Tennis Interruptus

Playing a lot can really improve your game.

I didn’t believe it until I tried it. This summer, I played nearly every day for hours, including practices, group lessons, matches and even a tournament.

As with so many things in tennis, it took time but by the end of the summer, I started to win matches that I never had before. My strokes were stronger, with better placement, and they generally stayed in. One opponent commented on my remarkable consistency, which surprised me, given my past tendency to send balls into the parking lot, the pool or even the river!

Yet, he was right.

For a number of years, I had divided my time between tennis and endurance sports, like half-marathons or triathlons. Although I knew it might slow my progress, I didn’t realize by how much. In tennis, skills trump endurance. That’s especially true for club players like myself who rarely play more than one set.

Of course, just as I was making real, tangible progress, my tennis season came to an early end. Doctor’s orders: appendix surgery, followed by 4 to 6 weeks of recovery.

Fortunately, the surgery went well and so far (fingers crossed) there are no complications.

I’m frustrated that I’ll lose my recent, hard-won improvements. To top it off, Mother Nature is serving up sunny and beautiful days, even though it’s mid-September. Perfidy, indeed!

Clearly, I need a plan of attack for the next while. First, for the mental game, I’m going to brush up on one of my favourite books, The Inner Game of Tennis. If you haven’t read it yet, do give it a try. That book has helped me more than any single lesson, clinic or camp. I’ll return to review it in a future post.

For the physical aspect, I’ll be walking (and running) as soon as I’m allowed to keep up my general endurance. I’m also thinking of adding some yoga to strengthen and stabilize my core. I’m starting to hit the level where adding more hip rotation would speed up my shots, and I figure I’ll need a stronger core to do that consistently.

I’ll try to keep looking on the bright side. After all, my wrists, knees and shoulders are already enjoying the break!

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