ball goes exactly where i want if......

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by mhff34, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    I could just keep my head down through the shot. Totally guessing here, but I would say 80% of the time I hit it just the way I intended if I concentrate on the ball and keep the head still. Unfortunately half the time I pick my head up too soon. When I pick it up, to look, the ball never goes where I want and probably only lands in bounds 30% of the time.

    Anybody else have this problem?
     
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  2. JohnMartin

    JohnMartin Banned

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    the real key is BALANCE.

    keeping head still or not - that is secondary.
     
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  3. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    OP I agree with you and I have that problem too
     
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  4. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    I respectfully disagree. Some of my biggest flubs are sitters that I am perfectly positioned for but for some reason feel the uncontrollable urge to peak before I finish my swing. Which is, by the way, the reason I gave up golf lol.
     
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  5. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Disagree. Keeping the head still is of paramount importance for most players. This is why Nadal appears to have copied Federer's technique on this prior to his (Rafa's) ascent to #1. Yes, balance is important as well.

    The main problem with moving the head during the forward swing is that this action tends to alter the swing path of the racket -- pulling the head up also tends to pull the racket up a bit as it is moving forward. The concept is referred to as the "Quiet Eye" by gaze expert, Joan Vickers.
     
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  6. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    Picking your head up is a byproduct of some other flaw in your form. You'll see a much greater return on your investment if you learn how to properly transfer your weight from your back foot to front foot as you connect with the ball.
     
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  7. Arabi_Tesla

    Arabi_Tesla New User

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    I always get the ball right where I want if I make contact at the perfect contact point,
    and to achieve that I have to keep my eyes on the ball untill its out of the strings.
    I too have extreme urge to tke my eyes of the balls before I hit it (even when I'm serving) which screws my game alot .
    the solution that I use to get rid of this is practicing hitting the ball without ever looking at the court .. like even after i hit it i keep looking at the contact point ... I do that for while then I switch to hitting the ball without giving attention to where it's headed .. just focus on the contact, then after a few balls of that i try to hit a normal long rally.. hitting half volleys against the wall in my house helped me slightly develop eye-hand coordination too.
    hope this help
     
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  8. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    mhff - I have this same problem, and I agree that if I just keep my eyes on the ball and focus throughout my stroke I almost always hit a good shot. My theory is that I took up tennis later in life and didn't have it drilled into me over and over as a junior to watch the ball.

    Arabi - Sounds like good advice .. thanks.
     
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  9. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    Interesting. I just started taking lessons once a week and the most frequent comment the instructor makes is "you need to step into the ball more". I hit with a lot of power, so stepping into the ball is a little scary, but definitely paying dividends.

    I still think though picking up my head too soon is causing a lot of errors. The reasons I believe this is, one when I remind myself on a return, for instance, to just really focus on the ball without any change in form I usually hit it well. The other reason is I hit much worse indoors especially when I play at night and feel like its hard to see the ball.
     
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  10. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Keeping your head still through the contact zone is very important to improve the quality of the shot, but failing to do so should not automatically result in an error. If you're missing most of the time you pick your head up, you almost certainly are having other issues with your technique. You also might be aiming too low over the net and too close to the lines.
     
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  11. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    Great advise. I will try this. Thanks
     
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  12. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    Agree. I am a beginner and experimenting a little with different ball flights. For awhile I hit a really loopy ball then too flat trying to find the right mixture of pace and topspin. I also have a bad habit of going for winners all the time.
     
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  13. forthegame

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    This is EXACTLY what I was told by a coach who watched me hitting. Apparently I lift my head prematurely to watch the shot and it ends up all wrong.
     
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  14. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    What did you do to rectify?
     
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  15. Egoista

    Egoista Professional

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    keep your eye on the ball always!
     
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  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Not really. Impossible to see the ball all the way into the strings on most incoming balls. Players, like Federer, actually stop watching the ball shortly before contact. Instead he fixates on the expected contact point. His eyes do not follow the ball off his strings either. He stays fixated on the cp, head & eyes not moving, for (nearly) all of his forward swing/follow-thru.

    The best way to make this a habit is to perform hundreds, if not thousands, of shadow swings -- keeping the head still and eyes fixated on (or near) the contact point until the follow-thru is complete (or nearly complete). Can also practice this with simple self-feeds of the ball. Practice the skill on the wall, with a ball machine, during mini-tennis, etc.
     
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  17. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Yet another (typical?) mistake I've had but was never aware of. I just implemented this idea of a stable head in today's practices. Oh boy, I was able to grind almost everything back! I've never played this well defensively. My hitting partner got frustrated by my improved defense. I cannot wait to try this out in matches. :)

    TTW is better than any coach I've ever had! :)
     
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  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Gratified to hear that you got something out of this thread. There a a lot of gems hidden amongst the lumps of coal in these threads. The trick is to try to understand the advice and figure out which ideas work for YOU. Not everything that I say -- or Chas, T Shot, Arabi or anyone else says -- will work for everyone.
     
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  19. Arabi_Tesla

    Arabi_Tesla New User

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    I agree,
    Practicing with self feed is also a great advice for solving this problem.
     
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  20. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    This topic (the head stillness, ball watching) pops up quite frequently and it's impossible to settle one way or another.

    To me, the OP isn't very clear either. Is he talking about mis hitting, framing or launching the ball out of bound? If it's the latter, who the heck knows what else is wrong with his technique.

    Back to the topic - the one that SA discusses -- I'm not entirely sure if my mishitting, ie severely off, is a result of unbalance or not watching the ball. All I know is when I intensely look at the ball, refrain from being the most violent with my swinging, I hit the ball very well.
     
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  21. forthegame

    forthegame Hall of Fame

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    So far, nothing. Easier said than done!

    I need to focus on it I guess...
     
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  22. The Isomotion31

    The Isomotion31 Semi-Pro

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    nothing ****es me off more than taking my eye of the ball and moving my head before hitting the shot. Such a bad habit. Usually when I'm tired.
     
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  23. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    Thanks for all the feedback and great suggestions! Definitely going to try all that were mentioned. The people who have the same problem know exactly what I'm talking about.
     
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  24. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    To clarify the quicker I take my eyes off the ball, or the less clearly I see the ball is directly proportional to how bad a mishit. I know I've picked my head up before the ball even got to my racquet.

    The thing is when I really concentrate on the ball, without changing technique, everything clicks the hit sounds good, it feels good and the tennis ball goes where I am aiming.
     
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  25. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    For those who practice the Federer's way of keeping the head still, is there a trick to seeing where the opponent is or is moving to? I can do it in practice, but I feel like I don't pass as well using this method, especially when the ball is a sitter and the opponent guesses one way or another.
     
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  26. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Peripheral vision for most players should do an excellent job of detecting the motion of your opponent. You cannot see a lot of detail with your peripheral vision but then you don't really need to see the color of their socks or other detail while you are swinging at the ball -- you only need to detect their motion (their general direction & speed).

    Also consider this. When the incoming ball is within 3 meters (10 feet) of your location, you can probably still see/track the ball. If you are watching the ball at that point, you should be able to clearly see your opponent w/o looking at him/her. Your opponent is not going to be able to move much more in the very brief time (centi-seconds?) that it takes the ball to travel that last 3 meters to your contact point. Your peripheral vision should do more than an adequate job of picking up any late movement by your opponent.

    If you keep your head still until you finish your stroke, you should be able to see the ball well before it bounces (perhaps as it crosses the net). The only time that you might want to lift your head/eyes just a little bit earlier is if your opponent is at the net. Even then, you don't really need to look up much earlier at all.

    Bottom line: Watch the incoming ball, then fixate on you contact point (keeping your head still) during you forward swing. Trust you peripheral vision to do its job of keeping track of the opponent. Visualizing the net, the court and your opponent can also help while you are fixated on the contact point.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
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  27. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    Kind of true, but you can't keep well balanced unless you are keeping your head stationary. So you musn't look up while swinging!
     
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  28. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    Thanks for your response. I will try visualizing the net, court, and opponent to see if it helps with the peripheral vision. But if I may ask a follow up, what do you think is happening when a pro gets a sitter with the opponent at net who guesses a direction but fails to choose the open spot and hits a relatively weak shot to exactly where the opponent moved?
     
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  29. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    A stupid question: When do we have to know where the opponent exactly is?

    If we are on the backcourt there's always one safest option where to hit the ball depending only on where the BALL is coming from. The safest option is such that it cannot open angles for your opponent to attack into. You should hit the ball there most of the time and after the stroke you move yourself into the center of the possible angles where the opponent can hit the next shot.

    And when the opponent approaches the net, you want to hit a low DTL ball into the feet of the opponent most of the times, and then move yourself closer to net to get into the next ball. Why should you know where the opponent exactly is? Rather focus on the execution of your shot to make the life difficult for your opponent.

    IMO, the only case when you want to see where your opponent exactly is, happens when you get a short ball and want to hit a wrong-footing winner. But even then, a safer option would be to hit a DTL approach shot?
     
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  30. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    I'm not sure if you are asking me or in general, but when I want to know where the opponent is is when opponent is forced to move before I hit the shot. As you state, in a basic baseline rally, I don't really need to know unless the opponent is cheating in a cross-court rally by staying in one corner.

    But if they hit a weak short or mid-court ball, then they will have to move (not all do however) because if they don't it'll be a winner (or an UE) whether I go cross-court, dtl, inside-out, inside-in, etc. You say hit a DTL approach shot in such cases, but if they have guessed right, you are set up for a passing shot especially if I am hitting a backhand DTL to their forehand.

    As for a net rushing opponent, I disagree with your shot selection. The default shot should be a dipping crosscourt shot because if you hit a DTL shot and the opponent gets to it, it's pretty easy to drop volley it crosscourt and the angle makes it more difficult for you to retrieve it.

    With all this said, though, you are right that you don't need to know where the opponent is that much given the playing style you describe. My game is basically hit hard from the baseline and wait for a ball to put away. And when I get one, I like to hit it hard for a winner. This means that after I hit the shot, it takes me more time than others to recover, and if they have guessed right, I am often not prepared for what they hit back.
     
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  31. Egoista

    Egoista Professional

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    damn i never knew that.To me it always seemed the opposite
     
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  32. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Interesting point about Federer. A lot of people like to talk about how he keeps his head turned a lot throughout his forehand. In my opinion, a big part of this is because he is left eye dominant despite being a righty. It's not the only part of it because there are other cross dominant players who don't stay turned as long as he does, but being cross dominant would lend to keeping the head turned longer on the forehand side.
     
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  33. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Where did you read that he is left eye dominant?
     
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  34. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    #34
  35. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Probably as you are starting, or about to start, your forward swing.

    Don't know if cross-dominance has much to do with his head positioning strategy. He does the same thing on both his BH and his FH side. Note that his contact point is fairly early (out in front) even tho' he typically employs a conservative grip.

    Nadal also turns his head quite a bit and keeps it still, like Federer. Not sure that his contact point is always as far forward tho', considering how often he hits a reverse finish on this FH.

    Don't know if that actually happens as often as opposite situation.

    There are a couple of possibilities that would explain the scenario you've posed. One possibility is that the opponent (playerB) is very good at reading player A (or other players, in general). Martina Hingis' ability to read opponents was extraordinary. Agassi, Federer and others are quite adept at this as well. OTOH, some players are easier to read than others -- their body language and tendencies give away their intention -- they have a somewhat obvious "tell".

    Another possibility has to do with the timing of the 2nd player's move. Quite often, player B will move slightly before player A starts his/her forward swing. Detecting this with his peripheral vision, player A easily hits in behind or away from player B. If player B starts his move a fraction of a second later, player A may have already committed himself to a certain shot (direction). If player A try to change his stroke once he/she has already started their forward swing, it may result in a weaker shot.
     
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  36. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Good point about Federer's backhand. Nadal is also cross dominant btw.
     
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  37. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting that both are x-dominant. Note how Roger has his head turned with his early contact so that both eyes appear to be looking that the contact point.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  38. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    That is exactly my problem. I always had that problem to some extent, but when I was teaching a lot of drill classes, it just absolutely ruined me because I was looking up and watching what the students were doing during each feed and got the looking up before the shot grooved. I've been trying to fix the problem for years but a habit that ingrained is hard to break.

    The main thing is to not move your head. On a hard court with no wind, you can actually close your eyes just before impact and hit the ball fine. Moving the head pulls everything away from the shot.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
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  39. andre09

    andre09 New User

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  40. mhff34

    mhff34 New User

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    Yep, same with golf. It's not the eyes necessarily but picking the head up that throws everything out of whack. Thanks for the post.
     
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  41. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I can relate. Teaching tennis has undermined my own "Quiet Eye" habit. I have to continually reinforce the habit of keeping the head still, eyes on the contact point during my forward swing. I'll usually make a point of practicing it during mini-tennis or warmup.

    I will continue to do more reinforcement with some shadow swings while waiting for the next point to start. I'm usually good for most of 2 sets. Usually toward the end of the 2nd set or the beginning of the 3rd, as I start to fatigue mentally, the old teaching habit creeps into play and I am looking up too early again. It takes me a while to realize what is happening -- but I get the ship to right itself within the next half set.
     
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  42. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    You're very welcome.

    If I ever play you, I'll remember to ask for tips on my forehand during the changeovers. :twisted:
     
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  43. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Good tip about the shadow swings, thanks! For myself I've realized I'm not keeping the head still, eyes on the contact point during my forward swing, especially during matches (basically when I get tense/nervous). Not in each match, but in enough of them, last one against a pusher. It wasn't frustrated to miss, but to see ball after ball hitting the net(and me not doing the things it was supposed to help me get into the "zone"- keeping the head still, eyes on the contact point during my forward swing)....Trying to relax overall is the general rule.
     
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  44. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Yes, I've found the same pattern, starting off OK, then the head moving starts, then it goes away. Sometimes it is only there for a couple of minutes and once in a while it doesn't go away at all - half a set is pretty common. The more I've been actually playing, the less it occurs.
    The shadow swings are a good idea, thanks.
     
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