It’s not everyday you get to go to Wimbledon. And it’s not everyday you get to experience a tennis clinic with a world-class superstar, sip on Pimms, dig into strawberries and cream, and discover a new brand of “sporty” sunglasses called Maui Jim. So when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it.
On the first Sunday of the famous Championships tournament when the famous tennis players are resting up and preparing themselves for the week ahead, I was at Wimbledon’s famous tennis club spinning some balls with Martina Hingis.
OK, that’s not strictly true but I did watch Martina swing some of those famous backhands, try on some rather sporty sunglasses and find out that my tennis skills may be useless but with a few lessons they could become almost passable. Here are three things I took away from my day at Wimbledon 2015.
1. Master the basics
If your last dalliance with tennis was at school and you weren’t much crack back then either, there is hope. As with all things, you can learn the basic moves: backhand, forehand and serve technique. Your hand-eye coordination may be somewhat desired but after being shown how to control the ball better, you will be able to confidently return the ball and hit it actually over the net.
2. Forget what you were taught at school (if your PE teacher didn’t have a clue)
I remember two things from tennis: hating having to wear my netball skirt over grey gym knickers; playing side-on. Fast-forwards to now and you’ll never find me in grey gym knickers. As for my tennis technique, this idea of standing side-on is not only impractical but it makes the ball really difficult to control. For a start, you put yourself at a disadvantage in terms of watching the ball. Face front-on to the net and the game becomes way easier.
3. Practice makes permanent
Apparently, it takes 1,000 hours to master something but surely that’s only if you are following the right teaching methods? Sometimes it’s as much about the way that you learn as what you learn. You’re not going to try and master French by watching back-to-back episodes of “Allo, Allo”. Whether it’s tennis or running, apply the idea that practice makes permanent and work on mastering a better way to train.
Thanks to Maui Jim for inviting me to the event.