Following the ball with the head.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Kobble, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Everyone has been posting pictures that show Federer following the ball to the contact point with his head. I also noticed JHH does this as well, so I decided to see what the hype is all about and try it myself. I have to say it does something different, I can't explain what actually happens, because I haven't videotaped myself doing it, but I can describe how it felt. It reminds me a lot of the move in golf where the player keeps his head focused on the strike long after the ball has left. I have heard this described as staying down, and it is supposed to improve extension down the line of the shot. When applied to my forehand it felt like the racquet was on line slightly longer, and a feeling of a natural release of the racquet occured smoother and more consistent. It doesn't allow me to see the ball much different, and it shouldn't, because the eyes should track the ball regardless of head movement, but the head working in the opposite direction as the hitting arm comes through seems to have a physiological effect on contact. Actually, I cannot even remember mis-hitting a single ball when applying that technique, and I always mis-hit a few. Has anyone else tried to duplicate the move? What were your results?

    I definitely think this move has some significance, and maybe we can figure it out together. My current guess is that it helps release some tension in the hitting arm.
  2. Chanchai

    Chanchai Semi-Pro

    Apr 28, 2004
    yeah, it's one of those things you'll hear being mentioned here a lot in fact, as well as in general tennis technique discussions.

    As far as I understand it, it just prevents you from unnecessarily moving your shoulders and upper body improperly while hitting (generally before). When you look up, you tend to throw off your technique a bit unless you're really conditioned to control the technique well while moving your head a bit. You can probably videotape yourself and see how your stroke would differ between focusing on the contact spot, or looking up as soon as "you think" the ball is moving (looking up tends to have you turning your head early in fact--which is part of the point).

    In some ways, it's similar (in a weird opposite manner) to having a follow through on your strokes. The follow-through reinforces how smooth your technique is and avoids deceleration (or killing momentum) of the racquet prior to contact, it makes sure you are smooth. Keeping your head down, makes sure your stroke is consistent in general. Because we tend not to be aware of the subtle movements that occur once we move our head and neck around. If we look up, we might mess up the contact zone without realizing it because we've thrown the technique off course a bit (or a lot, depending).

  3. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004

    You have found the Holy Grail to consistency in your strokes.

    It feels different doesnt it? But it does several things, it really helps you to see the ball a little longer and straigthens out your stroke. You suddenly realize you have plenty of time to lift your head after the shot during recovery. You get to see your racquet hit the ball as you followthrough. It helps you to relax more and groove.

    Because you kept your head down a tad longer it allows you to remove distractions easier and helps you to focus better on the next shot.

    Well done and your analogy with golf is perfect!
  4. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Jul 13, 2004
    Very interesting. In golf I actually don't even look at the ball but rather pick out a blade of grass or whatever directly in front of the ball and find it rather easy to consistently keep my head down through the swing. I know this might sound strange but try it if you have problems keeping your shots straight (golf).
  5. mistapooh

    mistapooh Semi-Pro

    Aug 13, 2004
    If you follow the ball to the point of impact, how do you determine where you are hitting your fh? I tried following the ball, and it feels like I'm trying to hit in the dark.... :shock:
  6. finchy

    finchy Professional

    Apr 11, 2004
    ^shouldnt u be able to feel where your point of contact is?

    anyways, keeping your eyes on the ball really does help improve consistent strokes.
  7. BSousa

    BSousa Rookie

    Jul 5, 2004
    heh, after hearing so much about it here I decided to do the same.

    This saturday after one month break from tennis, I had practise, and hell, my shots were all over the place, even my forehand which is rather smooth and consistent. I was seriously pissed. Next day, I had practise again, same situation, so I had nothing to lose, I remember the constant advice from Bill (thanks man) to keep the eyes in the ball even after the contact and man, did I start hitting them like the ball was 10 inches in size. For some reason it also seems to make me incorpurate (sp) my body more in the forehand (I'm actually clearing the floor now) but I have no idea if these things are related.

    Now I keep my eyes on the contact point maybe a bit too much even. When I turn my head the ball is just touching the court on the other side. I may have to improve my recovery a bit to compensate.

    But yes, I recommend everyone to start doing it. It increased my game tenfold. It's a bit hard at first and you really have to think about keeping the eyes there, but I guess as with everything, it comes with practise.


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