We played our first spring league match yesterday in the dreaded outdoors. One of our opponents remarked that she hated playing outside, calling herself a “whiner.” Of course, I can relate. In fact, my first blog post could have been titled “Whining about Playing Outside.”
In my first blog post, if you didn’t see it, I had researched some tips to help me with the transition to outdoor tennis. With my first match behind me, it’s time to grade myself on how well I heeded my own advice. (I’m great at coming up with self-improvement ideas. It’s the follow-through that’s often lacking.) Here’s my report card:
Focus harder on the ball. I didn’t remember to do this. I definitely mis-hit some balls. Grade: D
Keep your non-dominant hand up during the serve. My serve wasn’t great, but I kept my hand up and was able to judge the ball height. My overhead was another matter. I couldn’t keep my hand up…but that’s because I was stumbling over my feet (see below). Grade: B-plus
Move your feet. Wow, there’s A LOT of room for improvement here. The day’s steady wind caught the opponents’ lobs and did crazy things to the ball, stopping its forward progress or carrying it sideways. I’d get set for my overhead only to have the ball swirl away from me. Clearly I could do with some more practice here. Grade: C-minus
Get plenty of practice outdoors. I did play the day before, but not as much as I should have. Grade: B
Practice serving at the same time of day as your match. Did it! Grade: A
Anticipate a higher bounce. It took me a few games, but I eventually remembered the tip about the bounce. Since I don’t play much at the baseline, the bounce mostly affects my return of serve. I backed up my return position and fared better. Grade: A-minus
Nerd that I am, I needed to figure out my overall average. It’s a B-minus. Interestingly, that’s pretty much the score I’d give yesterday’s match, a solid but unspectacular win.
Hmm. So my results directly correspond to whether I do what I’m supposed to do. Not exactly mind-blowing, is it? Why, then, don’t I approach every match with a specific, winning game plan? Wouldn’t that make sense?
Let’s give it a try. My next match is Tuesday. To keep it simple, I’ll focus on this three-part game plan:
1. Do all the above.
2. Serve only aces.
3. Make no errors.
I’ll let you know next Wednesday how it worked out.
Have you had your first outdoor match yet? How’s the adjustment going? Are you loving playing outside??
So many great ideas from this post. When I perfectly execute your three-part plan and then go pro, I’ll give you a shout-out in my first on-court interview.
If all that happens based on my three-part plan, I’m going to want more than a shout-out. I’ll want a cut of the prize money!
Sounds like a great plan. But I would need a whole plan to serve only aces. I hope that’s a future blog post!
I’ll start working on the “Serve Only Aces” plan. It will probably include steps like “grow taller” and “practice serve two hours a day.”
Our first spring match was played indoors due to rain so I wasn’t able to use your tips —-saves for next week!! I love your blog and I get so excited when i see a new one !
Thanks, Jordana. I’m so envious that you got to play inside! (I think I need to work on my attitude.)
Interesting… I in-fact love to play outside! I started playing tennis to have another activity to do outside. I started playing indoors to keep my skills up through these New England winters.. all your tips apply to both venues… it’s executing them all the time!!
Yeah…execution. That’s key, isn’t it? As a teammate once said, “If tennis were a written exam, I’d be a nationally ranked player!”