Guest Article by Mike Bear
My love of tennis began when I was lucky enough to see Bjorn Borg play his first ever Wimbledon Centre Court match while on a school trip! Every summer I am tempted to pick up that racket – despite the fact that I am definitely challenged when it comes to hitting the ball! So as tennis is so much more than Andy Murray, strawberries and Pimms, I asked LTA coach Mike Bear to tell us how we can still turn player rather than spectator over the age of 50!
How many of us look forward each year to watching Wimbledon and Queens Club tennis and think “I used to be able to do that” or “I wish I could do that”
Maybe you take it a stage further and think “I would like to try that again”. Or do you excuse yourself because you never had the opportunity.
But what is stopping you playing social tennis NOW?
The kids have left home, you are no longer fetching and carrying, so you have the time! You know you would like to get a little fitter, get out in the fresh air, meet new people with similar interests. That’s social tennis and ITS FUN TOO!
So what do you need to start playing tennis?
It would help if you have a friend with similar interests that you can have fun with but the LTA Allplay scheme may assist with a practice partner too. Realistically many Clubs want to see you can play a bit before they invite you to join. That is the reason for www.rustyrackets.com to give a basic coaching course and build some confidence before approaching a Club. But in any event the essentials are-
• It’s no good getting that wooden racket out of the cupboard or a pair of old running shoes. Either of these could cause injury and look seriously out of place these days. It need not cost a fortune but you should take guidance on what to buy.
• You will want to brush up on the rules or learn a little more about the history of the game.
• As you will probably be starting some exercise you have not done for some time you should certainly know some simple warm up and stretching routines to do before you play.
• You will want to be taught or reminded of the basic strokes (without the grunting) . Look at instructional videos or sign up for a refreshers or beginners course at your local tennis club.
• Some fun exercises will help you to practice and develop the strokes.
• You will also improve by understanding some basis tactics and strategies to play the game.
Maybe you need some reassurance that it is not daft to consider taking up this beautiful game after age 50. Well this is what the UK government say –
- “Keeping physically active not only improves your health and quality of life it can also help you to live longer. It’s never too early or too late to start doing some exercise and staying fit.
- Physical activity means anything from everyday tasks, like cleaning the house, heavy gardening or walking the dog, through to specific exercise like keep fit, swimming, golf, football, gym-based activity or tennis.
Some of the benefits of keeping active over 50 include:
- a reduced risk of developing a life-threatening disease
- a greater likelihood of maintaining or reaching a healthy weight
- a greater sense of well-being
- improved sleep and increased day-time vitality
- If you stay physically active, you’re also likely to stay independent longer. Exercise can make you stronger. You’ll feel more confident and involved in life”.
What is Rusty Rackets?
Rusty Rackets is a new web site with an easy to follow Web based Tennis course designed for the over 50’s. Mike is a 63 year old professional tennis coach qualified with the LTA in UK and RPT in Spain where he is activly coaching now.
Mike’s main clientele are aged 50 plus looking to recapture a sport enjoyed in their youth or to learn from scratch an outdoor activity a little livelier and perhaps cheaper than Golf.
Rusty Rackets has been designed arround Mike’s courses as a 90 page electronic e-book that includes 18 instructional and demonstration videos covering all the main aspects of the game for the over 50’s.
It is not a performance course of the type an aspiring Andy Murray would want to follow. It is a more genteel course divided into 10 sections covering everything you need as listed above.
From the web page there are links to the LTA where details of local clubs and coaches in UK can be found. Some of those will offer special programmes for seniors and refreshers.
Many tennis clubs offer sessions specifically for those wanting to return to tennis, or have group sessions for beginners who have no ambition to be the next Wimbledon champion but who do want to enjoy the social aspects of tennis while being physically active at the same time. The group sessions can be a great way to meet new people and extend your social circle.
Another fun way to learn to play tennis is to book a tennis holiday, just check to make sure that beginners and refreshers are catered for!
No hesitation now. Get out and enjoy it!
Note from Ceri: I brushed up on my practically non existent tennis skills by going on a tennis club holiday organised by my local tennis club – it was great fun – and I got to know people I could play tennis with when I returned home.