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phidias barrios
10-10-2005, 11:21 AM
... you have a baby? My son was born on Jan 21, 2005 and my tennis game hasn't been the same since. I used to be able to spend 3-4 days a week on the courts. After fatherhood, I'm lucky if I can play once a week. What really frustrates me is that I'm on these terrible losing streaks against players I used to be able to hold my own against. It's really playing games with my head. I guess it's also messing with my pride.

If I could just play for fun and not care about winning or losing I'd be set. But who are we kidding here? Most of us aren't like that. I feel at a lost because it's apparent the only way for me to get better again is to invest more time on the court. But I quickly realized that this is an impossibility if you have an 8 1/2 month old child.

I guess my real question is going out to any new fathers out there. Can you relate to anything I just said? If so, was there anything you did about it to make the situation better? Should I just take a break from tennis until my son becomes older?

Phidias.

Exile
10-10-2005, 12:46 PM
While your kid is taking a nap you could try just working on your form till he wakes up. There shouldn't be too much of a problem w/ playing, but what are you playing for? Just for fun or a league or what?

cak
10-10-2005, 01:05 PM
You could get a baby sitter. That's what the women I play with do. Or join a club that has childcare.

phidias barrios
10-10-2005, 01:49 PM
I don't play in a league or anything. Just with friends. Usually on the weekends. We're all probably barely at a 3.0 level.

Yeah, when the weather is tolerable I've tried bringing him to the courts for practices or matches. Practicing with a baby on the court is not so bad. But I wouldn't recommend it during a match. I tried it once and it was pretty disastrous. We had to cancel halfway into the first set because he started crying and wouldn't stop. Plus, I think it's an unfair distraction to my opponent. Can you imagine trying to consolidate a break point with a baby wailing in the background?

Phidias.

phidias barrios
10-10-2005, 02:02 PM
You could get a baby sitter. That's what the women I play with do. Or join a club that has childcare.

A club with childcare sounds expensive. But a baby sitter might help.

Geezer Guy
10-11-2005, 07:10 AM
I had to laugh (no offense). When I started reading your post I assumed you were a woman that was out of shape after the baby, and trying to get back into shape and into the game. When you said "After fatherhood..." I realized you were a guy.

Seems to me that you should be able to get away for a few hours a couple of times a week for some tennis while you wife watches the baby. AND, you can watch the baby for the same amount of time and let your wife get out of the house. I imagine SHE needs a break from the routine even more than you do!

Ronaldo
10-11-2005, 07:48 AM
Well you could carry your baby while playing, http://www.mayawrap.com/popup_pages/su37_back_scott.php

Camilio Pascual
10-11-2005, 09:44 AM
... you have a baby?

Look on the bright side!
You can start training your future hitting partner in 2 - 3 years!

Thanatos
10-11-2005, 09:57 AM
... you have a baby? My son was born on Jan 21, 2005 and my tennis game hasn't been the same since. I used to be able to spend 3-4 days a week on the courts. After fatherhood, I'm lucky if I can play once a week. What really frustrates me is that I'm on these terrible losing streaks against players I used to be able to hold my own against. It's really playing games with my head. I guess it's also messing with my pride.

If I could just play for fun and not care about winning or losing I'd be set. But who are we kidding here? Most of us aren't like that. I feel at a lost because it's apparent the only way for me to get better again is to invest more time on the court. But I quickly realized that this is an impossibility if you have an 8 1/2 month old child.

I guess my real question is going out to any new fathers out there. Can you relate to anything I just said? If so, was there anything you did about it to make the situation better? Should I just take a break from tennis until my son becomes older?

Phidias.

phidias barrios,
I'm USTA rated 4.0 with 3 kids. Yes, count them 1, 2, and 3. Image how far I could have gotten if I didn't have 3 kids eating up my time, but that's my fault. I couldn't keep it in my pants:-).

It all has to do with TIME MANGEMENT. For example, my wife and I have made a deal. On Mondays, when I get home from work I can go out and hit for a few hours, while she stays home. On Tuesdays, I would go directly home and take over the responsibilities of watching the kids, while my wife uses that time to go workout, shopping, or do whatever it takes to ease the stress of caring for 3 kids. On Wednesdays, we swap again; she watches the kids, while Iíll go and practice.

Two important things to note:
1. Your wife needs relaxation time too in order for her to agree to the scheduling. She needs to go out and enjoy herself (workout, shopping, hiking, hangout with friends, movies, etc.) What this does is it takes away your guilt of playing tennis, while sheís at home. Sometimes the wife may not know what she wants to do or just gets plain lazy. Then itís your job to figure out what she likes and FORCE her out the door. The key is she needs to get out of the house to properly remove herself for the screaming and yelling. For example, women hate go to the grocery store with kids bc the child always throw tantrums and such. Tell her to go to the grocery store while you watch the kids. On the way there, tell her to stop by another store and pick some additional items. This will keep her away from the house longer. The longer she is away from the house, the more relax she will feel.

2. When you practice or play, you need to make the most of the time. Since time is precious, I usually find partners who are SERIOUS about improving their games. My goals are to do as many drills as possible and play a couple of sets. The day before practice, I usually have a list of drills and/or tasks that I want to accomplish. You want to make the most of 2 hours.

I have a lot more information on this so hit me back if you need suggestions.
Iíve managed to play 3x a week and my wife hasn't left me yet.

Jack the Hack
10-11-2005, 10:03 AM
I can relate...

I stopped playing tennis for almost 5 years after my son was born. However, it wasn't just about finding time to play. I had already completed my Masters degree, but hadn't really taken my career that seriously as I dabbled a little in this and that. I worked in IT, but had side jobs coaching and teaching tennis. When my son was born, I gave up the tennis (playing, teaching, and coaching) and focused completely on the computer career. Luckily, I did this just before the economy crashed, and was able to gain promotions while others were laid off... and my salary today is 3 times higher!

Anyway, I started playing tennis again in September of '04, mainly to get back in shape. Also, my son kept looking at my old trophies, but had never seen me play. Therefore, I started to hit and play tournaments again. He's just turned 6... I take him along for matches sometimes and we watch tennis on TV (Nadal is his favorite). Also, we go out to the back yard or the courts and I have him hit a beach ball or oversized foam tennis ball for fun.

I guess my point is that a small break right now won't kill you... and you will be having a future hitting partner (like Camilio mentioned) in a few years. Also, the babysitting trade the Geezer mentioned is a great idea and would probably be appreciated by your wife/girlfriend/breeder.

VGP
10-11-2005, 01:07 PM
Right now, I'm trying to fish some game out of the toilet.

I've pretty much taken almost six years off. I used to play regularly through the week, but I was married, finished my doctorate degree and then took a ob where I had to commute. In this time, we've had two kids who are now four and two. Up until a month ago I think I had hit about 10 times in the last four or five years. The last string jobs were in my PS 6.0 85's for I don't know how long.

I realized one day that I still like tennis a lot and after still watching tennis on TV I decided to get back into it. I went out and bought new shoes, a tennis bag, and strung up my frames. Started hanging out at the local courts and had to find some new people with whom to hit.

I realized quickly that much has gone away. Movement being the first thing I noticed (I've gained weight as well). Also a lot of strength was gone out of my shoulder. I've found some people but nothing really serious. Now I'm considering paying a professional for some instruction because time is short and I want to get more out of what little time I do get.

We'll see.

phidias barrios
10-11-2005, 01:24 PM
Thank you Thanatos and Jack The Hack. Your empathetic responses have made me more optimistic. Thanatos you made a good point about the guilt. That is an issue for me too. My wife is the type that dedicates all her free time to our baby. She doesn't seem to want any personal time to herself. Consequently, I feel guilty when I'm on the court because it makes me feel like I don't have the same amount of dedication towards our child like she does.

This is starting to feel like a therapy session. Anyways, thanks for the good advice guys. I'm going to try to sharpen my time management skills.

Phidias.

cak
10-11-2005, 06:27 PM
Perhaps VGP didn't have enough time off. There are many people at my club, myself included, that took 15 to 20 years off. We were all back to form playing leagues within a year. Maybe we had enough time off to forget how good we used to be. (Though recently I was chatting with one of the ladies in my club, and she said I could easily hang with her HS Varsity tennis girls, which is where I left off.)

VGP
10-12-2005, 07:49 AM
cak - I know what you mean. I would periodically be able to get out and hit some and then I'd immediately be reminded about how my skills were diminishing. Lack of movement, lack of conditioning, aches and pains in my arm and shoulder, losing to people I used to easily beat. I used to be better than the local varsity high school players. One of my regular hitting partners used to play for the University of Kentucky. Another one was a state level high school player from Kansas.

This past month has been refreshing. I focused on starting with the basics. Hitting off a backboard. Picking up some hitting with people that come by the courts at the local high school that were kind enough to let me join them. I even met a couple of local teaching pros. I just want my court sense back.

I wanted a relatively fresh (re)start. I bought new shoes, tennis bag, and a couple of new frames. I live in Cincinnati and I went to ******* Sports Tennis outlet and they have a racket demo program. They also have a section of their showroom where you can hit balls of a wall with racks of demo rackets to choose from. I decided to get the Dunlop HM 200g. Going for a mid plus over my trusty Wilson PS 85s (Taiwan made). I did like the frames right away, but I felt some elbow pain. Turns out the Dunlops were too light. I took some Fairway grips off some old rackets and put them on to replace that cushiony stuff. I experimented with some weighting and added almost an ounce overall. 0.5 oz at the handle, 0.45 oz at the head. Now I'm really trying to work on my movement and shot technique. The frames feel good. No pain. I like the medium flex, the dense stringing pattern, and softer sweetspot.

Back to the topic...I agree that it's all about time management. Now that our son has started pre-school and our daughter is two, both my wife and I are starting to better balance each other's schedules to be able to allow each of us to do what we like away from home. My wife has gotten back to singing at church, doing some volunteer work, and attending book clubs. I've been able to hit the courts again. The kids are getting to an age where they don't need as much intense attention.

Take heart phidias barrios, you'll find that soon enough you can get back out there. You'll just have to take Thanatos' advice and be more focused about your approach. Manage your (and your partner's) time. It may be temporarily disrupted again if you have another child (like we did).

Just keep working out off court, watch matches to keep a feel for strategy, get out when you can.

There is an alternative. You could always play "Topspin" on XBOX. :)

eggnog
10-13-2005, 11:48 AM
P.B. and VGP,
I can identify with everything you both have mentioned. I too played fairly well before taking a few years off. I play a lot of social doubles then I tried playing singles which used to be my forte before but I am not comfortable at all. I think I finally figured out what was wrong with my game though. I can't judge/analyze the ball as well or as fast anymore. During rallies and on return of serve, if it is close to the lines I kind of just watch the ball, wait to see if it is in or out before I react to it, then of course I am often too late and I find I can't judge spin as well either. I don't know how to correct this except by playing more, something I do not have the luxury of doing and it is a little frustrating.

But regarding adapting to a new style, you can do it. You can change your mindset and play for fun instead of being so gung-ho competitive. I did. I now relish the fact that I'm getting great exercise just as much as anything else. Winning or losing takes on less importance. Try this, whenever someone lobs you, don't try to hit those great sensational killer overheads which are now difficult to do. Retreat, let it bounce, practice your lobbing back and continue the point. It's more fun that way.