Marlow wrote:McEnroe was a scrawny little twerp, something Murray has also been characterized as. Non-athletic-looking world-beaters have always been around. We can't all look like Bob Seagren!
Murray certainly isn't a scrawny little twerp these days. As an aside, I heard on TV that his track sessions include 10 x 400m and 20 x 100m with short recovery. I think male tennis players have to be among the fittest athletes in any sport.
jazzcyclist wrote:I never thought of either one of them as being overweight. As matter of fact, I can't think of any male tennis player that I would consider fat. It seems that only women tennis players can get away with carrying extra weight. But that's with sports in genral, not just tennis.
Both Becker and Agassi frequently showed up in major tournaments at least 10 pounds overweight. Of course, they didn't win those majors when they were overweight. Philippoussis would have done better if he had been a little lighter. Among the current top players, Del Potro could afford to lose a little weight without losing much of his power.
Per Andersen wrote:But let's stick to tennis. Borg and McEnroe. Who looked like an athlete? And who chased Borg out of the game?
I never thought of either one of them as being overweight. As matter of fact, I can't think of any male tennis player that I would consider fat. It seems that only women tennis players can get away with carrying extra weight. But that's with sports in genral, not just tennis.
My point, of course, was that Borg looked and moved like a super athlete and McEnroe did not, and after Wimbledon in 1981 Johnny Mac had Borg's number.
Per Andersen wrote:My point, of course, was that Borg looked and moved like a super athlete and McEnroe did not, and after Wimbledon in 1981 Johnny Mac had Borg's number.
Well, I think history has shown that in finesse sports like basketball, tennis and soccer muscularity is not a prerequisite for greatness, but being fit and not overweight is, at least on the men's side. Women's tennis is similar to baseball in that you can be overweight in both sports and still be great.
Talking about overweight but great players in association football, Ronaldo was still very sharp and lethal when he played for Real Madrid, though he was visibly plump and not optimally conditioned; because he was just so good that he could get away with the loss of coverage and short burst. And in his later years at the same club Puskás was definitely very overweight and not mobile, he nevertheless maintained an excellent scoring record...that was a totally different era though.
bushop wrote:Seems like the more complex the skill set the less physical talent is required to compete at the highest levels.
Pole Vaulting is the most complex skill set in T&F and the very best are indeed extremely physically talented, which includes some 'bulky' athletes.
Could it be said that one can have excellent technique but if you can't flat out sprint you're not world class?
The vertical jumps rely much less on raw speed than the horizontal jumps. Yes, the more speed the better, but not to the detriment of transferring the kinetic energy into the pole and then holding at the right height with an unbent arm, ... I do not know of a pole vaulter that has enough sprint speed to race on the flat and they rarely even do the horizontal jumps. Some of the decathletes probably have the best sprint speed of all vaulters and some of them are pretty fast and good vaulters. However, the speed nexus is the 100/110h/LJ/400 not primarily the PV runway speed. [I think Bubka is thought to be among the fastest vaulters (duh) and I think Lavillenie looks faster than others...]
It may have been mentioned already, but due to gender differences women also have higher normal body fat percentages than men. That helps account for a possibly softer look in women as compared to men in the same sport, and can account for a woman having a harder time becoming as "cut and defined"... Obviously other hormonal differences play a part as well. And in the case of individual athletes, individual genetics and metabolism play a significant role in normal body composition too.
I somehow missed this thread the first time around.
I get what mumpboy is saying. World class sprinters, wide recievers, long jumpers, defensive backs, gymnists, etc...have a certain general body fat % that's almost a requirement to the sport. NFL running backs (with the exception of Bettis, who I think would have still been a very big man and more effective 20 pounds lighter) are lean, muscular men.
Tennis is also a high movement sport so I've often been struck with the same notion mumpboy has. Some of the women seem to be in less than optimal condition, yet excell. It's interesting to me.
I think it should be noted that it's no coincidence that the last year has been Serena's best, at an advanced tennis age, because she's in the best condition of her life. She's very muscular and lean and it shows on the court with her performance.
This may have been said before, but in addition to genetic and hormonal differences between men and women (and women and women) that I mentioned earlier, there are a handful of reasons why top tennis players may not always appear to be chiseled with defined muscles. Many of the best natural (and most athletic looking) athletes compete in other sports. Those who do choose to try to excel in tennis have a better chance of progressing to the next level if they (or their parents) can afford expensive tennis lessons, which can rule out many talented athletes who have potential.
And in tennis, only a small percentage of the talent and ability that determines success involves maximum mobility to get to the ball, and maximum endurance. Just as important, if not more important, are being able to hit hard and accurately and to have exceptional hand-eye coordination, to have excellent shot placement and a mastery of various shots, and to have the knowledge and wisdom to anticipate what your opponent is going to do and to determine your opponent's strengths and weaknesses. Athletes who are superior in those aspects can still be more successful in tennis than athletes who can move quicker or who have better endurance due to lower body fat... The type of surface that a tennis match is played on (hard, grass, clay) makes a difference in the chances for success of a particular athlete too.
Because of those things, it's possible that an athlete who may not be in top physical condition or be the most mobile athlete can keep winning, at least until she routinely has to play against the Serena Williams types who may have even more of the traits that make up an outstanding tennis athlete. But what a tennis player can do with the ball once it reaches her racquet, and her ability to anticipate what her opponent can and will do, could allow an athlete who appears to be in slightly inferior physical condition to still dominate in the sport.