 5.0 is getting just a little bit harder each day. I need to figure out haw many years I got left to gain that half level.

When did the "age" factor start to take a toll on your level of play? Ie...when does it start going downhill - when your mind says yes but your body says no.

Thoughts?
You have plenty of time to reach 5.0. Stay fit and continue to learn, practice and play .. be persistent .. you will get there.

Ripper014
01-21-2010, 05:11 PM
Hard to say... I am sure my best tennis is well behind me... I am turning 51 in a few months. I stopped playing at 35, I have been back about 6 months and I am finally starting to play like the old me... I am picking up the ball better visually and I am still moving around the court fairly well.

I am not as strong as I once was... but I can still generate enough power. I still have a good instinct for the flow of play and being a little more mature I seem to handle pressure situations different.

I guess what I am trying to say is you still have plenty of time to reach 5.0 what you lose in skills you will gain in other ways.

ALten1
01-21-2010, 05:48 PM
In my twenties I was told that the magical number was forty. My friend, who was in his forties at the time, would say that when he turned forty he started "breaking down" and that it was sudden. Now that I am inching toward that magical number I am hoping that forty is the new thirty. I personally feel great and believe I still have plenty of time (at least one year and two months) to improve at tennis.

Matt H.
01-21-2010, 05:54 PM
age doesn't really have to be the factor. as you get older, the bigger issue is the choices you make. diet soda vs. a water. going out late and having a few alcoholic beverages vs. getting to bed at a decent time. Ordering fries vs. ordering a side of broccoli.

good recovery, sleep, food, exercise, stretching. the choice is yours.

Eviscerator
01-21-2010, 06:00 PM
I recently had a milestone birthday. I'm 4.5 and 31 years old. My bones aren't quite that old yet...but I think my dream of reaching 5.0 is getting just a little bit harder each day. I need to figure out haw many years I got left to gain that half level.

When did the "age" factor start to take a toll on your level of play? Ie...when does it start going downhill - when your mind says yes but your body says no.

Thoughts?

If you had some lofty goal I'd say you had better get cracking. However since your goal is just to move up one level from 4.5 to 5.0, I'd say your age should not be an impediment.
Keep in mind a lot depends on what type of a 4.5 you are. For instance are you at the very bottom and lose most of your matches? If so, then reaching a competitive 5.0 might take a lot of lessons, practice, and match toughness. However if you are say a 4.8, reaching 5.0 is attainable.
Improving your footwork, conditioning, and match strategy might be enough. If not, shoring up a weakness or improving a weapon will be enough. Your young age of 31 should not preclude any of those things. Just because 30+ is old for a top professional, it is not old for club/recreational players.
`

michael_1265
01-21-2010, 06:27 PM
I recently had a milestone birthday. I'm 4.5 and 31 years old. My bones aren't quite that old yet...but I think my dream of reaching 5.0 is getting just a little bit harder each day. I need to figure out haw many years I got left to gain that half level.

When did the "age" factor start to take a toll on your level of play? Ie...when does it start going downhill - when your mind says yes but your body says no.

Thoughts?

31!!?? That is still young. I think a lot of people make the mistake of comparing their tennis performance to pro players, who are at the very edge of human capabilities. Of course, any slight dropoff in speed or reaction time will affect them. For the rest of us mortals, who aren't in our optimum state, just working a little harder can keep us on the upward curve for years, well into our 40s. Think about it:
Kimiko Date won a WTA title last year at 39
Ken Rosewall won the US Open at 36
Pancho Gonzales could hit with the best in the world into his 40s. So could Tilden. So could Connors.

The equipment has also advanced to the point where a player can tailor performance characteristics to offset the effects of age.

Performance issues shouldn't even be on your radar at 31.

jazzyfunkybluesy
01-21-2010, 07:02 PM
Never. Its all in your mind. I know a guy that is 52 and plays at the 5.5 level where I live in a big city. He serves a wicked fast kick serve then comes to net and its damn near impossible to break his serve. I have only broken his serve 1 in the 2 times we have played.:shock:

OP you make it sound like you are 80. Its all upstairs.

OrangePower
01-21-2010, 07:06 PM
Interesting.

I think *most* people can continue to improve well into their 50's.

For most people under say 55 or 60, what is limiting their level of play is not primarily their physical ceiling (meaning, they can compensate for any declining physical skills in other ways). Remember, most recreational players are in the 3.0 - 4.5 range.

But I do think that at the higher levels of play physical ability plays a greater role and so is more age sensitive.

If we are talking about reaching your highest level (meaning you have never been at that level previously) versus your age, I would say:

* Rare to reach 6.0 for the first time after age 28.
* Rare to reach 5.5 after age 33.
* Rare to reach 5.0 after age 40.
* And rare to reach 4.5 after age 55.

Of course there are always exceptions but I think the above would be a good rule of thumb.

To the OP: Given your relatively young age, I think you still have a great chance of making 5.0 if you work at it over the next few years.

BigT
01-21-2010, 08:06 PM
Tough to say. With pros, maybe 30.
With most club players, they might lose half a step, but might be smarter players as they gain experience.
Personally, I play better now than when I was 18, although physically I was faster then.
I am top5 in SoCal on a ladder with ex Div.I players, open players; most who are younger.

coyfish
01-21-2010, 08:44 PM
age doesn't really have to be the factor. as you get older, the bigger issue is the choices you make. diet soda vs. a water. going out late and having a few alcoholic beverages vs. getting to bed at a decent time. Ordering fries vs. ordering a side of broccoli.

good recovery, sleep, food, exercise, stretching. the choice is yours.

I beg to differ. Genetically speaking everyone is different and not everyone is created equally unfortunately. Yes all the factors you mention are important and certainly contribute to good health but you can never change how you are built. A big part of tennis is injury management. Factors from style / technique to genes play roles. There are plenty of pro's who went downhill because of injuries relatively young.

The OP is really asking 2 questions:

1) When does age hinder your physical abilities . . .
2) When does age affect your level of play . . .

As has already been mentioned you can continue to improve (certainly as high as 5.0) even if your speed / strength were not what they used to be. Just look at agassi. He got much slower as he got older but still improved at his pro level.

As for the first questoin its just too variable to answer. Everyone is different. Some unlucky people will have trouble playing past their mid 30's while others don't slow down that much until even later. Only you can answer that question. As runners always say . . . "listen to your body."

WBF
01-22-2010, 02:31 AM
I recently had a milestone birthday. I'm 4.5 and 31 years old. My bones aren't quite that old yet...but I think my dream of reaching 5.0 is getting just a little bit harder each day. I need to figure out haw many years I got left to gain that half level.

When did the "age" factor start to take a toll on your level of play? Ie...when does it start going downhill - when your mind says yes but your body says no.

Thoughts?

You just hit 31 and your worried about eventually playing at the 5.0 level?

Hint: there are 55 year olds who would crush you. If you put the work in, raising your level of play will not be a problem. But... you need to stay in good shape and play often....

Power Player
01-22-2010, 05:51 AM
Im 33 and play a guy in his early 60's who crushes everyone. He says he is limited and can't hit power topspin drives all the time, but he still whips them out when he sees an opening.

A lot of the guys I play with are at least 10 years older then me and they are 4-5.0 level players.

jrod
01-22-2010, 06:00 AM
I think you have a very good chance of getting there, as 31 is not that old. When I started back playing I was in my early 40's and rated at the low end of 3.5. I've worked hard on my tennis and my fitness (tennis specific training) and managed to move up to high 4.0, low 4.5 level over the course of 7-8 years (I'm 53 now).

I think moving from 4.5 to 5.0 level will require you to achieve greater consistency while retaining good movement. Most of the folks I know that play at the 5.0 level are younger, college/ex-college players in incredibly good shape.

Bad Dog
01-22-2010, 06:43 AM
age doesn't really have to be the factor. as you get older, the bigger issue is the choices you make. diet soda vs. a water. going out late and having a few alcoholic beverages vs. getting to bed at a decent time. Ordering fries vs. ordering a side of broccoli.

good recovery, sleep, food, exercise, stretching. the choice is yours.


Amen. Wise words to live by. We have personal responsibility for the major health factors that are actually in our control Ė therefore ďdiscretion is the better part of valor.Ē

slice bh compliment
01-22-2010, 06:53 AM
Age is just a number. But then again, so is your tennis level.

[kidding]

As an athlete, and in terms of fitness and durability, like most people I peaked in my early 20s, during and a few years after college.

As an overall tennis player, I was smarter and more skilled in my late 20s and even early 30s. But, in my late 30s and early 40s, I just don't see playing great in the third or fourth match of a weekend. For me, that is the difference.
Then you look at Martina and Mac - they are unbelievable in their late 40s and even 50s (I think Mac turns 52 in a few weeks). They are still so fit and so flexible and agile.

So, yeah, I'm inspired to play at a good level into my 50s and hopefully 60s.

muddlehead
01-22-2010, 08:12 AM
i'm 54 competitive 4.5'er. (play hockey once a week, also). good news for you youngn's. most obvious physical area in decline is reaction time when i'm at net against big bangers in doubles. that's only an issue because younger players hit the ball so much harder these days. but, here's the up side. fortunately, mentally, as you age, you become less stressed/more at ease with your game and life on the court. and, since the game is at least 75% in your head...

TennisDawg
01-22-2010, 11:56 AM
I was able to reach the 4.5 to 5.0 level at around 38 years old and played at that level until about 44. After that I started with injuries, one after the other. So, bad I had to layoff for months at a time, then limiting my playing time. I still play at 4.0, but very seldom. I do coach and teach tennis.

One factor that is just as limiting as age and injuries is playing time. Even when I am physically able to play, I find it much much harder to lineup matches, nowadays. For some reason the younger players (and you will find most players are younger when you play past 50) avoid playing you. Tennis being the kind of sport with fragile egos, younger players will avoid the risk of being beat by older players will dodge matches.

But, at your young age, you should be able to go from 4.5 to 5.0. I would not only focus on tennis, but on your fitness, flexibility and tennis specific exercises.

iankogan
01-22-2010, 01:12 PM
A bit off-topic, but a neighbor of mine went from 3.5 to 4.5 in 3 years. He became a 4.5 at the end of of 2008, that is prior to the massive NTRP realignment at the end of 2009. The guy is my age, 46 or 47 y.o.

This did come at a cost of injuries. He remained at 4.5 at the end of 2009, but looking at his results and taking that realignment into account he stands a good chance of making 5.0 next year, injuries or not.

CrispyFritters
01-22-2010, 01:45 PM
Lost of good suggestions here. It's good to hear all the examples of players who still played at a high level even as they got older.

I'm taking away that it's certainly possible to get to 5.0. I'm in better shape now than I've been in the last 5 years, so that's a plus. Have a wrist injury, but I think it's recoverable. In the past I used to win based on pure athletic ability, and poor technique. In the last ~4 years, I've really focused on the technique and have moved from 3.5 to 4.5.

Some better footwork, point construction, flexibility, and consistency - and I think I'm there. All I have to do is stay healthy.

BMC9670
01-22-2010, 03:07 PM
Sounds like you have a good chance, especially if you've been winning more on physical ability. At 31 and in good shape, you can certainly maintain your fitness for many years to come, but as others have mentioned, you can always improve on experience, strategy, and mental toughness.

mikeler
01-22-2010, 03:55 PM
Lost of good suggestions here. It's good to hear all the examples of players who still played at a high level even as they got older.

I'm taking away that it's certainly possible to get to 5.0. I'm in better shape now than I've been in the last 5 years, so that's a plus. Have a wrist injury, but I think it's recoverable. In the past I used to win based on pure athletic ability, and poor technique. In the last ~4 years, I've really focused on the technique and have moved from 3.5 to 4.5.

Some better footwork, point construction, flexibility, and consistency - and I think I'm there. All I have to do is stay healthy.


The fact that you've won on athletic ability in the past says a lot. That means you can improve your actual tennis skills quite a bit.

onehandbh
01-22-2010, 04:47 PM
It really depends on what level you were at during your athletic
prime. For trained and well conditioned athletes it's probably
somewhere around 22-27 I'd imagine. Now if you were a fat
slob during your 20's then you can keep getting better.
Also if you are just learning tennis, then the limiting factor is
skill, not athleticism (as long as you can run around fine).
I have to say, though, I haven't seen too many 50+ guys
running around covering a lot of court. They're usually pretty
slow. I really noticed this playing basketball. There were a couple
older guys. They had good skills and were very strong, but
you could basically run circles around them and in a full court
game they were a liability on D for fastbreaks.

Steady Eddy
01-22-2010, 05:27 PM
In doubles, age works in your favor. In '79 Newcombe and Stolle teamed up and took McEnroe and Flemming 5 sets in the final. Newcombe was in his forties and Stolle was well into his sixties, (at least he looked that old). Almost any pair of old guys will beat youngsters in doubles. For one thing, they forget all about form and just put the ball where it needs to go.

atatu
01-22-2010, 06:11 PM
I'd say after 45 it gets a lot tougher.

40Love
01-22-2010, 09:50 PM
Just moved up to 4.5 @ 58 years old. Plenty of time left on ya youngster!

blue12
01-22-2010, 10:20 PM
If Lance Armstrong can place third in the tour de France at age 37 i'd say it's physically possible at your age to make 5.0 or better. You just have to hit a ton of balls and develop your weaknesses, and stay fit.

Blask
01-23-2010, 04:09 AM
I'm 32 and I'm definitely a bit slower than I was before. My footwork is pretty bad to be honest but it's something that I'm constantly working on. I've had 2 back surgeries so I'm probably not the normal case of aging and deterioration. That being said, I've moved up from 3.0 to 4.0 in 2 years. My strokes are worse but I'm a lot smarter player with shot selection, ball placement and serve accuracy.

EKnee08
01-23-2010, 04:35 AM
I recently had a milestone birthday. I'm 4.5 and 31 years old. My bones aren't quite that old yet...but I think my dream of reaching 5.0 is getting just a little bit harder each day. I need to figure out haw many years I got left to gain that half level.

When did the "age" factor start to take a toll on your level of play? Ie...when does it start going downhill - when your mind says yes but your body says no.

Thoughts?
The bottom line from my experience is that you have plenty of time to reach 5.0
I was stuck at 4.0 for years after more than a 15 year layoff. I had picked up the game again around 30 and the game having changed, open stance forehand, etc. (I grew up with classical strokes in the 70s.) Around 37, I started working with a pro who taught me the modern game, taught me the open stance forehand, improved my backhand and my serve tremendously, etc. I moved up to 4.5 and then 5.0 by age 39. At 40, I tore my rotator cuff on my dominant shoulder and after recovery, life happened and I started playing far less often. Then knee issues developed in my mid 40s. So injuries and age have caught up with me. Although I am no longer a 5.0., the fundamentals of my revamped game are still there.

beststringer
01-23-2010, 09:17 AM
I think a lot of it depends on the type of game you have, your weight, your conditioning, the type of backhand you play, your footwork, and your techniques for serves.

I have noticed that most people that are 4.5+ move over to doubles once they turn 45. People who have a serve and volley game appear to be in better shape. e.g. Edberg. Think about it, you are playing 3 to 4 shots/point instead of grinding it out from the baseline.

SirSweetSpot
01-23-2010, 02:50 PM
I'm 30 now, and the 19 year-old me would decimate me now, regardless of being savvier, stronger and more experienced.


Just sayin...

Sakkijarvi
01-23-2010, 05:08 PM
...at 31 you are still in kid!

As for:

"I have to say, though, I haven't seen too many 50+ guys running around covering a lot of court."

You don't play where I play. A top athlete at 50 is still covering the court and can slaughter a lesser athlete 20 years his junior. It is not all about age, noting that was not the OP's point.

mikeler
01-23-2010, 05:13 PM
Just turned 37. I'd pick apart the 18 year old me with every tactic in the book.

Edward DFW
01-23-2010, 06:12 PM
I was able to reach the 4.5 to 5.0 level at around 38 years old and played at that level until about 44. After that I started with injuries, one after the other. So, bad I had to layoff for months at a time, then limiting my playing time. I still play at 4.0, but very seldom. I do coach and teach tennis.

One factor that is just as limiting as age and injuries is playing time. Even when I am physically able to play, I find it much much harder to lineup matches, nowadays. For some reason the younger players (and you will find most players are younger when you play past 50) avoid playing you. Tennis being the kind of sport with fragile egos, younger players will avoid the risk of being beat by older players will dodge matches.

But, at your young age, you should be able to go from 4.5 to 5.0. I would not only focus on tennis, but on your fitness, flexibility and tennis specific exercises.

I never mind being beat down by an older player at open drills, if anything it makes me love this sport more because it gives me something to look forward to. There aren't many sports you can play for a lifetime and still hand out beat downs to young bucks as you age. Someday I hope to be the same older guy teaching a young guy (or girl) a thing or two.

One of the best things I ever saw was this guy who showed up for an open drill one night who had to be late into his 70's. He had a beard like Forrest Gump after a cross country run (except it was white) and he could hardly move around the court BUT... his timing was great. He could handle pace and slice and place the ball well. He only lasted half the drill but he really seemed to enjoy himself while he was out there. Inspirational to me... a not so young guy anymore at 32.

nickarnold2000
01-24-2010, 06:26 AM
Just turned 37. I'd pick apart the 18 year old me with every tactic in the book.
A great comment - I feel the same way too:)
I'm in my mid 40s and play at the 5.0 level. I was a 4.5 4-5 years ago but pay a lot more attention to nutrition and fitness(resistence training and more fast twitch muscle exercises) and also go(way) out of my way to play quality players and spend time "actually" practising shots and strategy.
I live in Asia so I don't tend to eat the "typical American diet. The last time I went home, I couldn't believe the amount of over-weight people - friends who were elite athletes in their youth, are now quite fat. I figure tennis is already challenging enough without having to lug around 20 extra pounds!
I also try not to play singles two days in a row(except for tournaments of course) - IMO, it's just too easy to get injuried by over playing.

mental midget
01-24-2010, 08:16 AM
A great comment - I feel the same way too:)
I'm in my mid 40s and play at the 5.0 level. I was a 4.5 4-5 years ago but pay a lot more attention to nutrition and fitness(resistence training and more fast twitch muscle exercises) and also go(way) out of my way to play quality players and spend time "actually" practising shots and strategy.
I live in Asia so I don't tend to eat the "typical American diet. The last time I went home, I couldn't believe the amount of over-weight people - friends who were elite athletes in their youth, are now quite fat. I figure tennis is already challenging enough without having to lug around 20 extra pounds!
I also try not to play singles two days in a row(except for tournaments of course) - IMO, it's just too easy to get injuried by over playing.

yeah man, fitness, fitness, fitness. there are plenty of world-class athletes in their 30's across most major sports. for sure, you lose a bit of that 'rubbery' quickness and mobility as the years roll on, but generally, you can remain a fast, explosive athlete for quite a while if you stay vigilant maintaining your body.

i just turned 36, do triathlons and play competitive 5.0 tennis. i go to the gym a LOT--swimming, running, lifting, biking. it's a pain in the neck, but it's also a habit, and it pays dividends. i'm basically a stronger, slightly hairier version of myself in my early 20's, with the exception of a screwy lower back courtesy of a knuckleheaded squatting-way-too-much incident when i was 25.

tennis is such a great sport, you can play it almost forever if you put the work in.

neverstopplaying
01-24-2010, 03:04 PM
Ever hear of John McEnroe?

"After a 12-year absence from the professional tour, McEnroe returned to top-level doubles competition in 2006 and became the oldest male player to win an ATP title in 30 years when he won the SAP Open at San Jose."

Personally, I started playing tennis with a passion at 40 and today at 49 I can hit balls with 5.0 players and win matches against 4.5 on a good day. I'm about 50-50 with 4.0 players.

Fedace
01-24-2010, 03:06 PM
I recently had a milestone birthday. I'm 4.5 and 31 years old. My bones aren't quite that old yet...but I think my dream of reaching 5.0 is getting just a little bit harder each day. I need to figure out haw many years I got left to gain that half level.

When did the "age" factor start to take a toll on your level of play? Ie...when does it start going downhill - when your mind says yes but your body says no.

Thoughts?

Don't worry, til you hit 40, you can still get to 5.0 range.

ALten1
01-24-2010, 04:11 PM
Hitting on what mental midget said and a little off topic. I would say to the younger guys out there to be real careful in the gym. Heavy weights can have long lasting effects especially when done wrong.

mental midget
01-24-2010, 04:38 PM
Hitting on what mental midget said and a little off topic. I would say to the younger guys out there to be real careful in the gym. Heavy weights can have long lasting effects especially when done wrong.

believe it. still kicking myself for that one. "ok, two more plates. ok, two more. two more . . . okay . . . click! . . . "

something slipped, and by the time i drove home, i could barely move. basically rolled out of my car, halfway crawled into my apartment, and spent about 5 days lying flat in bed, couldn't even turn to the side to reach for a freaking glass of water. MORON. if not for that, i would be good to go right now--always stayed in shape, lifting + consistent cardio over the years has kept me absolutely injury-free. it's pretty aggravating.

ALten1
01-24-2010, 04:49 PM
believe it. still kicking myself for that one. "ok, two more plates. ok, two more. two more . . . okay . . . click! . . . "

something slipped, and by the time i drove home, i could barely move. basically rolled out of my car, halfway crawled into my apartment, and spent about 5 days lying flat in bed, couldn't even turn to the side to reach for a freaking glass of water. MORON. if not for that, i would be good to go right now--always stayed in shape, lifting + consistent cardio over the years has kept me absolutely injury-free. it's pretty aggravating.


Same here. Took about one minute for me not to be able to move my head from side to side. I was doing back rows. Heard something pop in the middle of my back. I have a friend that got into power lifting in his twenties, and he was real strong (state hvyweight wrestling champ 3 years in a row). Ran into him about a year ago and he started telling me about his hip replacement, and knee replacement and it was all from lifting real heavy. He could do reps in squats with 495 when we were 19.

TennisDawg
01-24-2010, 06:58 PM
I never mind being beat down by an older player at open drills, if anything it makes me love this sport more because it gives me something to look forward to. There aren't many sports you can play for a lifetime and still hand out beat downs to young bucks as you age. Someday I hope to be the same older guy teaching a young guy (or girl) a thing or two.

One of the best things I ever saw was this guy who showed up for an open drill one night who had to be late into his 70's. He had a beard like Forrest Gump after a cross country run (except it was white) and he could hardly move around the court BUT... his timing was great. He could handle pace and slice and place the ball well. He only lasted half the drill but he really seemed to enjoy himself while he was out there. Inspirational to me... a not so young guy anymore at 32.

Right on, that's the right attitude. About 32 years ago, I played a guy in a tournament that wasy 52 years old. He was reasonably fit, but not a phenom, he thrashed me 6-0, 6-0. I was a young buck with a lot of athletic ability. Instead of sulking over it, I called him for a rematch. He still beat me fairly easy. He was smart, had a wicked slice, could anticipate and use your own pace against you. He helped my game immensely and after a few years, I started to beat him, on a routine basis.

I'm just saying that most younger players will dodge the older ones and in most cases it's because they have a lot of ego on the line. I mean, if you think you're the next Rafa how do you deal with getting your rear end spanked by a fifty year old.

35ft6
01-25-2010, 12:24 AM
Right about when you graduate from college. For pros, who have all the technique and skill, yeah, the age becomes a liability on the tour. But for a regular player, it's not outlandish to keep getting better and better as you get older. It's not like your skill has reached such a high level that fitness is the only fluctuating variable. But after college, you simply don't have time to play, or enough good practice partners.

smoothtennis
01-25-2010, 07:52 AM
While I too would decimate the younger tennis version of myself - I started to notice the physical changes at 40 more and more and now I am 44. My strokes have clearly continued improvement up to this day from any previous time but here is what I have found lately.

It takes me much longer (20 mins) to warm up my legs/knees and muscles to get really loose for that quick first step. Once I am warmed up well, I feel like I can move as fast as I did when younger although I know it isn't as fast. Fast enough.

Recovery is the real issue for me. It just takes longer, and my legs and knees get stiffer after matches. I admit, my weight is also at it's highest for me now, and I know that contributes big time.

31 yrs old? OP - you have PLENTY of time to improve. We are talking about getting to 5.0 here, not 6.0 or pro level. You absolutely can do it if you have the talent.

mmaster
01-25-2010, 08:29 AM
for many of us who didn't play at a high level, maturity in the head out benefits the better physicals from younger age. the only problem is the body suffers a lot more and takes much longer to recover. i didn't have much arm or shoulder or hip problems in my young days but now i run into it if i play too much.

Pepper1
01-25-2010, 09:47 AM
Good topic. Iím 43 and just returned from the SoCal USTA Sectionals down in Indian Wells. I play at 4.5 level and the youngest guy on our team is 31. Everybody else on the team is over 40. The guys who won the 4.5 division were all late 30ís to 50ís beating many younger players along the way. One of our team members was bumped to 5.0 and several of the guys on the winning sectionals team were bumped to 5.0. There is no doubt you can get to 5.0 with a lot of work and training. However, your body really does start breaking down significantly in the mid 30ís. You can compensate for much of it by being a better and smarter player and taking care of your body. Almost without exception, competitive 4.5/5.0 players are in great shape and workout consistently and eat healthy. Also, from my observations, most of the guys that play at a high level into their 40ís and 50ís have very smooth and compact strokes. If you have huge looping groundstrokes ala Rafa, you will probably need to tone it down in order to avoid arm, shoulder, back, or wrist injuries in the future which could derail your chances of getting to 5.0. As for me, just want to hang at 4.5 as long as I can. Good luck.

Sakkijarvi
01-25-2010, 02:16 PM
When I showed up for one of my first league matches a few years back, after being out of tennis for some time, the opponent, and older guy that I came to get to know and like a lot...tried to psyche me out (his specialty).

Older Guy: Do you know how old I am?

Middle Aged Guy: Yeah.

Older Guy: How old do you think I am?

Middle Aged Guy: You're exactly 3.5, since this is a 3.5 league.

heninfan99
02-02-2010, 08:24 AM
Interesting question, I think. IMHO, because the strokes can take A LONG time to learn and fine tune it depends when you pick up the racquet. So improving technique-wise can really be a life-long challenge if you just play on the weekends. Physically, I can tell you l lost at step at about 30. Recovery & aches & injuries became more frequent. But recently I gained because I lost 40 pounds so I'm better now than I was two years ago.
The key for me now is: STRETCHING, STRETCHING and more STRETCHING. I have to do 20 min of yoga to play freely nowadays. :-)

mikeler
02-02-2010, 09:05 AM
Good topic. Iím 43 and just returned from the SoCal USTA Sectionals down in Indian Wells. I play at 4.5 level and the youngest guy on our team is 31. Everybody else on the team is over 40. The guys who won the 4.5 division were all late 30ís to 50ís beating many younger players along the way. One of our team members was bumped to 5.0 and several of the guys on the winning sectionals team were bumped to 5.0. There is no doubt you can get to 5.0 with a lot of work and training. However, your body really does start breaking down significantly in the mid 30ís. You can compensate for much of it by being a better and smarter player and taking care of your body. Almost without exception, competitive 4.5/5.0 players are in great shape and workout consistently and eat healthy. Also, from my observations, most of the guys that play at a high level into their 40ís and 50ís have very smooth and compact strokes. If you have huge looping groundstrokes ala Rafa, you will probably need to tone it down in order to avoid arm, shoulder, back, or wrist injuries in the future which could derail your chances of getting to 5.0. As for me, just want to hang at 4.5 as long as I can. Good luck.


Great initial post. Welcome to the boards. I just turned 37 and have been battling injuries the last 2 or 3 years. I'm also trying to flatten out my strokes some just because extreme topspin shots are becoming harder and harder to pull off.