So you've made some great progress in your tennis game during the summer, and you've developed quite a feel for playing on outdoor courts--now here comes the cold weather, forcing you to play indoors. While it may seem like a simple transition at first, you might have a tough time adjusting your game to indoor court conditions. Balls are flying everywhere, your stroke mechanics seem a little off, and your sense of touch is all out of whack. What gives?
Does a simple change of location really make that much of a difference? Believe it or not, it does. In fact, when you change your playing environment, there are a multitude of small adjustments that need to be made in order for you to find your footing again on the tennis court. If you want to save yourself some frustration, keep the following tips in mind to help you transition from outdoor to indoor tennis this winter.
1. Don't panic.
Don't worry--you haven't lost all of those tennis skills you've worked so hard to develop! What you're experiencing is actually quite normal, and is the result of a physiological phenomenon known as "homeostasis." This is a tendency that your body has to keep everything in a state of balance or equilibrium. After days or weeks of playing on outdoor courts, your senses become trained to recognize the outdoor environment as "normal," and as you play, every response mechanism in your body is constantly being fine-tuned to accommodate this state of normal.
Your senses will unconsciously strive to remain in harmony with various external stimuli such as the sounds, lighting, court surface, and surrounding background, so that when you hit a ball, all of these factors have been taken into account in order to produce as accurate of a shot as possible in light of your environment. All of this fine-tuning happens on a subconscious level, and these various adjustments eventually become the default settings for your tennis game.
Now enter the new tennis environment: All the factors that your senses worked so hard to adjust to have been taken away, and now they have to completely recalibrate in order to accommodate the new environment. So if it seems like you're a little lost at first, don't panic--just give homeostasis a chance to work, and your senses will adjust to the new indoor environment accordingly.
2. Keep your eye on the ball.
There's a lot more background noise to filter out when trying to locate a ball in motion on an outdoor court, so you'll need to take this into account when tracking the movements of the ball indoors. Generally speaking, an indoor court typically has solid colored walls and ceilings, making it relatively easy to locate the ball against that somewhat static background.
Just keep your eye on the ball as best as you can, because the change in background scenery can be somewhat off-putting in terms of judging ball velocity and trajectory. If you find that you're overcompensating at first, this is normal, so give your eyes time to adjust to the indoor environment.
3. Keep your strokes conservative at first.
It's good to adopt a slightly more conservative approach with your strokes at first. While it may feel like you're holding back, you might actually be right on target due to the way your senses have been subconsciously skewed by the outdoor environment. Remember, an open space gives you a different sense of depth perception versus an enclosed space, and this can lead to a lot of errant shots that are too strong. Give yourself time to develop a sense of touch in terms of judging shot speed in an indoor playing environment.
If there's one common thread that runs through all of the tips outlined above, it would simply be this: Be patient with yourself. Making the transition from outdoor to indoor tennis isn't as straightforward as you might think. Just take your time and maintain a positive attitude when you make mistakes, and you'll find yourself fully adjusted to your new tennis environment soon enough.