Posts Tagged the fun of improving at sports

Thrilling Winning Tennis

Back from 3 1/2 hours of tennis today, starving, foot resting on an ice pack. I am giddy from playing the best tennis of my life…and my team won two of three sets against two very tough opponents: 2-6/6-3/7-6 (4). One player has beaten me every time we played singles over the last year. The other has lost only 3 or 4 sets in a year. But my partner, Joe Marshall (read his comment), is incredibly strategic, and he taught me a dozen moves, positions, tricks to play winning tennis. He is like a real life Brad Gilbert guiding me on the court.

I should add that I was out of country for 11 days and have spent the last two weeks working on taxes, bills, and catching up on friends’ and family members’ lives as well as other responsibilities. Cooped up in those British cities, I couldn’t stop myself from making it to the courts 9 of the last 11 days and playing 20 1/4 hours…I LOVE THIS GAME! I LOVE THE CHALLENGE!!

Turns out I am really good at returning line drives just above the net. Joe said I did 24 out of 25. But he was exaggerating. Could have been 20/25 though. And then making winners with most of those volleys. One time I won a game by vollying back a powerful overhand smash that was headed for my gut at 100+ miles per hour? Having abs might have made the difference…just joking. And I hit so many of the shots with my racket’s sweet spot, lots of power and ungettable placement.

Of course I am not taking even 50% of the credit for our victories. But maybe 40-45%. And it is so thrilling to hold up my end as these superior players forced my to upgrade my game. I have now really improved my serve with a new rhythm and flow, learned different places from Joe to stand when serving, discovered that I was shifting incorrectly when my partner moved over behind me, was taught how to distract my opponents. What fun to evolve to such improved capability. Somehow I was able to deliver more often the placement idea that was popping into my brain. So exciting.

I hope you have some activity that exhilarates you like this. I may not have known this high for decades before, but at least I am having it now…

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Why I Froze My Gym Membership

After going to the gym 6 to 10 times a month for 2 ½ years, I just turned in my key…”temporarily,” of course. Although I have gone only five or six times in the last 4 ½ months due to an arm and wrist injury, I have become a passionate tennis player: 32 hours in 9 days out of 11 and then 13 more hours in 5 consecutive days out of the next 8. That’s 45 hours in the last 19 days. The wrist hurts in the morning, before I start playing and for a few hours after. But I love the sport too much to stop. Hopefully there will be no permanent damage.

A friend who wrestled in college said that he just tuned out the aches, bruises and injuries. He felt no pain. Similarly, when I am playing, I usually don’t feel anything, except when I hit a ball in certain positions. Then the “ouch” is pretty major. Traumatic. I also have difficulty serving forcefully, which requires a lot of wrist motion, as well as certain high and net volley shots.

I thought this week I would take it a little easier, but then three different much stronger players called for partners (in addition to my regularly scheduled doubles games), and I was seduced easily into two different singles sessions and a super powerful doubles game yesterday morning. By the end of 4 1/2 hours of doubles yesterday, I was punchy. Seriously tired. It was close and tense. I saved five set points during one game I served. And my team lost by just 7-6 and 7-5. Most importantly, I am improving, even with the pained wrist.

One of the singles contests was with a man I’ve played occasionally for two years, but never won a set. I beat him 6-0 for the first time last week, and this week I won 6-4, lost 3-6 and then 5-7. Getting better. Can’t win more than two games a set from the other singles player, who serves the ball around 110 mph, according to a friend who has coached tennis more than 50 years.

But all that tennis and my hesitation to really strain my wrist have kept me away from the gym. I have some weights, core roller, exercise ball and other tools for muscles at home. Still find it hard to make myself use them. But maybe now that I am going to take a little break from such strenuous tennis playing, I will discover the will-power that has been missing. The tennis sure is fun, though. I love it. And I can also report that I just finished another set—not for tennis—of abs crunches. This is the fifth time this month. I am back up to 750 (250 each time with two one-minute breaks) with legs on the ball and 550 when I do 300 bicycles plus 250 on the exercise ball.

It’s all part of my evolution to build a six-pack and a flexible, fit and healthy body. What an adventure. I am really hooked on this journey and very relaxed about the detours and route changes on this path that is taking me as much as I am directing it.

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