Aging - Athletes
Better Practices, Better Results

                                                Exercise and Rest




I had the privilege of meeting Rod Laver and we hit a few balls together. I had hoped I would learn from him the secret strategies that would result in improving my win ratio in my tennis matches. Interestingly I learned a valuable lesson on how to improve one’s game in all aspects of one’s life. I was shocked to learn Rod rarely kept track of the score in his matches. He was known as the “Rocket Man” often times coming from behind to win his matches. In response to my many secret strategy questions he replied “ just hit the ball a little bit better every time. ” That’s it ? I muttered under my breath.” Noting my disappointment in his answer he added “ and make sure you hit it back to the other side.”

I’ve discovered his concept of continuous improvement while ignoring the score is significant for the aging athlete. Forget about what you used to bench press, how many miles you used to run, how many shots you used to take on the basketball court.

Instead start with a reasonably easy level of activity and improve on it by doing it just a little bit better than you did the last time. Rod was focused on hitting the ball a little better each time. He kept working on hitting the ball closer to the center of his racket, the sweet spot. Often times It might not have been until near the end of the match that he was hitting the ball more consistently in the sweet spot. It didn’t matter what the score was he was hitting the ball just a little bit better each time. At some point in the match he was winning his points while enjoying the sound that the tennis ball makes when it hits the sweet spot of his racket. His opponent was likely beating himself up over losing his huge lead, perhaps prematurely tasting victory. His opponent becomes discouraged by being so close to winning he begins to unravel like a cheap suit. Rod just keeps hitting the ball a little bit better than last time.

It’s good for the aging athlete to have goals. One worthy goal is make continuous improvement in whatever you’re doing little bits at a time. Forget the score especially the old ones, instead patiently focus on finding your sweet spot.

Rod Laver

Rodney George "Rod" Laver MBE (born 9 August 1938) is an Australian former tennis player who holds the record for titles won in career, and was the World No. 1 player for seven consecutive years, from 1964 to 1970 (from 1964 to 1967 in the professional circuit) . He is the only tennis player to have twice won the Grand Slam (all four major singles titles in the same year) – first as an amateur in 1962 and second as a professional in 1969. He is the only male player and was the first player, male or female, to have won the Grand Slam during the open era (in 1988 Steffi Graf also achieved this feat). Laver won eleven Majors and eight Pro Slams. In 1967 he also won the Professional Grand Slam (only Ken Rosewall did the same in 1963). In addition he won nine Championship Series titles (1970–75) the precursors to the current Masters 1000. Laver won and excelled on all the surfaces of his time (grass, clay and wood/parquet), and was ranked as the best professional player in the world during the five-year period he was excluded from the Grand Slam tournaments.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Rod Laver is the second and last male player to win each major title twice in his career. Only Roy Emerson and Margaret Court had won all four Grand Slam tournaments twice before Laver in the history of tennis. Laver is regarded as one of the two greatest tennis players of all time.[9] Within his slams there are also 6 in doubles and 3 in mixed doubles.


9 August 1938 (1938-08-09) (age 73)
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)


Turned pro


Left-handed; one-handed backhand

Career prize money

Int. Tennis HOF
1981 (member page)


Career record
392–99 (79.8%) in the Open era as recorded by the ATP

Career titles
200 including 40 listed by the ATP

Highest ranking
No. 1

Grand Slam results

Australian Open
W (1960, 1962, 1969)

French Open
W (1962, 1969)

W (1961, 1962, 1968, 1969)

US Open
W (1962, 1969)


Career record
230–77 (74.9%) in the ATP statistics

Career titles
27 in the ATP statistics

Highest ranking
11 in the ATP statistics


A few Aging Athletes have managed to pull off a unique transition in their lives. In my experience this approach can be a blueprint for one’s sport transitions all throughout one’s life. From player to player coach, to official, to coach, to sports writer, blogger and eventually watching on T.V. as a fan of the sport (s) you love.

Russell in February 2011

No. 6


Personal information

(1934-02-12) February 12, 1934 (age 78)
Monroe, Louisiana, U.S.

High school

Career information

San Francisco (1953–1956)

NBA Draft
1956 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall

Selected by the St. Louis Hawks

Pro career

Career history

As player:

Boston Celtics

As coach:

Boston Celtics

Seattle SuperSonics

Sacramento Kings

Career highlights and awards

Career statistics

14,522 (15.1 ppg)

21,620 (22.5 rpg)

4,100 (4.3 apg)

Stats at

Basketball Hall of Fame as player

FIBA Hall of Fame as player


Men's basketball

1956 Melbourne
Team competition

William Felton "Bill" Russell (born February 12, 1934) is a retired American professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A five-time winner of the NBA Most Valuable Player Award and a twelve-time All-Star, Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA Championships during Russell's thirteen-year career. Along with Henri Richard of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens, Russell holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships (1955, 1956). He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics as captain of the U.S. national basketball team.[1]

Russell is widely considered one of the best players in NBA history. Listed as between 6'9" (2.06 m) and 6'10" (2.08 m), Russell's shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics' success. He also inspired his teammates to elevate their own defensive play. Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times and tallied 21,620 total rebounds in his career. He is one of just two NBA players (the other being prominent rival Wilt Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than fifty rebounds in a game. Though never the focal point of the Celtics' offense, Russell also scored 14,522 career points and provided effective passing.

Playing in the wake of pioneers like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Sweetwater Clifton, Russell was the first African American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. He also served a three-season (1966–69) stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first African American NBA coach.[1] Frequent battles with racism left Russell with a long-standing contempt for fans and journalists. When he retired, Russell left Boston with a bitter attitude, although in recent years his relationship with the city has improved. For his accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement on and off the court, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2011.

Russell is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was selected into NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971, into NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980 and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players that selected into all three teams. In 2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. In 2009, the NBA announced that the NBA Finals MVP trophy would be named the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Russell.[2]                                                                    

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Turning on my side I ask my question directly to the river. What Are Best Practices for Exercising As One Ages? Spring rolls around slowly in the Rockies. Thin ice sheets cling to the banks of the river awaiting the inevitable. Canadian Geese are the first to return to the river valley followed by Blue Jays, and Ravens. Their chatter was sorely missed. Voles re-emerge scampering about. A few birds nest early, establish their presence vocally; then perform regular fly bye’s to protect their perimeter.

One important aspect of being happy in retirement is exercising regularly all through out one’s retirement years. The single most significant difference between current retirees and past retirees is their increased level of physical activity and fitness.

It would probably be wise to start investing in hip replacement companies based on what I’m seeing out there. 10,000 people retire everyday now. Interestingly when one retires one quickly discovers nothing much has really changed. With the exception of punching the clock everyday 9-5 which is great for some folks and not so great for others, life is pretty much the same.

I’m sharing my experiences, work – out routines here in hopes of sparking a conversation regarding how to best stay physically active all throughout one’s retirement years. My hope is others will share and eventually we will have a series of best practices helpful to the aging athlete.

I used to work out to be attractive to women, now I work out to stay alive. Humor aside I need to be physically active to be happy period. Being a fifty something guy, I ski, swim, bike, golf, hike, play tennis and non - competitive basketball. I was once a big wave surfer, boxer, runner, basketball, football and baseball player.

It seems to me it takes considerable discipline, strategy, wisdom, luck, pain and perseverance to always be and always stay active. The talent to effectively stage comebacks along with the ability to listen to one’s body are keys to success.

My routine is every other day which is easy to keep track of. One day I’m engaged in a sport or physically challenging activity. The next I’m resting, stretching, in the Jacuzzi and generally relaxing.

So I go to the gym to walk on a smooth surface with orthotics in good shoes a minimum of three miles and work –out on the machines, stomach, back, and arms. Or I ski, swim, bike, golf, hike, play tennis or non competitive basketball depending on the season and my interest level. Then I rest the next day. Sometimes I skip it all together on Sundays and just take a casual stroll in the woods followed by a light stretch.
The core competency I’m maintaining is the ability walk at good clip three miles everyday. Good genetics aside, the walking three miles concept is the most common trait of all our 100 plus years folks. Aging athletes 50 + generally speaking benefit equally from running or walking. The trick is to not let the sports or more demanding physical activities produce injuries that are career ending vs. injuries that are more manageable. Knowing one’s limits and adjusting one’s game helps minimize this problem.

Irrespective of what day I’m on in my routine I’m continuously improving on something just a little bit each and everyday. Little things or bigger things it matters not. I benefit from the ability to know exactly how much more soreness I will have to deal with when I walk four or five miles. The important things is I can continue to enjoy sports and challenging activities at varying levels, maintain my core competency, and not wake up the next day feeling too sore to keep after it.

A great book for any aging athletes book shelf is “The Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies” by Jordan Metzl. Great resource for preventing and healing sports maladies. This 45 year old tri-athlete doctor offers great advice. Jordan walks the talk. In my humble opinion If more experts actually did what they promote to others then the world would be a better place.

Staring intently into crystal clear, braided pocket water, I smile, recalling how yesterday I was getting lost in what I love doing. I genuinely enjoy being physically active, it turns out . Turns out being physically active is key to being happy in retirement, period.

        Jumping Up & Down!

I've shared my personal work-out routine. As I mentioned on my off day is when I do most of my stretching. But as we all know stretching fully before and after our work – out is critical especially for the Aging Athlete. Kareem Abdul Jabbar often commented on the fact it was Yoga that keep him an half inch longer than his ridiculously long frame, and was responsible for keeping him in NBA so long.
For some folks jumping rope is a great way to get one’s heart beat up and break a sweat after stretching and before your work-out. It is probably best to do after walking a mile or so. Jumping rope isn’t just for kids. I find it is perfect because I can easily bring my jump rope with me from activity to activity in the gym. It takes just a few minutes to get results. Its easy to do at home too especially on Sundays before my stroll in the woods. It is Inexpensive to buy a jump rope and no stress if I loose it.

I’ll go into more detail when I do a post on “balance” but jumping rope also helps improve one’s balance. For now please read info from Elizabeth Quinn, Guide. This is a great site however it is not really geared to the Aging Athlete so please be careful, be selective when checking their site out for ideas. If you suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension jumping rope is likely not a good activity for you.  I recommend you have your doctors approval before beginning any new physical activities or exercise routines.

Check -out Elizabeth Quinn, Guide

                                 Jumping Rope Instruction


The importance of sleeping well, recovering from exercise, and making successful comebacks from injuries in my view are significantly under valued by the aging – athlete.

Melatonin is not a wonder drug and does not increase deep sleep. It is a natural hormone secreted from one’s pineal gland. Melatonin supplements are really intended for those who work night shifts or people suffering from jet lag. Obviously drinking coffee and alcohol close to bedtime in not recommended. The bottom line is the straightest line between A and B is stress management.

Other Recommendations:

Get seven hours of sleep a night, if one’s running a sleep deficit then one can get caught up and then get back to seven hours a night, eight to nine is too much for most people.

Light eating only (if at all) after 6:00 PM

Be careful not to0 drink too many liquids late evening so as to avoid the getting up in the night to use the bathroom routine

Get a good bed, I love my Temperpedic bed but it is not for everybody

Develop a regular pre-sleep routine, enter a dark bedroom, enjoy a quiet meditation

Focus on, monitor, and increase one’s “Deep Sleep” on a regular basis

Discover the power of the nap

Get regular exercise which helps one sleep better

Deep sleep provides one with better vitality, improved moods, and better endurance when exercising regularly. Don’t let the bug bites bite!


Sports medicine is a branch of
medicine that deals with physical fitness, treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Although most sports teams have employed Team physicians for many years, it is only since the late 20th century that Sport and Exercise Medicine has emerged as a distinct entity in health care.

Common Sports Injuries

Concussion- caused by severe head trauma where the brain moves violently within the skull so that brain cells all fire at once, much like a seizure

Muscle Cramps- a sudden tight, intense pain caused by a muscle locked in spasm. Muscle cramps are also recognized as an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax

ACL Sprains- The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament involved in knee stabilization. An ACL rupture can occur when the foot is planted and the knee twists to change direction.

Ankle Sprain- The ligaments that hold the ankle bones in place can easily be overstretched.

Shin Splints- The tissue that attach's the muscles of your lower leg to the shin bone may be pulling away from the bone, or it may be inflamed from overuse.

Balance - Balance is key for 40+ athletes because it impacts so many athletic endeavors. It also enhances one’s rhythm which helps one to better get into the flow of life. Finally it helps prevent falling the number one enemy of the 40+ athlete.

Exercise - Exercise resulting in physical conditioning (staying in shape) is “core” for the 40+ athlete. Good decisions regarding types and durations of exercise are often times the difference between failure and success.

Energy - Energy is central to a 40+ athletes because one needs to stay active daily. As one gets older energy seems to be in shorter supply and one benefits from healthy ways of increasing it.

Rest - Rest and rehabilitation (making comebacks) are often times the least understood and underestimated factors in the longevity of the 40+ athlete.
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