Tennis, golf, baseball, football

by B.B. Pelletier

My wife, Edith, and I try to get in some tennis several mornings a week. She sees some similarities between tennis and shooting…and golf, football and baseball. She’s been asking for several months for a guest blog to share her thoughts with you, so here’s her chance.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Hit it, girl!

Tennis, golf, baseball, football

by Edith (Mrs. B.B.) Gaylord

I learned to play tennis in college. I became so good, that many people came to watch me play, which I did 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That might also explain my grades! But it’s been about 40 years since I picked up a tennis racket. About a year ago, Tom agreed to go to the courts and hit the ball back and forth with me. We don’t play a game, but we do get a lot of exercise and get a chance to escape from our computers.

When it comes to shooting, Tom’s the expert in our family. When it comes to tennis…he’s not. He’s also quite recalcitrant and obstreperous when it comes to taking any tips, hints or advice on the game. Yet, the rules of engagement are so similar to shooting and other sports that it’s funny he’s not even remotely interested in them.

In tennis, you must have follow-through when you hit the ball. If you just whack the ball with the racquet and don’t continue the swinging action, you’re not going to deliver enough power to make the ball go where you want it to go.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve read more than once about follow-through, especially when it comes to shooting spring guns. Pulling the trigger and immediately moving the gun will result in the pellet landing some place other than where you aimed. I’ve seen that happen a number of times during field target events. It’s usually someone new to springers. This is really hard to convey to someone who’s come over from the world of firearms, where the projectile leaves the barrel much faster.

Where are your feet?
When I learned to play tennis, I was taught to stand in a certain way to hit forehand and another way to hit backhand. These days, it’s changed a bit, but you still have to be in position to hit the ball and control where it’s going to land.

Tom has written several blogs about shooting 10-meter pistol and how to stand to be properly positioned. Whether it be baseball, tennis, golf or shooting, there’s been a lot of research that shows being in the right position will help your performance. While I recall getting lots of advice about how to stand when shooting a 10-meter pistol, it never hit home until I related it to playing tennis.

Check your projectile
We’re not very good tennis players, but we’ve gotten good enough over the past year that we can tell when a ball needs to be retired or is inferior.

The same can be said for shooting. Sometimes, it really isn’t the shooter who’s messed up…it’s the pellet. If you have occasional fliers, they may be caused by deformed pellets, pellet weights that vary far from the manufacturer’s specs or other pellet issues. It isn’t always the fault of the shooter or the gun. Of course, I’m assuming that you’re a reasonably good shot and that you CAN hit the target most of the time!

Choose your weapon
Tennis has all sorts of options for different racquets, especially grip sizes. While my hand is smaller than Tom’s, I need a very large grip. I buy the largest grip available, wrap foam rubber padding around it and then add a layer of another tape. I’ve never met another person who takes as big a grip as I do.

So, what guns are you shooting? Are your guns suited to your build? Do they have the right pull for you? How much of a drop is there in the buttstock? The latter is a curious one for me. I have had so much trouble getting my eye to line up with a scope or open sights that I don’t shoot at all unless I’m going to the indoor range to stay proficient with my concealed carry weapon. Why would that be? I just found out earlier this year.

This summer, we were in a local gun store and saw a used Winchester 1894 rifle with scope on the sale rack. I told Tom we should buy it because he could write an article comparing the firearm to the airgun. When we got the rifle home, I pulled it up to my shoulder and was truly amazed at how natural it felt. I then told Tom that this was MY rifle, and he was not allowed to sell it without asking me first!

Which rifles are you selecting? Look at your favorite guns and see if there’s a common component to them. Is it the stock? The length? Something else? I wonder if some people gravitate to certain guns because the stock length, height, width and/or weight fits them perfectly. Not everyone likes a Monte Carlo stock, a big drop on the buttstock, a raised cheekpiece or a checkered grip. That’s the beauty of having so much variety. If one gun doesn’t fit you, there are plenty of other styles to choose from.

Clear the mechanism
Have you seen Kevin Costner in the movie For Love of the Game? He plays a baseball pitcher. To block out the fans, the screaming and the other players…he concentrates only on the task at hand: pitching the ball. He says to himself, “Clear the mechanism.” The “mechanism” is everything in his head. Nothing else matters, only pitching the next ball. This is similar to what golfing great Harry Vardon does in the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played. Before he took a shot, he looked down the fairway and removed obstacles, people, trees…everything but the hole. I practice the same thing when I play tennis. I watch only that little yellow ball. Once the ball is in motion, I never take my eyes off it because that’s the only thing that matters in the game.

Are you concentrating on your target? How you stand? The task at hand? In the above golf movie, actor Shai LeBeouf plays amateur golfer Francis Ouimet. He has a similar mechanism to Harry Vardon and Kevin Costner’s character. He looks down the fairway and visualizes the ball’s trajectory and “sees” it going down the hole. Olympic and other athletes also visualize successful outcomes to their endeavors. People who see themselves as successful at physical or other endeavors…or life, for that matter…frequently ARE successful. This is one of the things I’ve been doing when I go out to shoot my CCW. I stand there with my gun pointed downrange, eyes intent on the target and visualizing where the bullet will hit. It’s made a difference, but progress is slow because I don’t practice enough. Yet, if it can make a difference for me, imagine what this could do for those who shoot more often.

39 thoughts on “Tennis, golf, baseball, football”

  1. Ccobbster,
    You may want to consider looking into local sportsman clubs. I’m a 4-H shooting sports leader and our 4-H club (as well as most clubs) has a lot to offer. Beside teaching gun and range safety we have club guns that the kids (and you) can try out without having to buy them. We start our kids out with Daisy 853s then move them into Olympic grade PCPs at no cost to our members. We also offer other disciplines including air pistol, rifle, shotgun, and muzzleloader. Many clubs can offer this thanks to the support from organizations like Friends of the NRA, CMP, Izaak Walton League, and others. Just look for your counties’ 4-H extension office and they will point you in the right direction.
    Vanango County 4-H Deadeyes

  2. B.B. Yes, we talked about it last year on your blog.We grew up in the same city.I have long ago moved to rural South Jersey after retiring from the P.D.She's better off in Texas.I've heard wonderful things about your state.Jersey Boy.

  3. Morning Edith,

    Enjoyed your blog–thanks. Maybe you'd find the time to add a picture of your "custom" tennis racket's handle.

    Watching the patience of your husband answering our questions over the last couple of years, it's hard to believe that "He's also quite recalcitrant and obstreperous when it comes to taking any tips, hints or advice on the game." 🙂

    Kevin, do you have any advice for Mrs Gaylord?

    Mr B.

  4. Mrs Gaylord,

    Always enjoy your sharing behind the scenes at the Gaylord house.

    Your observations about the similarities between shooting and other sports is excellent. Visualization is an effective tool.

    Before kids I was an avid golfer. Honest 2.4 handicap. I played in a pro-am with Davis Love III. Fine gentleman that didn't offer advice unless asked. Learned alot during that 5 hour round of golf that day but one thing in particular stuck with me. I asked what he does mentally to prepare for a tournament before teeing off. His response was that before he left for the golf course he would sit down in a quiet location (usually in his hotel room) and mentally play every shot for every hole beginning with the first tee shot.

    Visualization. It's fairly common, once you master the basics, to visualize your shot on the course before addressing the ball. But I never realized the effectiveness away from the golf course.


  5. Mr. B,

    I purchased the 6.5" break – just in case I ever go hunting with the Disco, taking TKO's advice that 7.5" was too long for hunting and 5.5" was too short for indoor target shooting. And now, on to Crosman for the cocking bolt handle.


  6. Okay, I now have to eat crow. (now where did that saying come from, and what does it taste like)
    My Xisico XS-B9 came yesterday.
    I've always had an issue with Chinese guns…the only one I ever handled was years ago and sold for about $30 new and was a real piece of shyte.
    So many people rave about their Chinese airguns (on the yellow chinese forum) that I decided to make the B9 my Christmas gift as I will likely relegate the Nightstalker to occasional use only (after being hit by the 'dreaded' leaking seals…burning through 3 .88grm cartridges in an evening has left me real leery, even after the warranty fix)
    So, wanting something that looks somewhat military I settled on the B9. Who knows, it may be real rough on the inside, but outside it is very well finished, in a utilitarian kinda way. I replaced the crossbow scope provided (what's with that??) with my Vortex red-dot and within a few minutes I was nailing the exact centre of my sightin target.
    As well, though I don't have a chrony I estimate that it is shooting in the 650fps range, going by b.b. pellet deformantion chart. From an inexpensive gun that is only 30" long I find this quite impressive.
    It's heavy, about 7lbs…seems heavier because it's so compact.
    The trigger is heavy, about 10lbs, but is smooth in its release.
    I don't know if I'd buy another Chinese gun…something about made in the USA (or Germany/Spain/Czech Rep) gives me more confidence…but I am impressed.
    Hope this wasn't too wordy.
    CowBoyStar Dad

  7. Edith,

    This is terrific. I love the bit about follow-through and everything else. I've dabbled in a number of sports and the connections between them and shooting seem very clear to me. As perhaps a summary point, I believe there is no single technique whether it is swinging a tennis racquet or golf club or dribbling a basketball or throwing a punch or a kick that takes place with an isolated part of the body; everything is involved. And it makes sense too that the mind should be coordinated with visualization and concentration. Haslitt, the boxing authority, writes that moving your hands and feet together is the perfection of boxing, and I bet it is that same feeling of harmonized activity of mind and body that feels so good when you get off a good shot.

    Tom, stop being obstreperous and listen to Edith.

    Interesting about the Winchester 1894. While its cartridge and action have been surpassed, its ergonomics are still up there with the best.

    I have some German background myself, and I have been amused by the phrase: "Germans make the best Americans and the worst Germans."


  8. Edith

    Excellent blog, I have read a few of your guest blogs on the archives and look forward to them, never to be disappointed. I love vocabulary words.

    I was impressed to read of your tennis exploits (but not surprised!) You say you learned to play in college, but apparently you were good enough that people would come to watch you play just in that limited timeframe. I imagine if you had picked up a racket at the same age as the Williams sisters you might also be a household name today.

    As for visualization, it seems to be universal in the world of sports.

    There is young man (30ish) from Canada named Ryan Leech that competes in a style of bicycling known as trials. Most people have never seen nor heard of it. Besides starring in segments in most of the big-budget mountain biking videos, Ryan has produced his own instructional videos, one of which is called "Manifesto." He talks of the importance of visualizing a trick or maneuver, but also giving yourself the confidence (through relentless practice)to KNOW that you will succeed. That confidence is essential when performing at this level. Even if you have no interest in cycling, all the videos he appears in are worth a look especially the most recent ones, this is truly mindbending stuff.


    Kudos to being both recalcitrant and obstreperous. As a husband, it is your obligation to be so, and you do the rest of us proud. Also

    (Edith, please look away)

    Mrs BB in a tennis skirt? I think hitting the courts again was your idea!

  9. Slinging Lead,

    I wish I had picked up a tennis racquet as a child. Even more, I wish I'd never put it down as an adult. I would rather play tennis than do anything else.


  10. I forgot to mention,

    Further down the level on the philosophical scale (some might say the cud-chewing level) you have Happy Gilmore starring Adam Sandler. While embarrassingly immature, it has a moment or two. Anyway the hockey flop-cum-golf prodigy had to get in his "Happy place" before he could execute an accurate shot. Too bad he had to take a beating from Bob Barker.

  11. Edith,

    It is easy and simplistic for me to say this but if you'd rather do that than anything, you should be doing it.

    You must find time for the things that make you happiest. I bet you could find some students that could learn a lot from you.

    Or, perhaps you are happy just running BB up and down the court. That's cool too. Just take it easy on him. He's got articles to write.

  12. Edith, As always, I enjoy your articles.

    Your tennis passion reminds me of my Navy days back in the 60's in Iwakuni, Japan. I took up (tried to) tennis there to get exercise, prevent boredom and just because I'd never done it before and it looked like fun. It is the hardest sport I've ever tried.

    Next to the court was the barracks that housed the Japanese contingent and it was rather run down looking with broken windows and I was curious why they never spent any effort to fix it up.

    I could very seldom get a partner to share my enthusiasm for the game so most of the time I played on my own. The court had a back stop made of plywood with a net line painted on it and I hit against that for my practice. I felt guilty most of the time doing this because of the constant whacking noise the ball made that must have driven the barracks residents crazy, but they never complained. The kicker was one day I made a really bad shot and my ball went sailing through a barracks window (ah, broken windows mystery solved). Fortunately this window was either open or had already been broken by someone else. About 15 seconds later my ball came silently flying back out the window and onto the court. I never saw a soul nor heard a peep out anyone, just the ball flying out the window. The Japanese are very polite people. I never went back there again out of respect for their privacy and peace if mind. Instead, I took up hand ball. It had concrete walls, was located away from any barracks, and had more participants.


  13. Edith:

    I can only concur. I played competitive tennis from the age of 12 until 18 months ago, when my legs succumbed to the late effects of polio (the original viral infection was in 1945, but it came back to bite me). After playing and coaching in college and playing tournaments and then team USTA tennis (two state championships), I was suddenly unable to ever play again.

    Without much planning, I bought a Crosman 1377 and following B.B.'s article about "Your Home Is the Range," I set up a pellet trap in my basement and started to shoot for the first time since I was in a junior rifle club in high school.

    To cut to the chase, I love the shooting sport, both airgunning and rimfire target competition.

    I found to my amazement that even though my feet and legs no longer play a role (I have to shoot sitting down) the tennis skills involving eye-hand coordination carried over very strongly to shooting, as did the hard-won successful approach to competition. And, of course, you are right on with the follow-through comment.

    Thanks for a great blog.

  14. Edith:

    I forgot to say that you are spot on to talk of visualization as a major tool for athletes. I relied on seeing in my mind's eye how I was going to hit a big serve down the T for an ace or a high kicker to draw a weak return I could volley away.

    Same thing entirely in envisioning a string in the black or shooting out the bullseye.

    By the way, I built up my racquet grips as you did, but I'm about 6'5" and have very large hands; how do you control the racquet with such a big grip?

  15. PurcHawk,

    I'm only 5'8.5" so I don't know why I need such a big grip. All I know is that anything smaller flies out of my hand and actually causes pain.

    On the other hand, I have difficulty reaching the trigger of some pistols. Tom puts a gun in my hand and is amazed that my index finger doesn't have quite the reach it needs to take control of the trigger.

    On reflection, the above paints a picture of a woman with gigantic hands and stubby little fingers! As if that isn't bad enough, consider this: My right hand/grip is smaller than my left hand/grip. You wouldn't know it to just look at them, but I can certainly tell when I put on gloves.

    At this point, it sounds like I've been assembled from mismatched spare parts!


  16. Mrs. Gaylord,

    Since I've had the most pleasurable experience of meeting you in person, I can assure the audience that God did a very good job of putting you together!!!

    And putting you together with Tom…

    You make a great couple.. Bless both of you for all you do here… and all around the planet..

    ..and that great breakfast together!

    Wacky Wayne, MD. Ashland Air Rifle Range

  17. The Zone…

    Practice getting into the Zone where your relaxed in muscle & bone.. they are sinking into the earth, until they hit hard pack … as you settle feet and butt into ground and bumbag.. ..

    ..the heavy gun sitting solid on that table.. not supported and controlled by muscle…

    .. slowly you make fine adjustments with feet only, adjusting the tanks barrel.. for you are as heavy.. and as solid.. as any Sherman.. cross hairs on.. finish touching trigger..fire.

    ..and the steel falls…
    do it all in your head first as you approach the lane.. and again as you do it..

    Wacky Wayne, MD. Ashland Air Rifle Range

  18. BB,
    Tonight I was watching the latest AmAirGun show about pneumatics (very good episode as they all are, really) and there was a sharpshooter names Hans Apella(sp) on there who was shooting a candle flame out at 10m with a Marauder. He had a stock on his M that looked similar to the one on the Challenger. Do you know if those are available for the M commercially or are they custom made for competition?


  19. BB,
    Also, in the segment where you and Paul are shooting at paint balls, what is the gun Paul is shooting? It has the thumbhole stock and it looks kinda short but that could be a camera angle.


  20. Chuck,

    Ray was shooting the Marauder in a standard Challenger stock at the nationals field target contest in Texas. I think he said there were minor adjustments needed for it to fit… I showed him the custom one Peter did for me, and he let me shoot the one in the Challenger stock to compare.. The Challenger stock fit very well… I like them both… mine is art,(and function I hope!).. the Challenger is function.. and Ray "A" is very steady with it!!

    And no, it's not on the market yet as a unit as far as I know.. but one could most likely order just a Challenger stock from Crosman. and put a Marauder on it.. with a little fiddling..

    Or.. as I did and have someone carve me some custom field target stocks for two of them.

    I'll send pics if anyone wants..


    I'm still not convinced!

    Wacky Wayne, MD. Ashland Air Rifle Range

  21. Edith,
    This blog brought back a host of mostly unrelated memories about how my friends and I became big fans and boosters of the girls' tennis team in high school. We watched religiously almost every day after football practice, weight-lifting, or wrestling. It started on a whim, because we noticed they almost never had any spectators for their games and it definitely seemed like it was worth watching, and they enjoyed our selfless devotion:). Although I would have never admitted it, I eventually learned to enjoy the sport for more than the girls:).

    I'm glad to see your comments on rifle fit. Its frustrating to try to shoot something that doesn't fit, although many people make do or — worse — go out and get a stock that is incorrect because it is a popular style or size. Yet another proof of your good taste in picking an 1894.

  22. Good post guess that explains why I can't golf or shoot..ot, I live in joysey and today I saw a black squirrel for the second time. I've spent all 16 years of my life in the same home, and up until two weeks ago only saw grey squirrels. Is this a different type of squirrel or just genetics and inbreeding working their magic??

  23. Anonymous Grey Squirrel,
    I know Black Squirrels are prevalent in Michigan. When I visit my brother there I see a lot of them. Maybe they are migrating or proliferating.


  24. W. Wayne,
    Sadly, I don't have a clue what a proper fitting stock feels like. The one I saw on AmAirGun must have been what you saw. The guys were father and son so maybe Ray was the son who had the Challenger stock?

    I looked like their stock had adjustments that might help me figure out what a proper fitting stock would be for me.

    Thanks for the tip on the Challenger stock you saw. Maybe it would be worth it to just buy a Challenger and see if it's adjustments would fit me. I kinda hate to mess with Ms. M for fear of messing up Ms. M.



  25. Chuck,

    Yes, Hans is Ray's dad, they were both there at the nationals, and shooting identical Marauders in challenger stocks.. and had a few more in the van.

    I don't get the Am Airgun show.. darn it!.. but I did see a video of Ray lighting a series of matches… It was either lighting or putting them out, can't remember now.. he's a shooter for sure!

    Wacky Wayne

  26. Black squirrels are a sub-species of the grey squirrel. I live in VA, but used to go to the Biograph Theater in NW Washington DC in the old days. That is the only place I have ever seen them. The sun was behind the first one I saw, so initially I thought it was just a silhouette. When I moved closer I realized my mistake. They are a much better-looking squirrel than grey ones.


  27. Speaking of eating crow…..Here you go Tom….Posted on Nov. 26th…I'm currently testing the AirForce Edge, which is within a week or two–at the most–of coming to market. As soon as I know when the gun will be available, I'll start reporting on it. Enjoy.

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