Any tips on watching the ball?

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#1
Any tips on "forcing" me to watch the ball as I hit? Look up too soon - especially on big points.
I don't seem to have a cure - other than cursing myself everytime I catch myself doing it. Of course, cursing only exacerbates the situation.
 
#3
What is the head size of your racquet? Depending on the shot, make sure you’re following through also. Timing is everything in tennis. Practicing hitting in a non competitive atmosphere can also help you. In a game we can all tense up and miss shots. If you’re hitting with a partner, a wall, ball machine can concentrate on connecting with the sweet spot on your racquet.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#6
Let me try again - I know I should watch the ball but I keep forgetting to do it. Is there anything that can be done (specific drill or routine etc) that makes me do it all the time...
 
#7
You need to make a conscious effort to keep your head still, even after the ball has left your racquet. There's actually no point to look forward, you don't need to look at the target to aim the ball there. You already know your court position and the dimensions of the court. All you have to do is look at the ball and decide which part of the ball you want to make contact with.
 
#8
You need to make a conscious effort to keep your head still, even after the ball has left your racquet. There's actually no point to look forward, you don't need to look at the target to aim the ball there. You already know your court position and the dimensions of the court. All you have to do is look at the ball and decide which part of the ball you want to make contact with.
And also at what phase of your turn in order to direct the ball as desired.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 
#9
Let me try again - I know I should watch the ball but I keep forgetting to do it. Is there anything that can be done (specific drill or routine etc) that makes me do it all the time...
If you lose focus, it shall result loss of eyesight. You need to do conscious effort to forfeit all other targets, but concentrate to track the ball at all times.

It is a long way, and even a minor lack of concentration will result you to either stop tracking the ball with your eyes or close them, while you hit.

Have you seen Djoker roll his eyes during a match between points? Do the same, if you tend to have loose focus.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 
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#10
One thing I've done to work on this, and it's been a big focus for me lately, is to spend a period of time watching the ball all the times not just when it's coming. Watch the ball as your opponent is bouncing it before the serve, watch it before they hit it, watch as it comes over the net, watch after you hit it, watch as they go pick it up and hit it again. Try and see the spin on the ball at all these times. You can only do this for so long before you go nuts, so just try it for a few minutes at a time. It's just an eye training exercise, it helps with concentration and focus. I think it's important to not only see the ball but to see it spinning - then you're totally keyed in. After doing this for awhile I feel like it's much easier to watch the ball as I hit it. It starts to feel natural.

The other thing is tell myself to watch until I see the swoosh of the racket - then I can look up.
 
#11
if you see the ball hit the net... you didn't keep your head down on the contact point long enough.
and if you literally "watch the ball" (ie. and diligently watch it after contact) 99% of us MUST lift our head up early (ie. before contact), in order to follow the ball trajectory off our strings.
so don't "watch the ball"..
instead, "watch the ball into contact, and don't watch the ball leave contact" (ie. don't peak to the other side to see where you hit it - because then you're guaranteed not to hit it as well as you could have, and for sure it's not gonna go where you think it will go, which is why you're peaking to see where it went, to figure out where you need to run to - whew that was a mouthful)
 
#20
Mine is bounce - choke - hit too hard on the rim - get tendonitis.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
Hello Mr Pete ... saw you were still fighting the hamstring recovery. Sorry to hear that ... but excuse for more meds ;)
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#22
What is the head size of your racquet? Depending on the shot, make sure you’re following through also. Timing is everything in tennis. Practicing hitting in a non competitive atmosphere can also help you. In a game we can all tense up and miss shots. If you’re hitting with a partner, a wall, ball machine can concentrate on connecting with the sweet spot on your racquet.
Wilson Blade 98, rpm blast. How does the head size of the racket matter? I know my head size and what's in it matters a lot...
 

Nostradamus

Talk Tennis Guru
#25
Just wow, seriously. I need to look at this pic a few times each and everyday.
my point was that look at the ball, it has already left his racket and yet Federer's head is still fixed and steady on the spot where the ball was. This is how you get the Balance and focus you need be consistent powerful shots on the run and standing still as well.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#26
my point was that look at the ball, it has already left his racket and yet Federer's head is still fixed and steady on the spot where the ball was. This is how you get the Balance and focus you need be consistent powerful shots on the run and standing still as well.
Yes, agreed 100 pct. The "project focus" begins with a picture.
 

Kevo

Hall of Fame
#29
Any tips on "forcing" me to watch the ball as I hit? Look up too soon - especially on big points.
I don't seem to have a cure - other than cursing myself everytime I catch myself doing it. Of course, cursing only exacerbates the situation.
Well, forcing it won't work. Unfortunately this is a habit that many of us build early on when we don't know any better and we work at correcting it time and time again.

There is no quick fix for bad habits. You just have to train the new habit. Use a wall, ball machine, or hitting partner and make it your only focus to finish each stroke before looking for the next ball to come. I've had good success using the wall for this type of practice. You need to do this regularly, daily or every other day preferably, for 2-3 weeks probably. Then you should be pretty successful at it. The final step is going to be getting some match play in. Hopefully real matches with players at your level that you don't play against very often. You want to make finishing strokes before looking up your main goal in these matches. Keep it front and center of your mind all the way through and try not to get caught up in the score or how well your serve is working, etc. You need to build the new habit under match stress. You'll want to try and get a bunch of matches in over a few weeks and stick with this goal until you can start counting the number of times you don't finish the stroke before looking on one hand. When that happens you have pretty much succeeded in your goal. The trick going forward from there is to recognize any time the old habit starts to creep back in and when it does you have to get on top of it fast because it will want to sneak back in as soon as you take your mind off it.
 
#31
I read this one a long time ago. How to notice when you've started taking your eye off the ball. What happens is you aren't getting it one the sweet spot. Can you feel the difference? Once you get that feel, right away, think, "Oops, I've got to start watching the ball again."
 

Curious

Hall of Fame
#33
Well, forcing it won't work. Unfortunately this is a habit that many of us build early on when we don't know any better and we work at correcting it time and time again.

There is no quick fix for bad habits. You just have to train the new habit. Use a wall, ball machine, or hitting partner and make it your only focus to finish each stroke before looking for the next ball to come. I've had good success using the wall for this type of practice. You need to do this regularly, daily or every other day preferably, for 2-3 weeks probably. Then you should be pretty successful at it. The final step is going to be getting some match play in. Hopefully real matches with players at your level that you don't play against very often. You want to make finishing strokes before looking up your main goal in these matches. Keep it front and center of your mind all the way through and try not to get caught up in the score or how well your serve is working, etc. You need to build the new habit under match stress. You'll want to try and get a bunch of matches in over a few weeks and stick with this goal until you can start counting the number of times you don't finish the stroke before looking on one hand. When that happens you have pretty much succeeded in your goal. The trick going forward from there is to recognize any time the old habit starts to creep back in and when it does you have to get on top of it fast because it will want to sneak back in as soon as you take your mind off it.
But is it really worth spending all that time and effort to achieve it?! Will you really get some significant gains at the end? Where is the evidence except Federer and some internet forum speculation? Ok there is some trolling and provocation but could i still have a point?!:D
 
#34
But is it really worth spending all that time and effort to achieve it?! Will you really get some significant gains at the end? Where is the evidence except Federer and some internet forum speculation? Ok there is some trolling and provocation but could i still have a point?!:D
Tennis isn't the most important thing.

It's the ONLY thing!
 

Curious

Hall of Fame
#37
Can I suggest something? If your chin doesn't touch and rest on the right shoulder when the ball left your racket , watching the ball and keeping head steady did not happen.
 
#42
... but head is too far in front of the ball,, eye needs to focus on the ball and stay there til after ball is hit
Don't agree. First, elite players are NOT focusing on the ball when it is this close. Players, like Federer and Nadal, are focusing on the contact zone (or contact point), not on the ball. In almost all situations, players can no longer actually see the ball when this close. Players, even elite players, will almost never see the ball on their strings. Our smooth pursuit (visual) tracking system is incapable of picking up the event in most situations.

Andre Agassi would fix his gaze a bit forward of the contact zone, much like we see in Jolly's image. Djokovic appears to be looking forward of the contact zone in some instances but has his gaze fixed directly on the contact zone in other instances.

Regardless of exactly where the gaze is fixed during the contact phase, it is important to keep the head (& eyes) quiet (still) -- just before, during, & just after contact.


 

Nostradamus

Talk Tennis Guru
#43
Don't agree. First, elite players are NOT focusing on the ball when it is this close. Players, like Federer and Nadal, are focusing on the contact zone (or contact point), not on the ball. In almost all situations, players can no longer actually see the ball when this close. Players, even elite players, will almost never see the ball on their strings. Our smooth pursuit (visual) tracking system is incapable of picking up the event in most situations.

Andre Agassi would fix his gaze a bit forward of the contact zone, much like we see in Jolly's image. Djokovic appears to be looking forward of the contact zone in some instances but has his gaze fixed directly on the contact zone in other instances.

Regardless of exactly where the gaze is fixed during the contact phase, it is important to keep the head (& eyes) quiet (still) -- just before, during, & just after contact.


novak's just doing the open stance forehand cause he was late on the ball. he didn't have time to turn his shoulder at all so he is hitting open stance forehand. Pros does that cause they have less than 1 second to react to the ball, Amateurs have 2-3 seconds.
 

Kevo

Hall of Fame
#44
But is it really worth spending all that time and effort to achieve it?! Will you really get some significant gains at the end? Where is the evidence except Federer and some internet forum speculation? Ok there is some trolling and provocation but could i still have a point?!:D
Whether it's worth the time or not would be an individual decision. The gains I would argue are quite significant though. The problem with moving your head away from watching the ball at contact is that it moves your stroke along with it. The head is very heavy and very far from your center of gravity, so small movements of the head can cause your whole stroke to shift in space. It can be very disruptive to your consistency and if you do it as a habit it can make a significant difference in how many balls you hit outside the sweet spot or mishit entirely.
 
#45
... my solution anyway

Bounce -> visual snapshot -> hit
The snapshot idea has some merit... if you use it the way that Agassi does. In most cases, he takes his snapshot much closer to his hit than to the preceding bounce. Typically, he is still tracking the ball after the bounce and then fixes his gaze and takes his snapshot when the ball in within a meter or so of his contact.

On very deep balls and/or when hitting on the rise, the bounce is very close to the hit so the visual snapshot is probably at the bounce and immediately after the bounce.


novak's just doing the open stance forehand cause he was late on the ball. he didn't have time to turn his shoulder at all so he is hitting open stance forehand. Pros does that cause they have less than 1 second to react to the ball, Amateurs have 2-3 seconds.
My post had nothing to do with Novak's OS Fh. But, since you brought it up, I am compelled to take issue with your statement here. Prior to hitting the OS Fh, as in the image I posted, Novak almost certainly did turn his shoulders (coiling and then uncoiling his upper torso) prior to making contact. The video below shows this. Check out the 2nd Fh and other FHs in this video

 
#46
Any tips on "forcing" me to watch the ball as I hit? Look up too soon - especially on big points.
I don't seem to have a cure - other than cursing myself everytime I catch myself doing it. Of course, cursing only exacerbates the situation.
I'll repeat 2 ideas that, I believe, have already been suggested. One, is to wait until after you see the blur of your racket come thru the contact zone to lift your head/eyes to follow the ball. No need to follow the outgoing ball before it has crossed the net.

Another idea is to wait until your back shoulder comes forward to (meet) your chin before lifting/moving your head to follow the outgoing ball. Of course, this does not apply to the 1-handed Bh or the volley.

Tons of repetition should help to make this a habit. Practice not moving your head early. Do it with shadow swings (with eyes open & with eyes closed), with easy self feeds, with wall hitting or with hitting on a ball machine.

Execute the following drill often. Stand about 25-30 feet or 8-10 meters from the back or side fence. Hit balls into the fence. Resist the temptation to look up until you hear the sound of the ball hitting the fence. If you see the ball hit the fence, then you've moved you head too early.

Rinse and repeat often.
 
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#47
The snapshot idea has some merit... if you use it the way that Agassi does. In most cases, he takes his snapshot much closer to his hit than to the preceding bounce. Typically, he is still tracking the ball after the bounce and then fixes his gaze and takes his snapshot when the ball in within a meter or so of his contact.

On very deep balls and/or when hitting on the rise, the bounce is very close to the hit so the visual snapshot is probably at the bounce and immediately after the bounce.




My post had nothing to do with Novak's OS Fh. But, since you brought it up, I am compelled to take issue with your statement here. Prior to hitting the OS Fh, as in the image I posted, Novak almost certainly did turn his shoulders (coiling and then uncoiling his upper torso) prior to making contact. The video below shows this. Check out the 2nd Fh and other FHs in this video

Bounce -> visual snapshot -> hit

"if you use it the way that Agassi does. In most cases, he takes his snapshot much closer to his hit than to the preceding bounce."

Yes, this what I mean ... not "snapshot at bounce" ... but "snapshot at the moment of commitment to swing at back of slot ... right when shoulder turn starts forward". And yes ... the timing of your shoulder turn forward varies from normal rally balls and short hopping bounce near baseline.

This isn't theory with my game ... it actually works. My normal mode is watching the ball (or not) is muscle memory ... don't think about it. Run to ball ... hit it. :cool: I rarely shank, and I have a consistent wear pattern (center to tip, center to upper edge (too many topspin FHs hit near upper edge). FYI ... slow motion video of pros at contact shows they hit the ball all over the stringbed ... always center is a myth. They make racquets GOOD!!! these days. Not even Fed or Nadal can swing with that much low to high and hit center every swing. Also ... more toward the tip seems to be a quality hit.

Where was I? ... oh, visual snapshot. Some ball machine sessions ... and now hitting with people :D again ... I have bad patches where I am missing "acceptable contact point on strings" more than usual. Every single time by simply saying "bounce ... snapshot" in my head, I clean up contact (again for me ... never going to be a dead center player". Now ... we often probably don't recognize some swing thoughts cues make us do more than we realize. I think I take a visual snapshot and that is the end of my "watching the ball". It could be by taking that visual snapshot at that moment, I also inherit more tracking closer to contact. Maybe ... but definitely not trying to see contact ... I don't think we can.

My guess is we are all doing this visual snapshot at moment of commitment ... but just like our feet we aren't perfect every time.

Edit: you can't try and watch ball to contact without also watching moment of commitment spot ... just sayin. ;)

Edit: whoa ... just realized my snapshot isn't at back of slot ... but top of backswing right before drop. I will have to experiment and see if that can be back of slot.
 
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Kevo

Hall of Fame
#49
Also ... more toward the tip seems to be a quality hit.
I would argue that more toward the tip is probably the wrong direction to go with your contact. The sweet spot is sweeter down low on most if not all frames, and I also tend to hit higher in the string bed on many occasions, but I find that trying to move that contact down a couple inches makes for much sweeter shots. Even my serves are a bit sweeter when I catch them just a little lower which tends to go against the typical advice I've seen. However, if you look up your frame on TWU and check out the power potential you'll see there is some evidence to back up the lower is better philosophy.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#50
I would argue that more toward the tip is probably the wrong direction to go with your contact. The sweet spot is sweeter down low on most if not all frames, and I also tend to hit higher in the string bed on many occasions, but I find that trying to move that contact down a couple inches makes for much sweeter shots. Even my serves are a bit sweeter when I catch them just a little lower which tends to go against the typical advice I've seen. However, if you look up your frame on TWU and check out the power potential you'll see there is some evidence to back up the lower is better philosophy.
It's one of those things that doesn't pan out in real life for me.

J
 
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