Edition 1484
21 July 2018
Edition: 1484

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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Old dog new tricks

by Advertiser, in Sport · 20-12-2017 15:21:00 · 0 Comments

It was only a couple of months ago that I managed to totally ambush my wife by suggesting we commit to learning to play tennis. If you have ever met me, this situation would automatically raise an eyebrow and may even be cause for a smirk.

Old dog new tricks

Even I openly admit that I am not built for speed, changing direction on a six-pence is not my forte. It once was, back in the day of satchels and pencil cases, but not now. I think a general rule of thumb should be; if you want your feet to move swiftly you should be able to see them when you look down.
Nevertheless, a couple of days later we found ourselves on the tennis court rackets in hand literally on the other side of the net, being coached on the fundamentals of tennis, technique, game strategy, rules and so forth. Suddenly I realised that this is what it feels like, to be coached on something of which you have very little experience. I am a coach, guiding the golfer through the maze of fundamentals, now I am the beginner being shown the route to better technique.
My wife is going to be reading this too, so I should say that I have utter admiration for her endeavours. I have played tennis at school, representing the school on occasion. Fiona has never played tennis before, racket sports never really played much part at school and yet, there she was returning the ball, running around, smiling, chastising herself sometimes (me mostly for returning the ball) but most importantly learning and improving a totally alien movement.
I would recommend any coach or instructor to learn a new skill. To be thrown into the learning process, to feel totally inept, to realise that you know very little, to feel that you have mastered a move and then in the next instance to make a total hash of the same move is a wonderful experience. My empathy for my students has never been so profound.
Tennis is so different to golf, duhh, I can almost hear you say. Of course it is, the ball moves, and so should you.
I say should, going back to the built for speed thing, it appears nimbleness is now a thing of the past and running plays quite a big part in tennis. Who knew?
Definitely an area for improvement.
Everything I say during my coaching day, hold your follow through, stay planted, be still is no help at all on the tennis court. In fact, what is held to be good golfing doctrine is the opposite in tennis. The best example being after a rather tasty forehand top spin, deep into the instructor’s court, I checked my follow through, checked my balance, reflected on the sweetness of the strike and the power of the ball. Hoping that the accuracy had not gone unnoticed, maybe even a word of encouragement was going to come my way. The only thing that came back was a ball, with more speed, hitting the netting behind me before I could move a muscle. With the comment, “Don’t stand there admiring it!” with the subtitles, “You’re playing tennis, move your backside, it was a good shot but not good enough.”
Immediately realising that I have spent the best part of thirty years, watching my ball soar into the air towards a target with all the time in the world to watch, sometimes admire, sometimes despair at the destination. Never have I had a golf ball sent back at me, with a message on it saying not good enough.
Try something new is the message here. You can train an old dog new tricks. The dog may not be able to do them to the same level as the young dog, but you can definitely learn. An old coach must absolutely learn new techniques, otherwise he/she will be left behind. You will certainly find me looking at the game from a new perspective. Certainly, with a more sympathetic view of the learning process. You guys deserve the best I can achieve.
The end of the year is coming, stretch your horizons. Fiona and I wish you all Happy Holidays and a very healthy New Year. We hope you get a chance to see us at the Golf Integrated Academy in 2018.

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Edition 1484
21 July 2018
Edition: 1484

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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