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  1. #1

    Where do you look when the racket strikes the ball?

    Thanks for all the answers to my last question, now this is something else that had been bugging me. Where do you look when you hit the ball at the precise moment of impact with the racket. I have read about Roger Federer tilting his head to one side and looking at the impact with the ball through the strings from the back of the racket. Others say that you should concentrate on the racket brushing up the back of the ball. Some say you should watch the ball bounce off the strings. And there are plenty of players who watch the ball till the last moment but as they hit it they are looking at where it is supposed to be going. There are also (I would guess) a great percentage of players who have never even thought about it and just hit the ball. I know you are supposed to keep your head still when you hit the ball and for a split second aterwards, but what am I looking at exactly?. How am I visualising this? I know you only have an instant where you make contact with the ball but what is the thought process?
    All advice gratefully accepted.

  2. #2
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    Very interesting topic I bet you're right that not many people think of it and simply hit the ball. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people either. I too make it (along with other aspects of tennis) more complicated than it should be. Recently I've been training myself to feel the contact rather than to truly watch. That's not to say my eyes aren't looking at the ball. In fact, I've used a technique of my own creation. I watch the ball coming; upon impact my eyes lose focus of the ball; it's almost as though I'm looking into oblivion but in the direction of the ball. Now the longer I can keep my eyes on impact the more crisp my shot in general. It should be interesting to see what others have to say.
    Last edited by Lawn Tennis; 10-17-2009 at 08:34 PM.

  3. #3
    It is a great exercise to look at the ball right up to impact. I never thought about it but when it was suggested I keep my eye on the ball longer I realized that I look up WAY EARLY in anticipation of where my shot will go, throwing off my timing of finding the ball. When I started watching the ball up to impact a most bizarre thing happened. The ball seems to "freeze" in mid air as it touches the strings. At first I couldn't believe it. I kept working at it and found that it happens every time. I had heard of players talking about the ball stopping in mid air, which of course it can't, but it appears to when you stare at it like this. The first time I tried this during a lesson my coach all of a sudden said "Wow, are you looking longer at the ball? I can see it and you are hitting so well!" As in golf, if you resist looking up to where your ball is going to go you will get a cleaner strike. And, to my surprise there's plenty of time afterwards to look up and prepare for the next shot. Try it, it's kind of surreal!
    Last edited by Tennis Angel; 10-20-2009 at 01:22 AM.
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  4. #4
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    Thumbs up

    Keep the head down and try to watch the ball make contact with the strings. Visualize the shot in your head and "see" it with your mind's eye. If you look up you will pull out of the shot or you will focus on your opponent and lose concentration thus hitting a poor shot. Whether I was on tour or coaching at Hopman or Bollettieri, I always taught that principle and it really works. You can only control what is right there, right then and the only thing that matters when the ball is on your side of the net is to make solid contact with good form and technique. Keeping the head on the shot and eyes on the ball will ensure that. Best of luck...........

  5. #5
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    So I guess the bottom line is to atleast keep your attention on the ball. It doesn't necessarily matter that your racquet is 'blocking' the view in some instances, just continue to picture the ball on your racquet.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis View Post
    So I guess the bottom line is to atleast keep your attention on the ball. It doesn't necessarily matter that your racquet is 'blocking' the view in some instances, just continue to picture the ball on your racquet.
    Exactly. The reason you want to keep your eyes on the ball is because it will make you keep your head down and focused on hitting the ball and not on your opponent. If you look up, you pick your head up and then your shoulders pull up and then your torso and legs pull out of the shot. Keeping your eyes on the ball is the first step to staying down and with the ball. It is a huge part of staying balanced as well. The minute you rip your head out of the shot (that is actually what happens. Your head comes out of the shot very quickly) you lose balance and your brain immediately looks to catch your balance. Staying balanced is key to hitting great shots. So, in short, keeping your eyes down and on the contact point keeps you from pulling out of the shot and keeps your balance true thus improving your shot and improving your recovery after the shot.

  7. #7
    I've been lucky(?) to have had my photo taken many times for magazine articles. (The joy of being a foreign coach in Japan)

    I seem to be about 50-50. Watching the ball until almost contact, and not watching the ball at all at contact.

    Not sure what that tells you, but there it is.

    Also, if you look closely at the magazine photos, when they highlight professional strokes, many players are the same. Sometimes focusing intently at the ball as it approaches the strings, and other times not.

  8. #8
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    As with most other ball sports, lots of "knowledgeable" people would say to watch it into the strings/hands/glove/wicket/stick....
    But reality is, you only have to track it from it's source thru to within 3-5' of your recieving end..ie your racket. It doesn't move enough from there thru to your racket, and it keeps your posture in line, and is more natural.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeD View Post
    As with most other ball sports, lots of "knowledgeable" people would say to watch it into the strings/hands/glove/wicket/stick....
    But reality is, you only have to track it from it's source thru to within 3-5' of your recieving end..ie your racket. It doesn't move enough from there thru to your racket, and it keeps your posture in line, and is more natural.
    have you ever played with somebody using a western grip? that ball can bounce right through your racquet it seems if you take your eye off the ball. or how about somebody who hits the ball extremely flat or slices it. not watching the ball causes mishits.

  10. #10
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    I was a pretty solid B player back in the '70's, with enough shots to hang with almost any Open player. Have played matches against JoaroSoares, RussellSimpson, and hit with the Wilson team back in the late 70's. Some of them hit as hard as you do today.
    But back to watching till the end... I was a wide reciever thru 3 years of high school, and outfielder for the spring baseball team. We NEVER looked the ball into the glove/hands, because that would require a TURN OF THE HEAD! As in striking any ball, you never want to turn your head during the motion. As in receiving the ball, you never want to have to turn your head. Look at T ball or golf, shooting or archery, slingshot or sling, you never move your head!
    Yes, I saw the vids and pics of RogerFederer with head cocked and staring at the ball at the moment of impact. ONE player out of all the hundreds of thousands. We don't have hit gift, his eyes, his athleticism, his hands, his reflexes, or his mental state. We're the rest of the players.

  11. #11
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    It doesn't matter who you are. taking concentration off the point of impact will cause a mishit almost everytime. you may not be turning your head, but your attention is still on the ball even if by the corner of your eye. lastly, the whole watching the ball process is to be a smooth transition. You see the ball coming and follow it to your racquet's contact point. it's like watching a car on the highway.. just cause the car is going 70 mph doesnt mean your head is turning that fast.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis View Post
    It doesn't matter who you are. taking concentration off the point of impact will cause a mishit almost everytime. you may not be turning your head, but your attention is still on the ball even if by the corner of your eye. lastly, the whole watching the ball process is to be a smooth transition. You see the ball coming and follow it to your racquet's contact point. it's like watching a car on the highway.. just cause the car is going 70 mph doesnt mean your head is turning that fast.
    LeeD. Years of coaching at the two biggest places for tennis in the world have taught me a thing or two. Bollettieri was adament about watching the ball into the strings as was Alvero Bettancur. I don't think most of you get the concept that the head is attached to the shoulders which are attached to the torso and then to the legs. When the head pulls up, the body opens up prematurely and causes one to pull out of the shot. It's not about actually watching the ball hit the strings, it's about staying down on the shot and the best way to keep from pulling out is to keep the head down. Federer is one of many, many pros who watch the ball into the strings. Ted Williams used to say that he watched the ball hit the bat everytime and that is what kept him from pulling out of the swing. It kept his shoulders square and his balance solid. Thus, the highest batting average ever in a full season and numerous batting titles. The sports physiologists at IMG seem to thoroughly agree about the "keeping the eye on the ball".

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tennisking1 View Post
    LeeD. Years of coaching at the two biggest places for tennis in the world have taught me a thing or two. Bollettieri was adament about watching the ball into the strings as was Alvero Bettancur. I don't think most of you get the concept that the head is attached to the shoulders which are attached to the torso and then to the legs. When the head pulls up, the body opens up prematurely and causes one to pull out of the shot. It's not about actually watching the ball hit the strings, it's about staying down on the shot and the best way to keep from pulling out is to keep the head down. Federer is one of many, many pros who watch the ball into the strings. Ted Williams used to say that he watched the ball hit the bat everytime and that is what kept him from pulling out of the swing. It kept his shoulders square and his balance solid. Thus, the highest batting average ever in a full season and numerous batting titles. The sports physiologists at IMG seem to thoroughly agree about the "keeping the eye on the ball".
    I truly enjoy the entries by TK because he has proven to be thoughtful in his delivery which I tried to convey on a daily basis with my kids at school. Of course 'Watch the Ball' is something you've all heard a million times but what TK is talking about at point of contact is the difference between good players & great players. Squaring up your shoulders can become a natural occurrence or you will need to concentrate on making it happen but there will be your power & control.

    Many players pay far too much attention to what the other guy is doing or where they are. Yes, the is important to know if they've approached the Net but a passing glance is all it takes to satisfy that..


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    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  14. #14
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    If you'd read my post again, notice I say exactly the same thing as you experts do....
    I don't recommend lifting my gaze to track the outgoing ball.
    I DO recommend tracking the incoming ball UNTIL THE HEAD NEEDS TO BE MOVED....and then you don't move your head, thus NOT track the ball all the way into your racket.
    Those tennis coaching pros are only talking GENERALITIES to every player. They are saying like...."keep good posture during the ball strike" ..thingss that are generally accepted, but NOT specifically useful to an advanced player!
    Sure, a duffer needs to be reminded... "keep your eyes on the ball until contact" . But that isn't the ADVANCED advice. Advanced advice is to watch the ball, but DON"T move your head. You can track the ball all the way within 3-5' of your strike zone, then most players need to move their heads slightly to cover the rest. I say, ... DON"T move the head at all. Watch and track the ball as long as you can while keeping the head still!

  15. #15
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    The advanced player usually begins having stroke issues when their mechanics begin to break down. Just like the beginner and the intermediate. I believe that watching the ball into the strings truly will help you to concentrate on the ball better, it will help you make better and more pinpoint contact, it will keep you balanced through the shot so that you are not pulling up by pulling your head out of the shot, and it really helps to keep you from focusing on your opponent so that you can hit a good and confident shot that you don't think twice about. The better your mechanics during a shot, the better that shot will be......

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