Running Free

Running Free

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Intimate Tale of a Tennis Ball

Tennis balls and I have never been the best of friends. Several years back I took a tennis clinic to try and improve my game. For me this meant keeping the ball in the court and remember that I wasn’t playing baseball. I have learned to buy these bouncy bundles of spongy foam by the bucketful.

I will say that I have been told that I have a pretty good forehand but when it comes to speed or power forget it. I “play” the game – much as little kids play pickup sticks. I am definitely not the stuff of which legends are made.

But hey, it is fun and good exercise- especially as I spend much of my time chasing the tennis balls all around the court. Which brings me back to my most recent and by far most intimate experience with a tennis ball. And to be honest, I never knew that the devil could be found in such a small 2.7 inch diameter yellow ball – until today.

I finished my Monday routine of playing with three year olds, helping them assemble building bricks, fitting puzzle pieces into the right spot, washing hands after snack and giving lots of smiles and hugs to little open arms. At 12:00 p.m. I waved goodbye to my pint sized friends and ran off to run a few errands and decided to squeeze in an early afternoon workout.

I looked at my watch and realized I had a bit of time between when my son would arrive home from school and we would have to make our way to swimming and the beginning of the afternoon ritual. So, I decided to try and squeeze in an hour and a half workout. I made my way to the neighborhood gym and checked out the class schedule posted near the entrance.

I noticed that there was a one o’clock stretch class. “Sounds good” I thought to myself. Typically I take the one o’clock Yoga and Pilates classes offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A stretch class sounded like it would much of the same thing. So I thought.

I trotted in with my yoga mat and found a spot in the middle- close enough for me to see but not close enough for me to become a spectacle. Soon the class was filled with men and women of all ages, sizes and shapes.

“This is going to be great,” I told myself.


I soon found myself lying supine on my mat with a tennis ball wedged between the backside of my right hip bone and the right upper half of my pelvic plate. Now I will admit that I was a bio and psych major a hundred years ago in college. I will also admit that I had done some grad work in physiology and body alignment. But this was well, this was shall we say a different experience?
“Breathe deeply and find your pressure point and let the weight of your body give into the sensation,” crooned the voice of the instructor. She was a raven haired wrinkle free woman with a voice soft and velvet and smooth.

Sensation?!! Oh I was giving into the sensation alright. Pressure point. Understatement. I highly suggest that if any of you have ever undergone a deep tissue massage, Rolfing or other neck crunching experiments in massage, then you might have an inkling of what childbirth is like.

“What am I doing in this stretching class?” I asked myself as I tried to breathe, give into the sensation of the tennis ball hugging my pressure points tightly and trying to think how many wriggles of the buttocks it would take to make it to the exit.

The tennis ball was used by my toes to act as a rolling pin for the underside of my foot. Catwalks I would not be doing any time soon. The little yellow ball was used in so many places that I had no idea just how versatile such a small ball could be.

Now I know. The tennis ball and I- we are very close. Whether we shall stay close remains to be seen.

No comments: