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  • Writer's pictureVal Agnew

Working on Wednesday: If The Shoe Fits

Growing up I wasn't really into tennis. I had a little racquet that my parents bought me to use at day camp. I took a few lessons. But I was more of a team sport gal. However, when I started dating my now husband, Michael, he re-introduced me to tennis. Unlike organizing rec soccer teams or even a pickup basketball game, which is too very much like herding cats, playing tennis simply took us grabbing racquets and finding an available court.

As the pandemic raged on and the temperature started to rise, we learned of courts in the area we could use and we started playing once or twice a week. Throughout the bulk of the lockdown, tennis has been a wonderful respite. An excuse to be outside. An easy way to get moving and stay active. Even a way to socialize with others safely (doubles is really fun, y'all).

However, as we played more and more I was in increasing amounts of pain. At first I thought it was just because I was getting a good work out. But it became clearer and clearer that it was more severe than that. My next guess was my form sucked. I had never been formally trained, so I probably was doing things wrong and if I tried harder to move in the 'correct' way, I'd be good to go. That didn't work either. Finally, our doubles partners asked me how long I'd had my sneakers. "4 Years?" I replied, thinking to myself it may be longer. They were shocked. Apparently you're supposed to replace your gym shoes more frequently than people earn degrees. They then turned on my racquet. The same little one my parents had gotten me when I was about 8. Whoops!

At first I defended my worn, but hardy tools. But as I thought about it more and more, I realized they were right. I needed a refresh. We went to the store and I handled racquets until I found one that felt right in my hand. I then did a bunch of research and bought actual tennis shoes.

The difference was miraculous. I could move faster. I could swing harder and more accurately. And when the game was finished, I was not feeling broken for days on end. As it turns out, the equipment we use matters.

Now, I don't think you can make up for shortcomings with fancy equipment. I certainly am no Serena Williams just because I got an adult-sized racquet and some new kicks. And it is a learning process to make the most of the new tools in my arsenal. But one thing is clear to me from this experience: Despite skill level, aptitude, intelligence, whatever, if you're using crap tools, you will create a results-ceiling that betrays your actual capabilities.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, as I've been working on a new project. At first I was nervous to use a different web platform for my site because I was less familiar with it and it was more expensive. Initially, I was scared to add a service because it would require me to learn a whole new set of tools. However, after my tennis experience, I realized the final product will be so much better because I invested a little time and money into better tools.

What about you? Do you have a project or idea (or sport) that might benefit from a little investment in an upgrade? We all need new shoes sometimes *

*Apparently you're supposed to replace your sneakers every 6-9 months, people.

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