Awkwardness of Aging

George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
When will the US Davis Cup captain NOT invite the aging Bryan brothers to play doubles for our country? When will YOU not be invited to play in a regular doubles game because you are slowing down?

Davis Cup

The American team took a “commanding” 2-0 lead over the Croatians in this year’s quarterfinal round, with the Bryan brothers taking to the court to clinch the tie for the U.S. on the middle Saturday.

The 38 year-old twins suffered just their fifth Davis Cup loss in 29 outings – by far the greatest team we have ever fielded. It is only natural that both the pros and us will slow down as we age; but it is sad to see. John Isner and Jack Sock, who both had solid wins in the opening round, then followed by losing both their matches on Sunday.

You and Me

We all play with people who “used to be a lot better,” and are constantly moaning about their decline. What we have to do is remind ourselves of the Alcoholics Anonymous’ “Serenity Prayer,”

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

No matter how old we are, there are still parts of our game or physical conditioning we can work on to at least SLOW the process. For example, every time I end a practice session, I try to work in Reflex Volleys for about ten minutes. This really helps maintaining racquet head speed during fast moving doubles matches.

“The wisdom to know the difference”

The beauty of this game of ours is that we can always find players at our “level,” whatever that is. It could be with fellow aging players or it could even be with younger, less skilled players.

But also remember the philosophy of one of my favorite quotes from George Bernard Shaw: “You don’t stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing.” So, never stop.

Your thoughts?

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14 thoughts on “Awkwardness of Aging

  1. Hip and knee replacements, rotator cuff and achilles heel surgeries are the great equalizers on the tennis courts as we age. Not to mention the vision and the hearing…. It’s tough! great stuff George!

    Jim, yup, staying healthy is critical (pun intended). thanks, george

  2. george. it’s really all about the pace of the ball, isn’t it? if the ball comes
    at you at a speed that doesn’t overwhelm you, you can handle it, and
    hit the stroke you want with good timing. The problem with the
    aging tennis player (us!), is that most of our competitors are younger
    than us, and they hit the ball so much harder than us. And, we can’t
    hurt them with our strokes.
    we work harder and harder, not to get better, but to slow down
    the inevitable process that is happening to the aging player. My
    thoughts, these days, are to just keep playing as long as I can.
    The bottom line is, how lucky are we!!!

    Joe, yes, that young/fastball is the challenge! thanks, george

  3. With age, we may change with whom we play, how we play and the level of play, but let us not stop playing. Kudos to all my fellow seniors who push their minds and bodies to the max.

    Doc, as do you. Thanks. George

  4. For competitive guys like we all are it is difficult to deal with. After 2 new knees and major bad surgery in the last 4-5 years…it always seems that I am always in the “comeback” stage. The once major assets of the big serve and big forehand are now just a good serve and good forehand! Of course most of mere mortals lose court coverage as well as the years tick by.

    We all know the answer is to improve areas of your game which use to be a weakness…better 2nd serve, better slice backhand, better lobs…and the most important part is a better PARTNER…lol…to cover for all your flaws!!

    The good news, most of the guys I play with and against are on the same path and we still enjoy the competition, the bonding, the post match beverage and the lies about how good we use to be…even though we have told the same (and heard) story many times before!

    Dave, good friends make up a lot for bad play. Thanks. George

  5. Just like when we first started the more effort you put into it the more you get out of it. Both playing regularly and staying fit but then a little luck on staying healthy. Let’s face it we all play with a little something bothering us. What a great sport and wonderful means of staying fit. Good stuff George!

  6. Bill simonton calls it the theory of relative decline. As long as you play with the same aging group you don’t notice the drop in your game because everyone else is dropping with you.

    Roy , it is when you venture out of that comfort zone you discover the difference. Thanks , George

  7. Not having played since my March 3rd retina detachment, I feel like I have aged tremendously. The benefits of the physical and mental exertion extend off the court as well into the energy needed for both social and work situations. I’m afraid my regular doubles group on Saturday mornings won’t have room for me when I recover.

    Tom, don’t stop! George

  8. The trick is to play with the same group. Been playing with some of the same guys for over 30 years and (relatively speaking of course) we haven’t slowed down a bit.

    Joe, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”! 🙂 george

  9. Great post George. Having recently had an injury, I can appreciate the “never stop playing”!

    Christine, i hope you come back soon … and stay healthy! george

  10. George when my game declines it is always fun to play with people who don’t hit as hard as I hit and for me this often includes women players . However even then I am frequently beaten .
    In my case I am trying to preserve my body by avoiding hard courts at all costs. Coming to the good courts in Naples in January is a excellent way of self-preservation and pleasure

    Clive, hard courts can be “joint killers.” See you in January! george

  11. George from the number of comments you received, the “Awkwardness of Aging” struck a chord with many of your followers.

    Ted, we are all in the same boat! thanks, george

  12. It’s given me the opportunity to work on my “guile” – something I’ve always admired in my tennis heroes. 🙂

    Kevin, the “head” is still a virgin field for many. thanks, george

  13. Ditto for all written previously, but one small “correction” to Dave Bushey’s comment. Beverage should be plural!!

  14. After watching and treating athletes, high school to professional, one thing is apparent, we do not lose our skills but we lose the physical ability to perform those skills at the same high level. Although we cannot stop the process of aging, we can delay the inevitable through a systematic approach of proper warm-up/cool-down, strength training (may be body wt only), good nutrition (beverages are ok), and proper rest. The problem is that in our busy world it is sometimes hard to fit all those into life. Then when you throw in luck avoiding serious injuries and surgeries, it can become more complicated. In the professional athletes I worked with in my 30 years in the MLB, the guys who had longevity had one thing in common – they never got greatly out of shape. It is was constant for them to stay in shape without major weight shifts coupled with proper sleep/rest and nutrition. Unfortunately, there is not one program or one exercise that can do it all. It has to be a combination of strength, flexibility, endurance, power, and skill training to get it done.

    Larry, i agree totally … fitness is a lifetime goal/activity! thanks, george

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