Holy smokes. I captain a 3.5 ladies team. We win some, we lose some. We try to have fun, and we are not threat to go to Nationals. Usually, I do not attend the matches if I'm not playing. Yesterday, I attended the match as a spectator. It was an outdoor match, rain was forecast, my players aren't familiar with what to do with a rain delay because our matches are always indoors. I figured I'd come to make sure everything went smoothly. So I watched. And, um . . . It was a real eye-opener. First, the singles players. I was really surprised at the level of inconsistency. Players missed plain old rally shots all the time, when they weren't even going for a winner or doing anything special. It was All Defense and little offense. The Short Dink Shot was alive and well, and players seemed not to anticipate enough to reach them, often not reacting until the Dink was well on its way. Balls seemed to be played up the middle, mostly. Approach shots were much too timid and short, and the person approaching almost always lost the point. Most errors were in balls hit long. Then there were the doubles players. Of the 12 doubles players, not one person served and volleyed, even once that I saw. It was rare for anyone to follow a return to net (although the Doubles One court did this sometimes). Some players stood in no-man's land the entire point. Most striking of all was the footwork. When a player had to hit a volley, she stood in one spot and tried to meet the ball without even the slightest foot movement. If she couldn't reach it with her outstretched racket, that was that. There was no split step. There were so many makeable volleys that were missed. And the backswings on these missed volleys? Big. I spent part of the time keeping track of how many shots it took to win a point. It was unusual for a doubles team to hit three shots over the net. Someone made an unforced error or hit a ball that could easily be put away long before the ball crossed the net six times. There was a lot of good play also, don't get me wrong. Players made some great gets, there were some nice first serves, there was good communication before and during points. Line calls I saw were fair (with one noticeable exception). Players were aggressive at net (I saw some nice poaches) and really tried to punish sitters. Now, it is not unusual for some of my teammates to be able to beat me in practice. You know what this means, right? It means that *my* consistency must also be quite poor, my footwork must also be non-existent, I must not be anticipating short balls and moving up to them either. I am going to take this to heart and really work on some of these fundamentals. And I am going to pledge to get the ball back over the net in doubles three times in doubles, no matter what!