The Secret to Playing Tennis at Any Level and Any Age

Tennis is a lifetime sport that holds endless possibilities for people of all ages — especially for retirees . If you’re aged 55 or older and never considered playing tennis before, you can pick up a racket today and discover your new favorite activity. Here are some valuable tips to ensure you master the game as you age.

Stay Fit
As we enter middle age and beyond, fitness is the key to thriving on the tennis court. Conditioning plays a crucial role in your overall performance, and its importance becomes even more significant with age. While skillful strokes and a powerful serve can still give you an edge, maintaining top physical shape gives you the necessary speed, flexibility, and power on the court. Staying fit allows you to begin playing tennis as well as you would in their younger years, albeit with slight adjustments in terms of power, speed, and flexibility.

Manage Weight
Managing weight is another critical aspect of playing the game well. Excess weight places additional strain on the body during a match, which can be prevented with weight management. Be sure to develop a fitness routine that takes your specific needs into consideration. For example, if you’ve had a knee operation, you’ll probably do best with non-impact biking, upper-body free-weight training, and core workouts on your off days. Pilates is also a great option for its emphasis on breathing and elongating muscles. On the other hand, playing tennis can be your fitness routine in itself, as long as you incorporate stretching.

Just as pilates helps elongate your muscles, a good stretching session is essential for a tennis player’s body. Before a match – or even on your off days – do a light warm-up, such as jogging or briskly walking before stretching to prepare your muscles properly.

Adjust Expectations
As we age, it’s essential to adapt our expectations and goals, shifting away from a results-oriented mindset. Take pride in playing well, working hard, and demonstrating resilience even in the face of potential defeat. While winning is always a plus, enjoying the game, giving your best effort, and leaving everything on the court becomes paramount, especially at the recreational level.

Align Body and Mind
Experience and wisdom become valuable assets when playing tennis. Older players are more apt to develop better tactical and strategic skills, quickly recognizing patterns and adjusting gameplay accordingly. Many tennis experts recommend going for high-percentage shots, which involves putting the ball in the right place rather than relying solely on powerful shots. Consider hitting the ball between the service notch and singles sideline to limit your opponent’s advantage due to reduced speed. You can also attempt hitting deep rather than hard in singles matches, making it harder for opponents to take control.

Use Available Resources

To optimize your performance and enhance your comfort on the court, take advantage of the various products and techniques available. Some good resources include:

  • High-quality tennis equipment, such as racquets designed for older players with features like larger sweet spots and lighter weight
  • Tennis technology like smart tennis sensors and video-analysis apps
  • Literature to provide insights, tips, and inspiration for playing tennis, including:
    • “Senior Tennis,” by Peter Burwash
    • “Age Defying Tennis: The Ultimate Fitness Guide for Men and Women,” by Patricia Lamkin
    • “Live the Best Story of Your Life: A World Champion’s Guide to Lasting Change,” by Bob Litwin
    • “Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis–Lessons from a Master,” by Brad Gilbert
    • “Tennis Anatomy,” by Paul Roetert and Mark Kovacs
  • Tennis clinics and camps to get more focused instruction
  • Tennis communities and leagues for regular play and friendly competition

Age and experience should not be a barrier to playing tennis. By prioritizing fitness, adjusting expectations, aligning body and mind, taking advances of available resources, and staying informed through literature, you can continue to enjoy and excel in the sport for a lifetime.