Try harder. Give it your all. Bring your "A" game.
In sports, more effort is supposed to yield better results. That, or desire. You have to want it more than your opponent. If you win, then you "wanted" it more. Occasionally, you hear "maybe I wanted it too much" in a loss, a statement uttered by Arthur Ashe in a loss to Ilie Nastase. Both were tennis players, by the way.
When people think effort, they think muscular power, strength. Whether I realized it or not, I would tense up when I hit shots. I would clench my muscles. This happened without me fully realizing it.
Recently, I hurt my wrist. It was shortly after I was frustrated the way I was playing and started to hit harder. But due to bad technique or something, I ended up hurting my wrist, and it's hurt for a few months. So about a month ago, I decided to go to a doctor and he recommended I see a physical therapist, which I did.
The physical therapy has helped with the pain in the wrist and shoulder some, but more importantly, it's helped me become more aware various muscles that are tight, and just how tight they were. It was easy enough to tell. I just put my hand on my muscles, and they would feel hard as rock. And I was told they shouldn't feel that way.
I took a tennis lesson recently, and the recent observation harped on an early observation. Relax! But what does relax mean? Now that I'd done some physical therapy and begun to realize how I was tensing up, I had some idea of what I needed to do to relax.
I felt I wasn't getting my arm in a proper position, that it felt kinda rubbery and unformed. However, I was hitting at least as hard as I was when I was tensed up trying to hit hard, and that was more energy and looked like more effort. Certainly, it felt
like more effort.
I wanted to go back to the tennis wall and try it again today.
Except today wasn't yesterday. Yesterday was warm enough that the weather was heading north of 70 which is unseasonably warm. Today snapped back to brisk chilly weather in the 40s. It was windy. But at least it was sunny.
It's weather like this that tests the resolve of sports nuts, those who venture outside because they have a desire to hit against the ball, and can't wait until the weather is simply warm enough. There's sun. There's an opportunity!
So I went up to the wall, probably a little over a day after I had last been there. Yesterday it had been nice and warm, but I had five or ten minutes before it was getting ready to sprinkle and managed a few more minutes after that before conceding, heading back to the car, and the rains coming down again.
Today, no rain, but wind, blustery wind. I put on a jacket on top of my rugby shirt. It would provide marginally better protection.
My first few shots lacked power. I would frame the ball. Framing the ball is when you hit the ball on the frame instead of the strings. This is generally ineffective.
As time passed, I sensed myself getting tense again, and then not hitting with power.
Relax. Do less. Do less.
Finally, I was getting some of the rhythm I had yesterday. Don't tense the muscle. Keep it relaxed. The pace was starting to flow. I was getting pace again, and I was pleased I hadn't forgotten what to do.
Although it was still cold, and I was beginning to feel it in my face, I still wanted to pick up balls, and strike them again, remembering the lack of tension.
After what was maybe 20 minutes, I decided I had enough. The cold was winning, the light waning, as sunset would soon dim the skies, the sun dropping, dropping, dropping below the horizon.
It's strange that people have discovered this rather contrary idea, that being more relaxed, not trying as hard, will allow the body to relax, and in relaxing, allow it to move faster, hit harder, with less effort. It sounds preposterous, like a diet that allows you to eat all the food you want, and still lose weight.
Still, it seems to work.
I continue to think Zen thoughts. Peaceful, relaxed thoughts.
So I can smack a fuzzy yellow ball.
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