What are you looking at when you're at the baseline and your opponent strikes the ball?

randzman

Rookie
What are you looking at when your opponent strikes the ball?

While it might seem to go without saying that one should look at the opponent's racket striking the ball I've found better results, when I am at the baseline, to look through the net at the service line and peripherally see the ball struck.

The reason is that I then don't need to think about refocusing my eyes on the ball when it hits the ground - I need only focus once.

I find when I do this I can see the seams of the ball far more often.

As a result there's less mental confusion if it's blurry ("panic") and more likelihood to see the snapshot of your racket plowing through the ball.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
As beginner, i watched my opponent's arm, shoulder, and hip to guess which side they are hitting at me, FH or BH. As i get a bit better, i looked at more details, things like how open the racquet face is, to guess what kind of shots they are playing. Watching carefully helps, the more information you collect about your opponent, easier it is to get to their shots.
 

chetrbox

Rookie
As beginner, i watched my opponent's arm, shoulder, and hip to guess which side they are hitting at me, FH or BH. As i get a bit better, i looked at more details, things like how open the racquet face is, to guess what kind of shots they are playing. Watching carefully helps, the more information you collect about your opponent, easier it is to get to their shots.
What about when you're at the net in a doubles game. If you know that they're aiming for you at net, does it change what you look at? I find that watching the ball works better for me than watching the racket in that situation, but i'm interested to know if there's better way to stay alert. Maybe I should find out what the close-in fielders in a cricket match are looking at, and try whatever they're doing.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
What about when you're at the net in a doubles game. If you know that they're aiming for you at net, does it change what you look at? I find that watching the ball works better for me than watching the racket in that situation, but i'm interested to know if there's better way to stay alert. Maybe I should find out what the close-in fielders in a cricket match are looking at, and try whatever they're doing.
I still think it kind of apply in double. The ball moves faster than your reaction so if you watch the ball, by the time you put your racquet up, the ball is already out of striking zone.
Therefore, if i can, i try to watch the ball as it hits my racquet :eek:, but not when it was strike.
In double, i guess the first level is trying to deal with whats coming at you.if you can tell whether FH or BH volley , its already a good start.
There are other things though. For example, if your partner hit a weak shot, you should be extra prepared ( i often take a step back if opponent can put away easy balls).
Maybe someone good at double can chime in.
 

RyanRF

Professional
Easy. You are looking at the path of their swing. That, combined with the sound of the ball coming off their racquet, should allow you to figure out exactly what kind of shot is coming at you.
 

undecided

Semi-Pro
Sadly, my eyesight has gone bad with astigmatism and slight cataracts in recent years and all I see across the other side is a blurry image of a person. Glasses help with that but ruin the vision at arm's length which impedes the looking at the ball at impact with racquet strings. Contacts just move around too much.
 

user92626

Legend
Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to the sound.

Not only could I detect the shot, I could also diagnose my opponent's condition through his breathing.
 

snvplayer

Hall of Fame
I don't know if players focus on a single point per se. It's more of capturing the whole scene, the moment the opponent strikes the ball, opponent's stance, position on the baseline, etc. But, you do need to be aware when the opponent is making the contact.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm looking at the ball but to be honest I should be looking at their shoulders at 78+ feet away.
Anticipation of the next shot/reading the shot is another difference between 4.0 and 4.5 I think.
 

Goof

Semi-Pro
Everything. Every piece of data you can use for input will help you with your anticipation. If you focus on one thing, you'll miss the forest for the trees.
 

TnsGuru

Professional
I know that if I watch the ball come off my opponents racket, I read and react right away vs reacting when the ball is about to cross the net. By the time the ball passes the net you will be in a defensive position and will have to really scramble to get into place

Learning to read racket prep and stances my opponent uses gives me a better idea of what's coming rather than guessing. I do this also when returning serve, I watch the ball come off the servers hand and track the ball into impact and to me it slows down the ball, at least in my eyes and I can anticipate where it will go. Subconciously you will pick up on servers tendencies as you perfect this.

Track the ball with your eyes and not your head and use your peripheral vision when hitting your strokes. Head movement on your part increases the chances you will mishit. It takes some time to perfect this technique to watch and track the ball but it will save your legs in the long run and your anticipation improves. I used to get away with my leg speed when I was younger but now that I am older I get to more tennis balls, not because I am faster, but because I read and anticipate better.
 
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5263

G.O.A.T.
What are you looking at when your opponent strikes the ball?

While it might seem to go without saying that one should look at the opponent's racket striking the ball I've found better results, when I am at the baseline, to look through the net at the service line and peripherally see the ball struck.

The reason is that I then don't need to think about refocusing my eyes on the ball when it hits the ground - I need only focus once.

I find when I do this I can see the seams of the ball far more often.

As a result there's less mental confusion if it's blurry ("panic") and more likelihood to see the snapshot of your racket plowing through the ball.
you should be looking at the nature of his swing and contact for indications of what type shot he is hitting.
 
Since I've played for over 30 years, I unconsciously look and analyze hips, shoulder, racket prep, glance at the eyes to see if he is looking anywhere, swingpath, etc. I can usually create a mental V that starts at the ball and goes out in a V shape forward "mapping" the possible places the ball could go. I use this to anticipate where the ball is going next, especially if I am at the net. I also compile information as a match goes on, usually after a set I can anticipate shots pretty easily.

I do have one friend that hits twohanded off both sides and open stance, I can never guess where he is going based on his shoulders and hips, frustrating.

I reccomend trying this, people usually give clues where they will hit, look to hips and shoulders, they wont usually hit a shot that requires them to contort their body in unexpected ways or go against their preparation.
 
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