June 22, 2005

Earlier this week, I took a tennis lesson.

I don't really play too much tennis. Up until a year or two ago, I played for a couple of hours one night a week with a group of guys from work. We all sucked (more or less), but we kept up a regular game for a year or more. It was something to get outside and do with no distracting computer monitors.


The first thing that the pro did was check my grip. It is how I held a racquet when I was a kid, and how I have held it ever since.

The second thing that he did was to change my grip. He put my hand around the handle in a way that was completely unnatural. It was like trying to use scissors left handed.

If that wasn't enough, he showed me how I have to hold my wrist at an uncomfortable cocked angle in order for my new grip to put the racquet where it needed to be on my swing.

Then -- with my arm feeling as contorted as an acrobats -- I tried to hit balls.

I sailed them high and I plowed them into the net. But sometimes, my completly unnatural swing would come together like it was supposed to, and I would hit a low screamer just over the net. Those were fun.

I didn't expect this, but the pro encouraged me to swing with a lot of oomph, so when I hit one good, it had some zip. But hitting one good was the rare exception. When I fell out of my contorted arm position, they sailed high and long. Several nailed the metal wall in back with a loud gong that would have pleased Chuck Barris.

When we tried to hit backhand, I found that my stiff shoulder muscles had trouble rotating around and across my body. I guess it's been a while since I was serious about doing any stretching.