The Tennis Clench

I was going through a recent issue of Tennis magazine which talked about some of the current stars of this sports world when I was reminded of a sports cliché that seems peculiar to this sport. But first…

Football has the end zone ball spike and victory dance.

Soccer has the “knee slide.” (The player who just scored races to the sidelines and executes a perfect smooth slide toward the fans in the stands.)

Basketball has the post-dunk “growl” (and, of course, “the flop” but soccer does that so much better).

Baseball, currently, has “the beard. (And the fist bump.)



But tennis, oh tennis, has a gesture cliché that is so pervasive that it seems to be made specifically for the sport. It’s a “kinesic”* that combines a sort of old-school-tennis sportsmanlike restraint with tension-release. No spiking of the ball, no victory dance, no in-your-face growl. Here’s just a sample of the pix I found in one issue.




































Ice hockey used to have a sort of cliché move—jerking an opposing player’s jersey over his head so you can punch him—but I’m told by a reputable source (the team dentist for the Ontario Hockey League Erie Otters) that this is frowned upon these days.

Now, it seems that if having an archetypal move is a marker that your sport is big time, perhaps the somewhat lesser (no offense) sports—say, water polo, pickleball, lacrosse, cricket, curling, gymnastics, ice skating, crew, bowling, badminton, toe wrestling, et al— could adopt a characteristic signal in order to advance their progress to world class status.

E.g., water polo stars could dive down and come flying out of the water like synchronized swimmers; badminton luminaries could stuff the shuttlecock in their mouths; bowlers could fling their balls into the stands.

Well…Ok, admittedly these are just quick, off-the-cuff, not very well thought out ideas But perhaps you can be the one to come up with something that will take your sport to the Bigs.

* strictly speaking, the noun ‘kinesics’ is the study of body motion communication. But since I studied with the “father of Kinesics, Prof. Ray Birdwhistell at Penn, I wanted to work it in even if I had to coin a new usage.
Yeah, toe wrestling is real.

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