A few months after I first picked up a tennis racket, I was thrown into a round robin of mixed doubles. An alarming experience, to say the least. I barely had groundstrokes, let alone volleys, and didn’t even know where to stand.
A pattern quickly emerged. My partner would leap heroically around the court, hitting all the balls, until I got lucky / unlucky enough to hit a ball, causing it to sail wide. It didn’t take me long to figure out that watching, rather than playing, was safer for my team – and my ego.
Subsequent matches confirmed the pattern. And it wasn’t just me; I observed other teams where men hit 90% of the balls, running energetically in front, behind, and nearly through their female partners.
I started wondering: Why do women bother playing mixed doubles?
It took years for me to understand the benefits and, yes, even the fun, of mixed doubles. I’d like to share what I’ve learned.
Continue reading “Solving the puzzle of mixed doubles”
A recent commenter on this blog argued that tennis at the leisure level should be about mutual cooperation, creativity, and expression, like a dance, rather than an ugly competition where dog eats dog.
I think there’s a lot of truth in that argument.
At the same time, I wonder if trying to win has to be ugly. In contrast, could it be the key to better performance?
Continue reading “Does winning in tennis have to be ugly?”
Years ago, I saw the documentary Waiting for Superman, which introduces the concept that the American public education system is vainly waiting for a superhero to come save it.
I suspect that I’m waiting for the same thing, but in my case, it’s my tennis game that needs saving. Too often I’m finding myself at the losing end of matches, even with players who are at my level. When I do get a lead, the tide soon turns and the set disappears.
Continue reading “Waiting for Superman (or would it be Wonder Woman?)”
I had a breakthrough recently that I’d like to share.
As you may know, I’ve been trying to master the Inner Game of Tennis. A quick refresher: the main idea is that we work against ourselves mentally by listening to our conscious “teller” (Self 1) rather than letting our unconscious “doer” (Self 2) learn naturally how to play tennis.
For a while now, I’ve been trying to stop Self 1 from judging my level of play or giving instructions on how to improve my shots. The book recommends focusing on the ball, watching it so closely that you can see its seams or read the words on it. Theoretically, such close observation should keep Self 1 too busy to interfere and put you in a good position to address the ball. Continue reading “Try this technique for greater tennis success… and have more fun too”
I’ve been struggling with my forehand for as long as I’ve been playing tennis.
My forehand is my evil nemesis. It has a mind of its own, sending balls long, short or in the net. It won’t generate any real topspin, and it loves to fail when I’m competing.
Coach after coach has tried to correct it, but to little effect.
Oddly, my backhand is the exact opposite. Strong and getting stronger every day, it feels natural and achieves solid results.
The disparity between my strokes puzzled me until earlier this year, when I chanced upon the book The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey. As you may guess from the title, it’s not a technical instruction manual, but instead a guide for how to think differently so you can play your best. Continue reading “This book helped my tennis game… could it help yours?”