Why are dominant young athletes so rare nowadays?

clout

Hall of Fame
Nadal just completed a hat-trick against the next-gen in painless order and Novak looks certain to meet him in the finals. Overall, tennis on both the men and women's circuit have been utterly dominated by Fedalovic and Serena Williams over the past few years, and one thing they all have in common is that they're all above 30, which is an age that most tennis players are supposed to be already or nearing the stage of retirement.

Thing is, it's not just tennis. In football, Messi and Ronaldo are still the undisputed top 2 players in the world and it's really not even close despite Modric winning the Ballon D'or, which was a massive LOL; they're both in their 30's too.
In American football, 41-year old Tom Brady just brought his team to yet another Super Bowl by beating an opposing QB who's nearly 20 years his junior, and is still not looking to be slowing down anytime soon.
In basketball LeBron James is still argubaly the best player on the planet despite turning 35 by the end of 2019. Followed by James, other top superstars include Steph Curry who will be 31, KD and Westbrook will also be 31, Harden will be 30, etc. Even guys like Vince Carter who is 42 is still dunking IN GAMES, and Tim Duncan was an ELITE player from his rookie season all the way through to his final season when he was 40.
In the Olympics, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt were both already above their 30's in the '16 Olympics and they were still destroying their comp. by winning gold after gold after gold.

If you looks at the sports world from like 10-15 years ago, all of the world's most dominant athletes were in their 20's and some were even in their teens!

So the question here is why aren't we seeing dominant athletes at young ages anymore? Are the old guys simply still too good? Is technology/social media that big of a distraction? Are athletes peaking later these days?
 
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BGod

Legend
Tennis is a terrible investment from a career perspective.

You can be 1000-2000 range as a basketball player and make decent money in Argentina or Europe or China.

You're really only making in tennis you're not only consistently Top 100 but managing your schedule as guys like Janowicz stated they lost money playing so many tournaments.
 

papertank

Hall of Fame
Advancements in fitness training and sports medicine. Before the tradeoff between young and old was fitness vs. experience. Nowadays the old guys are as fit or even more fit than the young ones and also have a lifetime of experience at the top of the sport. How the hell can you expect someone like Tsitsipas, a first time GS semi finalist, to stop someone like Nadal who has been in that situation dozens and dozens of times? It’s just not going to happen.
 

tennisfan2015

Hall of Fame
Nadal just completed a hat-trick against the next-gen in painless order and Novak looks certain to meet him in the finals. Overall, tennis on both the men and women's circuit have been utterly dominated by Fedalovic and Serena Williams over the past few years, and one thing they all have in common is that they're all above 30, which is an age that most tennis players are supposed to be already or nearing the stage of retirement.

Thing is, it's not just tennis. In football, Messi and Ronaldo are still the undisputed top 2 players in the world and it's really not even close despite Modric winning the Ballon D'or, which was a massive LOL; they're both in their 30's too.
In American football, 41-year old Tom Brady just brought his team to yet another Super Bowl by beating an opposing QB who's nearly 20 years his junior, and is still not looking to be slowing down anytime soon.
In basketball LeBron James is still argubaly the best player on the planet despite turning 35 by the end of 2019. Followed by James, other top superstars include Steph Curry who will be 31, KD and Westbrook will also be 31, Harden will be 30, etc. Even guys like Vince Carter who is 42 is still dunking IN GAMES, and Tim Duncan was an ELITE player from his rookie season all the way through to his final season when he was 40.
In the Olympics, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt were both already above their 30's in the '16 Olympics and they were still destroying their comp. by winning gold after gold after gold.

If you looks at the sports world from like 10-15 years ago, all of the world's most dominant athletes were in their 20's and some were even in their teens!

So the question here is why aren't we seeing dominant athletes at young ages anymore? Are the old guys simply still too good? Is technology/social media that big of a distraction? Are athletes peaking later these days?
Gender equality!
 

BGod

Legend
Advancements in fitness training and sports medicine. Before the tradeoff between young and old was fitness vs. experience. Nowadays the old guys are as fit or even more fit than the young ones and also have a lifetime of experience at the top of the sport. How the hell can you expect someone like Tsitsipas, a first time GS semi finalist, to stop someone like Nadal who has been in that situation dozens and dozens of times? It’s just not going to happen.
Well that and money. Fed's family background in pharmaceuticals coupled with his immense wealth certainly aids in his age defying achievements. Sports are fair to an extent but at the highest level that money really comes into play. And at this point only naive people dismiss PED use. Better PEDs, better performance.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
there's still elite young players in all the sports you've mentioned. Tennis hasn't had anything resembling an elite young player in 10 years.
Well there's young stars of course, but none of them are really dominating or perceived as the best player in the world.

Football has tons of young studs but it's very obvious none of them are even near the level of Messi or Ronaldo in terms of being the games best player.
LeBron is 34 but most ball fans still see him as the league's best player and even those who don't usually favor guys like Durant, Harden or Curry who are all gonna be north of 30 by the end of 2019.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Well there's young stars of course, but none of them are really dominating or perceived as the best player in the world.

Football has tons of young studs but it's very obvious none of them are even near the level of Messi or Ronaldo in terms of being the games best player.
LeBron is 34 but most ball fans still see him as the league's best player and even those who don't usually favor guys like Durant, Harden or Curry who are all gonna be north of 30 by the end of 2019.
don't know much about soccer, but in basketball LeBron is just an anomaly, guys like Davis, Jokic, Embiid, Giannis are doing super well and are at least close to the same level as the guys you mentioned. Tennis they are nowhere near close.
 
Football has tons of young studs but it's very obvious none of them are even near the level of Messi or Ronaldo in terms of being the games best player.
Actually, Allegri already has plan to use Ronaldo as a substitute player more frequently. In football, a player in a top club plays 40-50 matches per season, and younger guys are capable of playing more matches without breaks.
Both Ronaldo and Messi need team support, and both of their clubs field numerous young players in their starting 11 squad.

Another criteria when judging football players is the ability to play 40-50 full matches per season.

Age also depends on positions. For example, GKs normally peak much later. Classic wingers and wing-defenders, however, normally peak earlier.

However, if you pit a team full of old guys against a team like, say, Liverpool, prepare to lose 3-4 goals at the minimum.
 

Lew II

G.O.A.T.
I think sports reached the peak of their popularity, so new generations are not more talented than the previous, as it used to happen.
 

Druss

Hall of Fame
Advancements in fitness training and sports medicine. Before the tradeoff between young and old was fitness vs. experience. Nowadays the old guys are as fit or even more fit than the young ones and also have a lifetime of experience at the top of the sport. How the hell can you expect someone like Tsitsipas, a first time GS semi finalist, to stop someone like Nadal who has been in that situation dozens and dozens of times? It’s just not going to happen.
I can think of two 20 year olds from the past 20 years that could have stopped Nadal at this AO.
1) Safin of USO 2000
2) Djokovic of USO 2007

Unfortunately there has not been any youngsters of that calibre since Djokovic! I don't buy the advancements in sports medicine and fitness training as an excuse. Carl Lewis of 1989 could run the 100m just as fast as today's top guns. Where is the advancement in fitness there?
 
Unfortunately there has not been any youngsters of that calibre since Djokovic! I don't buy the advancements in sports medicine and fitness training as an excuse. Carl Lewis of 1989 could run the 100m just as fast as today's top guns. Where is the advancement in fitness there?
Or simply type A athletes no longer take tennis due to low financial returns.
 

Fuzz

New User
I don't get the NBA mention, there are plenty of dominant young players. One of the top MVP candidates right now is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is just in his age 23-24 season and might not even be in his prime yet. And you have a bunch of other really good young players, a few of them also somewhere in the MVP conversation...Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Karl Anthony Towns, Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, the list goes on and on and on.

As for the other guys, those guys are all right there in the normal prime range of like age 26-32 or so. LeBron is the only one who is older than usual and he's the exception because he might be a top 3 player of all time.
 

sportmac

Hall of Fame
My theory is the 30(+) year old's are the last youngsters to have learned the game without poly strings. They're the last generation before "hit forehands from everywhere" became a game plan. By the time the poly's were ubiquitous these guys were 14/15 and older.
 
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Rabe87

Professional
It's also an attitude thing, 20 years ago if you were 25 and hadn't 'made' it in tennis you were never going to, so they just retired. Now, if you're 25 you've got 7-12 years ahead of you playing pro tennis and could catch fire at a M1000 or GS and have a deep run.
 

Rabe87

Professional
Imagine if Kerber or Pennetta had decided to hang up their racquets in their mid 20's, well before they ever won a Slam. Players get motivated by those kinds of accomplishments.
 

Sport

G.O.A.T.
Because Djokovic and Nadal are the greatest players of all time (Federer is there too). No young player will ever be as good as them.
 

Boom-Boom

Legend
Advancements in fitness training and sports medicine. Before the tradeoff between young and old was fitness vs. experience. Nowadays the old guys are as fit or even more fit than the young ones and also have a lifetime of experience at the top of the sport. How the hell can you expect someone like Tsitsipas, a first time GS semi finalist, to stop someone like Nadal who has been in that situation dozens and dozens of times? It’s just not going to happen.
This.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Advances in training and conditioning.

Do you even know how athletes used to train and play like 30 years ago? Or even 50 years ago? They were almost like average rec players who don't even compete, ate burgers and fries and had training and matches.

Besides that after 30 was almost like an expected time to retire and most didn't even have desire to keep competing and training hard for much longer.

Today players actually have extremely science based training and recovery, planned out schedules and timeframes, stretching, gym work, recovery and rest, great nutrition... are you really suprized that athletes perform better for longer? Im not suprized at all.
 

Silverbullet96

Semi-Pro
I don't see why this 'better nutrition' and sports science isn't doing a thing for the younger players but just the old players. Surely it should help younger players gain better fitness and grow stronger at an early age ?
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
It's only tennis, really.

In the NHL, Connor McDavid is the best player in the league, and there are many others. Matthews, Marner, Gaudreau, Mackinnon, Point.

And Mahomes is a phenom. He most likely just got screwed by a coin toss if truth be told, and Brady's great obviously, but so are the Patriots as a whole. It's not like he does it alone. Plus, look closer at the Rams and Jared Goff. Not as good as Mahomes, but he's not bad.

The MLB has a bunch of young talent. The Red Sox and Astros alone are loaded with it, and the Yankees aren't far behind. A guy like Machado has been great for a long time too, and that guy Hader that came out of the bullpen for the Brewers this year was lights out. Cody Bellinger is pretty good too. Hasn't done jack in the playoffs, I admit, but he was Rookie of the Year.

I see metsman already mentioned some NBA stars too, so really it's only tennis that has this "problem" for lack of a better word, and we've been through this a million times where tennis is concerned. Some of it is advances in tech, allowing the older generation to be able to play awesome for longer, some of it is homogeneous court surfaces, most of it is just lack of talent in comparison to Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer.
 

tennishabit

Hall of Fame
relax relax guys.......dat's called evolution, lolololol. most of ya could hardly even live more than 40 yrs 1000 yrs ago though tennis was so popular n became such a diversion, both the Pope and Louis IV tried unsuccessfully to ban it......surely most of the winners of some kind of 'tour' back then must be teens.

nowadays most likely most of gs winners gonna b quite old, like in their 30s:?)))........osaka might b the very few exception:))).....
 

Bluefan75

Professional
Unfortunately there has not been any youngsters of that calibre since Djokovic! I don't buy the advancements in sports medicine and fitness training as an excuse. Carl Lewis of 1989 could run the 100m just as fast as today's top guns. Where is the advancement in fitness there?
What are you talking about? Justin Gatlin is faster in 2018 than he was in 2004. Lots of fitness advancements there.

*ignores multiple doping suspensions.
 

hugobosstachini

Professional
Like many said it's just tennis where the cycle is really long. Tennis being a niche sport compared to athletics, soccer, volleyball or basketball, it's much more difficult for a variety of talents to enter the sport. That explains in my opinion why the cycle is longer than some other sports. To reduce the cycle, tennis needs to include a greater variety of talents and for that it had to become less expensive. The latter is bigger challenge.
 
I don't see why this 'better nutrition' and sports science isn't doing a thing for the younger players but just the old players. Surely it should help younger players gain better fitness and grow stronger at an early age ?
They are not cheap, plain and simple. Older guys accumulate more prize money to spend on such thing. Not all young players have rich families to bankroll them, certainly not Tsitsipas.

Also, when it comes to professionalism, you would expect more of that from more matured players rather than from youngsters.
 
Like many said it's just tennis where the cycle is really long. Tennis being a niche sport compared to athletics, soccer, volleyball or basketball, it's much more difficult for a variety of talents to enter the sport. That explains in my opinion why the cycle is longer than some other sports. To reduce the cycle, tennis needs to include a greater variety of talents and for that it had to become less expensive. The latter is bigger challenge.
Volleyball isn't niche?
 

wangs78

Hall of Fame
Advancements in fitness training and sports medicine. Before the tradeoff between young and old was fitness vs. experience. Nowadays the old guys are as fit or even more fit than the young ones and also have a lifetime of experience at the top of the sport. How the hell can you expect someone like Tsitsipas, a first time GS semi finalist, to stop someone like Nadal who has been in that situation dozens and dozens of times? It’s just not going to happen.
Pretty much this.
 

tennis_pro

Bionic Poster
Tennis is a terrible investment from a career perspective.

You can be 1000-2000 range as a basketball player and make decent money in Argentina or Europe or China.

You're really only making in tennis you're not only consistently Top 100 but managing your schedule as guys like Janowicz stated they lost money playing so many tournaments.
This has been the case for a tad longer than 10 years I think.
 

Born Again

Rookie
They aren't that rare, Doncic is only 19 and is already the best player in the nba.
Then you have the likes of Mbappe in soccer...
 

ssdeluxe

New User
I recently watched an atp video "a day in the life" with Dennis Shapovalov.

I couldn't help think......aren't you guys training too much ?? ...it was like 12 hrs a day of hard gym, training, hitting/drills stretching, more gym, training, crazier drills/hitting...

I honestly thought: rest is just as important as playing : Fed understands that listening to your body is paramount......seems the modern bent for science, spread sheets and specific regimented training.....

might not leave enough room for mental/physical rest......style development.........the part of the game that you can't teach.


This also plays out in the local tennis courts I frequent: where you see these young kids being fed balls like crazy, running these kids into the ground, I don't think that is the way.

imho, I don't think the up and comers rest enough, listen to their bodies , play tennis instead of drill....big difference....playing games/matches is nothing like drills.....this is apparent to me when I see

a lot of matches with the new breed just plain moving late to the ball, no instinct to direction, flow, and,lack of court intuition.

I'm still rooting for the young up and comers though ~! somebodies gotta push through ?!!

I also 100% agree with the money assertions. You need lots of $$ for tennis.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Too much percentage tennis anymore, where champions are moulded and thrive by turning low percentage shots and plays into consistent strategies. So percentage tennis will always favor mediorcity and rarely make you a champion.
 
It's only tennis, really.

In the NHL, Connor McDavid is the best player in the league, and there are many others. Matthews, Marner, Gaudreau, Mackinnon, Point.

And Mahomes is a phenom. He most likely just got screwed by a coin toss if truth be told, and Brady's great obviously, but so are the Patriots as a whole. It's not like he does it alone. Plus, look closer at the Rams and Jared Goff. Not as good as Mahomes, but he's not bad.

The MLB has a bunch of young talent. The Red Sox and Astros alone are loaded with it, and the Yankees aren't far behind. A guy like Machado has been great for a long time too, and that guy Hader that came out of the bullpen for the Brewers this year was lights out. Cody Bellinger is pretty good too. Hasn't done jack in the playoffs, I admit, but he was Rookie of the Year.

I see metsman already mentioned some NBA stars too, so really it's only tennis that has this "problem" for lack of a better word, and we've been through this a million times where tennis is concerned. Some of it is advances in tech, allowing the older generation to be able to play awesome for longer, some of it is homogeneous court surfaces, most of it is just lack of talent in comparison to Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer.
Let's be serious. Even at this stage of his career there is no QB anyone would rather have on his team in a big game instead of Tom Brady. We'll probably be saying the same thing in January 2020. And while Lebron is currently hurt, what he showed this year and his team's performance without him Lebron is still head and shoulders above everyone else at the best player in the game. The ones below him are all 29-31 with the sole exception of Giannis.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
Messi crashed out of the world cup in the first knockout round, meanwhile Mbappe became the youngest player to score in a world cup final since Pele.
That’s a team event that occurs once every four years over a four week span.

Messi in 2018 led the big 5 European leagues in goals, assists, points, chances created, key passes, free kick goals, dribbles, and goals scored outside the box, he also spent like 3 weeks on the sidelines due to an arm injury. Overall, Messi and CR7 are still in a league of their own right now and it really isn’t close.

WC success is a horrible way to judge an individual player cuz winning it is a team accomplishment
 

3lite

Professional
The French team that won the world cup is among the youngest to win a world cup in history.
That French team also faced some of the weakest competition ever seen in a World Cup. The entire tournament was abysmal.
 
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