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?
I see the value of both approaches, especially if the incremental locations may be useful positions in games. But while making the full change at once may cause more failure at first, I would go for it. You will ultimately adapt, making the adjustments you need. And you will have trained yourself to be right there, where you want to be.
I like how you think—just dive right into the deep end! That’s what I did today, and it worked! I wasn’t thinking about whether I was in the right place (I obviously was), and I didn’t feel all that vulnerable, maybe because it was all just a fun experiment. Or maybe because I felt more in control rather than closing the net because someone else told me to. Anyway, it’s a very successful challenge so far. 😊
Love this resolution. Can I borrow some blue tape? Also, if you end up cooking more, can you make Pumpkin bread and save me a piece? If not, I will make it and save you a large chunk. And regarding your writing, you have one of the best pens I know, so when you want to write, it is all there. You probably have some energy in reserve regarding your unspent words that will keep readers of yours, like me, quite entertained. Go for it all and please report back. Jill
Mmm. Pumpkin bread. I don’t know how much weight I’ll lose home cooking pumpkin bread, but pumpkin has vitamin A, which is good for vision. So pumpkin bread will help my tennis game even if I gain weight.
You are more than welcome to some tape. I used it today, and it was not as sticky as I’d like. The ends kept curling up. Actually, now that I think about it, that may have more to do with the dirty courts than the tape.
That was me above. One of my resolutions is to do better technologically 🙂
Forget the tape. You will spend to much time looking down at your feet. And your opponents won’t like it on changeovers.
Instead, at the end of each point make it your goal to be able to touch the net with your racket.
Of course don’t forget to move with the ball.
Jeez, thanks for your confidence in me. I used the tape today, and I did NOT spend the whole time looking at my feet. In fact, it was more helpful than I’d even hoped! Sometimes I actually have good ideas. 😆
Hey Deb I don’t agree with the urgency of getting closer to net. If you stay back a bit you can come up for the ball when necessary but also get back to catch the lobs which will inevitably come if you are on top of the net. What’s the advantage there? Maybe you can lose that from your overall list and you will be killing it even more in 2022!!
Hmm. I do like the idea of crossing off resolutions. I don’t know why I overburden myself every year.
You’re right about the lob, which is one of the reasons why I stayed a bit back. But I’m coming around to thinking that the way to prevent the lob is to make sure you’re doing enough with your shots. Make lobbing a difficult option. Not that I’m all that good at it, but when I get lobbed, I want to question why the opponent was able to execute that shot rather than question why I was close to the net.
I mean, it’s a balance, of course. I still think there are times for a less aggressive net position. But I don’t need to learn defensive play. I got that covered. I need to learn how to be more bold!
The other thing I’m learning is the staggering strategy in doubles, where one partner shades back to cover the lob. There are rules about which player is supposed to be doing that, and it’s a topic I want to cover in a separate blog post. I definitely need more practice with that!
Thanks for reading!!!
You kill it in everything you do!! Of course I’m a bit partial…As someone who was very athletic before I started being a mom and not sleeping much, I can understand the frustration that moves in once you have had an injury or start feeling your aches and pains. I like what Tom advised. I do not know much about playing tennis but I have played tough, fast, multi-level group sports and understand the advantage of being in the right place at the right time-anticipating the opponents move and just going for it. No fear! Keep moving like a chess player, all is well.
Move like a chess player? I’m doomed. I suck at chess!
But yes, no fear! That’s the goal. Go for it! And the tape seems to help with that. No thinking, no worrying—just move to the damn tape. Hopefully over time that “right place at the right time” will become automatic.
I have nothing to add to the abundance of advice you’ve already received, except the most important for me: don’t forget to HAVE FUN!!! As for my tennis-related resolution, it’s to try to get my 17-year-old son out on the court for a 2nd attempt to get him to fall in luv with the game (it didn’t work when he was 12). Currently, he would rather take a skateboard to the court instead of a racquet, but I am committing to making one last attempt before I give up on that.