May starts is less than two hours, so let me sneak in April’s blog post…
Thursday was my first spring league match, and I can tell you it felt nothing like spring. Such is New England weather, but I don’t think I’ve ever played in less hospitable conditions. The temperature was maybe 40 with a gusting wind. This is how one of my opponents dressed for our match:
The smarter members of the two teams deemed the conditions unplayable and rescheduled their matches. My foursome, on the other hand, decided to soldier through for reasons that seem patently unpersuasive to me in hindsight: The wind affects everyone equally. It might be tough to reschedule. Besides, we were already there.
We played one set. Let me share the two lessons I learned.
Lesson One: You have to keep your feet moving in the wind. I kept setting up for what looked to be a simple volley, only to hit it into the net. I realized, eventually, that there was so much wind drag on the ball that it wasn’t arriving at my racquet when I thought it would. I ended up making contact with the ball too far in front of my body. In the wind, you can never really be “set.” You always have to be making quick adjustments.
Lesson Two: You may need to make quick adjustments, but if you haven’t developed that level of agility, your feet will not cooperate. You can’t simply force your feet to move faster than they want to go. I learned this particular lesson when I rolled my ankle trying to make a last-minute adjustment to a wind-tossed ball.
Which just goes to show that when it comes to sports, a lesson learned by the brain isn’t worth half as much as a lesson learned by the body.
Thinking about footwork won’t do much for you if you haven’t put in the practice time. Which means drills.
Which means…a monthly challenge!
For the month of May, we’ll do a footwork challenge. By “we,” I mean “you.” With my recent Achilles tendinitis flare-up, footwork drills are probably a bad idea. So I’m recruiting volunteers to do the challenge for me and report back on their results. With any luck, we’ll end up with lots of crunchy data for tennis math. Maybe we’ll even get to play with some pie charts and graphs…
Tune in next week for all the details!