Porch Swing Tennis
a new approach to an old tradition
Joe Clark ~~ Oct 20, 2003

So, Rich and I were out playing tennis tonight. As we started, we agreed not to really keep score or play in a competitive manner. That was quite all right with me (bleh on competitiveness). We played in a mostly typical manner for awhile (except not keeping score), but then as time wore on, we (or I) decided that this was too much work. Instead of focusing on hitting the ball hard and making it hard to hit back, I decided to practice my aim and practice having accuracy in my hitting, and with Rich's help try to improve our volleying ability. It turned out quite well, and so I present to you our creation: porch swing tennis.

Porch swing tennis is about non-competitiveness. It is about friends, and cool evenings, and good conversation, and just enough activity to stimulate the mind for more contemplation and conversation. Just to keep it interesting, there is a goal in mind, and an objective way to measure the "score".

First off, both players are on the same team. The simple goal is to minimize the amount of motion required to play the game. To make it interesting, both players must generally stay in the "backfield" of the court (the half away from the net), but may of course temporarily enter the "infield" if necessary to reach the ball. There are a number of optional parameters, such as allowing two or more bounces per turn and ignoring boundaries.

The method of play is that a timer is kept. While the timer is on, the players cannot stop play except to retrieve balls (no loitering allowed). The clock can be stopped for breaks, etc. While the clock is running, an accurate pedometer should be used by both players to tally the number of steps walked by each player. During play, the goal should be on volleying the ball. Such things as aim, accuracy, and, of course, motion minimization should be kept in mind. Expect that this method will produce conversation and/or a greater awareness for the outdoor surroundings. This is, in some sense, the whole point of the activity, and so should be savored.

After the allotted time has elapsed, the players should add up the distance travelled. This become's this session's "score". Probably the best way to use this value is to compare it against other games, especially with the same players. It is not really valid to split the distance in two, because the distance is dependent on both players (if one is less accurate the other person will have to walk more). The score can also be used to compare against other teams. Note that this also works with a pair of doubles' teams (it's up to the players how to compare doubles' vs. singles' distances).

Okay, that's all. Short and sweet. Go out, and try it for yourself...enjoy the beauty and relaxation of the porch swing tennis concept.