Monthly Archives: June 2004

soft toss, nonforce, prevention vs. injury

There are a lot of chiropractors out there and I’ve probably gone to more than 40 of them desperate for help. I’ve even made a 5 minute animation about my back injury and all the useless chiropractors I suffered through. Directional Nonforce Chiropractic Technique is the most effective I’ve found. Chiropractic wasn’t the solution to my back injury, Alexander Technique was, but it is very effective for structural injuries and it’s a good thing to have periodic adjustments on a regular basis to prevent injuries.

This is an interesting part of western medicine. We wait until we are injured to get treatment instead of getting regular treatment to prevent injuries. This is directly related to the allopathic brand of medicine we have in our part of the world. It tends to deal with symptoms of injuries or illness instead of treating the body as a whole system that needs to be kept in balance.

I told my dentist that I kept getting boils in my mouth. He wanted to cut into one of them, do a biopsy and make sure there was nothing malignant in my body. I mentioned it to my homeopathist and she told me to have some wheatgrass juice each day because my acid/alkali balance was out of whack. I have wheatgrass juice three or four days a week and I’m fine. See the difference?

I’m suggesting that you see a chiropractor or acupuncturist or whatever on a regular schedule to keep your body in balance instead of waiting until you bend over one day and can’t straighten up. Those injuries that “just seem to happen” probably don’t just happen, they’ve been building up since you were running through the room when you were four years old and ran into a table and got a huge knot on your head. Trust me. I only had to wear a bandage around my head for a week.

Practice Report: practiced by myself for an hour today. My partner didn’t turn up.
Solutions Analysis: I practiced “soft toss” today. I realize that my service toss is better if I start the toss slowly and throw it up softly. It tends to rise without much spin and just hang in the air a bit so that I can see it better and increase my chances of actually hitting it.
Injury Report: one month of painting my house, two plane trips, a weekend of partying at gay pride in New York and one severe charley horse later, I dragged myself to my chiropractor, Christopher John, and got my nervous system tuned up well enough to eliminate the pain in my sacrum and neck.

stress vs. sleep, twist step and hit

I’ve noticed a very interesting thing about stress. I’m going through an exceptionally stressful time in my personal life at the moment yet I am able to focus on playing tennis while I’m on the court. I suppose it’s a safe haven, something Kobe Bryant might be able to relate to. However, if I lose an hour of sleep, I’m a step slow, the ball bounces off the edge of my racket, I’m grumpy, I’m just off.

All the more reason to spend less time blogging and more time sleeping.

Practice and Competition Report: played for an hour and a half, two rally games: 15-12, 15-12, one set: 6-3.
Success Analysis:
1. I won the first rally game after being down 0-7.
2. I’m starting to effectively use my trunk twist to hit very solid shots. Even if I have to run far for a shot, I twist my trunk as part of my backstroke while I’m running to the ball and I’m ready to hit a solid shot once I get there.

1-2-3 o’clock, Andy Roddick or not, multi-mega-merger media

Everyone always tells you that service placement is more important than speed. This is probably true if you are not Andy Roddick and I seriously doubt he reads this so how can you practice service placement? I put a ball in the corners and middle of the service box and I practice serving to those balls. Serving to the deuce court, I hit the ball at one o’clock to hit it down the middle, two o’clock to hit it into the body, and three o’clock to hit it wide. Serving to the ad court, I hit the ball at one o’clock to hit it down the middle, two o’clock to hit it into the body and three o’clock to hit it to the backhand side. This, by the way, may be totally wrong, it’s just how it seems to work for me.

I’m really enjoying blogging. I hope it can be a medium for democratizing media access. Think about it, millions of people reading their selected blogs each day instead of ingesting the same old crap from the various arms of multi-mega-merger media companies. Click here and tally up the number of magazines, record labels, television stations and major league teams owned by any one of these companies. Frightening, and totally unacceptable for a democracy. Democracy depends on access to independent investigation and presentation of events. Hey, I’d love to have my column in Sports Illustrated but not if I have to write the same old stuff about the same old people.

Practice and Competition Diary: hit for over 1 1/2 hrs.
Solutions Analysis:
1. I practiced hitting the ball at two o’clock when serving. Now that I have patterned myself to watch the ball as I hit it, I’m able to move onto practicing other parts of the serve. If I hit the ball at two o’clock (see image below), I should be serving the ball into my opponent’s body.
2. When I take a ball in the air, hit it before it bounces, I realize that I need to hit under it to get the ball deep into my opponent’s court. Previously I would hit it flat and the ball dropped short if it got over the net at all.
3. I realize that I am dropping my racket head again when I hit the ball. It’s important to grip the racket solidly and keep my wrist in a neutral position. If I drop my wrist, I am not able to use my forearm strength to hit a solid shot. You can’t develop forearm strength just by playing tennis because you will likely develop bad habits from muscle weakness before developing the strength needed to execute the shot properly. To build and maintain strength in my forearm I do a series of exercises when I go the gym.

why bother

I’d really rather do anything but go to the gym but I do go for two good reasons.

1. Strength work: if you think that you can develop all the strength you need just playing your chosen sport, you are probably wrong. Take it from someone who has had more than enough injuries. Ask people in your local league if they have injuries. The exception is probably someone who doesn’t.
2. Movement patterning: how coordinated you are? How graceful are you? How good is your balance? How well do you use your strength when you hit a tennis ball? Doing rotations with a med ball, for instance, patterns you to use your abdominal muscles when you swing a tennis racket. Look at a picture of Roger Federer at the end of a stroke, he’s completely rotated and his shirt is flying around trying to catch up with the rest of him.

Practice Report: worked out at the gym for 1hr 15min.
Injury Report: I am beginning to feel tendonitis in my right knee. Up until now, I only felt it in my left knee.

overheads, Reggie Jackson and Jose Canseco fielding tips

I often practice and play around 11am or noon which means the sun is high and overheads can be a problem. First of all, I don’t see many other people practicing overheads by themselves. To practice overheads, hit the ball straight up in the air with your racket and then hit an overhead. Simple. You might look like an idiot for the first three or four times but it’s worth it. To practice backhand overheads, hit the ball up over your left shoulder if you are right handed and over your right shoulder if you are left handed.

How do you hit overheads in the sun without looking like Reggie Jackson, he lost a fly ball in the sun in the World Series, or Jose Canseco, a ball bounced off his head and over the fence for a home run? Tennis players have an advantage: they can let the ball drop. If you can’t see the ball in the sun, you have a better chance locating it if it hits the ground. This does mean, however, that you will have to run backwards to get behind the ball after it comes down.

There are three ways to run backwards in tennis. You can turn around and run towards the baseline but you better have eyes in the back of your head to track the ball. You can pedal furiously backwards while facing the net. This makes it easy to see the ball but it’s pretty awkward and once you get to the ball you have to stop, turn around and get your racket ready to hit it. The most elegant way is to run towards the baseline with side steps, either shuffling your feed or stepping one foot over the other. This way you can see the ball as you run and if you keep your racket cocked as you run backwards, you will be in good position to hit it once you find it.

The problem is that it’s unnatural. I have been working on this for a few years and still, sometimes, as soon as I see an overhead I jump into full panic mode and start backpedaling furiously facing the net hoping that I don’t fall over backwards. To practice running sideways, hit the ball up in the air and behind you. Run backwards with a sidestep, let the ball drop and then hit it. When you get good at this, hit the ball before it drops.

Practice Report: hit with someone for 15 minutes, practiced by myself for an hour and hit serves for a bag and a half of balls.
Solutions Analysis: looking for a solution to inconsistency in service toss when I get tired.
Success Analysis: I made great progress with my serve by focusing only on seeing the ball well enough to watch the racket as it brushed across the ball. I didn’t pay any attention to the result of the serve, I only cared about seeing the ball as I hit it.