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jmhs
10-26-2009, 03:53 AM
Bounce/hit
Trying to pick focus on print on ball (especially after the bounce)
Focus on contact zone (a la Federer)

What techniques work for you? Thanks.

crash1929
10-26-2009, 04:30 AM
Focus on contact zone (a la Federer)

Watching the ball for as long as possible even between points etc.

joe sch
10-26-2009, 05:39 AM
All the "Inner Tennis" book techniques are excellent
Also recommend "Zennis" book

SystemicAnomaly
10-26-2009, 01:59 PM
I read about a ball tracking technique used by cricket batsmen and have tried it a few times on serve returns with pretty decent results. It would probably also work for other ground strokes.

Your eyes track the ball for a while coming off the server's racquet and determine where the ball will bounce. When you have a pretty good idea of where the bounce point will be, your eyes jump ahead (known as a jump-ahead saccade) to the expected area where your eyes "lay in wait".

This is pretty much what linesman do in tennis for any ball encroaching on a line of interest.

Once the bounce is detected, the eyes once again (smooth pursuit) track the ball until it gets within a meter of so of your expected contact point. When the ball is this close to you, your eyes can no longer "see" or track the ball. The eyes perform another saccade -- they jump ahead again -- this time to the expected contact point. They "lay in wait" again at the contact. However, this time the head remains still and the eyes stay on the contact zone until wellafter it has left the racquet.

This 2nd saccade to the contact point is exactly what Federer does on his shots. His head becomes still and his eyes get to the contact zone slightly before the ball does. I've watched some super slow-mo vids to confirm this.

I don't really know if any of the pros perform the 1st jump saccade that I described, but it is very possible that many of them do.

In D Zone
10-26-2009, 04:09 PM
I'd say first and foremost is the footwork / foot speed. Move to the direction of the ball quickly using the foot position where the ball is headed.

Never loose sight of the ball as you move, slightly oberserving the opponent positioning with peripheral vision.

Relax and try to make contact with the ball up front (on the rise) instead of waiting for the ball to drop.

Ah - yes freeze your focus or keep your head still for a split second as you make contact with the ball. This definitely helps you stay calm and able to hit the sweet spot (more efficiently).

ubermeyer
10-26-2009, 04:15 PM
Watching the ball for as long as possible even between points etc.

really? I don't think you should be staring at the ball THAT much... :)
not exactly sure what you meant here. If you meant in between shots, then yes, that is a good idea.

Falloutjr
10-26-2009, 04:18 PM
Bounce/hit definitely helps. Also, I very rarely take my eyes off the ball. Certainly I look away to watch what my opponent is doing so I know what to expect, but I can transfix myself on the ball so it's my only real focus. I'm in love with the ball; it is my mistress and where it goes, I go. We dance to the melody of the match. In slow dancing, where spins and control dictate the match, I make sure my form is good and I take one step, two steps, and stay in my rhythm. To the tune of a heavy metal paced rally, we become separated, but we stay together essentially. We're moving fast and we're surrendering ourselves to the beat and letting it all hang out. But whatever the tune is, we're always in tune.

Try humming or singing to yourself as you play. It helps your rhythm and you think less. If you can sing and think at the same time, you are extremely gifted. For the rest of us, it allows us to not beat ourselves mentally by thinking.

SystemicAnomaly
10-26-2009, 05:25 PM
... Certainly I look away to watch what my opponent is doing so I know what to expect...

Excellent post, but I'll take issue with this one point. Unless you have tunnel vision (inadequate peripheral vision), you don't need to look away to monitor your opponent. You should be able to easily see your opponent & their movement when the incoming ball is 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) from you even tho' you would probably be primarily tracking the ball.

As the ball gets closer, you should be able to pick up your opponent's position & movement with your peripheral vision. There is no reason to look up to see any detail (to see if their socks match or if their shirt is still tucked in). It is sufficient to see only movement -- your peripheral vision can handle this well enough -- your central vision is not needed for this -- it should stay on the ball or on the contact zone.

Even after you've made contact, you don't need to sneak a peek until your ball has crossed the net (unless your opponent is at the net). Best to keep your head still and eyes down on the contact zone so that your swing path is not adversely altered. Trust your peripheral vision (this may not be easy to do tho').

Falloutjr
10-26-2009, 06:23 PM
Excellent post, but I'll take issue with this one point. Unless you have tunnel vision (inadequate peripheral vision), you don't need to look away to monitor your opponent. You should be able to easily see your opponent & their movement when the incoming ball is 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) from you even tho' you would probably be primarily tracking the ball.

As the ball gets closer, you should be able to pick up your opponent's position & movement with your peripheral vision. There is no reason to look up to see any detail (to see if their socks match or if their shirt is still tucked in). It is sufficient to see only movement -- your peripheral vision can handle this well enough -- your central vision is not needed for this -- it should stay on the ball or on the contact zone.

Even after you've made contact, you don't need to sneak a peek until your ball has crossed the net (unless your opponent is at the net). Best to keep your head still and eyes down on the contact zone so that your swing path is not adversely altered. Trust your peripheral vision (this may not be easy to do tho').

I only look for a split second so I can see how they're going to hit the ball; if they're gonna hit with topspin or backspin or flat. Generally, I can do it without moving my eyes, I just shift the general focus of my eyesight to the player. However, I generally play 6 feet behind the baseline, so everything is in front of me anyways, so I don't have to look away :) I don't do it while my ball is still on my side of the court, I do it when they're setting up their shot. Holding my form after my swing is very difficult because I use a WW motion and my racquet often comes up near or all the way around my head or in a full circular motion, not unlike Nadal's swing, my full follow through is that WW swing and lasso follow through, so my opponent's rarely play net anyways because, while I generally don't hit flat, I hit the ball so deep and with so much topspin that the ball can land a foot in front of the baseline and hit the fence 8 feet in the air (not unlike a lob actually), so I have an eternity to set up and sneak a peek at their take back, and if they do come to the net, I can quite easily lob the ball right over them. I mostly hit topspin 1hbhs as well, but I hold my form with it because it finishes up behind my head and swinging my arm around my head like that doesn't seem very enjoyable ;)

But for flatter hitters, holding your form might be the better option because there is a stop point near your shoulder, and it is not only conventional, but convenient and easy to do so and can help your consistency. I realize how much us moonballers deviate from the norm, though, so I'm probably not the person you should come to asking for form advice from, but in terms of pure focus, anyone can have good focus, and that is a very good way for me to focus. Like I said, singing and thinking at the same time is virtually impossible, so if you sing under your breath during rallies, you won't overcomplicate the game.

dozu
10-27-2009, 03:50 PM
Bounce/hit
Trying to pick focus on print on ball (especially after the bounce)
Focus on contact zone (a la Federer)

What techniques work for you? Thanks.

what... print on the ball? you wonna know if it's a Wilson 1 or a Penn3? LOLOL, that's the most ridiculous thing i have heard... contact zone? not! amateur looks at Fed's FH slow motion video must be thinking - wow, look at how he focus on the contact zone.... duh! his eyes are on the contact zone, but the picture he sees is not the contact zone or the ball, he is already envisioning how the opp will react to the shot and how he is gonna punish the next ball coming back!

eyes on the ball etc, these things maybe important at the beginner level when you try to build your basic strokes.... but once you get pass that stage, the focus should always be on balanced point construction.

my eyes are on the ball (it's hard not to), but my focus is always where I want to hit the thing for the next ball, or the next 3 balls if I really push it.... and the picture I see is myself executing the point construction in perfect balance every time.... perfect balance I mean as if I can hold my finish for 3 seconds after every stroke.

have that focus, your feet will float effortlessly, your will have impact with perfect timing, and you will cut down unforced errors significantly.

tribunal4555
10-27-2009, 04:05 PM
what... print on the ball? you wonna know if it's a Wilson 1 or a Penn3? LOLOL, that's the most ridiculous thing i have heard... contact zone? not! amateur looks at Fed's FH slow motion video must be thinking - wow, look at how he focus on the contact zone.... duh! his eyes are on the contact zone, but the picture he sees is not the contact zone or the ball, he is already envisioning how the opp will react to the shot and how he is gonna punish the next ball coming back!


Umm, no.

Focusing on seeing the print of the ball is a good way for a beginner to keep their eyes on the contact zone. Federer is not envisioning what his next shot is going to be. He's keeping his eyes on the contact zone to keep his head still, because head motion adversely affects your stroke.



eyes on the ball etc, these things maybe important at the beginner level when you try to build your basic strokes.... but once you get pass that stage, the focus should always be on balanced point construction.

my eyes are on the ball (it's hard not to), but my focus is always where I want to hit the thing for the next ball, or the next 3 balls if I really push it.... and the picture I see is myself executing the point construction in perfect balance every time.... perfect balance I mean as if I can hold my finish for 3 seconds after every stroke.

have that focus, your feet will float effortlessly, your will have impact with perfect timing, and you will cut down unforced errors significantly.

To focus on balanced point construction, YOU STILL NEED TO KEEP YOUR FUNDAMENTALS! I can't emphasize this enough. You can't construct points without having good fundamentals. While you should think about setting up your next shot, don't envision it so deeply that you lose track of the ball.

dozu
10-27-2009, 04:10 PM
I did say eyes on the ball are important at the beginner stage... but how long does it take to learn the fundamentals - 2 weeks? 2 months? people usually get past this stage quickly.

the anticipation/point construction part that separates a mature play from a beginner.

and believe me, Fed is NOT concentrating on the contact zone... that has already so engrained in his brain, since he was probably 10 years old.... at his level, his computer CPU is always calculating the next 5-6 shots.

jmhs
10-27-2009, 06:22 PM
I did say eyes on the ball are important at the beginner stage... but how long does it take to learn the fundamentals - 2 weeks? 2 months? people usually get past this stage quickly.

the anticipation/point construction part that separates a mature play from a beginner.

and believe me, Fed is NOT concentrating on the contact zone... that has already so engrained in his brain, since he was probably 10 years old.... at his level, his computer CPU is always calculating the next 5-6 shots.

Brad Gilbert talks about looking for the label, so has Gallwey, especially in conjunction with focusing on the spin. They weren't speaking to beginners.

I haven't heard Federer mention "contact zone," but IMO, he is doing something like that. I have heard plenty of knowledgeable pros talk about Federer and the contact zone connected to the discussion of saccade(s)...see SystemicAnomaly's excellent post above.

Fwiw, a separate issue, and I may not be fast but I'm slow..it took me a lot longer than 2 weeks or 2 months to learn the fundamentals.

Falloutjr
10-27-2009, 07:01 PM
I did say eyes on the ball are important at the beginner stage... but how long does it take to learn the fundamentals - 2 weeks? 2 months? people usually get past this stage quickly.

the anticipation/point construction part that separates a mature play from a beginner.

and believe me, Fed is NOT concentrating on the contact zone... that has already so engrained in his brain, since he was probably 10 years old.... at his level, his computer CPU is always calculating the next 5-6 shots.

If you ask me, keeping your eye on the ball is one of the easiest ways to focus, and not just for beginners. Focusing on one thing very intently helps you get in the zone. If you make the ball the focal point of your mind, your mind begins to block out other thought processes and sounds, which improves concentration because your brain doesn't have to process as much information. It's like turning off the lights so you can see the TV better.

Ucantplay2much
10-27-2009, 07:30 PM
believe me, Fed is NOT concentrating on the contact zone... that has already so engrained in his brain, since he was probably 10 years old.... at his level, his computer CPU is always calculating the next 5-6 shots.

He keeps his eye on the ball throughout every single shot in this video. Is he thinking about other things while he does it? Sure. But by following the ball all the way to the contact point, he's providing his arm muscles with the exact info they need to strike every shot exactly the way he wants to.

http://tinyurl.com/yh2truq

In D Zone
10-28-2009, 06:46 AM
Another thought comes into mind is the hitting stance.. Going back to basics / fundamentals of tennis.

You might want to experiment which stance better fits your game - what you would employ when playing at the baseline. You will be using petty much all the hitting stances on certain situation e.g. neutral or close stances on approach shots or 1hbh.

Knowing and educating which hitting stances you use will definitely help you able to strike the ball much cleaner.

I started with closed / neutral (fh), then change to semi open. I noticed I had difficulty driving my shots crosscourt consistently, so I switched to open stance and things started to click. I found that I can move to the ball much quicker, more efficient in striking the ball (make ball contact on the rise) and have more control.


http://www.y-coach.com/Tennishitting.html

SystemicAnomaly
10-28-2009, 11:56 AM
I only look for a split second so I can see how they're going to hit the ball; if they're gonna hit with topspin or backspin or flat...

When are you sneaking this peek? I don't believe that is is necessary while the ball is on your side of the net. On the incoming ball, you should be able to see your opponent until the ball within a couple of meters of you. During & just after you've hit the ball, it is more important to keep the head still while you are swinging. I don't see Fed sneaking a peek until his follow-thru is nearly complete.


...

and believe me, Fed is NOT concentrating on the contact zone... that has already so engrained in his brain, since he was probably 10 years old.... at his level, his computer CPU is always calculating the next 5-6 shots.

Dunno about this. He is concentrating on the contact zone insofar as he maintains visual focus. Part of this visual focus also involves mental focus as well. Seriously doubt that he calculating the next 5-6 shots during his contact phase. While he is zoned in on the contact, he may know what his opponent's options might be in response to his shot, but he is not psychic enough to know which option that they will chose, let alone predict their actions for the next 5 shots or so.

While he undoubtedly does have a game plan and knows very well how to construct points, I'm sure that he is very much playing in the "now".

mikeler
10-28-2009, 12:05 PM
I read a tip on another thread somewhere that recommended starting to focus intently on the ball from the very first shot in the warmup. I had doubts about this technique thinking I might get mental burnout from putting that kind of effort into the warmup, but it has really helped me to remember to watch the ball intently during the match.

Falloutjr
10-28-2009, 03:05 PM
When are you sneaking this peek? I don't believe that is is necessary while the ball is on your side of the net. On the incoming ball, you should be able to see your opponent until the ball within a couple of meters of you. During & just after you've hit the ball, it is more important to keep the head still while you are swinging. I don't see Fed sneaking a peek until his follow-thru is nearly complete.




Dunno about this. He is concentrating on the contact zone insofar as he maintains visual focus. Part of this visual focus also involves mental focus as well. Seriously doubt that he calculating the next 5-6 shots during his contact phase. While he is zoned in on the contact, he may know what his opponent's options might be in response to his shot, but he is not psychic enough to know which option that they will chose, let alone predict their actions for the next 5 shots or so.

While he undoubtedly does have a game plan and knows very well how to construct points, I'm sure that he is very much playing in the "now".

I look immediately after I make contact with the ball generally. Based on what I did and their tendencies, I can cheat to one side of the court or the other. Lets say I hit a slice backhand to their backhand and I know they slice low balls back, I look to predict where my balls will land and based on what I've seen of their shot, I prepare myself so I can counter that shot. Very rarely do I get wrong footed or have winners hit on me so I think it's fairly efficient. Winners I surrender generally come from amazing shots, not from being out of position or drop shots or anything like that.

Bungalo Bill
10-28-2009, 03:13 PM
Bounce/hit
Trying to pick focus on print on ball (especially after the bounce)
Focus on contact zone (a la Federer)

What techniques work for you? Thanks.

Movement and concentration happen first in the mind. The mind reads in things through your senses which are alert to the things happening. The mind sends signals to the muscles and they perform.

When you are playing tennis, try to not focus on your technique and instead the point you are playing with what you bring (strengths and weaknesses) to the table.

I have wrote good information on the use of HIT-BOUNCE-HIT to keep focused through the entire point and it would behoove you to read up on it. It is more than just a catchy cadence to help you with your timing.

TommyGNR
10-29-2009, 10:11 AM
Movement and concentration happen first in the mind. The mind reads in things through your senses which are alert to the things happening. The mind sends signals to the muscles and they perform.

When you are playing tennis, try to not focus on your technique and instead the point you are playing with what you bring (strengths and weaknesses) to the table.

I have wrote good information on the use of HIT-BOUNCE-HIT to keep focused through the entire point and it would behoove you to read up on it. It is more than just a catchy cadence to help you with your timing.

Any URL available to this info?

Bungalo Bill
10-29-2009, 05:43 PM
Hi Tommy, it is all here. just do a search on it.

dozu
10-30-2009, 04:39 AM
bounce/hit should help at the early stage of development - I'd say at most a few months for a player with decent athletic ability.... it's part of the basic stroke production.

beyond that - I want to say again that balanced point construction should always be the focus.

give you an example what happens during a point if my opp hits a wide cross court ball (say to my fh)

split step
see ball to fh side
initiate motion to move forward (cutting off the ball flight) to hit an offensive fh (envision agression with balanced finish)
(**** happens) - ball comes faster that expected/a gust pushed the ball faster than expected/ spin on ball makes it moving wider than initial calculation.
recalculate route - change motion to move laterally to hit a neutral/defensive fh, envisioning balanced finish, while calculating contact zone.
(**** happens again) - ball skidded a little / movement to hitting position not perfect - a bit too close/far from ideal contact zone etc.
recalculating contact zone - need to make impact slightly earlier/later/higher/lower than initial calculation... envision balanced finish.

make impact (finally) towards the target based on initial/revised point construction plan (in the above example may have changed from down the line winner to CC neutral)

recover

calculate next target.

you see what happens in a point - a lot can go wrong, but as long as you focus on balance, you will be very consistent, and be aggressive when possible.

if however, your mind is only thinking the same rythm of bounce/hit, your feet will be so busy trying to get to the perfect position... I guess you can play that way, but that to me is low efficiency tennis... too much work for the result.

my hitting partners always say I hit flat-footed a lot... I say look at the result, I am hitting winners flat-footed, because in certain situations my computer tells me that is the position to produce a winner, while still have a balanced finish.

Bungalo Bill
11-06-2009, 03:41 PM
[quote=Bungalo Bill;4062636]Movement and concentration happen first in the mind. The mind reads in things through your senses which are alert to the things happening. The mind sends signals to the muscles and they perform.

Hey, Bungalo Bill. Just like what you are saying "the mind sends signals...." Scott Ford (I have no connection with him, but I did listen to him at a conference once) addressed this with the concept of peripheral vision and how that signal is processed quicker with peripheral vision than with whatever non-peripheral vision is called. Are you familiar with his work? Here's a link if you are interested. http://www.arete-sports.com/content/articles/SV1.pdf I think it is actually a key to the psychological part of the game, but don't tell anyone, it's my secret edge!

I am not familiar with his work but it sounds interesting. I think the term you are looking for on the other is "focal" vision.

In my past life, I emmersed myself in learning theory and instructional design. I know all about gradient learning, bloom's taxonomy of learning, etc...

Gaining knowledge of this stuff helped me understand Bradens more deeper studies in research that had to do with the eyes, receiving information, processing information, psychomotor, and other things pertaining to tennis. It is also the reason why I always say a lot of this has already been known but maybe not popular.

It is good stuff and I know enough to be dangerous. :)

SystemicAnomaly
11-07-2009, 02:58 AM
Hey, Bungalo Bill. Just like what you are saying "the mind sends signals...." Scott Ford (I have no connection with him, but I did listen to him at a conference once) addressed this with the concept of peripheral vision and how that signal is processed quicker with peripheral vision than with whatever non-peripheral vision is called. Are you familiar with his work? Here's a link if you are interested. http://www.arete-sports.com/content/articles/SV1.pdf I think it is actually a key to the psychological part of the game, but don't tell anyone, it's my secret edge!

More Scott Ford stuff:

www.******mindgame.com/zone.html (****** = tennis)

http://www.arete-sports.com (http://www.arete-sports.com/)
.

Bungalo Bill
11-10-2009, 10:46 PM
If players come to the realization that it is our minds that control many aspects of our tennis game, players then can implement best-practice controls in their practice and matches to help reduce their risk of the interruptions that can easily take place that hurts our ability to get in the zone.

Use breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, cadences like HIT-BOUNCE-HIT to keep your head in the game to help get your mind in the game along with your automated actions. It is very important for rising players to concentrate and discipline themselves to do so every time they step on to the court.

It is not only about footwork, movement, conditioning, or technique, if you don't discipline yourself to stay focused, you can easily be swayed by the interruptions in your concentration to under perform.