Watching the ball...?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Kana Himezaki, Jun 12, 2005.

  1. Kana Himezaki

    Kana Himezaki Semi-Pro

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    I've been telling people for a while that watching the ball is essential. It helps with concentration, and you need to be able to identify the spin and trajectory of the ball.

    It's logical, and the worldwide generally accepted way of teaching.

    When playing though yesterday, I was just relaxing. It was just a fun match with a friend. I took my eye OFF the ball, and...

    had my eyes stay completely focused in one spot -my contact zone. Where I wanted to meet the ball.

    I looked at the ball, generally got the idea of where it was going to, and then just focused completely on the contact zone. And my shots were GOLD. Fricking AWESOME. :D

    Then I go out and try it again. Playing really well doesn't happen everyday, right? I focus on the contact zone -my shots are STILL gold. Hell, they're cooler I am. :p Not that that's hard, but I was still "in the zone".

    So, if you read this, try it. I want to see if it works for others, or it's just a fluke for me.

    Possible reasons I see for the improvement include:

    -Keeping the head still and focused on contact. A still head during the swing has already been stated everywhere to be beneficial.
    -The ball is a moving object. When you're focusing completely on the ball the entire time, your eyes have to keep adjusting.
    -You STILL keep the boost in concentration because you're focusing simply on one thing.


    So the ball came into my contact zone and line of vision, and I just pushed through it. And it worked for me, at least the first two times. I'll try it again today.

    PLEASE try this, let me know if it helps any.
     
    #1
  2. akj27

    akj27 Banned

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    it helps, k
     
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  3. enk

    enk New User

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    My first experience occurred while I was rallying with my wife about a year ago. During the last 10 minutes of our court time, I struck a solid clean forehand by focusing solely on the contact point. I feel very relax and my swing is very smooth and effortless. I was able to see the ball coming in to the contact point on one end and my racquet swinging into the contact on the other. I was able to maintain 'in the zone' by focusing on the contact point for the rest of our court time, hitting cleanly off both wings.

    While I try to do the same a few days later, it somehow doesn't work as well. May be I got distracted or I'm pushing the idea too much.

    The second time around is when I saw this site which propose a similar suggestion (with an explanation on why it works):

    http://www.arete-sports.com/index.shtml

    They suggest you to use your 'focused vision' on the contact zone alone. You have to learn to 'see your opponent' with your peripheral vision. I tried it but still couldn't get that magic like the first time.

    I haven't tried it since but I guess I'll give it another try in these few days.

    Kana, keep us posted on your 3rd try.
     
    #3
  4. Kana Himezaki

    Kana Himezaki Semi-Pro

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    Enk - I did try it today. :D I didn't get as good results, I didn't seem to be as in the zone.

    But I was playing better than usual. It helped greatly in simply managing the still head. I only had about 45 minutes worth of testing. It seemed like you said, I might have been just distracted or taking it too far.

    The site is interesting, I'm reading the article about it there now.

    But while I didn't get the same results as before, I was still playing better than usual. Hopefully more time with this will let me work it out a bit.

    Keep me posted on your progress, too.
     
    #4
  5. krnboijunsung

    krnboijunsung Semi-Pro

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    It won't always work, just by the fact that the ball won't ALWAYS come by your contact zone.
     
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  6. finchy

    finchy Professional

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    do note that on all strokes you should keep your head still. sure watching the ball is good advice, but what it really makes you do it keep your head steady. and by keeping your head steady you gain a more consistent shot. it prevents your upper body from lifting and causing a mis-hit or error. roger federer is a prime example of this.
     
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  7. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    That is it finchy. Braden used to always say to us it is impossible to watch the ball into the strings. I forget the distance he used but I think it was about five feet before impact - you technically are legally blind from seeing the ball. It is a blur.

    The point of watching the ball into the strings is not to see it but to keep the head from moving and altering the racquet path you decided on to make clean contact.
     
    #7
  8. kian

    kian New User

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    Wait, when you say contact zone, do you mean the sweetspot of the racket or what?

    I'm confused.
     
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  9. enk

    enk New User

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    Contact zone is the area(space?) where the ball eventually MEETS your racquet.

    Sweetspot refers to an area on your string bed.

    The idea is to focus on the contact zone before actual ball contact.
     
    #9
  10. redtennis55

    redtennis55 Rookie

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    When i tried this i frequently looked up out of habit. Any tips to stop this (except more practice, I'm already going to do that)
     
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  11. enk

    enk New User

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    At which stage did you looked up ?
    when the ball is going to the other side ?
    when your opponent hits the ball ?
    when the ball is coming back over ?
    when the ball bounce on your side?
    when you swing ?

    The generally accepted method of 'seeing the ball to contact' suggest you to track and focus on the moving ball up to contact. (Although I agree that you will never see the ball contact).

    The 'focus on the contact zone' method suggest to you stay focus on an area that the ball WILL eventually pass through without tracking the moving ball.

    With both of these methods, you should NOT be looking up at all when the ball is on your side of the court.

    The site I mentioned in the previous post suggest you NOT to look at your opponent even when the ball is on their side which I find difficult too.

    The way I do it is more or less like what Kana does.

    I'll see my opponent hit the ball. Once I am sure enough of where and how this ball will bounce, I stopped tracking the ball and focus on the 'expected' contact zone.

    I'll suggest you to try it out with a partner doing cooperative rally (say cross court FH) to get the hang of it first. I would probably stay focus on the contact zone a little while longer after contact too (ala Federer) just to get use to it.

    Also, please post your observation and findings when you ty this method. Thanks. ;)
     
    #11
  12. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    No this isn't a fluke that just works for you - the concept has been around for quite a while - excellent observation though.

    Although it has its pitfalls its a fairly solid concept assuming one knows and can calculate the bounce, spin, pace, etc. You'll find it works very well when hitting with someone because the brain can make all the "right" calculations a high percentage of the time.
     
    #12
  13. sandro

    sandro Semi-Pro

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    Kana, I've tried but didn't worked for me. Still, best results WATCHING on its entire path from my opponent's racquet to mine. THEN I stop watching it and only focus to recover the right position and get ready to move.
     
    #13
  14. TheGreatBernie

    TheGreatBernie Rookie

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    Federer seems to keep his head still while following through and focuses on the point of contact. He doesn't look where the ball goes until his stroke is pretty much complete.
     
    #14
  15. Marius_Hancu

    Marius_Hancu G.O.A.T.

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    #15
  16. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    But wouldn't you agree MH, that "not" watching the ball can lead to real trouble especially if your playing on Har Tru where the bounce is not exactly predictable? I also think, especially for those new to the game, that advising them "not" to watch the ball can/will lead to bad results because they "assume" that they don't have to track the ball at all.
     
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  17. Marius_Hancu

    Marius_Hancu G.O.A.T.

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    Who has mentioned not the watch the ball?
    Pls check the thread there.
     
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  18. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    How about the fourth or fifth line of the original post.
     
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  19. sandro

    sandro Semi-Pro

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    #19
  20. GugaGuga

    GugaGuga Rookie

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    If you look at pro pictures, you will find that many of them do not have their eyes directly on the ball. This has also been researched in sports like baseball. The fact is that you are trying to judge where the ball will be at the contact point, which is not the same thing as just watching the ball. Your brain guages where the ball will be based on its direction and velocity--to guage the ball's velocity requires that the eyes also watch your surroundings--make sense?. Guaging velocity requires more input just the balls location--remember your high school physics?

    I never solely focus on the ball. Remember that you also have to be aware of where you are going to hit the ball as well as where you are on the court. There is a lot of information to absorb.

    Use the force! Let your brain absorb all of this information in its own natural way. You won't have to think about it. Your brain will just do it, if you trust it. Often, the more I think about it, the more I throw myself out of whack.

    I try to focus on rythm. Once I am in rythm, things just seem to start working. Call it "the zone", if you like, but the more you try to force it, the more it won't come.
     
    #20
  21. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    I close my eyes really tight and swing for all I'm worth. What helps me is ... I find that sticking out my tongue is the trick! The farther out, the better the shot.

    Try it, Kana. Let me know....

    - KK
     
    #21
  22. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    There are times to NOT watch the ball.
    I am better served taking my primary concentration off the ball during the opponent's backswing, especially on an approach to the net.
    Trying to keep one's eye on the ball during the service motion is a terrible mistake and will often be the CAUSE of a ball served into the net.
     
    #22

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