Happy 2022, everyone!
Have you made your resolutions for the new year yet? I have, and as usual, my list is too long. After all these years, it’s hard to believe I still have that much left to improve.
My resolutions always include something to do with writing, and this year is no different. Along with specific projects I’d like to finish, I aim to write a blog post a month. That’s a pretty low bar, especially with the Grand Slam fashion face-offs accounting for a full third of the total. Really, we’re looking at eight non-face-off posts a year. If I can’t manage that, I should just fold up shop.
Here, then, is post #1: My tennis resolution! (Yes, I’m satisfying my blog resolution by writing about my tennis resolution. And maybe my tennis resolution could be to improve my court fitness by losing weight. And I could lose the weight by cooking at home more, for which I could resolve to sign up for a Blue Apron membership, which I can do right now from my computer… There! Three resolutions knocked off in five minutes. I am killing it in 2022.)
Okay, here’s my real tennis resolution: Get closer to the net.
Some of you may remember a blog post from a few years back titled A Round-Robin Kerfuffle. In it, I related a disagreement I’d had with a partner who was trying to get me to stand closer to the net. The post sparked some lively debate about tennis etiquette, both in the comment section and in person.
What wasn’t up for debate was the advantage of closing the net. Being closer means you can reach more balls and hit sharper angles, as well as rob your opponents of time.
Being closer to the net also means your opponent’s rifled forehand is on you faster. A lot faster. Taking an aggressive net position can feel a bit perilous, especially if your reflexes have slowed, as mine seem to have. Whether from simply getting older or my long layoff from frozen shoulder, I’m not responding to the ball as quickly as I used to.
So although I tell myself all the time to get closer, I don’t. Or if I do, I’m so preoccupied with feeling vulnerable and adjusting to the new perspective and wondering if I’m too close or too far that I end up letting easy balls get by me.
Which makes me feel like a failure, so I retreat again.
Clearly, vague exhortations to “get closer” aren’t cutting it. I need some sort of plan that forces me out of my comfort zone. I need constant exposure to that position on the court so that it stops feeling foreign and quasi-suicidal and starts feeling natural.
So this New Year’s resolution will also kick off a new monthly challenge. For all of January, I’m going to bring blue painter’s tape with me to every lesson, practice, cardio tennis, or social match. I’ll tape a line on the court where I’m supposed to stand, giving me both a visual reminder and a measurable goal.
This will probably mean I lose more matches in January as I try to adjust. I’ll perform worse in practice, and my coaches will criticize me more. Sometimes long-term success requires short-term failure. If you see me on court looking discouraged, please remind me of that.
Now here’s my question for you: Should I move the painter’s tape forward incrementally over the course of January, or should I dive right in and force myself to adjust to an extreme change?
And do you have any tennis resolutions of your own?