How To Watch The Ball
By: Andrew S. Rosz
South Florida Professional
Tennis Instruction, USA
WHAT YOU SHOULD OBSERVE WHEN WATCHING THE BALL COMING TOWARD YOU
- The speed of the ball
- The spin placed on the shot (if any)
- The height of the ball as it clears the net
STUDY the ball as it comes toward you. Learn to predict where it will bounce and how it
will bounce. Ultimately, by observing and analyzing the speed, spin, and height of each
ball, you can learn to quickly "compute" where the ball will bounce and how high
the ball will bounce. Once you learn to QUICKLY anticipate where and how the ball will
bounce, you will also decrease your "reaction time" thus providing you with more
time to prepare for the next shot.
TECHNIQUES FOR SUCCESSFULLY WATCHING THE BALL
- Begin to intensely watch the ball as soon as it bounces off your opponent's strings.
- Your concentration level should be highest as the ball is coming toward you (not when
the ball is going away from you as previously discussed). The closer it gets, the more
intensely you should concentrate on watching (following) the ball.
- Watch the ball all the way into your strings. That is, watch the ball actually hit your
strings. This technique is often difficult for the novice to learn, but with sufficient
practice, it can be mastered.
- Rotate your head (not your eyeballs) when watching the ball come toward you. Lock your
eyeballs firmly in their sockets while sharply rotating your head as the ball approaches
your strings near the 3 o'clock position. This technique is essential in learning how to
watch the ball actually hit your strings as discussed in technique #3 above.
- Allow your eyes to relax and ease off your concentration as the ball leaves your
strings. You need this time of mental relaxation in order to effectively concentrate on
watching the next ball.
To summarize proper ball watching technique; begin watching the ball as soon as it
bounces off your opponent's strings... intensely watch the ball as it approaches your
strings... watch the ball actually hit your strings... then relax your eyes as the ball
moves away from you.
- Keep your eyeballs locked in your head and watch your racket head follow through after
impact (as opposed to watching the ball move away from you). In this exercise, the eyes
transfer their focus from the ball... to ball and racket at impact... then to the racket
head as it follows through. This exercise essentially teaches you to "watch your
stroke" as an awareness development exercise. It will also train you to slow your
stroke down; the first step in developing smooth and consistent strokes.
- Watch the ball actually hit your strings and notice the degree of racket pitch at
impact. This exercise will help you develop your awareness of racket pitch.
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