A new reader from Europe asks an interesting question: How does one best prepare for a lifetime of playing tennis?
His Question …
I’ve recently stumbled upon your blog. I find it fantastic how you document your journey in tennis and how you play six days a week!
I am in my mid-30s, with an athletic background, and have started training seriously 5-6x a week for the past 2.5 years. I find I have progressed greatly (lowish 4.5 level) in such a short time; but I could use some advice from someone who has started tennis also later in life. My goal is to play tennis all my life and compete in amateur tournaments.
I would like to suggest a blog post if you could share some wisdom and advice for the “younger seniors.”
First, while the players who started when they were very young (early teens) do have a significant stroke and strategy advantage to those of us who started playing this game later in life; I think there is also a “health benefit” to those of us who didn’t!
I really started playing tennis when I was about 27 years old; and while I was a decent athlete, I also didn’t play any organized body-bruising sports (football, basketball, etc.) in high school and college. So I come to a lifetime of playing tennis WITHOUT any pre-existing injuries; which I think, has helped me survive on the court now to age 76.
How To Prepare…
Avoid Injury: Looking ahead for you, the prime piece of advice I would offer would be: “Listen to your body.” Too many of us (men more than women) try to “tough it through” an injury and continue playing an “important match” or go on the court with a nagging pain, which should be addressed, not abused.
Stretch: Another big factor in my longevity on the court has been stretching. I have always been a fairly tightly muscled athlete, prone to muscle pulls. But I started daily stretching about 15 years ago and it has made a world of difference to me.
Eat Right: For my whole life, I have been fairly careful how much and what I eat (and drink!). As you age, I think that a reasonable food plan becomes increasingly important. And a corollary to that would be to maintain a body weight as low as is comfortable for you.
Anyone have additional thoughts and preparing yourself to play forever?
PS Congrats to Larry Turville for all his work in trying to make the upcoming Florida tournaments as “consumer friendly” as possible! the link to next week’s doubles only tournament is HERE: https://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=241700
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My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!