Joined: 03/12/2009 09:31:31
Today, retirement is more than just taking leisurely walks, spending time with the grandchildren and relaxing on the beach while watching a sunset. Retirees today are much more active. While you may have more time on your hands once you retire, it can better be spent learning and trying new things - like tennis. You are not likely to be trying to win Wimbledon at this point in your life, but tennis can be a fun way to get some exercise, spend some time with friends or meet new people.
Benefits of Playing Tennis
Tennis is a great form or exercise and a good way to spend some time with your friends. You can even learn to play with your children or grandchildren so you have a fun group activity to do when the weather is nice. The American Medical Association, mild to moderate exercise can help seniors maintain bone density and stay healthy longer. Tennis doesn't have to be as vigorous as it is when players are going for the championship. Tennis is one of many sports that can be easily adapted for older players. Additional benefits of playing tennis as a more mature player include:
• Regular cardiovascular exercise
• Social interaction with friends and other players
• Improved flexibility that may prevent some joint and muscle issues
• Increased circulation
• Improved reflexes
• Better stability
Seniors, or anybody not used to playing sports on a regular basis, should start with some warm-up exercises to get the circulation moving. While tennis doesn't have to be all that vigorous, it does involve constant movement during an actual game. There are three basic types of tennis match competitions: singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Singles is a game between two people. Doubles is a game with four people with two players on each team. Mixed doubles is a pairing of teams with a man and woman making up each team. For retirees, this option could be fun if you are playing as couples. Doubles and mixed doubles matches tend to be less strenuous since you have a partner to pick up the slack. If you are a beginner, you might want to consider starting with a doubles or mixed doubles match.
Check with Your Doctor
Before even starting to play tennis, you should check with your doctor to make sure there aren't any physical issues that would prevent you from playing a game of tennis. Even after you start playing, it is good to have regular doctor's visits to make sure you do not have any physical issues. This doesn't mean you have to give up playing. Your doctor may recommend a more relaxed game or suggest certain exercises to help prepare you for playing tennis on a regular basis. As a precaution, check your pulse before and after a game. If your pulse rate doesn't return to normal within 10-15 minutes or you experience excess sweating or chest pains, seek medical attention immediately.
You can be impatient at any age, but taking the time to learn the game and get used to some of the specific movements involved can prevent some common first time injuries. Before playing your first match, get in some practice time. You can do that at a local community tennis court or your local senior center might have a multipurpose area where you can practice before playing your first match. The key words when you're first starting are baby steps. There is no shame in taking your time to get ready before you start playing. When you actually play a game, you'll need to decide who serves first and who gets what side of the court. If you're playing with random players, a coin toss is a common way to decide who goes first and what side of the court belongs to which team.
Playing a Game
The goal of tennis is to keep the ball in play for the duration of a match. Points are won when your opponent double faults when serving, is unable to return the ball before it bounces twice, returns a ball that lands out-of-bounds or strikes the ball directly into the net. The player serving the ball is called the server. This player will serve for the duration of the game by starting at the baseline on the right side of the court. Tennis games can last just a few minutes or much longer, depending on the skill level of the players involved. A player or team must win by two points to win a game. If you are going to play a full set, you will need to win at least six games by two or more points. There are a few other technical terms, but you can learn that later.
After you play a game, take time to evaluate how it went and decide if tennis really is right for you. Tennis can be as strenuous or relaxing as you make it. Learning a new sport is a great way for you to enjoy your leisure time, get some exercise and socialize. If you start experiencing any physical issues, stop playing immediately. It is generally best to work your way up to more competitive matches. Once you master tennis, you may even consider trying some other sports or activities you didn't have time for before you retired. Don't forget that your main goal isn't to win, but to have fun.
Tom writes for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to elderly care and Massachusetts Assisted Living.