“It was a bone-headed decision to play.” You know someone really messed up when Nick Kyrgios says this! As handshakes, hugs, up close and personal bromance culminated with nightclub dancing, the Adria Tour (June 2020) got added to the list of things that will ‘live in infamy’. In this case, as a blueprint of how not to run a tennis tournament during a pandemic (per the urban dictionary, known as the ‘VID’ or the ‘Rona’ !).
April 2020 put the brakes hard and skid the seemingly unchanging life of the adult competitive tennis athlete who practices on Thursday evenings with his/her team and competes over the weekend in the competitive league play. While guidelines such as these started coming out, leaving the adult athlete wondering….!!
Right around this time, I started the Return to Play Survey in my tennis community of 70 players, with a couple of simple questions with intent to track the back to play trend on a monthly basis.
- How comfortable are you playing tennis now ?
- Have you already been playing ?
My goal with this was to,
- Promote discussion on best practices to be safe – before, during and after play, while sharing resources from trusted sources
- Understand the changing needs, expectations and motivation of the adult tennis athlete who is returning to play better
- Gain insights on what would the future of competitive adult tennis look like after the ‘Rona’ is behind us.
While I research, learn, reflect, do and learn more, here is the initial survey data from my tennis group (from surveys conducted during the months of Apr, May, Jun and Nov 2020). I have tried to provide a timeline of key COVID events below the graphs in order to understand the group trend with the unfolding of key events related to the ‘VID’.
Some of the key questions I will be exploring, researching and finding answers to in the coming days are below.
- What does ‘Contactless’ play mean in the context of before, during and after playing tennis?
- Will the speed of a tennis match be affected?
- Will the fun of playing in the new normal be affected?
- What changes are needed to team practice sessions, drills and coaching sessions in order to build trust and confidence for all player demographics?
- What changes are needed to league and tournaments to build trust and confidence for all player demographics?
- How does your family respond to your going out there and playing team tennis or tournaments ?
- What is the impact to public and private courts due to changing behaviors ?
- Will there be a trend towards more online coaching, virtual tennis ?
- What role does tech have to play in the back to play and new normal ?
- Any other suggestions? – Please leave your thoughts in the comments section if so!
Here are some resources as you explore a safe return to play: