WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN RECREATION AND TOURNAMENT PLAYING?
In a recreational setting, there is little pressure; there
are fewer players; you know most of the players as well as their strengths and
weaknesses and you play with the same people again and again; the location is
usually close to home. In the local gym
where I play most often, we have only two courts (working on getting a third),
so you play a game and then sit awhile and socialize before getting to play
again. That is not all bad since we
usually have some sort of snack or food that someone brings. I guess that
proves we are really in the South. (Then
again, maybe most of us don't really NEED those extra calories.) With the sitting and waiting in mind, you
don't really have a lot of chances to play even two games in a row. But we always have fun while waiting for our
next game such as calling out, “Good
eye!” to a player who has jumped to return a high ball only to completely miss
it as the ball hits about eight feet up against the back wall.
A tournament setting, on the other hand, has a bit more
pressure because there is a little more at stake, but only as much pressure as
the player wants to put on him/herself.
If you do well, you may win an award. There are probably more players,
many of whom you may not know...at the beginning. This means seeing new styles of play and picking up ideas on
how to play certain situations. But
after two or three tournaments, those opponents become your friends. There is still sitting and talking, but when
you play, you play a match (usually two out of three games). Then you play another one. And soon you wonder how you did it when at
home you get a big rest between games.
As you play against better players/teams, you tend to improve your own
play. And, of course, in our area, we
have food at our tournaments (a great tradition). The downside of a tournament may be the cost
and/or the distance that you must travel to attend. But in my view, this is far outweighed by the
tournament experience, the people you meet, and the new friends you make. The next time you go, you may be staying at
the home of a new-found friend.
If you've rarely or never played in a tournament, I
encourage you to participate in one soon!