Liberal Arts Blog — Tennis — Simple, Complete, Prioritized
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic: The Orion of Tennis — Simple, Complete, Prioritized
Back to the Orion Game — the game of distilling the essence of something that matters to you or someone you care deeply about. Today, that something is tennis. The Orion Game has three rules: the Rule of Seven — reduce all important things to be said about an infinitely complicated subject to the seven important. Then comes the Rule of Three — choose the most important three of those seven. Finally, the Rule of One, that is, pick the most important of those three — the Alnilam or central star of the belt of the Orion constellation. Have you ever gone through a comparable exercise for any sport dear to your heart? Are you willing to share it? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
ORION’S BELT: the split-step, the “floating forward cork screw,” the eye on the ball
1. Alnilam: the central star is the “floating forward cork screw.” Whether you are talking about the bread and butter strokes of the forehand and backhand or the all important serve, or the potentially critical volley, think total body engagement from the feet to the head, you want to maximize torque, lift, and forward motion. Clearly, under pressure, you may not have time for much but you should strive to feel it in your legs, in your torso, in your grip, while floating like a butterfly to use the evocative image conjured up by Mohammed Ali and incarnated in the seemingly effortless strokes of Roger Federer.
2. Alnitak: keep the eye on the ball, speed is the essence of war, time is everything, shrink that reaction time, take that ball early, put the opponent under more pressure.
3. Mintaka: split step after every shop to be balanced and energized for the next one. Make sure you are centered on the court and looking for the first opportunity to capitalize on a short ball.
4. Bellatrix — the whip, the loose arm, whether on the serve or on the ground strokes but not on the volley. Are you harnessing gravity with the “C” motion on the forehand?
5. Betelgeuse — the follow through — make sure you finish where you are supposed to? Is your racquet over your opposite shoulder on your forehand.
6. Saiph: are you going airborne on your serve? If not, why not? All the pros do. Are you landing on the inner foot or the outer foot? What does Nadal do? Federer? Pay attention to details. What details have you noticed that I might have missed?
7. Rigel: are you letting your racquet head drop on your volleys? Big mistake.
Stay centered and ultra-focused up at net.
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.