How R U Coping?

Photo by Bill Wachtel

With the USTA’s proclamation, all of my available tennis courts are now shut down; so it is a “what now?” mode.  How are the avid tennis players coping with this time away from the courts?

For those of us who are “exercise addicts,” we must find something to not only fill the empty hours; but also burn off that energy inside and get an endorphin release.

Here Are My Activities…

  • My regular, daily stretching routine,
  • Regular three times a week exercise bands,
  • Daily, amateur meditation
  • Hitting on my “garage practice wall” (picture)
  • Hitting practice serves on the closed tennis courts
  • Some other kind of exercise: walking, swimming, ….
  • Reading library eBooks,
  • Watching videos from Netflix and Prime,
  • And, communicating with YOU

The “garage practice wall” is half of a ping pong table, which I set at an angle against the inside of my garage door.  Using a low-compression, kid tennis ball, I can get a decent hand-eye reflex volley and short ground stroke workout.

And yesterday, my brother came over and we set up the whole table in the garage and, for the first time in several years, hit ping pong (“table tennis” for you aficionados) balls for an hour.  During the first twenty minutes, we both frequently swung and missed at some shots; but by the end of the workout, we were able to sustain a rally for 48 consecutive shots!

I think both of these activities will really help in “watching the ball” when we finally get back onto the tennis courts.

What are YOU doing during this shut-down time?

PS Here is a link from Chuck Kinyon of some unbelievable shots from The Fed that may also inspire and help pass the time.

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!

19 thoughts on “How R U Coping?

  1. Ping Pong! I’m so jealous George. Effortless topspin and radical slice. No rushing the net though. I’m hitting against the back walls of businesses not operating. A low pressure ball is essential. It’s also a good way to compare racquets and strings. Only downside…..the wall plays a lot like Djokovic!

    Brian, i need to find a vacant wall like that… my local tennis walls are all shut down! thanks, george

  2. Riding exercise bike while listening to audiobook and adding wrist, forearm strengthening equipment use to make time more efficient; floor exercises on mat including planks, core work; sit ups on big exercise ball; dumbbells, bands, and “perfect pushup” for upper body; reproducing rehab work on shoulder and foot/ankle from surgery recovery rehab ; use of step for quad strength and flexibility along with calf raises (both legs followed by one at a time once warmed up well) and one legged balance exercises; meditation pose to start and end day including beginning with neck movement coordinated with breathing (chin towards chest then up towards ceiling, chin all the way left then right, left ear towards left shoulder then right towards right shoulder – all neck movements done 30 times smoothly) – all to keep cervical area from locking up; Hatha Yoga poses separate from anabolic exercise making sure to relax and hold the postures longer without pushing for maximum stretch. Cook and eat well and limit alcohol as boredom solution.
    If I can continue to improve on the above, hope to become singles competitor again once all clear is sounded. Each day is an opportunity and a challenge to utilize it well.

    Winder, i also have an exercise bike, which may come into play. And yes, this virus cloud may have a silver lining! thanks, george

  3. George its a critical time for all of us. Not to get the virus is number one but also not to gain weight and not to become an alcoholic. Timing is everything for us as Judy just past five months from double knee replacement. Now when we do our morning four mile walk I can actually keep up with her. Afternoon is generally consumed by fishing here in our ponds mostly for large mouth bass. Later in the afternoon we do a six or seven mile bike ride. Reading and a short swim rounds out the day. Don’t over eat or over drink good exercise and try to think positive. Every year we always have felt goes by quicker and quicker. Right now each day seems like two or three. We have a new pace and we all need to just think positive and we will get through this horrible event.
    All the best!

    Phil, with all that, you will probably LOSE weight! thanks, george

  4. All supermarkets have a loading dock in the rear and very often there is a high, vacant wall on the side of the loading dock – a perfect wall to hit against, as long as you get out of the way for trucks coming in to unload!

    Sean, i will check them out! thanks, george

  5. Bitner was playing tennis on a wall yesterday. Everything here except the pool is shut down, so I am swimming some laps and walking some.

    Streaming video, have binged on Longmire.

    Rick, i loved Longmire. Check out “Endeavour” on Prime. thanks, george

  6. Last Friday, I thought that since I could no longer play tennis for the foreseeable future, it would be a good idea to start jogging (something I hadn’t done in 40 years!). I lasted about a half mile before I realized what horrible running shape I was in. I decided to alternate walking and running every half mile for about 2 miles. I did the same thing on Saturday. When I woke up Sunday morning, my quads were killing me, so I decided to just walk but increased the distance to 3.5 miles and only jogged the last half mile. I haven’t decided what I can do today. This is torture, but it only reinforces how much I really love playing tennis !! I can only pray we can start playing again sooner than later.

    Steve, believe it or not, i used to love running (and ran 4-5 miles every day); but with my hip, no can do. So i envy you that. thanks, george

  7. Hi George practice off court is important I tell my class to set up a mirror in the garage one that’s about one by four feet use leg and wrist weights put on some music and practice all your strokes self annalists will win out you name it you will see it correct what you don’t like music will add to your rhythm

    Good idea! thanks, george

  8. There’s much to talk about here in regards to all of this…but I’m refraining from my opinions. hahahahah

    For those that need solace… praying is not a bad thing…
    BUT, solace is NOT what I want… I want solutions.

    So in regards to exercise home options… this is a fun one. (Start with whats appropriate)
    Take a deck of playing cards. Take 15-20 cards…. or more or the whole deck for the hardcore crowd.
    Red cards are pushups and black cards are squats (great time to really get your ankle to ass squat going)
    Flip the card over… do the number on the cardfor push up or squat.
    Rinse and repeat.

    Now back to playing “spa” with barbies and my daughter. 🙂

    Marc, waaaay too tough for this old guy! but working on leg strength now is a great idea. thanks. george

  9. Hi George
    Finding this all very difficult . It’s all mental .I am a 68 year old who has been working out everyday as long as I can remember. I usually play two good singles a week and a few ITF tournaments in Europe during the year . We are in lock down here and only allowed to exercise outside once a day.I use that to start my day with a run which lasts about 40 mins . I do a warm down and play some table tennis on a half table in my garage. The back half rebounds the ball . I set myself various targets – how many backhand slices or forehand loops . In the afternoon I do some light weights and skipping . Sounds as if I’m having a great time but I’m not . I’m existing until I get back on a tennis court . Let’s hope we can through this as quickly as possible. It’s some solace to know that there are others who feel the same way . It will feel all the sweeter when we get back on court .
    Bryan Bailie( Ireland)

    Bryan, there are MANY of us who feel the same way! Are you at the virus peak yet over there? thanks, george

  10. The wall next to a supermarket loading dock might yield additional benefits … first dibs on the delivery of toilet paper!

    Jack, pick me up a roll or two!! 🙂 george

  11. no tennis since we last played. actually this is probably helping the body
    heal a bit. i can still do my profession. most artists spend hours in studio
    by themselves anyway (btw, this might be a perfect time to get some art
    work and get a fresh look for a room).
    i’m getting like forrest gump. late every afternoon, i start walking around
    my town for around 1 and a half hours. i take a band with me and do
    shoulder strengthening exercises along the way. it is a sort of meditation,
    believe it or not. i also think my legs are getting stronger.
    of course, when i get home, i drink my water and then it’s a little red wine.
    the walking gives me my exercise fix.
    although walking is not quite as much fun as tennis, duh.

    Joe, i just came back from MY walk. Yes, not as much fun as tennis! thanks, george

  12. Before this mess I was doing Pilates twice a week for flexibility and band exercises for my shoulder. That won’t change. Golf once a week, as our courses are open(4+ hours accounted for-yeah!) Instead of tennis for fitness I will bike ride 5-10 miles a couple times a week and do interval running a couple times a week-25 minutes of 1 minute jogging and 30 seconds sprinting. If this starts to bother my knees I’ll stick with biking.

    Stay healthy everyone!

    Andy, so why do the golfers get to play and we don’t?! Have fun. George

  13. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. My condo has two courts and they are still allowing us to play, but only with other residents. That is a small circle of players, but I have a ball machine and I have been using it 3-4 times per week. It is not the same as competition, but it is an opportunity to work on some things.

    Rick, i envy you! george

  14. Anyway No George haven’t reached peak yet about another 7 days or so they think . I live in north in Rory McIlroy country but all golf courses closed as well . This shut down is really going to hit our economy hard. Our tourist industry was really booming and things looking good . Anyway always good to hear how you guys are coping . Always read your emails but don’t usually have time to comment . Now have plenty of time . Off for a glass of wine . I leave the cooking to Beth

    Bryan, most of the Florida golf courses remain open… the golf lobby is stronger than the tennis lobby. george

  15. I’m like Rick……we have a condo that allows residents to play, so my wife and I hit. it’s a chance for me to practice my serving accuracy.
    Aside from that, I’ve set up an exercise schedule…..legs/core, upper body, tennis, walking for each week….lots of reading and good TV stuff….everyone’s recommending programs….no shortage.
    I’d kill for a ball machine.
    This could go on for a few more months, so we have to be resourceful!!

    John, yes, i yearn for my NH ball machine and neighbor’s house court! thanks, george

  16. There is a video circulating on Facebook showing Nadal in a short game practice over the chairs on a patio. I think Marilyn and I will try that tomorrow on our driveway using lawn chairs. Good volley practice!

    Walt, and another showing Djokovic with frying pans in his living room! Thanks. George

  17. Where’s your Eye Coach George?

    Greg, i opted for my half ping pong table in the garage! george

  18. George, it’s been awhile since we met at Longboat Key. I am doing almost the same routine you are, except that instead of a wall, I practice my serve on my development’s courts which are open. Too bad I don’t have a ball machine. For tennis specific training ideas, I use a great book: TENNIS ANATOMY by E. Paul Roetert & Mark S. Kovacs, which I have been using for years and highly recommend for off court training.

    Guy, thanks for the tip. george

  19. Unfortunately, no tennis here in PA, but I have managed to find other things to occupy my time, mind and body:

    1). Even though I am 68 and could be retired, I am still working, albeit remotely, on matters for my various legal clients. But few new deals are happening, and lawsuits aren’t being filed much, so there is less to do. A lot of client counseling, though, much related to shut down orders and COVID-19 issues, especially in my area of practice which is environmental.

    2). A local high school just upgraded its athletic facilities and erected a tennis wall. However, it just got completed in February and a lot of people don’t know about it yet (so there is less competition for its use). I have been over there a few times hitting, alone. I think solo hitting is allowed under the Governor’s order, but I wonder what may happen if the local police decide to roust me, so I haven’t been there all that much.

    3). I have been taking end of the day rides on my road bike, getting in an average of 15 miles a ride. The problem is PA is pretty hilly near where I live and I am not in the shape I used to be for climbing hills. (What keeps me going up each half mile rise is the knowledge that I can let it rip on the downhill side past the crest.) My quads are getting nice and strong though, and my cardiovascular system and overall lung capacity are no doubt improving. But God, I hate those hills!

    4). I am also on the stationary bike when the weather is bad. The bad news it is programmable and, guess what, most of the presets have hills!!

    5). In between other things, my wife and I have been working on trying to fix those annoying things that have somehow gotten broken around the house that we let lapse. But I confess, this is not my favorite activity.

    6). I have a 60 pound 5 year old Samoyed and she gets regular walks each day. On the days when I am not on my bike, we usually put in between 2 and 4 miles just walking through different neighborhoods.

    7). We have a Total Gym fitness machine (yes, the Chuck Norris machine) and I do also work out on that. But quite honestly, I don’t love it to death. So I often just wind up doing pushups, sit-ups, planks, etc. instead.

    8). I have re-discovered that if I take my golf clubs and some soft golf practice balls out to a local athletic field (I live a half mile away from the high school), I can practice some golf swings and not worry about a golf ball flying through a window or hitting someone.

    9). I have re-started guitar lessons. I have always played, and at times I have gotten pretty good, but then I have gone through long dry spells and I have let my “chops” lapse. So, in my old age, I have decided to get REALLY proficient with the guitar. The genres that I am interested in are jazz, blues, country, and all forms of rock. My guitar teacher is excellent — Berkley grad — but we have had to switch to live Zoom lessons recently and that slows down the teaching/ learning process. Still, it gives me another thing to do in the down time and I am indeed getting better.

    10). Owing to the renewed interest in playing guitar, I am also in the process of putting together a home recording studio and starting to write songs (again). But this time, instead of just recording them on a crappy little cassette player like in the past, I am teaching myself how to produce them properly on the computer. Right now I am using Garageband on an iMac, but I think I may switch to Pro Tools before too long.

    11). I am also working on writing a book. It is semi-autobiographical. I have a few chapters down already, but this is going to take a while to finish, and it will need to be properly edited before I will feel comfortable saying much more about it.

    Marty, all that should keep you more than occupied! And next October, you can bring your guitar to camp to play a duo with our balcony banjo-ist! George

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