True story (at least I think it’s true):
One of my tennis buds told me about a match she played many years ago. The night before, she’d been at a party and sampled a hash brownie. When the effects didn’t kick in right away, she decided to try a second, and then a third.
Needless to say, she was still feeling a bit loopy the following morning. Her tennis partner had to drag her out of bed and down to the courts and stick a racquet in her hand.
They ended up routing the opponents, 6-0, 6-0.
“I was too out of it to overthink things,” my friend explained. “All I could do was ‘see ball, hit ball.'”
I had a similar experience this morning, albeit without the hash brownies. I was struggling with a cold and feeling mentally foggy. I didn’t have high expectations for my performance today, yet I ended up playing the cleanest game I’ve played in a long time. ‘See ball, hit ball” was all I was capable of. There was no strategizing, no second guessing, no getting overly cute with my shots. My limited mental aptitude forced me to keep it simple–and we won.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we all get sick or stoned before our matches (although recreational pot is legal here in Massachusetts). But this morning’s experience suggests that dialing back my analytical side could do wonders for my game. I just have to figure out how to do it without the virus or the brownies.
Speaking of brownies, one of my teammates brought amazing gluten-free brownies for the match today. Best brownies I ever had, with or without gluten. It’s Open Nature brand brownie mix. Go get yourself some. You deserve it.
Anyone else play better when sick…or stoned?
Well, I don’t necessarily play better when I’m sick, but I too have noticed that I play better when my expectations of myself are lowest…say I’m feeling draggy, or the last time I played I played horribly so I’m convinced I stink. I tend to surprise myself in those situations by not only playing better than expected but playing some of my best tennis. It’s when I go into a match overconfident that my game falls apart. Why do we have to feel bad about ourselves to play well?
You nailed it, I think. Low expectations–whether they come from having played poorly recently, being sick, or having been away from the game for a while. That last one is really common. You come back to tennis after weeks or months off and you play phenomenally. Probably we are a little more focused than normal (since we can’t take anything for granted) and a little less stressed than normal (since we’ve got nothing to lose). It’s the perfect recipe for excellent tennis.
I haven’t had that experience on the court. But I have noticed the same effect playing pool and drinking. There is a window of amazing shots when instinct is driving and thought is not. Before that, too much thought. After that, too sloppy. But one can’t accurately calibrate when drinking, nor is drinking a useful performance strategy in general.
Sorry to hear you’re fighting a virus. I hope it’s a quick and not-very-serious one.
Drunk pool and stoned tennis. What a fun bunch we are!
Deb, I think you are spot on. I had a partner who would often times come to court for match play nursing a hangover. She would laugh about it while I would be a tad irritated that she didn’t take the moment more seriously. But then I noticed that she played best hung over. She was so free wheeling with her racquet, didn’t think to hard, didn’t let bad points overwhelm or over-occupy her mind. She was literally living in the moment, and believe it or not, we played our best tennis and usually won our matches.
I remember hangovers. Ugh. I can’t imagine trying to play with one! Give me a cold any day!