Playing a pusher... in the wind

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by DonDiego, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    Lost 1-6, 3-6.

    He made a total of 1 winner, and that was enough for him.
    God, these matches make you want to quit tennis forever.
     
    #1
  2. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    #2
  3. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    You will certainly come across comments regarding your status as a player and a person. Apparently, there is some threshold of politeness that you are not allowed to cross if you didn't decisively dispose of your opponent, especially when the opponent in question is a pusher. However, despite the likely forthcoming peer pressure, I will side with you in some respect.

    When I get on a court, I enjoy certain aspects of the game more than others. For instance, I prefer baseline rallies and find pleasure in building points. Continuing with obvious observations, I am a recreational player and I should not surprise anyone were I to make explicit the objective of entertainment I pursue as a recreational player.

    Anyone acquainted with syllogisms already know what sort of synthesis will be borne by the conclusion, but stating it explicitly is seen as inappropriate. Notwithstanding likely future verbal sanctions, I will say it anyway: pushers are boring to play. I do not peculiarly enjoy my time on the court when the game turns into a dink fest. And, please bear with me guys, there is a major difference between boredom and discomfort; I can play them, but I don't like it. Of course, they are allowed to play the ball within the limits established by the rules of the game and it is beyond a doubt that it can work as a means to win matches. Still, I dislike it. Nay, I hate it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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  4. HommyTaas

    HommyTaas Banned

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    Cant understand this attitude.
    Stop whining. The pusher played safe error free tennis in the wind and won comfortably. Give him credit.

    Then focus on improving. Ask yourself, did you respect the conditions and play safer than usual?
    Be hard on yourself and what you did wrong and work on that.
    Admire the pushers and dinkers and how they play to their strengths.
    You dont like losing. Get better.
     
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  5. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    As for your problems DonDiego, the situation is far from being hopeless, especially not if you really are a 4.5 as your signature suggests.

    Pushers rely on a single tactic: they cut down on their unforced errors. Everything in their game fits into this scheme, from their court position to their striking patterns. They play with a mindset to limit their mistakes and the important thing here is that a pusher basically does nothing else.

    To defeat pushers, you have to force them into a tactical upgrade. That is, you have to find a way to play your game so that, for them, just cutting down on mistakes is not enough.

    It seems like I am stating the obvious, but the most frequent mistake people make is that they do too much and making this observation explicit gives us a clue about what we need to do. First of all, as they are in an habit of keeping their unforced errors down, fighting fire with fire is not likely to work. And, second of all, you do not have to go to the other extreme where you do everything you can to cut down on their time.

    Typically, recreational players have poor backhands. So, simply hitting more balls to their backhand can be enough. And, keep in mind that they are not trying to do anything fancy with the ball. It's a trench war; you have to be patient before you pull the trigger. If you want to go a little further, you can add movement on top of it: that is, force him to hit more balls on the run or after a good run.

    The mistake most people make is that they go for too much unnecessarily. I don't see how possibly the only option you have to defeat a pusher is cutting down on their time. They do not pressure you and they do not do anything fancy with the ball. If you go down that road, hitting on the rise and going for drive volleys, you'll hit the wall very quickly.

    On your side, what you want to do with the pusher is put them in a situation where their mistake is doing too little. This idea should ring a bell in your head: you can achieve this sort of result by doing surprisingly little with the ball yourself. In general, a few deep ball to the weak side and you'll soon get a ball you will be able to place way out of their reach. But if, from the get go, you go for serve-and-volley, hit bigger, hit on the rise, and move forward on every occasion, you'll be shooting yourself in the foot. It's very, very hard to play like that -- and you only do it when your opponent is so good that everything else is not enough.
     
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  6. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I foretold this would happen. It's almost a sacred ritual here: you have to rub pushers in the back before you get to say anything or else your post is viewed as rude and irrelevant.
     
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  7. HommyTaas

    HommyTaas Banned

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    Playing a servebot..... indoors.
    Lost 6-1 6-3. All he did was smack the ball as hard as he could and come to net. We only had a handful of rallies the whole match.
    Sick of these players. Makes me want to quit tennis.
     
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  8. Captain Ron

    Captain Ron Semi-Pro

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    Played an all courter outside on a nice day. It was terrible, no matter what I did he seemed fine with it. Every point was different, I never knew what he was going to do. Lost 6-1, 6-3. I wish he would have just picked a tactic and stuck with it. Sick of it, makes me want to quit tennis.
     
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  9. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    That's not the only tactic. Not enough. They also count on their opponent's lousy tennis. So lousy that they (opponent) can't handle run of the mill safe shots.
     
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  10. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Playing pushers are blessing in disguise. They teach you so much about your game. What you can attack off of, what areas of the court do you have a preference for.
     
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  11. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    Lol, didn't know pushers were such a controversial topic here.

    Let me define what I call a pusher first: a player who mainly block balls or ''push'' them to the other side without pace or much spin. Same thing on return of serves. They put their racquet in front of the ball with the intention of hitting some sort of lob that will land close to the baseline. Pushers never, ever go for a winner (ok, maybe once a set). (BTW, this is why I find this Murray-is-a-pusher thing so laughable. Yeah right, like Murray doesn't go for winners...)

    I'm not whining. Main reason I lost: it's because I lost it (I mean, in my head). I was tired and impatient, and simply didn't want to play that kind of tennis. So instead of fighting and adjusting, I kept getting mad and cursing all along, trying to beat the crap out of the ball. This, and my serve, which broke down completely. Way too many double faults, unworthy of a 4.5 player.

    In fact, last week I beat a same kind of pusher. What I did was simple: when I was down 1-4, I started to hit 95% of all my shots for the remaining of the game on his backhand, and went at the net as often as I could. But today it didn't work. Not only did the wind make it much more difficult to hit overheads and volleys, but I had absolutely no patience, I felt tense and I was way too thight. I kept giving him free points, without him having to work much for them. I could give him credit but honestly, I don't think he deserves much, and I'm pretty sure he'd agree with this. I decided the fate of the match from the beginning, but I made way too many UE and I ended up beating myself. (Angry comments in 3-2-1...)

    Excellent points. I'll try to remember that next time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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  12. DonDiego

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    Also true. But even more so: they teach you about your mental toughness, and your ability to stay relaxed and focus.
     
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  13. goran_ace

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    Yes. You've hit the nail right on the head there.
     
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  14. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Mental and physical toughness since they usually push your endurance to the limit.
     
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  15. zaph

    zaph Rookie

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    Ah yes pushers, I dislike playing them. The problem is, you're taking all the risks, what you are doing takes skill, what they are doing doesn't. Blocking a ball back isn't difficult, if someone else is supplying all the power. So the match can become a dinkfest, with neither player willing to take a risk. It is like parking the bus in football, you can do it, but it makes for an awful spectacle

    But I am being a hypocrite, because I am not above pushing myself. Today I was down 0-40, so I just bowled in some short pushy serves, and watched my opponents blowup. They missed every return.
     
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  16. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    What about techniques?

    You should win at least the first few games where mental and physical stuff haven't set in yet, right?
     
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  17. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    It doesn't take skill to make shot after shot without missing?
     
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  18. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Physical maybe but there can be a lot of mental pressure at the start of a match.
     
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  19. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    That's pretty typical. When I'm in top shape (which I'm not right now), the pusher is my favorite opponent. I like to have time to set my feet and I enjoy playing at the net to pressure them. Most of my opponents hit the ball so hard that coming into net is just not something I can get away with unless I hit a perfect approach.
     
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  20. Topspin Shot

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    By pusher you mean defensive player, correct? I've never seen a 5.0 player without real strokes.
     
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  21. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Our disagreement is merely nominal.
     
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  22. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    do you think you would fare better against a player who can hit winners instead of just blocking the balls back? :shock:
     
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  23. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    if a 5.0 player is playing someone way well below his level, he can win without using real strokes. Someone at talk tennis got a date to play with Djokovic. I am pretty sure, Djokovic will resort to pushing in that match. His level is too high for the average ATP player, let alone a non-professional :)
     
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  24. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Mikeler is a 5.0 himself, so I don't think a 5.0 can get away with dinking against him. :)
     
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  25. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Professional

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    Good thing OP has 4.5 in his signature. All the 3.5 TTW GOATS here would have ripped him up.
     
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  26. zaph

    zaph Rookie

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    No it doesn't, I know, because I have tried pushing in the past, and frankly it was easy. My opponent, had to get their feet sorted out, time the shots properly. Have correct form and technique.

    All I had to do was stick out a racket and get it back. I could mistime it, be off balance, not move my feet properley, be leaning back. Commit 101 errors, it didn't matter, because all I was doing was deflecting my opponents pace back at them.

    Of course the person I was playing cottoned on, and started dinking the ball back, to give me no pace to deflect. So we spent the rest of the match dinking the ball at each other. In the rules, but not great tennis.
     
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  27. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    well, IMO, it depends on how good his opponent is. Suppose his opponent plays like a 4.5 Federer, excellent form, can hit all kinds of winners. If a pusher can push and beat such a opponent, i think he got fantastic skills because it's not easy to push and win against a good offensive player.
     
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  28. willeric

    willeric Rookie

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    4.5 can't handle a weak pusher? Do you really play USTA at 4.5?
     
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  29. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Sounds like you're some kind of tennis superman. Other guys have to "time the shots properly. Have correct form and technique." while all you had to do was "stick out a racket and get it back"
     
    #29
  30. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    "Just so we get our turms straight let's agree on what a Retriever is. The basic garden variety Retriever (also known as a Pusher, a Rabbit, or a Golden Retriever) stays on the baseline and gets everything back. They don't use pace. They don't use depth. They don't use spin. They don't use angles. They don't use touch. But they do drive you nuts!

    "Everything comes back. They chase everything down and they do it relentlessly. They're married to the baseline and will stay there all day. As Retrievers perfect their game they may start developing spin, depth, and/or pace. But their basic game plan stays exactly the same: get everything back."

    http://books.google.com/books?id=NU...wAw#v=onepage&q=harold solomon pusher&f=false

    There's more interesting stuff in that book which you can read at the link.

    I ran over 49 miles last week so I have several options playing against pushers. One of them is to just hit my regular shots and work to outlast them on points as many of the pushers that I run into are not in the best of shape. They tend to be very efficient in the shots that they hit and they can get a lot of balls back, up to a certain point but you can break that down if you have superior fitness. I think that nothing frustrates a pusher more than someone that isn't bothered by pushing.

    The Djokovic match with that college kid was interesting as they were discussing the mid-court attack. If you have strong groundstrokes to the corners, then you will be invariably faced with mid-court balls (no-man's land) and the ability to win these points is crucial. Ideally, you should have the strokes to hit outright winners on most points or at least set up the point for a weak return which you can easily put away at the net. This assumes, of course, that you have a net (including overhead) game.
     
    #30
  31. Bendex

    Bendex Professional

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    In your quest, you must kill many trolls and goblins before you can take on the dragons.
     
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  32. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    My strategy against pushers is big, loopy, deep topspin shots. That usuallly gets short returns, and then I hit sharp, angled shots to either side.

    I actually really enjoy pushers nowadays, just seeing them try to play their usual safe game but the ball is being pushed down their throat on every shot. Coming in to net and putting away an overhead winner is really fun too.

    At 4.5, I don't see too many pushers anymore, so when I play them, it's fun.
     
    #32
  33. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    I just re-read the whole thing: http://assets.usta.com/assets/639/15/National tennis Rating Program.pdf

    Only aspect where I don't fit: ''limited double faults''. This is what killed me in that match. Ok, so I'm dowgrading myself to a 4.25.

    This being said, you think a 4.5 player, having a bad day, will never, EVER loose against a 4.0 pusher? Really?
     
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  34. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    sorry Don,
    but a self rated 4.5 <> USTA 4.5

    self rated 4.5 think they are 4.5
    whereas
    USTA 4.5 play with 4.5

    that's why self rated 4.5 can lose to pushers.
     
    #34
  35. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Have you played against any USTA computer rated 4.0 or 4.5 players?
     
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  36. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    No I haven't, and I live in Canada. I guess that makes me a USTA 2.5, is that it? :)
     
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  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Unfortunately, this whole USTA rating thing cannot be understood or judge correctly by anyone who is not familiar with at least several different players ranked in the catagory close to the player.
    Reading the words, most players overate themselves, play a few tourneys, and see only bagels and breadsticks.
    Around our courts, one "4.0" was a A/Open player just 15 years ago. One just turned 71, is ranked in the top 10 in the '70's, one was an Open level player 30 years ago, so all old farts so far, several have played tennis for well over 30 years, and most have no trouble beating anyone who has played tennis for less than 4 years. That's full time tennis, 5 days a week, for 4 years.
     
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  38. souledge

    souledge Semi-Pro

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    Probably a 3.5, where 99% of players are.

    I met someone who thought he was a 5.0 and a "coach" at that.

    Maybe 4.0 on a good day.
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Here's my guess......
    OP can hit with real 4.5's, especially baseline to baseline.
    OP lacks match experience, at the 3.5-4.0 levels.
    Hitting and match play are not remotely the same thing.
    Guys who practice hitting with ball machines are great at hitting with ball machines, but are not so great at hitting against live players.
    An obsession with strokes can often overwhelm every other part of the player's game, to the detrimine of the player.
    Better to obsess with WHERE you shots land than HOW you hit them.
     
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  40. beernutz

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    To your credit you are at least honest about your playing history and that you are not computer-rated as a 4.5 nor have you played computer-rated 4.5 level players. It appears that you read the USTA descriptions of each level and estimated (self-rated) your DNTRP to be 4.25 which is smack in the middle of the 4.5 NTRP range.

    There's nothing evil about doing that but if you are losing to pushers 1 and 3 your actual skill level may not really be in the 4.5 range. I have played with and against some decent pushers at 4.0 but at 4.5 they are much rarer imo.
     
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  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Around here, lots of guys who hit like 4.0's or even like 4.5's, try to avoid playing actual doubles sets with high level 3.5's, which are all pusher's in one sense or the other.
    They don't like getting exposed by lobs, dink shot shots, or get bored by slow incoming balls, so they never get the experience against those shots when they play a real match against their peers who use the pusher tactics.
    I think it's good to beat all the 3.5's, at least the majority of times (you cannot win EVERY point every time), so you have the base game that allows you to deal with softer shots. At least you know the effort you need to make in order to win against those soft shots and slices.
     
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  42. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    OP mentioned that he was tired too - it helps to get enough rest and nutrition and schedule your day so that you're not tired for matches. Basically don't do what I did yesterday: run 4.5 miles, play 70 minutes in 91 degree weather and then run another 3 miles.
     
    #42
  43. Jim Lefty

    Jim Lefty Rookie

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    Any "A/Open player" in a 4.0 tournament is a sandbagger. A pathetic one to boot.

    I have yet to see a 71 year old singles player be competitive at the 4.0 level. Things must be very strange and bizarre up north.
     
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  44. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    It's rare.
    This guy, 71, made finals in the National 70's tourney last year. Not the biggest of lefty serves, but he's over 6'1" and did guard Earl "the PEARL" Monroe in the ABA back in the days. Pure S/V, takes a lot of 4.0's off their game. Super athletic, long, and been playing for over 30 years.
    Another guy, now 69, made 4 65's finals this year, was an A/Open level player back in the 90's, hit's a unique low skidded ball, and also confounds most 4.0 level players to breadsticks.
    Not saying they can win every 4.0 tourney, as age makes playing two matches a day for two days straight a slight stretch.
    Another old fart, must be high 60's, I used to watch him play Open events in the '70's, now a slicer/dicer, but still smart and has a tricky quick serve with surprising power.
    Then there's me, only 65, a bad A/Open player back in the '70's, but I can hit a real serve, hit a real groundie, and volley about the same as I did back then. Only lack of mobility is holding my game back, and failing eyesight of course.
     
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  45. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    An A player in a 4.0 tournament is very rare, but there are always some A players who sneak into 4.0 leagues to try to get to nationals. I have seen a couple 70+ year old guys who really are around the 4.0 level, but again, this is rare.
     
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  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You don't think a former A player who turned 65 should play in the 4.0 levels?
    65 is a long time of wear and tear. In my case, two tib/ fibs both requiring surgery, one simple greenstick of the femur, pins inserted in 3 of my 4 outer fingers, 4 fractured clavicals, 2 separated of the left shoulder, 1 of the right, and one right dislocate, 7 broken ribs including one displaced rib, detached tendons inside my left foot, flat feet ...:):) and blind and bad looking to boot.
     
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  47. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    just remember you have to be in Great shape to play the good pushers
     
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  48. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    I'm 55 and ran 49 miles last week. The only thing stopping me from running more is time (I have a full-time job, work out in the gym and even play tennis). I don't see why I won't be able to do that at 65. I do know older people that run 2,000 miles a year (I'm shooting for 1,500 this year).
     
    #48
  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    At 55, I could run. But injury in 2007, torn tendons in foot, have kept me from running even two steps since then. I shuffle and hop, gimp and limp around the court. My spider drill times vary between just over 20 seconds to just over 19 seconds.
    You cannot predict the future. You might get involved in an accident. You might develop hip problems, sciatic nerve problems, or lots of things.
    Does you DAD when he was aged 65 go running 6 miles a day, 3 days a week?
    Aging from 35 to 55 is nothing.
    Aging from 55-65 is another different lifetime.
     
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  50. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    My dad was not born in a generation where a lot of people ran, lifted and took care of themselves. I know people in their 60s and 70s that play tennis just fine. They are in good shape, don't have injuries, etc. Jack LaLanne lived to 95 and he could probably out bench the average person by a considerable amount of weight.

    We also have modern technology to replace parts and will eventually have the technology to grow parts. We can even print some parts for replacement.
     
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