Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sports? [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sports?

2003
05-20-2010, 06:29 AM
The thing I find most interesting about Tennis is that players seem to peak at a very early age and then their fall from grace is quite rapid and torrid to watch.

There are always exceptions to every rule of course, Tommy Farce for example is 31-32 and had probably his best season in 2009, at least where the grand slams were concerned and best of 5 set tennis is the hardest. Tommy Haas also did very well against Federer on clay, playing that well on clay is hard endurance wise for a 31 yearold like Tommy Haas.

But if you look at the best male players, they generally hit their peak about 24-25 and the fall from grace in terms of their playing style is quite apparent. Federer had probably his best 2 years of tennis in 2005/2006, he only lost 3 or 4 matches each year. He has been good enough to win grand slam titles since then, including playing better at 28 for a brief period during AO 2010, than he probably played when he was 27 in 2008. But movement wise hes very much slower, in AO 2009 for the first time I saw him not chasing down many shots he would have in the past, and against a retriever like Nadal it cost him dearly in the final.

Lets compare to some other sports stars from other sports, where endurance/strength/spped and fitness plays just a big or bigger part than Tennis. No point comparing Cricket or Golf or Fat/Old mans sports like Darts or 8 ball;

Lance Armstrong was 28 when he won his first of the 5 consecutive Tour De France titles, and 33 when he retired, but he retired very much on top, and as we have seen in 2009 Tour, at 38 or 39 he is, albeit not as good as he was, his peak could probably have extended into his mid 30's at least.

Haille Gebreselassie was in his mid 20's when he won his first Olympic Gold 10 000 metres, but at 35 years old he set the Marathon World Record of 2:03. Granted he is past his best at 5 000 and 10 000 meters, but he still finished 7th in the Olympic Final in 2008.

Rugby League has a host of players who, although starting to show their age, are still playing very strong at 33-36 years of age. Rugby League is a sport where you have to constantly sprint back and forth 10 meters after every tackle, and those guys don't seem to have lost too much speed. Although in Tennis we only see very short acceleration over 10-20 meters and 15-30 meters horizontially, so perhaps comparison is limited.

Peak age for body building seems to be early - mid thirties.

Swimming seems to have a low peak age, if we took Phelps as an example. But then again he is not going to compete beyond 30 largely by choice..could he still dominate most of the field at 30-35 even if he didn't win absolutely every medal under the sun? Quite probable I think. Much like Federer is not winning 3 slams a year anymore, Phelps wouldn't win 6-8 gold medals, but he might win 3 or so,as much as or more than anyone else anyway.

Triathlon, being a young sport, has many guys hitting their straps who are in their early 30's at the moment and still running very strong.

Boxers hit their peak at 32-37 and have strong showings into their early 40's.

Mixed Martial Artists are similar, but once they reach about 40 they are toast as far as being the best of the best. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Kimbo Slice, numerous others prove this point.

All these sports are probably as demanding as Tennis. Yes tennis players play a lot of matches and tournaments, but the NRL season is very long, runners and cyclists run 100 miles a week and in excess of 1000 miles a week cycled, so they train day in day out for sure, there really is no break for them. I have seen some of the workouts that MMA guys do, and they are some of the fittest athletes in the world.

I am not by any means creating this topic to suggest tennis players are weak or pussy compared to other sports, quite the opposite, I am just wondering what it is about tennis that seems to make competing beyond early 30's at anything close to your best an impossible task. I mean look at Andre Agassi, yeah he was good, but he was an aging bald wreck before Bagdartis put him out of his misery at US Open 2006. Far from the kind of form Lance Armstrong showed at neally 40 in the Tour De France after 3 years sitting on the couch drinking beers.

theseth1119
05-20-2010, 06:39 AM
No, it was Benjamin Becker who ended Andre Agassi's career, not Marcos Baghdatis.

2003
05-20-2010, 07:30 AM
True, but it was the shaggers back he got against Burgerdartis that stuffed him, that Becker match was only ever going one way.

Billups85
05-20-2010, 07:31 AM
Lance Armstrong was 28 when he won his first of the 5 consecutive Tour De France titles, and 33 when he retired, but he retired very much on top, and as we have seen in 2009 Tour, at 38 or 39 he is, albeit not as good as he was, his peak could probably have extended into his mid 30's at least.

Lance Armstrong won 7 consecutive Tours, not 5. And he was 34 when he retired for the first time.

Imo, the toughest sport is cyclism (peak age is around 30-31-32) hence the problem with doping. The harder the sport is, the higher peak age is.

Mjau!
05-20-2010, 11:27 AM
Tough on the body, neverending season... the sport has been evolving rather rapidly since the 80's... you lose reaction time and quickness before you lose strength and endurance... in fact, endurance athletes tend to peak late.

Sophocles
05-20-2010, 11:28 AM
This could be a really interesting thread. Shame about the OP.

Mjau!
05-20-2010, 11:28 AM
Lance Armstrong won 7 consecutive Tours, not 5. And he was 34 when he retired for the first time.

Imo, the toughest sport is cyclism (peak age is around 30-31-32) hence the problem with doping. The harder the sport is, the higher peak age is.

But not in a way that hampers longevity.

LEGENDOFTENNIS
05-20-2010, 12:26 PM
"Boxers hit their peak at 32-37 and have strong showings into their early 40's."

Not really...boxers hit their peak around 27-30 after that they slowly start losing a step. It is VERY rare to see a boxer at the elite level in their 40's (Hopkins/Foreman)

2003
05-20-2010, 12:36 PM
"It is VERY rare to see a boxer at the elite level in their 40's (Hopkins/Foreman)

The Elder Klitschko brother is pushing 38 or 39, still holds a heavyweight belt and looks rather unbeatable, David Tua is resurecting his career age 37 and looking much better than he did on his comeback 5 years ago where he was only just beating cans. Mayweather looking formidable as ever into his early - mid thirties. I agree the strong showing into their 40's was somewhat an exageration. But I think if they trained hard enough possibly..heavyweight boxers are known to go into their shells/have long lay offs and not train day in day out between fights.

David Becham in soccer, is pushing 36 now and, although past his best, I saw him play a couple of years ago with the LA Galaxy team when they came to New Zealand, and he was running rings around guys in their early 20's.

marcRD
05-20-2010, 12:43 PM
Jimmy Connors did some amazing results when he was in his 40s, I dont even need to mention Rosewall. I think the modern approach to the game with alot of hardcourts and a long season can really take its toil on players. If you schedule in a smart way and put your priorities right I see no reason why you can not play great tennis well into your late 30s. That is if you also have the right style to play tennis (not Nadal, Murray, Hewitt).

Remember that boxing requires alot of strength, marathon requires endurance while tennis is all reflexes and speed, you cant lose a step when your job is to get fast to the ball or the other opponent will be blasting winners and aces past you. In football a player can adapt to positions that dont require speed but in tennis he is all alone with the set of skills and physical condition that he got. In today's game Federer has lost half a step and he really cant afford to lose another half step if he wants to keep beeing nr1, but I think he can still win Wimbledon and maybe USOPEN if age gets to him, he can really go playing more aggressive and relying on his serve, some other players like Nadal cant afford to not be physically 100%, even Djokovic and Murray would really fall hard from showing since of aging.

Then there are alot of genetics involved, there are those strange cases like Davydenko who has been running left and right week in and out for years and years and only peaked at 28-29 years old.

Ububub
05-20-2010, 03:27 PM
Professional tennis players play on 6 continents throughout the year. They live in hotels (or villas), but they are rarely home. Tennis players basically have to put their lives on hold when it comes to raising a family. And once they do, the traveling is curtailed, practice is reduced, and that combined with the natural aging process leads to a sharp decline.

Take American basketball player, LeBron James as an example. He's considered by most to be the best on the planet. He grew up in Ohio, he plays half of his games in Ohio, he had two kids by age 23.

Johnny Groove
05-20-2010, 03:32 PM
Because the game of tennis is so damn grinding. What other sport requires the players to fly and play all over the world 11 months of the year basically non-stop?

Hardcourts are the biggest reason, though. Split step on the return, explode one way or the other, recover to neutral rally position quickly, explode one way or the other again, etc. etc. etc. Knees take a pounding.

Not to mention the mental aspect of it all. Other sports, guys sign contracts and make millions before they step on the field. In tennis, if you don't win, you don't get paid.

gulzhan
05-20-2010, 04:11 PM
Nothing can compare to gymnastics. They are old at 16 :p

Matt_2745
05-20-2010, 05:15 PM
David Becham in soccer, is pushing 36 now and, although past his best, I saw him play a couple of years ago with the LA Galaxy team when they came to New Zealand, and he was running rings around guys in their early 20's.

Becks is well past it to be fair, doing that to players in New Zealand is very much different to doing it week in week out in the Premier League/Champions League. He's good for a 20 minute cameo but not good enough otherwise really and hasn't been for some time.

Ryan Giggs on the other hand...

Persimmon
05-20-2010, 05:25 PM
It's because tennis is tougher on the body than the other sports.

Certainly more than baseball, no? There are 40-somethings playing baseball for example.

Bobby
05-20-2010, 05:38 PM
Because in tennis your results start going downhill pretty soon when you lose speed, reflexes and so on. For example in ice hockey or soccer, you can still be a part of team and your role can change over the years. This is not possible in tennis.

Xristos
05-20-2010, 06:09 PM
Not to mention the mental aspect of it all. Other sports, guys sign contracts and make millions before they step on the field. In tennis, if you don't win, you don't get paid.

This is the truth.

rocketassist
05-20-2010, 06:13 PM
True, but it was the shaggers back he got against Burgerdartis that stuffed him, that Becker match was only ever going one way.

Not true. A crippled Agassi had set point in the fourth and Becker probably would have choked it all away if he'd lost that point.

2003
05-20-2010, 10:26 PM
Federer has lost half a step and he really cant afford to lose another half step if he wants to keep beeing nr1, but I think he can still win Wimbledon and maybe USOPEN if age gets to him, he can really go playing more aggressive and relying on his serve

At times I agree Federer seems to have lost half a step, others he seems to regain it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip_-gIArfME

Theres a video of a younger fit Djokovic giving up a rally against him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re3ihZ9GKjc

Just look at the court coverage there..he isn't even tired or anything after that.

I sensed he looked a lot slower in 2009 AO..but then he seemed to speed up again..maybe the mono did effect him for a long time residually..I know it gets absurd past a certain point to bring the mono up though.

moon language
05-20-2010, 10:34 PM
Because of the premium put on lateral explosiveness and rapid lateral change of direction.

Vida
05-20-2010, 10:58 PM
Because it becomes too hard.

General Suburbia
05-21-2010, 01:38 AM
Poll shouldn't be limited to just one answer - it's a combination of many of those factors, plus others.

kooties
05-21-2010, 02:12 AM
I think it's because of the way that points are set up. In tennis, a lapse of concentration even for a split second on a single point will have you losing the point, while in other sports it's more forgiving. Other sports also have time limits, as opposed to tennis in where you have to win by points, this in turn disallows tennis players to "coast" even when they have the lead, as they still have to finish the match.

There's also the issue of being able to rest mid-point, team athletes have their team to fall back to, and even other individual sport athletes such as boxers and MMArtists have "stalling" techniques such as clinching and top-control which allow them a few seconds to catch their breaths.

2003
05-21-2010, 11:06 PM
I think it's because of the way that points are set up. In tennis, a lapse of concentration even for a split second on a single point will have you losing the point, while in other sports it's more forgiving. Other sports also have time limits, as opposed to tennis in where you have to win by points, this in turn disallows tennis players to "coast" even when they have the lead, as they still have to finish the match.

There's also the issue of being able to rest mid-point, team athletes have their team to fall back to, and even other individual sport athletes such as boxers and MMArtists have "stalling" techniques such as clinching and top-control which allow them a few seconds to catch their breaths.

All very good points.

It must be noted though that tennis players do get roughly 10-20 seconds rest between each point, a sit down every so many games where they can take on fluids and (unique to this sport) some sustinence like fruit. Also when playing someone like Rafa or Djokovic you get the maximum rest due to their ball bouncing tactics :).

Finally, players do get an extended active rest every time a first serve doesn't go in. Which is a lot of the time.

Angle Queen
05-22-2010, 12:14 AM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned...that tennis is very much an "individual" sport. Most of the other big time (read...big money) sports are team efforts (basketball, baseball, football..American and real, hell even cycling). It's man-to-man, so to speak, and I think that takes a bigger, quicker toll on the body. The seemingly never ending season played literally around the world...and it adds up quick.

HKz
05-22-2010, 02:16 AM
Jimmy Connors did some amazing results when he was in his 40s, I dont even need to mention Rosewall. I think the modern approach to the game with alot of hardcourts and a long season can really take its toil on players. If you schedule in a smart way and put your priorities right I see no reason why you can not play great tennis well into your late 30s. That is if you also have the right style to play tennis (not Nadal, Murray, Hewitt).

Remember that boxing requires alot of strength, marathon requires endurance while tennis is all reflexes and speed, you cant lose a step when your job is to get fast to the ball or the other opponent will be blasting winners and aces past you. In football a player can adapt to positions that dont require speed but in tennis he is all alone with the set of skills and physical condition that he got. In today's game Federer has lost half a step and he really cant afford to lose another half step if he wants to keep beeing nr1, but I think he can still win Wimbledon and maybe USOPEN if age gets to him, he can really go playing more aggressive and relying on his serve, some other players like Nadal cant afford to not be physically 100%, even Djokovic and Murray would really fall hard from showing since of aging.

Then there are alot of genetics involved, there are those strange cases like Davydenko who has been running left and right week in and out for years and years and only peaked at 28-29 years old.

I think that line summed it up as to why tennis has such a low age compared to other sports. While tennis players certainly have a full schedule, are basically out there by themselves on court, require a lot of endurance and flexible strength, the reflex part is something that you kind of just lose over time and can't do anything about it.

In the case of Connors, Rosewall and most recently Agassi, I think there were a few factors. The sport back then in the 70s and 80s were dramatically different to the 90s and 00s. I mean there was a noticeable transition the sport took from being a finesse game to a true athletic and power game. Either way, just because Connors/Rosewall/Agassi (who still wasn't that old) and a few others made it into their 30-40s, it doesn't add value to the argument.

Also, it is interesting that sports like American football, baseball, etc, many times, players don't start till they are around 10+, with many not starting until high school. Tennis on the other hand has many, many players starting practically in their diapers. Who knows if this would contribute.

Silvester
05-22-2010, 02:45 AM
I'm with moon_language. All the lateral movement etc is VERY hard on the body, it's all very quick directional changes which isn't natural movement for the body whereas lots of other sports aren't like that. Some are also team sports so focus isn't one on one. Lots of sports are contained to one continent and not worldwide.
As for the body-building, boxing etc, prime is a bit later because as you get older you build up more muscle etc, it takes years and years of building muscle/training so no an 18 your old kid isn't going to be as strong as a 28 yr old in most cases.

2003
05-22-2010, 10:33 PM
I think that line summed it up as to why tennis has such a low age compared to other sports. While tennis players certainly have a full schedule, are basically out there by themselves on court, require a lot of endurance and flexible strength, the reflex part is something that you kind of just lose over time and can't do anything about it.

In the case of Connors, Rosewall and most recently Agassi, I think there were a few factors. The sport back then in the 70s and 80s were dramatically different to the 90s and 00s. I mean there was a noticeable transition the sport took from being a finesse game to a true athletic and power game. Either way, just because Connors/Rosewall/Agassi (who still wasn't that old) and a few others made it into their 30-40s, it doesn't add value to the argument.

Also, it is interesting that sports like American football, baseball, etc, many times, players don't start till they are around 10+, with many not starting until high school. Tennis on the other hand has many, many players starting practically in their diapers. Who knows if this would contribute.

Without a doubt it contributes. Subjecting athletes to such un natural movements before their bodys are fully developed will undoubtedly shorten their prime.

Thats why someone like Federer, with such natural movement and good footwork, is still looking strong at 28-29, and Rafael Nadal will probably be crippled by then.

Federer started at 5 however.

Topspin Forehand
05-22-2010, 11:23 PM
Toughest sport on the body. In particular the knees, shoulders, wrists, and back.

andylovesaustin
05-23-2010, 02:00 AM
The thing I find most interesting about Tennis is that players seem to peak at a very early age and then their fall from grace is quite rapid and torrid to watch.

There are always exceptions to every rule of course, Tommy Farce for example is 31-32 and had probably his best season in 2009, at least where the grand slams were concerned and best of 5 set tennis is the hardest. Tommy Haas also did very well against Federer on clay, playing that well on clay is hard endurance wise for a 31 yearold like Tommy Haas.

But if you look at the best male players, they generally hit their peak about 24-25 and the fall from grace in terms of their playing style is quite apparent. Federer had probably his best 2 years of tennis in 2005/2006, he only lost 3 or 4 matches each year. He has been good enough to win grand slam titles since then, including playing better at 28 for a brief period during AO 2010, than he probably played when he was 27 in 2008. But movement wise hes very much slower, in AO 2009 for the first time I saw him not chasing down many shots he would have in the past, and against a retriever like Nadal it cost him dearly in the final.

Lets compare to some other sports stars from other sports, where endurance/strength/spped and fitness plays just a big or bigger part than Tennis. No point comparing Cricket or Golf or Fat/Old mans sports like Darts or 8 ball;

Lance Armstrong was 28 when he won his first of the 5 consecutive Tour De France titles, and 33 when he retired, but he retired very much on top, and as we have seen in 2009 Tour, at 38 or 39 he is, albeit not as good as he was, his peak could probably have extended into his mid 30's at least.

Haille Gebreselassie was in his mid 20's when he won his first Olympic Gold 10 000 metres, but at 35 years old he set the Marathon World Record of 2:03. Granted he is past his best at 5 000 and 10 000 meters, but he still finished 7th in the Olympic Final in 2008.

Rugby League has a host of players who, although starting to show their age, are still playing very strong at 33-36 years of age. Rugby League is a sport where you have to constantly sprint back and forth 10 meters after every tackle, and those guys don't seem to have lost too much speed. Although in Tennis we only see very short acceleration over 10-20 meters and 15-30 meters horizontially, so perhaps comparison is limited.

Peak age for body building seems to be early - mid thirties.

Swimming seems to have a low peak age, if we took Phelps as an example. But then again he is not going to compete beyond 30 largely by choice..could he still dominate most of the field at 30-35 even if he didn't win absolutely every medal under the sun? Quite probable I think. Much like Federer is not winning 3 slams a year anymore, Phelps wouldn't win 6-8 gold medals, but he might win 3 or so,as much as or more than anyone else anyway.

Triathlon, being a young sport, has many guys hitting their straps who are in their early 30's at the moment and still running very strong.

Boxers hit their peak at 32-37 and have strong showings into their early 40's.

Mixed Martial Artists are similar, but once they reach about 40 they are toast as far as being the best of the best. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Kimbo Slice, numerous others prove this point.

All these sports are probably as demanding as Tennis. Yes tennis players play a lot of matches and tournaments, but the NRL season is very long, runners and cyclists run 100 miles a week and in excess of 1000 miles a week cycled, so they train day in day out for sure, there really is no break for them. I have seen some of the workouts that MMA guys do, and they are some of the fittest athletes in the world.

I am not by any means creating this topic to suggest tennis players are weak or pussy compared to other sports, quite the opposite, I am just wondering what it is about tennis that seems to make competing beyond early 30's at anything close to your best an impossible task. I mean look at Andre Agassi, yeah he was good, but he was an aging bald wreck before Bagdartis put him out of his misery at US Open 2006. Far from the kind of form Lance Armstrong showed at neally 40 in the Tour De France after 3 years sitting on the couch drinking beers.

Boxing? I'd really have to look it up. I think it all depends upon the boxer... but I digress.

I don't see many 35 year-old quarterbacks!

Lance Armstrong was probably doped-up! Yeah, I'm American... but I can't stand the dude.

I don't see many 35 year-old track stars, gymnasts, or figure skaters... :shrug:

MMA..... I've been to a few matches where I'm not so sure about that sport! :retard:

I think the longevity of tennis players isn't that unusual.
In fact, TOP-ranked tennis players have A LOT more control over their longevity because they make a SHITLOAD more money than say boxers... or track and field stars, figure skaters, and gymnasts...

So I don't cry a river for top-ranked tennis players....

2003
12-10-2011, 10:28 AM
I dont think its because of starting young nor the impact on the body.

After all most of the African runners start at age 5 or younger running 170 miles a week in the Kenyan mountains, and can be winning olympic medals in their 30's.

BUT, the middle distance runners peak in their mid to late twenties. They start to lose their speed a tiny bit, so move up in distance where it isnt sooo important.

But in Tennis, you cant do that. Once you lose your speed and reflexes, your by and large stuffed.

BUT, speed isnt neally as much to tennis as what it is to running. Some tennis players like Monfils will still be faster than everyone else even if they lose two half steps.

And the serve gets better with age. Like a boxer and his punch, its the last thing you lose. So I dont really know what it is.

BodyServe
12-10-2011, 10:34 AM
Not to mention the mental aspect of it all. Other sports, guys sign contracts and make millions before they step on the field. In tennis, if you don't win, you don't get paid.

Don't say that to tournaments organisers.

grishotarian
12-10-2011, 10:46 AM
Because its so physical and demanding on the body. Being and individual sport, predominately, makes it worse as well. In tennis if you're injured you don't play you don't make money. In cricket for example, if you're injured you get paid just as much to warm the bench than if you were on the field. And sports such as golf to require any sort of peak fitness level, you just need to be able to walk 18 holes.

Dougie
12-10-2011, 11:03 AM
The long season with a lot of matches on hard courts is tough on the body, sooner or later the injuries start to occur.
Also, the competition especially at the top is so tough, that any natural loss of speed, agility, motivation ( that all come with age), is instantly visible in results. You can compensate them a little, but not for long.

Haelfix
12-10-2011, 02:17 PM
Tennis is particularly hard on the joints and ligaments. Its a lot of little injuries that accumulate over time. Consider also that the average pro tennis player accumulates far more work volume when they are teenagers than the average sport.

SetSampras
12-10-2011, 05:31 PM
Pretty much what Haelfix says.. Tennis does more damage and wear and tear to the joints then any other sport. I didn't take me long to tear a patella tendon just playing tennis. Other sports I never had issues with my joints. It amazes me I don't see more guys tearing joints and muscles really when they get to their mid-late 20s

selyoink
12-10-2011, 07:27 PM
Being an individual sport makes a huge difference. You have no one else to rely so once you begin to lose your athleticism it becomes very difficult. Harder to reinvent yourself as a tennis player than in many other sports. For instance Kobe Bryant lost his elite athleticism long ago but can still play at high level by focusing on specific skills like his post game to still be a special player. When a Nadal begins to lose top level movement what else does he have left? Nadal isn't all of the sudden going to become an Agassi type player hugging the baseline. When his movement declines so will his results. He can't hide behind his teammates and he will find it extremely difficult to reinvent his game. Same holds true for all players. When Roddick begins to lose speed on his first serve what he can he do to thrive as a player. Nothing.

SetSampras
12-10-2011, 08:37 PM
Being an individual sport makes a huge difference. You have no one else to rely so once you begin to lose your athleticism it becomes very difficult. Harder to reinvent yourself as a tennis player than in many other sports. For instance Kobe Bryant lost his elite athleticism long ago but can still play at high level by focusing on specific skills like his post game to still be a special player. When a Nadal begins to lose top level movement what else does he have left? Nadal isn't all of the sudden going to become an Agassi type player hugging the baseline. When his movement declines so will his results. He can't hide behind his teammates and he will find it extremely difficult to reinvent his game. Same holds true for all players. When Roddick begins to lose speed on his first serve what he can he do to thrive as a player. Nothing.

Nadal still actually has a big serve and flat hitting as he showed in 2010 ( Though he didn't bring it out this year) which can offset his loss of speed. Its Roddick's own fault he doesn't have anything outside of a serve

Topspindoctor
12-11-2011, 04:25 AM
Tennis is a brutal sport that taxes every part of your body... feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, wrists, elbows and shoulders. You can really destroy your joints if you're wrong-footed repeatedly, especially on hard court. Furthermore, tennis requires keen reflexes, supreme anticipation and great hand to eye coordination. Since tennis is a game of low % margins where few crucial points decide the outcome of the match, if a tennis player is even slightly off, he'll lose the match against an equal or lesser player who's playing at 100%.

It's hilarious some clueless clowns suggesting that tennis is a "pansy" sport, while other sports like football are almost impossible to watch because of endless diving.

rocketassist
12-11-2011, 04:33 AM
Peak age is younger for top players now cause the game's gone physical... they will burn out earlier. Hewitt's an example of a physical style resulting in an early burnout.

LeChuck
12-12-2011, 01:47 AM
In addition to the physical aspect, many players are mentally burnt out by their mid-to-late 20s as well.

Tennis players generally take up the sport and enter junior level tournaments at a very early age. This requires a lot of dedication and sacrifices. For a lot of their lives they show tunnel vision, eating, sleeping and breathing tennis, and they are ball machines with no lives. Sure they have coaches and entourages, but they have no team-mates to pick up the slack or hang out with, and eventually that becomes tiring and boring.

It's no surprise that after a while many tennis players seem to hate, or at least don't like, their sport/profession compared to athletes in other sports, and lose the will to focus mentally.

Action Jackson
12-18-2011, 06:14 AM
In addition to the physical aspect, many players are mentally burnt out by their mid-to-late 20s as well.

Tennis players generally take up the sport and enter junior level tournaments at a very early age. This requires a lot of dedication and sacrifices. For a lot of their lives they show tunnel vision, eating, sleeping and breathing tennis, and they are ball machines with no lives. Sure they have coaches and entourages, but they have no team-mates to pick up the slack or hang out with, and eventually that becomes tiring and boring.

It's no surprise that after a while many tennis players seem to hate, or at least don't like, their sport/profession compared to athletes in other sports, and lose the will to focus mentally.

This.

2003
12-18-2011, 10:08 AM
Most sports people take up at 3-5 years old nowadays though.

Surely running 100 miles a week year in year out pounding the pavements in distance running is harder or as hard on the joints than tennis.

Those guys dont seem to burn out quite as quickly and running is a lot more one dimensional than tennis.

2003
12-18-2011, 10:10 AM
At least in tennis players have options, they can try to end points early as they get old, or improve their serve to get more cheap points.

What can you do in cycling, running, swimming etc? Nothing. Its so one dimensional.

Mind you swimming does also have a low peak age.

Fuser59
12-18-2011, 11:54 AM
Ok i stopped taking you seriously after reading Kimbo Slice in regards to MMA...and being ''The best of the BEst''...shame because you had a good point tennis wise..but you obvioulsy could't stop yourself from writing more and more..it happens to all of us... :P

LeChuck
12-18-2011, 03:18 PM
For most tennis players there must come a point where training becomes so monotonous and really can't be bothered with it any more.

When I was younger, I thought that being a professional tennis player would be such a dream lifestyle, but now I think after a while it would become a very boring one.

In team sports at least you play 50% of your games at home and don't have to travel as much. The daily grind of travelling, training and being away from your family and friends for so much of the year must really take its toll fairly quickly.

mark73
12-18-2011, 07:45 PM
The thing I find most interesting about Tennis is that players seem to peak at a very early age and then their fall from grace is quite rapid and torrid to watch.

There are always exceptions to every rule of course, Tommy Farce for example is 31-32 and had probably his best season in 2009, at least where the grand slams were concerned and best of 5 set tennis is the hardest. Tommy Haas also did very well against Federer on clay, playing that well on clay is hard endurance wise for a 31 yearold like Tommy Haas.

But if you look at the best male players, they generally hit their peak about 24-25 and the fall from grace in terms of their playing style is quite apparent. Federer had probably his best 2 years of tennis in 2005/2006, he only lost 3 or 4 matches each year. He has been good enough to win grand slam titles since then, including playing better at 28 for a brief period during AO 2010, than he probably played when he was 27 in 2008. But movement wise hes very much slower, in AO 2009 for the first time I saw him not chasing down many shots he would have in the past, and against a retriever like Nadal it cost him dearly in the final.

You need to compare the AVERAGE age from all sports, not cherry pick some older players from other sports and compare them to the tennis average.

I'm guessing tennis is pretty typical if we discount sports that are primarily skill based like golf and billiards.

Lets compare to some other sports stars from other sports, where endurance/strength/spped and fitness plays just a big or bigger part than Tennis. No point comparing Cricket or Golf or Fat/Old mans sports like Darts or 8 ball;

Lance Armstrong was 28 when he won his first of the 5 consecutive Tour De France titles, and 33 when he retired, but he retired very much on top, and as we have seen in 2009 Tour, at 38 or 39 he is, albeit not as good as he was, his peak could probably have extended into his mid 30's at least.

Haille Gebreselassie was in his mid 20's when he won his first Olympic Gold 10 000 metres, but at 35 years old he set the Marathon World Record of 2:03. Granted he is past his best at 5 000 and 10 000 meters, but he still finished 7th in the Olympic Final in 2008.

Rugby League has a host of players who, although starting to show their age, are still playing very strong at 33-36 years of age. Rugby League is a sport where you have to constantly sprint back and forth 10 meters after every tackle, and those guys don't seem to have lost too much speed. Although in Tennis we only see very short acceleration over 10-20 meters and 15-30 meters horizontially, so perhaps comparison is limited.

Peak age for body building seems to be early - mid thirties.

Swimming seems to have a low peak age, if we took Phelps as an example. But then again he is not going to compete beyond 30 largely by choice..could he still dominate most of the field at 30-35 even if he didn't win absolutely every medal under the sun? Quite probable I think. Much like Federer is not winning 3 slams a year anymore, Phelps wouldn't win 6-8 gold medals, but he might win 3 or so,as much as or more than anyone else anyway.

Triathlon, being a young sport, has many guys hitting their straps who are in their early 30's at the moment and still running very strong.

Boxers hit their peak at 32-37 and have strong showings into their early 40's.

Mixed Martial Artists are similar, but once they reach about 40 they are toast as far as being the best of the best. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Kimbo Slice, numerous others prove this point.

All these sports are probably as demanding as Tennis. Yes tennis players play a lot of matches and tournaments, but the NRL season is very long, runners and cyclists run 100 miles a week and in excess of 1000 miles a week cycled, so they train day in day out for sure, there really is no break for them. I have seen some of the workouts that MMA guys do, and they are some of the fittest athletes in the world.

I am not by any means creating this topic to suggest tennis players are weak or pussy compared to other sports, quite the opposite, I am just wondering what it is about tennis that seems to make competing beyond early 30's at anything close to your best an impossible task. I mean look at Andre Agassi, yeah he was good, but he was an aging bald wreck before Bagdartis put him out of his misery at US Open 2006. Far from the kind of form Lance Armstrong showed at neally 40 in the Tour De France after 3 years sitting on the couch drinking beers.

You need to compare the AVERAGE age from all sports, not cherry pick some older players from other sports and compare them to the tennis average.

I'm guessing tennis is pretty typical if we discount sports that are primarily skill based like golf and billiards.

mark73
12-18-2011, 08:03 PM
Average age for NBA and NHL is 27. So same as tennis at 26 basically. You can hang around longer in the nba and nhl because money is much better and you can play as a support player.

http://hoopism.com/?p=37
http://www.quanthockey.com/TS/TS_AverageAge.php

BodyServe
07-25-2014, 05:16 PM
Interesting that as the game is getting slower, the average age is going up.

Tennis is leaning towards other sports.

Zverev2014
07-28-2014, 03:27 AM
The season just stops for a single month they travel too much, play one day but the other too. You can't rely on a team to pass the ball to the the other side for you.

Even with all that I still think that if tennis players could relax their minds from time to time for a few months hey could use that time to get mentally refreshed and physically rested. But they start playing constantly since childhood and never stop till retirement.

If you decide to take time for yourself your ranking drops and you don't earn money, there was always an Agassi o Mcenroe just running away for a little time or a Sampras not caring anymore or a Borg. But in recent if you decide just to leave the sport for some time you're badly penalised for it, and because of that we have Nadal lying about the state of his knees.

DerekHV
07-28-2014, 07:31 AM
Most cricketers tend to peak in their early 30's, some batsman in their mid 30's, even though reaction time has slowed by then.
Both tennis and cricket though have evolved so that older players can keep going with better, and individualized training regimes.
Tennis though is much more fitness and endurance based, as well as skill etc, hence winning Majors in the 30's is at a lowish level, Andre Agassi the last one to win a Slam at 32 or more, and was 33 when he last regained the Number 1 spot.

Fargif
07-28-2014, 08:13 AM
It would be interesting if someone made a excel with frequent flyer miles. Hours playing, but hours training can not be determined.

As for ops questions i think after a few years most loose focus, interest and motivation. Plus they want to have family-

One all time great was Borg and he left the game too soon.

Joey Tribbiani
07-28-2014, 08:49 AM
It's hard to play at your peak post 30 in every individual sport like tennis.

Time Violation
07-29-2014, 01:33 PM
Hm... I feel people are focusing too much on the (in)famous "peak", for example if it's about Federer, many will say his peak was 2 or 3 seasons, 2004-2007, while it's more accurate to say he played on a very high level for over a decade, same goes for Nadal, and Nole is not far from that. Roddick was also in the top 10 for a decade or so, several other players were near the top for 5 or 6 years straight, how many basketball or football or whatever other players can say they were top 10 in the world for 10 years? Or even 5 years? Very few I think. :)

romismak
07-30-2014, 12:37 PM
Interresting topic, tennis players used to play older few decades ago, than tennis became more phyisical sport so age of retirement was lower - closer to 30, before it was probably close to 40, but what happened in last few years is opposite way again, young guys are struggling, because it is to physical, so guys past 30 can hang around, right now tennis is i think in similar balance to other sports - at least if i compare to ice hockey and football which i have best knowledge outside tennis i would say itīs similar if we put on paper top 50 tennis player, hockey and football players, i donīt see major difference, guys past 30 are slower and less competitive in each sport, but there are far differances, like what positio you play on, in tennis there are no positions, you are 1 guy, in football goalies can be older no problem, in ice hockey we have all time greats like Jagr, Sellane past 40 and still teaching young guys left right, they donīt have the speed, but have their skills and train hard. But honestly i donīt se major difference, howeer we can see difference in total longevity of your career, tennis players play letīs say from 18-19 to 33 for example while guys in NHL can play from 19 to 39, in football it depends a lot of other factors, but also longevity is longer, this i think is benefit of team sports that even bellow your average last decade level you can still play few years on team - as leader, respected older guy, while in tennis when your level is lower, you just start loosing, not making money, struggling on challengers - unless you were famous before and have endorsements you just retire, no sense to struggle in challengers at 33 years of age

JediFed
10-09-2014, 01:55 AM
This young and upcoming Raonic generation is close to being the slowest ever. The oldest youngest slam winner was in the early open era period prior to Connors/Borg when they broke through. Stan Smith.

Stan Smith was born December 26th, 1946, and was the youngest slam winner until Connors won the Australian Open in 1974. At the time, he was 27

Marin Cilic was born September of 1988, and he is now 26. Basically the Raonic generation has all of next year to win a slam.

JediFed
10-09-2014, 02:02 AM
Oldest youngest number 1 in the rankings was Ivan Lendl. At 28 years, 7 months before Wilander broke through. Presently, it is Novak at 27 years, 4 months. Earliest anyone can overtake is next years Wimbledon, so Novak has at least another 9 months baked in, making him 28 years and 1 month. Will he beat Lendl?

Next year will be a very important one for the Raonic generation. They have 4 more chances to break into a slam before being the most delayed.

Novak is the second oldest youngest number one. Sampras was 26 years and 7 months, when Rios finally broke through.

That generation with Rios was number 1 from 1998 until Kuerten in late 2001. So they had 3 and some years at number 1.

Rios also had 2 years and change before the generation behind them (Fed's), broke through.

Depending on what happens with the Raonic generation, it's looking like they won't be number 1 for very long.

Imperator
10-09-2014, 11:24 AM
I think there are several reasons:

1. In "endurance sports" like cycling or long-distance running it is normal to have a later "peak". You barely see great cyclists at the age of 23 or less. But I think your reactions and your sprint abilities go downhill at your mid/late 20īs. Tennis is based on both, endurance and sprint, but your sprint are more important. But in Tennis being 5% quicker is more important than having like 10% more endurance I think.

Example: Federer canīt beat ballbashers so easily because he canīt get in the perfect position as often.
Nadal got slower and canīt outgrind and defend as good as he used to.
---> Both of them based their game on great athletics (Nadal more than Federer).

2. Itīs mentally / emotionally. You need to work so hard and youīre always on your own on court. You donīt have a team to carry you on bad days. You donīt have only a few races a year you care about like a cyclists or marathon runner.
When you give 100% to achieve something and you do it then it gets even harder to back it up. You can see that in every sports. Especially in Tennis where you just donīt get a longer break to enlight the fire again.
After so many years on tour and so many matches played week for week there are many players who are just mentally not able anymore to give 100%, only 98%. Since Tennis is a sports where just a few shots here and there can decide matches and tournaments, that really makes a difference.

chili
10-10-2014, 01:13 PM
Cycling? Triathlon? Box? Rugby League? Why would anyone compare tennis to such sports? Best comparisons would be football, basketball, handball, basketball. Even if they're team sports, they are comparable as players have to run, stop, accelerate and control a ball on top of that. And the peak age seems the same. Anyway probably on average the peak age is the same for athletics too. Contact sports may permit a longer peak age due to the fact that the growing brute force (grows with age up until some point) is more valued and can substitute the diminished agility, speed and reflexes.

Delusionalist.
10-11-2014, 11:06 PM
It's odd, as it is very difficult on the men's side for older players to be doing well.
It's funny, because from 2010 to now, the oldies on the women's side have been doing really well.