If you're fat/slow/unfit

Curious

Legend
No I haven't given up yet and not looking for shortcuts but for whatever reason if you'e not moving well, can't lose weight or train hard, what else can you do to play better tennis? We all see people at times who are overweight, slow but they seem to still move efficiently and play good tennis. How?? Do they read the ball better, anticipate better, see the court better, select better shots? What do they do?
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
All of the above

Being overweight and unfit is quite possibly the single biggest disadvantage in tennis, and if you come across a fat guy who plays better than you do, he is light years ahead of you in terms of tennis ability

Losing weight is difficult but it’s far easier than any other way of making up for poor movement
 
No I haven't given up yet and not looking for shortcuts but for whatever reason if you'e not moving well, can't lose weight or train hard, what else can you do to play better tennis? We all see people at times who are overweight, slow but they seem to still move efficiently and play good tennis. How?? Do they read the ball better, anticipate better, see the court better, select better shots? What do they do?
Maybe before they were overweight and slow they were at "fighting weight" and quick and had training. Comparing yourself to them is a fool's errand: focus on what you need to do, not what abilities others have.

You don't look overweight to me but you could move more nimbly. Ladder drills and similar exercises will help.

Reading and anticipation come from experience. You have to train and train hard unless you are just gifted.

Seeing the court better to me implies a sense of calm: I can't survey the court when I'm running around like my hair is on fire. Again, you have to train this.

Selecting better shots sometimes boils down to just following Wardlaw, which I admit to breaking all of the time and often for no good reason. Try playing an entire game only following Wardlaw: hit everything CC and don't change direction unless it's an inside ball [ie one that doesn't laterally cross your center of gravity], in which case you're free to choose.
 

LOBALOT

Hall of Fame
Exactly, they were probably well trained and when they were younger and in shape. I see a lot of great tennis players my age that are perhaps carrying "a few extra pounds" and what I see is that some of the characteristics that made them great when they were younger they still have like:

1. Ability to anticipate the next shot
2. Not putting themself in a bad position by forcing a reply back to them
3. The opposite of 2... Ability to place shots that put their opponent in a bad position.
4. Very very efficient in their movement when they do have to move.

There are others that come to mind but I see a lot of this.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
....if you'e not moving well, can't lose weight or train hard, what else can you do to play better tennis? We all see people at times who are overweight, slow but they seem to still move efficiently and play good tennis. How??
Think about what you're asking. Rephrase the question. "How is it that some people I perceive to be like me are able to play better than me when I don't put in much time to train or practice?"
 

Curious

Legend
Think about what you're asking. Rephrase the question. "How is it that some people I perceive to be like me are able to play better than me when I don't put in much time to train or practice?"
A thread has to be derailed!:D ( I see what you mean).
The point is how do you minimise, make up for the disadvantages of being fat/slow/unfit?
So I was after comments like @LOBALOT ’s above.
 
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tomato123

Professional
A friend of mine used to play college tennis (I believe D3) and plays at the 4.5 level now, but he's definitely put on some weight. So the caveat here is that he used to be a pretty good player before the weight gain happened. Anyways, he pretty much plays "blast every ball" style of tennis from the baseline and goes for winners on every shot. He's accepted the fact that he's going to produce tons of errors and winners and pretty much camps out left side of the baseline to hit forehands, and he'll mostly take educated guesses to "cheat" to one side if he has to play defense. If you are right handed, he will hit hard inside-out forehands to your backhand and dare you to go for the open court down the line, and if you do hit it, he's good for exactly one run-down to try and rip a running forehand winner. He will lose to anyone who can consistently hit the angles to his backhand or pull drop shots off his heavy groundstrokes which is easier said than done. But he's okay with losing that way, so be it. He's pretty much fully accepted his movement-related limitations and doesn't get discouraged when the limitations cause him to lose points and sticks to his game plan.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
No I haven't given up yet and not looking for shortcuts but for whatever reason if you'e not moving well, can't lose weight or train hard, what else can you do to play better tennis? We all see people at times who are overweight, slow but they seem to still move efficiently and play good tennis. How?? Do they read the ball better, anticipate better, see the court better, select better shots? What do they do?
It would have been easier to just PM me instead of doing a thread since this HAS to be aimed at me! I got this one. Short points man. Serve and Volley or aggressive baseline bashing. Hit the ball, go for it and let the chips fall where they may. Also I find if I do squats and lunges during the week that really helps. The knees take a beating when you are fat and it helps to make the strong if you cant lose the weight.

Everyone I have every played in the last decade has been fitter and faster. Here is some examples of short points and getting to the net. You can see my fatness on the last point:


And when not getting to the net play risky but make it count like this unedited return game:


and make friends with getting beat alot....so you don't actually get in shape.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
They probably learned good footwork, anticipation etc. when they were young before they became overweight under the watchful eye of good coaches. Once you learn those skills, you might become slower once you add on the pounds, but you’ll still anticipate and move to the right spot better than faster players who never got coaching to learn proper footwork and anticipation.

If you are unfit, the best way to play is to be a big server who goes for big winners from the baseline quickly. I think that net play requires somewhat explosive movement which might be tough to sustain in singles over three sets if you are overweight. And forget about being a consistent baseliner who outlasts opponents also.

The sensible option is to play only doubles which is what 95% of overweight rec players do.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Most people aren't good enough to hurt fat/out of shape players. That's the truth. Bigger players can rely on power and placement and their opponent does not have the skill to beat them because their strokes can't hurt them enough.

MEP getting beaten by that out of shape 50 year old man is a classic example. Had MEP had more skill it would be have been a super easy victory for him.

It's in shape people that are the weak links. They think that being in shape gives them an easy win but they don't play the game that takes advantage of it. It's both mental and physical. They don't hit the right shot at the right time - and they lack the skill to move their opponent in a way to expose their lack of fitness.

The general approach the fitness guys will use is to push. But this is limited. Better players are not bothered by this because they can create some offensive opportunities of garden variety push shots.

Some of the good players in league who are out of shape just know how to play tennis. They understand normal tennis tactics and they have the skill to take advantage of what their opponent gives them. In shape guys OTOH often play stupid tennis. MEP for example beat some young guy TopKnot. TopKnot was in better shape (compared to the old man) but plays stupid tennis.

You have to get to VERY high levels before fitness starts to beat skill, IMHO. There is a guy down in Atlanta who was on the tennis troll video who is like 76-0 in singles at 5.0. He is not in good shape for 5.0 but wins very very easily.

At the pro level they all have the skills to hurt you - they all know basic tennis tactics, and they play very long matches so fitness is huge factor. Its not like that for rec players.
 

Rubens

Hall of Fame
Most people aren't good enough to hurt fat/out of shape players. That's the truth. Bigger players can rely on power and placement and their opponent does not have the skill to beat them because their strokes can't hurt them enough.

MEP getting beaten by that out of shape 50 year old man is a classic example. Had MEP had more skill it would be have been a super easy victory for him.
Yea I was a bit disappointed in MEP losing to that 50 year old. He's still good enough for Ian to duck him though.
 

Louis33

Semi-Pro
Play like Serena Williams by focusing on your serve and learning to hit big and ending the points early. From the two matches I watched of her in Australia I noticed that her footwork is not good whatsoever for the level of tennis she is playing. She is winning from her serve and playing the big points well. A good play for the rec player who does not move as well to copy.
 

Fintft

Legend
4. Very very efficient in their movement when they do have to move.
This is probably the easiest and imho it starts with being bouncy all the time and early racquet prep (coupled with a compact take back, hence the ATP style FH).
 

FlamingCheeto

Professional
If you're fat slow unfit you must acquitz with Taylor Fritz frosted tips divorced at 21 having fun?

but to reiterate: play more, watch what you eat, get in shape and until then try to end points super quickly and take a chance and go for a winner winner chicken dinner.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
If you're fat slow unfit you must acquitz with Taylor Fritz frosted tips divorced at 21 having fun?

but to reiterate: play more, watch what you eat, get in shape and until then try to end points super quickly and take a chance and go for a winner winner chicken dinner.
Got to disagree there. Out of shape players should not try to end points super quickly. If we are talking league matches there are lots of things you can do to play your normal game but not get hyper aggressive.

1) Pick the tiebreak if you have the option.
2) Mail in points in sets you seem doomed to lose.
3) Make sure you are adequately hydrated and try to recover (within the rules) between points.

If you are not named say David Nalbandian getting too aggressive - that's not a great tactic.. It's better to lose getting tired in the final set or tiebreak then to just get blown off the court because of too many unforced errors. If you start fast enough you can demoralize your more fit opponent. So play straight up IMHO.
 

zaph

Professional
My father, when he got older and slow was still able to beat players in their 20's. He didn't do it by blasting the ball past them, he controlled the point. The poor bugger at the other end of the court would be endlessly running and every ball they hit seemed to head directly for my father, he barely had to move.

His big weapon was deep slice into the backhand corner, his opponents found it very difficult to do anything other than send it straight back to him. Eventually they would leave a hole and my father would win the point, having done very little running. Alas I don't have that knack and have to run miles in an average match.
 
Did you measure the "60 second heart rate recovery to determine overall aerobic fitness. Ideally an aerobically fit person will recover 30 or more beats in those 60 seconds."

There was a thread about it:
Wouldn't it be more accurate to measure a % rather than an absolute # [ie 30]? Because everyone will have different max heart rates so 30 bpm might be a lot more significant for someone with a lower max heart rate [ie someone older who is still in good shape for their age cohort].
 

Curious

Legend
Damn you're in good shape. I just did 50 and heard something rip. Hopefully it's just my pants.
When I use a glute activation type of squat I can keep going forever ( in terms of pain or muscle fatigue). With quad activation I can’t.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
If you're unfit and you know it clap your hands
If you're unfit and you know it clap your hands
If you're unfit and you know it
Then your face will surely show it
If you're unfit and you know it clap your hands

If you're unfit and you know it stomp your feet
...

I tried to follow this but got winded about the third hand clapping.
Whew!
What a workout.
Thanks.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Anywhooo...

I always say the number one thing the majority of rec players can do is improve fitness and footwork. I see that as the biggest gains to be made in playing a cardio centric sport. However, if you just don't want to (I don't believe people can't, but they won't) I think the next best thing they can do is develop a consistent serve. If nothing else, that will at least give them the most opportunties to play out points.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I had 610 minutes of workout time last week. 2 hours was tennis. I am working to increase my running to 20 miles a week but it's challenging to do with the weather that we've been getting. There's no downside to fitness.
 

Fintft

Legend
Wouldn't it be more accurate to measure a % rather than an absolute # [ie 30]? Because everyone will have different max heart rates so 30 bpm might be a lot more significant for someone with a lower max heart rate [ie someone older who is still in good shape for their age cohort].
I don't think so (but you can do more reasearch) and the reason being that your case could be compensated by the fact that if by contrast a younger person raises his heart rate higher than an older one, it might also be harder to come down from it?

I only have some sample data for myself and although I don't raise my heart rate higher than 127 it comes down by about 40 beats in a minute or in another example from 107 to 72 (which is close to my resting rate).
 

Fintft

Legend
I just measure how I feel.:)
What I used to do is compare myself to others in team sports (such as basketball), can you constantly ran to both sides of the floor to where the action is? Sometimes it might be a coach or a team mate noticing this.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I don't think so (but you can do more reasearch) and the reason being that your case could be compensated by the fact that if by contrast a younger person raises his heart rate higher than an older one, it might also be harder to come down from it?

I only have some sample data for myself and although I don't raise my heart rate higher than 127 it comes down by about 40 beats in a minute or in another example from 107 to 72 (which is close to my resting rate).
How about VO2Max?
 
I don't think so (but you can do more reasearch) and the reason being that your case could be compensated by the fact that if by contrast a younger person raises his heart rate higher than an older one, it might also be harder to come down from it?

I only have some sample data for myself and although I don't raise my heart rate higher than 127 it comes down by about 40 beats in a minute or in another example from 107 to 72 (which is close to my resting rate).
My intuition tells me that %s are more generally applicable than absolutes. Max heart rate generally declines with age [the "220 - age" rule of thumb] so a 30 bpm decline would be a lot more significant for a 70-year old than a 20-year old.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I get beat by a couple guys at least 80-100 lbs overweight all the time. They have big serves, powerful forehands and points rarely last more than three hits.

They‘d easily be 4.5-5.0 players if they were fit and fast.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I'd say that the more you can move your opponent around, the less demands they will place on your movement.....in general anyway.
Play them outside on hot, humid days.

There was one guy I could always beat if the temperature was at least in the 80s, sunny and humid.

Big guy with a huge serve (measured 120+ MPH) and about 70 pounds overweight. I would just have to hold serve for the first three or four games on my serve and he ran out of gas. If he couldn't win the first set, he would never come close in the second.

I wasn't in the best of shape myself back then but was in better shape; and being smaller helped.
 

Fintft

Legend
My intuition tells me that %s are more generally applicable than absolutes. Max heart rate generally declines with age [the "220 - age" rule of thumb] so a 30 bpm decline would be a lot more significant for a 70-year old than a 20-year old.
I only read about one rule, iregardless of age and it's not too hard to achieve that :)
The "60 second heart rate recovery to determine overall aerobic fitness. Ideally an aerobically fit person will recover 30 or more beats in those 60 seconds."
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I only read about one rule, iregardless of age and it's not too hard to achieve that :)
The "60 second heart rate recovery to determine overall aerobic fitness. Ideally an aerobically fit person will recover 30 or more beats in those 60 seconds."
Why not use VO2Max? Seems to be the best way to measure aerobic fitness outside of it being somewhat cumbersome.

One downside for older people is that taking the test could result in a heart attack.

Aerobic fitness is assessed by having the subject perform exercise at increased loads, for 12 to 15 minutes, while breathing into a mouthpiece which collects information on inspired and expired air. A treadmill, personal bike on a Computrainer, or a stationary bicycle are typically used. The test starts with an easy-moderate work load which is maintained for a 1-2 minutes. The load is increased gradually every 1-2 minutes until reaching the maximum level that the subject can tolerate and/or until physiological parameters such as heart rate, oxygen consumption, f... have hit a peak or plateau. This is done by increasing the cycling resistance or the speed and/or grade of the treadmill. The oxygen uptake, heart rate, speed and/or watts are measured at the ventilatory threshold and at maximal load, the latter would be the subject's VO2 max.

 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
No I haven't given up yet and not looking for shortcuts but for whatever reason if you'e not moving well, can't lose weight or train hard, what else can you do to play better tennis? We all see people at times who are overweight, slow but they seem to still move efficiently and play good tennis. How?? Do they read the ball better, anticipate better, see the court better, select better shots? What do they do?
Play lower level opponents. That's the secret.

I'm like Federer to my 3.0 peers.



You're not doing yourself any favor by trying to reach higher and higher in recreational tennis. It's completely meaningless and often detrimental :)
 

ubercat

Professional
Haha @Curious I m busy removing my 'advantage'. And trying to get back my power shots so our rematch isn't quite so shameful. In terms of cats Garfield came to mind. Havent visited the golden arches since. Plenty of science saying fit and fat is a lot better for health outcomes. Do I keep waddling.

In my case I use a lot of anticipation shading over to where I think the ball will come. So holding the shot a bit and hitting a slower shot behind me works. Also I use a lot of hi rollers to setup my junk. Often lose if op has a more TS hi roller than me or can take them as OHs
 
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