How many of you can watch the ball all the way to the stringbed?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by ATXtennisaddict, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. ATXtennisaddict

    ATXtennisaddict Hall of Fame

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    If you watch the pros, most of them can watch the ball travel all the way to their stringbed as they are about to hit it.

    I've tried it, the ball is too damned fast!
     
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  2. chollyred

    chollyred Rookie

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    If I concentrate I can do it, and it usually helps me make better shots. But all too often I'll catch myself looking where I want the ball to go, causing off center impact, etc.

    From the time we're little kids, our brains start developing the calculations for speed and trajectory as soon as we start throwing things, so some people do real well watching the ball up until the last foot or two before the stringbed as the calculations have already been made. Unusual spins and/or speeds can throw those natural calcuations off.

    I think the pros have seen so many balls they're really looking at where impact is going to be before the ball gets there.
     
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  3. watungga

    watungga Semi-Pro

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    As you have watched pros doing it, so I presume you must be seeing their ball hit their stringbed too!

    Oh I get it. Youtube slomos right?

    In reality, it is what you see is what they get too. Its really fast, but they still stick their eyes onto their racket head. That's how they concentrate on to completely execute their habitual strokes.
     
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  4. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Note: It is not humanly possible to SEE the ball all the way on most shots. We had a lengthy discussion of this in an a very recent thread and numerous threads in the past.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
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  5. ATXtennisaddict

    ATXtennisaddict Hall of Fame

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    #5
  6. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    yes his head is tilted, but he definitely is not "seeing" the ball right to the string bed
     
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  7. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I can do that on my serve
     
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  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    +1

    10eyballs
     
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  9. Xizel

    Xizel Professional

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    You want to keep your head still and your shoulders stabilized, but seeing the ball is impossible. You're rather predicting it's flight path the last few feet of the ball to contact.
     
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  10. kiteboard

    kiteboard Hall of Fame

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    You can see a blur, can't you?
     
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  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Nope! If you're head is steady, you can see the ball up to about a foot of contact. After that, your brain can't process the info that fast.
     
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  12. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    Besides it being extremely difficult to watch all the way to contact, it probably is unnecessary to be able to hit with the racquet center. Try bouncing a ball on a racquet. There's no need to watch the ball all the way to contact. And in fact, doing so makes it more difficult to simply bounce the ball.
     
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  13. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    When I see a blur of my racket going through the strikezone, I know I have watched long enough.
     
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  14. salsainglesa

    salsainglesa Semi-Pro

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    Sure you can!!!! if the ball is sloooooooooow.... if its fast, then forget it. no one can. Focus on the contact point.
     
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  15. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Yup. Even if the ball is moving at a moderate pace the brain/eyes cannot keep up when the ball is in close proximity. However, for very slooooooow balls it is possible.

    That also works pretty well.

    Just because a high speed camera some distance away can see the ball, does not mean that Roger, in close proximity, actually sees it.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
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  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Once in a while, but certainly not always, I have been able to pick up a brief/fleeting yellowish blur close to the contact point (but never on the strings) shortly after my eyes have jumped ahead to the contact point. However, there is a visual gap. The ball disappears for an instant, I pick up a momentary blur, and the ball disappears again before my eyes can pick it up again some time after contact (the ball is often several meters away before my eyes can pick up the departing ball).

    The event happens so quickly that it is difficult to ascertain if this observed momentary blur happens before or after contact (but I suspect that it is prior to contact). It is easier to see the blur of the racket passing thru the contact zone.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
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  17. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    I think you're confusing watching and tracking. You cannot actually see the ball once it's less than 3 feet away. However, you can still track its flight path easily and subconsciously prepare to make contact based on that. That's how pros make such solid contact and get that cannon sound on all balls. It's not because they see the ball hit the strings or anything preposterous like that. Once the ball is within that "blind" range, where the ball is going to end up is already decided as well. It's only up to you to keep tracking the ball to make sure it goes where you want it to. If you keep on moving for no reason, then that won't happen.
     
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  18. kengan

    kengan New User

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    It's good to watch the ball but I think once its close enough, don't bother trying to watch the ball, but rather keep your eyes square to the point of contact.
     
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  19. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    Why can't one see the ball all the way to impact? Most balls, after bouncing are not that fast. Moreover, since it is moving towards the subject, the lateral movement is not that fast for the eyes to follow except for maybe the last couple feet when the lateral component of the ball's velocity vector becomes greater relative to the eyes' position. Put it this way, you could watch a ball coming right at your face because there is very little lateral movement to track. A person catching a 90mph hardball can watch the ball all the way into his glove, right?

    As to why we tend to look up, I think our brains connect hitting a ball to a target with throwing a ball to a target, but we don't realize that they are not the same. When we throw at a target, we are looking at the target the whole time, whereas when you hit a ball with an implement, well, you know..
     
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  20. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    If you are stationary and waiting for the ball to come to your already set racquet as in hitting a volley of a hard hit ball I think you can watch very close to the racquet but when swinging for it it's whole different story. And the reason doesn't have to be thinking about target prematurely.
     
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  21. kiteboard

    kiteboard Hall of Fame

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    Fed sees it blur out and then disappear as frame comes into frame. He has spoken on this. Chang did the same. Others have as well. Most cannot. Others telling us we cannot see a blur is just silly, and somewhat insane. Yes it blurs out, yes we see the blurring frame come into play, yet others claim we don't? Just the internet for you.
     
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  22. Swissv2

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  23. Swissv2

    Swissv2 Hall of Fame

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    When did Federer mention this?
     
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  24. rkelley

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    I don't know if I see the ball impact the stringbed or not, but I know that when I watch the ball all the way to my racquet, regardless of whether or not I see the last foot or two of travel, I always hit better than when I find my focus about at about 5-10 feet out.

    I always say to myself, "Watch the ball. There's nothing happening out here that's more interesting." Sometimes I actually do it.
     
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  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Not me, I can watch until the ball get's over the net, then everything is decided.
    For most serves, I actually don't look at the ball.
    OTOH, I'm a pretty bad tennis player for my potential.
     
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  26. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    To me it is more mental than technical. The hard part is to resist the urge or reflex to look up to see your result. It is almost philosophical; you have to let go of the result, and focus on the proces (to get the best result). Every time a shot is harder or more exiting, like going for a winner, it gets more difficult. Focus on the ball, not the result.
    Another distraction to handle, is the urge to use too much attention on what your opponent is doing...
     
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  27. Chyeaah

    Chyeaah Professional

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    Watching the ball is hard work...
     
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  28. epiczeko

    epiczeko New User

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    Thats because its not a regular groundstroke. He is hitting a return of serve here so the ball must be traveling fast. Seeing that its going to his forehand, its likely a first serve and obviously very fast and difficult to watch all the way even for Mr. Federer (but im sure he could do it if he tried and thought about it). You will rarely see him not tracking the ball all the way to the string bed and keeping his eyes on the contact point even after the ball has been struck.
     
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  29. Playnice

    Playnice Guest

    I find that watching the ball all the way to impact is very useful and produces better strokes. I see it as a "still picture", others describe it as seeing the ball slow, seeing the ball bigger, or as Agassi put it "I hit the ball when it stops". Watching the ball hit the strings on the serve is extremely helpful in my experience and for my students as well.
     
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  30. Thepowerofchoice

    Thepowerofchoice Semi-Pro

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  31. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    When a high speed serve reaches the returner, it is probably going 50-65 mph. A player at the net might have to deal with balls speeds higher than this at times. For ball speeds somewhat less than 30 mph, however, its is still doubtful that Federer or anyone else can see the ball all the way into the stringbed.

    I have seen a couple of high-speed videos of Roger that show his gaze at the contact point slightly before the ball gets there -- his eyes jump ahead to the contact point. That means his eyes are not really following the ball at that point. During/after contact, his eyes are still not following the ball for a while.

    Yes, these little tricks can be very useful. Are you certain about the Agassi quote? I was under the impression that Andre stopped following the ball just before it became "invisible" -- as if he was taking a snapshot shortly before contact. If you look at pics of Andre it appear that he is looking slightly ahead of the CP. (Note: he does keep his head still for a while tho').

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
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  32. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I have been paying some attention to this since this thread was started. First of all, I hit the ball MUCH better when I watch it all the way to the racquet.

    I find that I see the ball clearly all the way to the racquet. However the racquet itself is just a blur as it comes through the hitting area, so no I don't actually see it hit the strings. I believe for that to happen your eyes would need to follow the racquet as it moves forward, and that would not be good for your tennis.
     
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  33. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ It's an illusion. Your brain is filling in missing visual info.
     
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  34. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I see what I see.
     
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  35. papa

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    Well, I think most have concluded that we see only 20 - 30 frames per second. I often place quite a few balls on the court, several feet apart, to try to indicate this.
     
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  36. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Ok, you apparently possess a bionic visual system that is capable of smooth pursuit velocities much greater than 90 degrees/sec.

    When returning moderately easy balls on a hitting wall, I can often see the ball all the way or nearly all the way to my contact point. But then the ball slows down when it hits the wall and again when it bounces (in addition to the air drag losses in flight). However, when returning moderately fast balls on the court, my eyes are incapable of smooth (pursuit) tracking all the way.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
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  37. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    The still picture, or photograph concept is good for me. "Photograph" the ball the instant before (or as?) you hit it. And that photograph should be of the ball in your strike zone
    You should at least look at it until it is too late to change the stroke.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
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  38. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I've seen the ball hit the strings, but that is a rare. I don't know what I do differently when that happens, but I can identify the spot on the racket that the blur hit.

    Mostly, I have no recollection of ever seeing the ball hit the strings and have no idea if I'm even looking at the racket at contact.

    As I understand it, the eyes don't have the ability to track a ball moving at high speeds close to the body. It isn't really that the ball is invisible, which would explain why if you aren't smoothly tracking it, it is sometimes possible to see the ball impact off the racket bed, which I've definitely seen happen.
     
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  39. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Ever try this under a strobe light?
     
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  40. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    It's not about seeing the ball hit the strings, it's about keeping your head still through your stroke.
     
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  41. SoBad

    SoBad Legend

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    I close my eyes as a hit the ball, especially a fast one.
     
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  42. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    There's truth to that. If you've played for a while, you don't have to try to look at the contact point to hit a ball, much in the same way that you don't have to visually track a ball all the way into your hand to catch it. You get to the point in which you judge where the ball is going to go based on tracking the movement before it gets close to your racket. I knock a lot of blocked overheads into the court without lifting my head up.

    Some pros are not looking at the contact point at contact. Their eyes seem to be focused ahead of the contact point. I think that's what I normally do, but I'm not sure that is optimal.
     
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  43. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Agree with this. Keeping the head still during the forward swing is the most important feature of the Federer vision technique.

    I have done this as a training scheme. It is quite a challenge. However, if you do this for an extended session, you can develop a nasty headache.
     
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  44. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Never did it long enough to get a headache, thank goodness.
     
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