How to watch the ball?

One of the very first blogs that I wrote was about the importance of ‘watching the ball’

Yes, I believe it is the most neglected tip in tennis.

Most players don’t watch the ball. They just see the ball – or watching something like the ball.

Let me ask you a question: does the ball rotate on a ball toss for the serve? How much?

Can you do the ball toss and check?

Answer: …..

It does rotate, right?

Now, honestly, how many times have you noticed the rotation on the ball toss while serving ?!!

It has always been there, but we haven’t managed to watch it.

Surely we are not watching the ball…

And one thing is for certain- even though most of us watch the ball coming to us – we don’t watch the ball in the last two or three feet that it travels.

How many times do you remember watching the ball all the way to the racket?

Do you see the ball hitting the racket at contact?

Very few actually do it… and those very few are the tennis champions.

Here’s one champion doing it.


Here’s another Master doing it.

Photo: Reuters


Are you doing it?

The question is how to start watching the ball?

I am sure we have been told innumerable times to watch the ball.

But somehow our habit of not watching it till the last moment stays on.

Here’s one excellent drill to get yourself to watch the ball.

It is from ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ by W. Timothy Galleway

It is called ‘Bounce-hit’.

Here’s what you have to do:

During practice, call out ‘Bounce’ exactly when the ball bounces on your side of the court.

Call out ‘Hit’ exactly when the ball makes contact with you racket.

Call them out loudly.

Call them out exactly in time – neither earlier nor later.

Bounce – hit.

The objective is to watch the ball hitting the court and coming to the racket and in the process calling out ‘bounce’ and ‘hit’ exactly in time. That is the objective of this drill – nothing else. No focus on technique or anything else.

All you have to do is to call “bounce”- “hit” correctly.

Remember ‘bounce – hit’ is not a command. It is just an observation – that the ball has bounced and I have hit.

You may also replace bounce- hit with one- two. No issue.

Start doing bounce- hit first for the balls that land on your side of the court.

Then as you gain confidence, call out bounce –hit for the ball that bounces on the opponent’s side. This will get you to focus more on the ball; will lead to better precision.

And in case you have to hit the ball out of the air – without letting it bounce, you have to call out –hit’ and skip calling out ‘bounce’.

Try it out.

You will need incredible amount of will-power to make it work.

Let me assure you it is well worth it… you will love the results.

I have been doing this drill with my students and the results have been fantastic.

Try it out and let me know the results.

Your comments welcome!

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