The Joy of Athletic Repetition: Just Hitting Tennis Balls Against A Wall

Sometimes, there’s just no one to play with.

Or maybe I just don’t feel like playing with others.

It may be cold or windy. So I take my tennis racket and go inside, yes, a racquetball court nearby. I warm up slowly, and then hit ball after ball against the walls. I can imagine how high the net is when there is none. I can picture my opponent on the other side, when there is none. I can smash, slice, hit lobs, hit soft overheads.

I can hit ball after ball after ball: over and over.

It’s meditative. The mind is still, oddly enough, with the sound that echoes off the walls. It’s relaxing and yet a tough workout as I sprint back and forth inside the small court.

The court is a cinderblock rectangle. In my head, it’s Wimbledon.

I’ve done this for years. I feel lucky to do this. When the winter comes, the court feels warm inside, though no heat is on. I notice sometimes the spout outside is frozen and the water is solid ice. I don’t look forward to that.

Hitting the balls. One after another. I’ve done this before, I think. A variation of it.

A long time ago.

Yes. Decades ago, as a 10-year-old, I made believe I was Whitey Ford or Sandy Koufax and go into a windup and throw, throw tennis balls against the outside brick wall of the apartment building where I grew up.

In my head, I had a lineup of baseball players I made up. I would pitch. Sometimes they blasted a home run in my imagination. More often, they struck out.

The repetition. The tranquility and joy of it. Yes.  – Joe Cantlupe




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