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Old dog – new tricks?

May 26, 2010

I started to take tennis lessons in February with the same teacher who taught my husband to play. I decided that the whole family was going to be able to play and I would be left on the sidelines “cooling my jets”. So I dove in and began learning the game. I spent the better part of my life avoiding any and all sports that require hand-eye coordination. I was absolutely terrible at softball when I was in Elementary School and was constantly put out in the outfield. (I don’t know why they put the bad players out there – you have next to no chance of ever catching the ball, and you make such a fool of yourself trying.) In fact, I remember one particularly embarrassing incident when I was at an away game with my school. Our team was at bat and I was sitting on the bench (natch). The ball rolled back from behind the catcher to our bench and I picked it up and threw it to a player on the opposing team. I thought I was doing something good because for once in my life I had managed to pick up the ball and throw it. All at once my whole team erupted in a chorus of “you idiot” or something like that. Strategy was totally lost on me and it took me the longest, most agonizing moment to figure out what had happened. Then, when I was about 13 I broke my finger playing football and missed the P.E. unit on volleyball. That meant that when I was taught volleyball again in High School, I did everything I could to avoid learning it, since I already didn’t have the basic skills. As a result, I NEVER played anything other than soccer. I was fairly decent at soccer and I love to swim, so that was good enough for me. Now fast-forward to today and the most banal aspects of hand-eye coordination are completely lost on me. Believe it or not I have a hard time remembering how to hit the ball with my left. Sometimes I actually take the racket out of my right hand and put it in my left. Yesterday my teacher was trying use a sword metaphor to make it easier. Since I have no idea what pulling a sword out of a waist holder might look like or be like, I also had no idea. I do not grip the racket in the correct way with my left and my teacher is always saying: “are you on a motorcycle? Are you gassing it?” Again, I do not have a motorcycle or much experience with one and the whole explanation is lost on me. As I wrote in an earlier post, you can imagine what he says about my hair. Again, I heard comments from him about how I was “in disguise” with the dark hair. Sometimes he takes mercy on me and is nice. Last week he was trying to teach me to serve. Imagine how hard it is to swing my arm from the back, throw the ball high in the air with the other arm and then come around with the swinging arm and hit the *&^% ball into that small rectangle. I think my teacher was right when he said that I was creating new neural pathways. I don’t know if I will ever learn or ever play a tennis match, but I certainly DO want my children to make these pathways at a much younger age.
Now if we could only get Lu to decide on the right or left!

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