August is here, which means it’s time to review the results of my monthly challenge for July…and set a new one!
I’m not going to lie to you. July was tough. My goal was to hit 3,100 serves, or an average of 100 a day for 31 days. If you recall, my goal evolved from simply adding a knee bend to learning an entirely new service motion.
I can’t count July as a success. I tried to adjust my mindset, picked out cute outfits as incentives, and watched a Sharapova serving video as my model. But I neither reached 3,100 serves nor came anywhere near mastering my new motion. If anything, my serve is worse than it was before.
Here are my results and observations:
- I hit only 2,565 balls, which works out to 83% of my goal. Not too shabby, actually.
- I haven’t videotaped myself, but I’m pretty sure I look nothing like Sharapova when I’m serving. (To be fair, that probably wasn’t going to happen no matter how killer my serve became.)
- My serve is still wildly unpredictable, and occasionally dangerous to bystanders.
- Reframing my July challenge as an “experiment” didn’t improve my mindset.
- Having a reward system didn’t keep me motivated, probably because I know I’ll just go buy a new outfit whenever I damn please.
- I had a higher percentage of good serves during the first half of each serving session than during the second half.
- Discouragement and frustration increased markedly after about twenty minutes of a serving session.
- Taking off a few days resulted in a marginally better serving session when I returned to the court.
I could throw in the towel and go back to my old serve, but I know that’s not the way forward. My old service motion can only take me so far. When I finally get the hang of this new motion, I’ll have the foundation for building a great serve.
Here’s a sneak peak into next week’s blog: Yesterday I interviewed the 2017 winner of the USPTA’s New England High School Coach of the Year award. I asked her what the recreational league player can do to improve her game. She mentioned the importance of being willing to take three or four steps back in order to advance your game. I was happy to hear her express it that way–not one step back, but several. It makes me a little more encouraged about this long, tedious process.
So I’ll keep working on this new service motion as my August goal. But not every day. Not only don’t I want to commit to another outsized target like July’s, I question whether the very scope of the target undermined my progress. How successful can you be at learning something if you’re also battling fatigue, boredom, and frustration?
For the month of August, I’ll aim to serve three times a week, for fifty balls each session.
But honestly, I’m a little depressed about having to repeat serving as my challenge–it feels like I’ve been held back a grade. To keep things fresh, I’ll add a second challenge: Drink two glasses of water a day, in addition to what I have on the court.
I hate water, so I’m always dehydrated and cranky. Wouldn’t I have more energy and play better if my body wasn’t parched? Without doing any research on this topic, I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes, I would.
Like last month, I’m starting this challenge already behind–no water yesterday or today! Pathetic, isn’t it? Time to go fill up my bottle….
Is it possible to work too hard on a goal? Did I sabotage myself by setting my goal so high, or am I just looking for excuses?
And who wants to take up a personal tennis challenge for August???