How Has Your Game Changed as You’ve Gotten Older?

EggSalad

Rookie
The amount of time you consider for getting older is totally subjective. I’d mainly be curious how your game has evolved over the years.

For me, I was a junior and high school player that loved the baseline and to trade power. My serve was ok but never a threat.

I’m 42 now and my game has flip flopped. My serve is dangerous, my net and all court game is solid, but I get impatient at the baseline now and have more errors there.

How has your game changed over the years?
 
Similar to me. But my S&V game likely won't hold up given my current trajectory. I will probably have to spend more time on the BL constructing the point.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
When I was younger I was all serve and a bit of volleying. Now it’s a bit more balanced. I don’t have the foot speed I used to so I need to kick the ball a bit more to give me time to get in.
 

ktx

New User
As a teenager, I had a big serve, big return, and super flat groundstrokes - I loved to play inside the baseline (but hated the net). 25y later I still have a decent serve but my return is garbage and I have a little more topspin from the baseline, and always trying to develop better net skills.
 

Max G.

Legend
As a kid I was a grinder, played lots of defense, just kept the ball in play. Then in late high school I decided I wanted to serve and volley so I did that for a few years, S&V, chip and charge. Didn't play much in college. As an adult I started playing USTA and eventually figured that playing to my strengths was playing consistent baseline tennis, that got me to mid/upper 4.5. Right now trying to practice to make the next step up, that would mean less grinding and being able to end points quicker with my forehand. I've certainly changed my game to hit bigger, not sure it's made me better since I think the loss of consistency has hurt me more than the gain in power has helped, but still working on it...
 

socallefty

Legend
I am primarily a singles player playing 3-4 singles matches a week. I was always an all-court player who liked coming to the net to finish points - tried to dictate with my FH and keep points relatively short. I hurt my rotator cuff a decade ago and cannot serve as big as I used to anymore. Without that big serve, I find myself locating serves with more accuracy, building point patterns more patiently from the baseline and coming to net only occasionally. So, in my early fifties I mostly am an aggressive baseliner who has ramped up the topspin on both wings to improve consistency by taking regular lessons in the last decade. I take care of my body better now and am better suited to grind it out if needed from the baseline even though I am older. I pay more attention to having proper footwork/spacing and preparing mentally before matches compared to my youth.

I often wonder at what age my peak level of tennis was - the fact that I don’t straightaway say that it was in my late teens or in my twenties makes me feel that I’ve managed to somewhat maintain my level by adapting my game as I got older. I started playing USTA only in my forties and got my computer ranking of 4.5 only after that - so, don’t know if I was playing better before that. I don’t play singles twice a day anymore and so, my tournament playing days are over.

I also play doubles a couple of times a week and there my style has always been the S/V, chip-and-charge style. No one in my playing group plays from the baseline when we play doubles unless we are returning against a huge server - but, there’s only a couple of guys who fit that description.
 
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Pitti

Rookie
I'm in my early 30s, and I started playing at around 10-11. My first decision (second tennis class of my life) was to use a one handed backhand because I liked it more. A few years later, as a teen, I didn't have a big serve, but I placed it pretty well. I was quick, and I had very little patience, coupled with a very strong forehand and an awful backhand. It was impossible to hit a single topspin backhand, so I started just slicing every backhand. I was afraid of coming to the net and just dominated with my FH from the baseline. Practising so many times my slice BH made me have quite good drop shots and start to improve and enjoy backhand volleys.

I quit it for a decade and I started playing again a couple of years ago. I'm not so quick, and while my forehand is still good and lets me dominate, it's not as strong as it was back then. I can hit some good topspin backhands now, but I still prefer to slice whenever it's possible. I play some "Barty-ish" slice backhand. I am an attacking player who tries to take the ball early and who is reaching the net more and more often. I still maintain good fundamentals that let me place and vary my serve and hit good dropshots or topspin volleys when I get an easy ball.
 

maggmaster

Hall of Fame
As A junior I played serve and volley and had a slice only backhand. I didn’t have much of a serve though so I imagine it looked a bit silly. I quit for awhile and when I came back I started out playing from the baseline. Then I found serve and volley again but after a decade in the gym my serve was a lot better. So now I serve and volley until someone proves they can pass me, then I change. Well that is ideally how I play but after another lay off I can’t serve again so I am working on getting that back.
 
At 16, 90% of my serves were kick serves at the backhand and I loved my inside out forehand and slice backhand.
At 26, with an on-and-off elbow injury, I have more reliable serving options, slice more forehands, often times prefer having 2 hands on the racquet instead of 1 and I get to the net as fast as possible.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Short answer is yes. Longer answer is, it has been more of a shift than and improvement or great loss. So when I started I had much better fitness, movement, eyesight/proprioception, and no vertigo. Strokes were not very clean or technically sound, but I could compensate with the fore-mentioned attributes. So I could compete, at best, as a 50/50 4.0, but more just moving between low 4.0 and high 3.5 depending on year and life balance. As I got older and I had more years under belt my strokes improved, court awareness/IQ went up, and consistency leveled up, but fitness, eyesight, and movement dropped a bit. Along with that, more reoccurring injuries and issues. I dropped down to a middling 3.5 for a few years, but also had more life to deal with and less tennis time.

Few years back I started getting back in shape, getting more court time, and focusing more on managing how much I move, picking when to move, and using consistency and placement with a wider range of shots compared to my younger self. Still just playing high 3.5, but started getting wins in 4.0 again. So still have a solid serve, but not that 100+ mph, but more on placement to set up plays. More variety of shots using all court style play instead of more baseline bashing. I like to come in and close at net more and am more comfortable doing so. I am apt to try to end points quicker, but also have developed a better neutral ball that can be more offensive. I enjoy strategy or figuring out the opponents weakness and trying to exploit them over just hitting hard where they aren't. Things llke that. Agaiin, more that I am conscious of those things than really great at them.


So today at 52, again there hasn't been any great level-up, but I have been able to maintain my better efforts while managing some of those "getting older" issues that might drag people down. So can't complain too much, but it does get a bit frustrating when you know you used to be able to do something that you can't anymore.

That said, more of the issues are on me given my penchant for good beer, drinks and food in lieu of better fitness. So I see plenty of high level players in their +50 years and know I could compete up if I was more dedicated as many of them are.

Overall, it is just managing my body more.
 

jhick

Hall of Fame
I played almost exclusively serve and volley in my youth and through my 20's. Today I play more of an all court game (still aggressive) and am selective on S&V. My hands and net game are better now than when I was younger and my lob is improved. I don't serve as hard but am smarter with placement and mixing it. I don't move nearly as well as when I was younger.
 

BlueB

Legend
Smarter.
Less topspin on FH.
The serve might have a bit less power but takes a lot less effort.
 

jhick

Hall of Fame
Smarter.
Less topspin on FH.
The serve might have a bit less power but takes a lot less effort.
Yeah similarly I hit much flatter than I use to. My game is all about taking time away from my opponent and in my late 40's I don't have a heavy enough ball to spin my opponent off the court. A side benefit is that I don't break strings frequently like I used to.
 

PMF

Rookie
57 year old here. I’ve been playing for decades. I’d say my volleying has gotten better, but my foot speed has definitely slowed down. I’m not complaining though. Just happy that I can still play. Good 4.0 in doubles, weak 4.0 in singles.
 
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PK6

Rookie
Yes it has as I gained to much weight and can’t move on the courts like I used to. I’ve quit tennis as well not playing any leagues until I lose weight get lean cut ripped and fit. Hoping by January when mixed doubles starts back up I’ll be in shape that I need and always should be in. If not I’m done playing
 

vex

Hall of Fame
The amount of time you consider for getting older is totally subjective. I’d mainly be curious how your game has evolved over the years.

For me, I was a junior and high school player that loved the baseline and to trade power. My serve was ok but never a threat.

I’m 42 now and my game has flip flopped. My serve is dangerous, my net and all court game is solid, but I get impatient at the baseline now and have more errors there.

How has your game changed over the years?
Serve has become better every year to the point where my second serve is a weapon. I stopped trying to hit THROUGH people with wild power and started making them dance to my tune with accuracy. I finally realized the importance of having a strong overhead/volley game. Went from auto-losing to defensive pushers to methodically beating them.
 

toth

Professional
I play much more on the rise instead of 2 m behind the baseline, i hit higher balls from both wings.
I strive to improve my net game.
( nowadays i dont use dropshots at all, but in the future i would like to use dropshots from the backhand wing)
 

toth

Professional
If you would like to hit BH DSs, why not also FH DSs?
First of all i have extrem fh grip, complicated to change so much for dropshot.
And i feel better the bh dropshot than the fh.
( plus advantage for bh wing i have more option - for fh wing i do not really need more option, i can solve such a situations anyway better)
 
First of all i have extrem fh grip, complicated to change so much for dropshot.
And i feel better the bh dropshot than the fh.
( plus advantage for bh wing i have more option - for fh wing i do not really need more option, i can solve such a situations anyway better)
Yes, the grip change is a big factor; I have an Eastern FH grip so I don't even need to switch to Continental to hit a DS.

But I also like keeping my opponent guessing: if he knows I never DS the FH, he'll have an easier time defending. Maybe it won't make a difference but then again, maybe it will.

To each his own.
 

Rosstour

Legend
I idolize my HS varsity self. 40 now.

Have lost a noticeable amount of power since then, but in reality everything else is better, even movement. And I would absolutely crush my younger self at this point.
 

Nacho

Hall of Fame
Mental strategic side of my game has improved 100%, much more of a thoughtful player today and win or lose I take it as part of the process not dwelling on any one thing....fitness has been up and down, and I am more prone to injuries...Much of my style has been the same thou overall as far as hitting
 

Slicehand

Semi-Pro
id say my mental aproach, but in a bad way, as i got better technique its like it affects me more to miss, im changing that now, but before i use to be more of a fighter and just trying to be better than the other guy, relying on my fitness and my determination, now i feel like the responsability of the match is on my side and i constanly let myself down when i miss, i hope ill get to an intermediate point.
 

cha cha

Professional
Mentally, I have seen it all. So that is definitely better than 20 years ago.
Physically, everything hurts more and more.
Strategically, I hit the ball harder and volley more with every passing year. No sense in being a coward having played for so long.
 
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Chalkdust

Rookie
Early 50's at 4.5 level playing a lot of younger guys. Biggest decline is in movement / athleticism. I used to rely a lot on my speed around the court, playing a fairly conservative game. Now I find I have to be more aggressive and take more risks. Basically if I have the slightest of openings, I'm going for it. Also throwing in the occasional S&V point, which I never did when younger. All to keep my opponent off balance and on his back foot, because once my opponent has the initiative, I'm likely toast given the sad state of my defensive skills. Wish I had my current racquet skill and tennis IQ together with the physical ability of 20 years ago - oh well.
 

vandre

Hall of Fame
back in the day, every shot was either an outrageous, screaming winner or an egregious unforced error of epic proportions (way more ues than winners). these days, i'm way more patient. i'm also much fonder of "messing" with my opponent these days ( not putting the ball in their strike zone, changing up the pace and spin, etc.). i also put much more thought into shot selection.
 

chatt_town

Hall of Fame
The amount of time you consider for getting older is totally subjective. I’d mainly be curious how your game has evolved over the years.

For me, I was a junior and high school player that loved the baseline and to trade power. My serve was ok but never a threat.

I’m 42 now and my game has flip flopped. My serve is dangerous, my net and all court game is solid, but I get impatient at the baseline now and have more errors there.

How has your game changed over the years?
A lot of the same. I still have patience playing singles, but only when playing other 50 year olds...the younger guys that move like cats...I don't have as much patience with them. I try to end the points sooner than I use to. Can't be out there with them for 3.5 hours like when I was say 36 or 37. I had bad back problems at 40...and then bad leg problems at like 48...they are much better now...so I'm out looking for pretty much anyone I lost singles to in that time.lol My serve is getting much better now that I'm older. I use to frying pan it down the t on both sides to cut down the angles and then just go to work...hitting 8 to 10 ground strokes every point if I could to take their legs. Ended up doing my own in, but starting to eat better is changing a lot.
 

70sStrokes

New User
I started playing in jr high school. I was serve and volley and a one handed backhand I could slice and topspin. Played in college and usta tournaments. Eventually got to 5.5 in usta tournaments. After my daughter was born I cut down on the practice( when I played 5.5 I would run a mile with my team and then start play). Then came the weekend soccer matches and tennis tournaments my daughter played in so I did not play a lot.
Any way now even though I still play S&V I have to guess sometimes where the passing shot is going. Oh well. Did not have to guess as much when I was younger. Split step was much better back then. Play doubles a lot now. Lol.
 

EggSalad

Rookie
The weirdest thing is that my serve is now my weapon and I still don’t feel like it is very strong. But my serve is barely every broken and I feel confident being down in a service game. I was never like this in my youth.
 

toth

Professional
Yes, the grip change is a big factor; I have an Eastern FH grip so I don't even need to switch to Continental to hit a DS.

But I also like keeping my opponent guessing: if he knows I never DS the FH, he'll have an easier time defending. Maybe it won't make a difference but then again, maybe it will.

To each his own.
Yesterday there was a situation the fh dropshot was the best option.
I tried and succeed!
I feel the practise of my bh dropshot helped my fh dropshot too(!?)
Nevertheless from now i will a bit practise my fh dropshot too.
 

ChrisG

Professional
Started playing at 6 but stopped at 14, then came back to it 3y ago at 38. I regularly play with 2 friends in their 20’s who played D2 college in the US, and I manage to win a few games per set, so I imagine my peak level would have been close to theirs. I play a lot of competition and my ranking has improved each year.
In my 3y comeback, I’ve experienced a super fast 20y summary as I started playing very aggressive tennis (like when I was a kid) but with much more errors than expected, so I had to accept I’m not that young teenager anymore and learn to be more patient but kind of lost confidence in my big ground strokes for a while. Now I’m starting hitting big again while keeping a better tactical approach.
I thinks that’s what age does. It doesn’t take power away, or just a little, it takes legs and stamina. But tactics are very important in tennis, so if you manage to improve in that area you can compete for long years.
 
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