Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tics, Anyone?

As I've noted before in this blog, it sure is something to listen to the professional women tennis players at Wimbledon grunting catharticallly after every stroke. The men either don't do it or do it only occasionally, and at reduced volume. Somehow or another, the high-decibel grunt has become part of the culture of women's tennis, kind of like human vuvuzelas trumpeting their presence to the assembled throng. 

I've also noted the manic pre-point dance that the women do. It's called 'happy feet,' and the idea is to keep those feet moving at all times so that no inertia sets in.

There is no more manic happy-feet dancer than Marion Bartoli, a Frenchwoman whose obvious hyperactivity disorder is apparently mixed in with a strong obsessive-compulsive streak, since her pre-point dance involves wild flailing of the arms following ritualized movements. You have to see it to believe it.

All of which got me thinking about movements made by athletes when they are not actually playing the point. What if we were to take some of these actions and put them on the squash court, what would we have?

Well, in the case of Bartoli, her spastic pre-point dance on a squash court might actually put her opponent at risk, since she violently swings her racket on the forehand and backhand side as she is pogo-ing around the court. Her opponent might very likely run off the court, terrified.

Another stylized tic that tennis players have is to reach behind them and grab a towel to wipe off their face. Apparently it is uncool to wear a headband or bandanna in pro tennis. The reality is that they are using the 15-20 seconds it takes to do this to catch their breath, so you'll see a lot of face-wiping in the latter stages of a tennis match. But could you imagine that on a squash court?

Even a mild motion would just not work in squash. Derek Jeter, the Yankees' fading shortstop, always walks into the batter's box and puts his rear hand up, signalling to the umpire that he is not yet ready and to hold the game until he is. It's a totally unnecessary thing for him to do, but he's been doing it anyway his entire career. If a squash player were to hold up his hand as he prepared to receive a serve, his opponent and everyone watching would view him as a madman.

There is something about being in the same room with your opponent that cuts down on the crap. In squash, its two bats and a ball in a box. There's no room in there for bull.

1 comment:

  1. How about Jokovic bouncing the ball 13 times or more before the serve? Richard Millman has a good column in this month's Squash magazine about stroke preparation. He suggests deception can upset the opponent's adrenalin surge.


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