Changing playing style with age

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by radtennisfan, Apr 9, 2014.

  1. radtennisfan

    radtennisfan Rookie

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    I was a hard hitter in my youth. Now at almost 38 I find it tough to play like I used to. How has your playing style changed with age?? Or how should it??

    I slice my backhand more cause it's easier but that's about it.
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    About the same overall as in 1979.
    Maybe a little more topspin on the SW grip forehand, dropped my 2hbh, but still try to end points within 4 shots, 2 if possible.
    I"m a lot less mobile, cover much less court, but the opponent's are also slower and older.
    I'm 65, most of my peers are in their 40's.
     
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  3. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Now at age 102, I like to conserve energy. So I clear the net by 4' for depth and don't try to hit it real hard.

    Since I mostly play doubles, I'm much more comfortable at the net than I used to be. In singles, I like to wander up to the service line hitting low volleys and half volleys, hoping they'll try to lob me while I'm back there. I don't like marathon points any more.
     
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  4. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    I'm in better aerobic shape in my 50s than I was in my 20s and am moderately stronger than I was when young. I play a more modern game today with topspin on both wings while I played a flatter game when younger.
     
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  5. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    I'm late 30s also. Also hit more slice backhands than topspinners cause its easier and I've developed lazy habits.

    My problem is I'm trying to retrieve and grind too much and this strat only works if you're quick and can run all day without getting tired. Needless to say this style of play isn't conducive with middle age, especially when your playing juniors or guys in their early 20s who are also prepared to grind.

    I have to try and hit bigger, take a bit more risk, and be more aggressive to shorten rallies but its really hard breaking old habits.

    I wish I was good at serve volleying and chip charging. That's the strat I see used most successfully by the old fellas against the kids.
     
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  6. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    You realize that Roger Federer is only six years younger than you and is ranked #4 in the world. Tommy Haas is almost your age and is in the top 20 or so.

    38 in and of itself should not be a problem.
     
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  7. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    ... You do realize they are PROFESSIONAL athletes and all they do is train, train, train, and train some more, right?
     
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  8. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    Roger Federer and Tommy Haas don't have my beer belly.
     
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  9. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    I think I have started playing more first strike tennis, as I get older. I have to compensate somehow for losing foot speed.
     
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  10. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Same here. I try to impose my game on my opponent by serving well (enough pace that he can't tee off on the return and placing my service accurately to prevent his getting grooved), returning aggressively every chance I get and coming in to end the point quickly.

    On the plus side of being 55, I'm focusing and reading the ball better, hitting fewer unforced errors (because I can't thump everything any more) and thinking more about how I should be playing well.

    I guess we win some even as we lose some with age.
     
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  11. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    You can do all that, but claim to be a 3.5? :rolleyes:
     
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  12. geepeeone

    geepeeone New User

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    At 34, I am conscious of the fact that as the rally gets longer, my chance of winning the point dwindles. I don't have much more time to "try" different styles. All current efforts is purely directed to being able to play first strike tennis.

    Five shot max.
     
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  13. Sir Shankalot

    Sir Shankalot Rookie

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    OP, I'm 49. Trust me, 38 isn't old.

    To answer your question, I think it pays to "future proof" your game by becoming more versatile. If I play against people of the same age then I still like to go for long grinding rallies because I am pretty fit and can generally out-last my opponents. But now I am working on developing a more attacking all court style, approaching the net at the earliest opportunity, because against a younger / fitter opponent that is really the only way. No way am I out-grinding them.

    And yes, developing a really good slice BH is worth it in the long run - way less effort.
     
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  14. nomie

    nomie New User

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    Well I'm not quite there yet, but the older gents at my club all seems to have switched to huge headed powerful racquets, and play the ball flat with a slicing motion, on the backhand and forehand.

    Balls comes at you quick and about 10cm from the ground. The young generations just can't handle these balls. They are too used that everything bounces shoulder high.

    And it seems to work. Most of these older players still play in at least the second team even though the younger guys can out-grind and out-modern-forehand them.
     
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  15. bluegrasser

    bluegrasser Hall of Fame

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    Oh yea, even tried going back buying a few Prestige's - Used to string my PS 85's at 68lbs and swing as hard as possible, was getting close to a 4.5. Now a 3.5 trying to get back to a 4.0 using a APD strung at 56lbs, also was a pure flat hitter, now just a little topspin with a different swing.
     
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  16. loci

    loci Rookie

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    i think the biggest adjustment would probably be in the footwork. there's more of a need to move efficiently and effectively as one ages. part of changing your style would have to focus on how one cuts off the ball at different angles...
     
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  17. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    I'm still using Prestiges but I use them for the free power.
     
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  18. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I'm going to be 38 this year and I play points as long as possible. I can still run a sub 8min/mile 5k for now so I can keep up at 3.5 level. Hopefully it will turn into a big advantage once I hit 40! If it weren't for my new 5 month old baby I would be playing 3-4 times a week 3hrs per session!
     
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  19. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    We're not trying to play GS events either.
     
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  20. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    That in and of itself is not a function of being 38. However believe me, I'm not without sympathy on this. With our modern, often sedentary lives it can be really hard to keep the pounds off.
     
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  21. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    But it's true I am only a 3.5. Being able to do all that doesn't mean I win most of the time (I don't) or that I don't make a ton of unforced errors (I do) or that I can keep it up indefinitely (I can't) or that I'll resist the temptation to try to end the point immediately (I won't).

    Besides, at the club the 5.0-rated guys get to the semis of local/regional tournaments, the 4.5s get to the quarters, the 4.0s make it to the round of 16 and the rest of us just pray hard not to meet any of them in the first or second rounds. I've never made it past the 2nd round, so how could I possibly rate myself any higher than 3.5?

    And as I make it very clear in my signature (see below) I am fat, have no talent for any kind of sports and at my age, end up playing guys half my age and half my weight most of the time.

    But I wouldn't dream of giving up tennis tournaments because tennis is the only sport I've ever loved enough to try to learn to play properly (as well as I can anyway) AND I've got to set my 40 nephews and nieces a good example since I am always telling them to set themselves one impossible goal in life and never stop trying to achieve it, don't I?:)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'm 65, bum ankle, no running.
    I need to end points within 2-5 shots, so my poor movement doesn't get exposed. So, playing aggressive tennis helps my game.
    Today, walked onto court, dropped my tennis bag, grabbed my cell out of the left front pocket, strolled to center hash, baseline, heartbeat 76, did the 5 point spider drill, tapping my foot to each of the 5 points. 20.3 second's later, I limped back to the center hash, baseline, with a heartbeat of 132 per minute.
    I"m sure, when I was 28, I could do it easily in under 14 seconds.
    OTOH, I"m a lot smarter, could use different strategies on the fly, and usually don't try to match power with power.
     
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  23. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    This is a good post, thanks for your honesty, it's refreshing. Keep pushing hard to be the best you can be!!!
     
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  24. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Wow so many 38's in here. I'll be that too this year. I kept hearing 40 ish guys saying it'll hit hard when you're in mid 40.

    I think my technique is as good as it gets. Any more improvement will have to come from losing 20 lbs and improving fitness. How feasible is losing 20 lbs at 38 years old, guys?
     
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  25. radtennisfan

    radtennisfan Rookie

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    I lost about 18 lbs a year ago. Went for grilled chicken at work instead of burgers, cut out carbs, soda, beer and wine. Fast food was Chipotle burrito bowl instead of taco bell etc.

    I am back to eat g whatever I please again for dinner and drinking a lot. I do have a protein shake for lunch instead of a heavy meal. Try to play tennis 3 or 4 times a week. I gained a few lbs but think I have good balance of not getting too fat
     
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  26. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    I lost 70 pounds in my late 40s/early 50s. I know a guy that lost 95 pounds in his mid-50s.
     
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  27. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Thanks, Jdubbs. No point pretending to be something I'm not or thinking I'm any better than what I am.

    Regarding weight loss after 50, it's not impossible but that last 10-15 lbs is a real challenge. I went from 250 lbs to 170, put on 25 lbs in my 40s, took off 15 lbs, put on 10+ lbs when I hit 50 and now I'm pushing as hard as I can to get back to my fighting weight of 185 lbs. Any lower than that and I suffer really bad blood sugar problems when I play.

    At my present weight, there is a terrific strain on my knees and ankles. I am slightly luckier than LeeD. The pain only kicks in if and when I play three or more sets of Doubles or two sets of singles.

    That's another reason for trying to end the points in less than 5 shots and taking risks on return of serve - any time I know I am going to get a weak serve or second serve, I try to stand in as close as I can, take the ball on the rise and go for a winner. It works most of the time when my blood sugar is fine but then there are days when nothing works and I practise saying, "Good shot!" to my opponent instead.

    Surprisingly, S-V is less tiring since I can impose my game on my opponent. I place a serve to the backhand or into the body, let my serve momentum carry me 3 or 4 steps into the court, split step and then move forward and put the first volley where it should do the most damage or end the point if the return is that weak. That's one of the reasons I try to play a topspin drive volley whenever I can - any ball between knee and elbow height I can reach with two easy steps or less, I am going to drive with topspin, forehand or backhand - usually down the line or at a slight angle cross court (not quite an acute angle but usually landing about 4-5 feet up from the baseline and as close to the sideline as I can hit it.)

    I seldom S-V off a slice serve to the forehand because my slice serve doesn't swing out wide enough, so I prefer to drive the return deep with a skidding flat-slice and then run in behind that whenever I can. I try to do the same on ROS - or I chip and charge or play a high kicking topspin lob deep to the backhand as an approach shot off ROS instead (I do that more nowadays for obvious reasons). Off the backhand, I also have the option of playing a dropshot.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
    #27
  28. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    I am 43, started playing at 38 or so, improving all the time, coach says I can still hit the ball hard so to focus on learning proper technique, not old man technique.

    I feel my knees after 2-3 hours of solid hitting, other than that touch wood my body is coping ok.

    Funnily enough if I dont hit for a week or two, i develop all kinds of niggles that I never notice when I am playing.

    I have kind of modern strokes, top spin off both wings - 1HBH, like to come in to the net, have a decent serve.

    I hate baseline bashing so am working on improving my approach game, when i am at net I volley ok, but when on the move, it kind of disintegrates : )
     
    #28
  29. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    I find it really hard even with regular exercise and eating healthy. I'm obviously eating too much but I'm finding that hard to change. And I'd be better off if I quit going to the pub and drinking too much but that's also hard to change.
     
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  30. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ive lost 12 in 3 months. So yes, its feasible.
     
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  31. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I'm late 50s. Biggest concession to age is I don't serve and volley as much in doubles. Before 50, I served and volley 99.9% of the time in doubles but now I only S&V as a change up tactic. I still attack a lot but come in on a short shot now.
     
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  32. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    Why don't you S&V?
     
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  33. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Late 50s and I still work to hit pace and spin off the serve and groundstrokes. I think my serve and ground strokes are as good as ever. Movement is not as good as ever. For me, the nagging injuries started around mid-40s. But, you can hit modern strokes at least through your 50s and I think into your 60s when you can get to the ball.
     
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  34. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    Thats a good point, I have been learning a "modern FH" and to be honest, I find it pretty easy on the body, I hit the ball best when I am relaxed and hitting the ball around 3/10 in terms of effort. I would hope that can continue for a while before time gets the better of me.

    And same for my serves, I have found my serves are as effective as when I was blasting the hell out of the ball a couple of years back, and much less effort from me now, working more on spin and placement.

    All positive signs that my body can keep me playing for a while yet.
     
    #34
  35. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    If your game is changing at 38 you just need to up your fitness level/diet.

    Reduce obvious carbs, eliminate most sugar - eat whole foods - eat plenty of fats and meat - eat lots of cruciferous veggies - lift weights once or twice a week - multi-joint movements to failure.

    You could do a whole lot more - take up yoga - run, weigh food, and count calories, jump rope etc etc but this is the easiest for the lazy sedentary person. :p With a little commitment you can feel just like you did when you were 20 at 38. You probably won't be quite as athletic but you should feel similar.
     
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  36. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    I play the same, but I have to play a lot more in a match. I can't hit aces and unreturnable serves any more. Therefore, I have to hit more shots. Therefore, I'm not nearly as good, since hitting the ball multiple times was never my strength.
     
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  37. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for this, Guy. Sounds exactly like what I need.
     
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  38. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    Or you could enjoy life....
     
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  39. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I do pretty much everything he posted and i am enjoying life more than ever. I look young for my age and life is good when you are in good shape.
     
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  40. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    People tell me the same thing - I look about 20 years younger than my age.

    That is after I lost all of the weight of course.

    One manager in my building said that I look like a college hire!
     
    #40
  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    People tell me I look 20 years older than any of my competition.
    I still hit around the same 2-5 shots for each point, just like I used to. Sure, there are occasional 17 shot points, but after that is over, the following point is a 2 shot point.
    If you go for your shot from the beginning, and do your warmup and practice beforehand, you can end points very quickly.
    If you choose to hit back to your opponent, you will get very good running exercise.
     
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