Supposedly we learn more from our failures than our successes. After last week, I ought to be a genius.
My partner and I lost our match on Thursday, mostly due to me. Granted our opponents were undefeated, coming into the match with an 11-0 record. But it was a winnable match.
My partner played great, but I couldn’t keep the ball in the court. I was overthinking and missing uncomplicated shots. It got to the point that I was afraid to touch any ball, leaving my poor partner to cover way more court than she should have to. It was not one of my better days.
Afterwards, my coach told me I should have poached more.
“But I was screwing up even the basic stuff,” I whined. “How am I going to hit the hard stuff?!”
His (paraphrased) reply: “When you’re feeling off, push yourself to go for more. Don’t hold back, or you’ll just reinforce your negativity.”
That’s a very wise Lesson One.
My second loss came on Saturday with a different partner. Actually, “thrashing” is a more accurate description of that match. This time, at least, I didn’t play below my abilities. The opponents were simply far superior.
One of the opponents owned a brutal slice forehand–a squash shot, really. It wasn’t one of those floaty slices, but a ripping shot with nasty underspin. When that ball hit the court, it just died. And when it hit my racquet as a volley, it died, too. Over and over, I volleyed that ball into the net–sometimes into the bottom of the net.
Which brings me to Lesson Two: When hitting a volley off a heavily sliced ball, you need to open the racquet face more. The ball’s spin is going to drag the ball downward. The only way to counter that downward energy is to hit up more.
I sort of figured that out after the 78th netted volley. “Hmm. Maybe if my ball is going into the net, I should adjust and hit up more.” Duh. Yet despite knowing what I should do, it proved difficult to execute. I’d need a lot more practice hitting that volley. But next time I face an opponent hitting that shot, I’ll try making the adjustment a little earlier.
(The converse, in case you’re wondering, is also true. When you’re volleying a ball with heavy topspin, you need to close the racquet face a bit. Otherwise your volley will fly long.)
Two losses and two lessons.
Here’s hoping I learn a lot less this week.
Anyone else learn a valuable lesson last week? Or are Rafa and I the only ones getting schooled?