Okay, so you know I'm pretty passionate about playing tennis. Actually I'm rather passionate about trying to improve too. It's nice to be able to have a friendly social game, but I want to be the best player I can be. So I have to practice and train.
And here's the rub. It's really difficult to find a regular partner who also wants to do that or one who is willing to help me do it. Practice has to be purposeful and it has to be good. Just hitting balls with someone who can't hit it back isn't much use! It isn't practice that makes perfect, it's perfect practice that makes perfect.
I actually like practicing. I like trying to ingrain the proper technique and develop a better, more consistent stroke. So it was quite interesting when I got invited to hit with a group of players who train in a different environment to the one I am used to. I was nervous, who wants to embarrass themselves by being the completely outclassed from the first ball?
I've had three weeks and it's too early to say what difference it has made. They certainly hit the ball harder and more accurately than I'm used to, but that really helps me build a rhythm and develop my consistency. It's hard work too. After two hours of relentless practice I'm pretty spent, but again I actually quite like that. Having to try and maintain a consistent stroke when you're that tired is another plus.
I know I'm never going to win a ranking tournament unless I get both lucky and a lot better, but I know I can improve. I've managed to get my rating down a point and with lots of effort and hard work I'm hopeful that I can begin to make it past the first round of a tournament or two next year.
I guess it's like everything else, if you want to be good at something you have to set yourself goals and do the hard work of practice.