One thing I’ve noticed in my years of league play is the different levels of tolerance for chit-chat.
In principle, we probably all agree on three match-day goals: We’re here to have fun. We want the visiting team to feel welcome. We want to be able to focus on our game.
Yet how these principles play out in practice can vary tremendously.
At one extreme, I’ve played against people who don’t introduce themselves and who stare stonily at me if I say “good shot.” These people often turn out to be perfectly sociable when the match is over.
At the other extreme, I’ve been on courts where opponents want to shoot the breeze during each changeover, yakking about the impending snowstorm or the stomach virus that just made the rounds at their house. (Mental note: Hit the Purell dispenser after the match.)
On the Chatty Cathy scale, I’m somewhere in between. I like friendliness and a little chatting at the outset–and some renewed camaraderie at particularly good points or funny moments.
But anything more than that is too much for me. I need to stay somewhat walled off emotionally or I lose focus. While some people use the chatter to defuse their tension, I need to hold onto that edge. If it’s my own partner who’s mingling on the changeover, I’ll back away and bounce the ball on my racquet. It may seem a bit rude to the other players, but…I do what I gotta do. Besides, I’m very nice when the match is over.
I’m not sure how it works in singles. I’m guessing it’s awkward to ignore your opponent if you’re the only ones on the court. And how would you walk away if your opponent starts conversing? Now that would REALLY be rude!
It used to bother me when other players refused the pre-match social niceties or never complimented any of our shots. But I’ve come to understand that everyone’s just trying to find her ideal playing zone. Just as I hope opponents give me the benefit of the doubt when I walk away from the chatter, I have to allow them to have their game face, in whatever form that takes.
Does chatting on changeovers disrupt your game or help it? And singles players: Is changeover chatting simply a given?