Hi guys Nick here from Intuitive Tennis. Can we actually see the ball touching the strings and coming off the strings when
we hit a forehand or a backhand? Check out today’s video and find out. We have all
seen Roger Federer hit his forehand hundreds of times and what Federer does
it’s something that’s very unusual. Federer will keep his head head down at
the contact point well after the ball has left the racquet and sometimes until
the racquet who goes about right here Roger Federer will still have his head
down at the contact point. So what is Roger doing there? Is he watching the
ball touch his strings? Absolutely not and there’s absolutely no way a human being
can see a ball on the strings that last maybe 2 to 5 milliseconds. It’s simply
too fast for the human eye to see. So how do I know that Roger Federer cannot see
the ball when it makes contact? Well, I know because we have all done shots as such
as between the legs or behind the back where we make clean contact and yet
there’s absolutely no way we can see the ball we’re not looking down at the ball
when we hit it between the legs and we’re not looking back here and when we
do a shot behind the back like this. We simply line up the ball perfectly
because that’s a very important element of tennis is tracking the ball perfectly
and setting up for the ball and when it comes to the strike we do this almost
blindly. If we take the best players from the last ten years the big four Andy
Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Roger Federer is the only
player that will keep his head down at the contact well after the ball has already been struck. If you look at Novak Djokovic he does it the exact opposite
way and Novak Djokovic doesn’t even appear to be watching the ball at all.
His head is actually looking forward like this as he makes contact. Rafael Nadal
and Andy Murray will look down at the contact zone and then the head will
follow the racquet like this. Keeping the head down at the ball well
after contact could be a problem for some players. Federer has one of the best
forehands in the history of the game but it doesn’t mean that this forehand and the
way he keeps his head down at the ball can work for other players. If you think
of the contact point on the forehand. The way we made contact is with the dominant
shoulder in front that is the optimal contact point on the forehand. It is a
very open contact point because we already started the rotation and by the
time we made contact it is somewhere around here and then we just continue
this rotation. So if we are rotating towards the left and backwards if we
keep our head down at the contact. See this is kind of inhibiting in this
rotation if you look at it from this angle. Keeping my head down here would
inhibit my rotation and I would rotate less. Well Federer,
even though his head is down he still rotates a lot and you see the other
players such as Andy Murray, Nadal and Djokovic rotate the same way as Federer
but they do not inhibit their rotation because their head follows the ball as
they finish towards their left or the right in Nadal’s case. On the one-
handed and the two-handed backhand it is quite different, because when we make
contact on the one-handed backhand we are in a sideways position. So in a
sideways position the head naturally will stay down at the level of the ball
much longer and there’s a lot less rotation then there is on the
forehand. If we look at the two-handed backhand there’s more rotation than on
the one-hander, but still the dominant shoulder will be in front of
the non-dominant shoulder and so our head and it will not be as open as it
would be on the forehand. If we compare this to the lefty forehand the contact
will be here and so if I keep my head down this would be a difficult thing for
some players. On a two-handed backhand see my left shoulder is a little
bit behind my right shoulder at contact and therefore and my head naturally will
stay down on this side a little bit longer to about right here and then it
will come up as I finish like this. I have a fun exercise that you can try
next time you’re on the practice court basically you can make contact with the
ball with your eyes closed and I guarantee you your stroke is not going
to change one bit. You’ll still hit the ball clean you’re
not gonna frame it so you track the ball perfectly and then as you are about to
make contact you close your eyes and then keep them closed and open them up
and you’ll see you’ll hit a forehand just like any other and it’s exactly
what I’m gonna demonstrate now. I’m gonna try a few forehands with my eyes closed.
You take a look at my eyes at contact you can see that nothing changes the contact
is clean as always. The eyes are closed and I’m actually keeping my head down at
the ball only so you can see my eyes being closed I’m gonna do the Djokovic forehand now where I look forward to actually framed one with my eyes open
how weird is that. I look forward and I don’t worry about the contact it’s gonna
be there. Again eyes forward and it helps my rotation actually. So you track the
ball perfectly line it up and just strike it. Next time when you’re on the court try
closing your eyes. You’re gonna find something very
interesting and the ball will not change whatsoever. If you are comfortable with keeping your
head down at the ball and if it doesn’t inhibit your rotation then don’t worry
about it and continue doing this type of stroke. If you feel like the head down at
the ball inhibits your rotation then do it the Djokovic style. Have your head
follow the ball as the ball leaves the racquet. I’m not advocating to not watch the ball
tracking the ball and watching the ball is one of the most important things in
tennis you must watch the ball to pick up whether it’s gonna be short or deep
how much penetration the ball is gonna have and how wide it’s gonna be how high
or low it’s gonna be and these things are very important if not crucial to
have a successful shot, but I’m just simply stating that the forehand and
backhand is executed at a very high speed and we simply cannot see the ball
on the string as it leaves our racquet Does this apply to the recreational
level as well? Yes it does even at the rec level the forehands are still
struck at let’s say 50 60 70 miles an hour and it’s still too fast for the
human eye to see. So you must realize that as much as you try to see the ball
you know leave the strings and some players even try to see the ball through
the strings as they hit it it’s simply not gonna happen and it’s pretty much a
waste of time and much more better practice is to track the ball better to
try to read the ball better try to figure out how this ball is gonna come
to you and set it up perfectly and when it’s time to hit the ball and just
strike it and don’t worry about it it lets your intuition play a little bit
and you will make contact cleanly more often than you think. Thank you guys for
watching this video. Please leave a comment in the section below I will be
happy to respond. Hit that like button and please subscribe if you haven’t
already. I’ll see you next time

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Dennis Veasley

19 thoughts on “Watch The Ball?”

  1. This was one of the first things I myself started to learn when I first started playing tennis now I just hit the ball as clean as roger.

  2. For me the watching of the ball is more about an initial tracking of the ball path, a sharp focus on it after the bounce and keeping my head still at contact, i.e. delaying to look up. This has improved my ability to produce clean strikes.

  3. Really great video. Thought that trying to 'see' the point of contact was crucial. Now realise that tracking the ball (from the opponents racket) is more important, to give yourself the most time to hit a cleaner shot.
    Many thanks.

  4. Hi i love your videos but there is a lot of stuff that i feel can be left out. We all know that the big 4 are great. We just want to learn how to play and what you are trying to teach us. Short and sweet

  5. I've read, Nick, that the reason we can't see the racquet strike the ball is that, from about 4 feet away, our eyes can not change focus quickly enough to keep a clear image of the ball from that distance as it approaches the racquet head. We don't have the same problem when the ball is much farther away from us as the amount of refocusing necessary is less and is within the eye's ability to manage.

  6. Im not sure how long im watching the contact point, but I think its something between Nadal and Federer, I found it helps me from opening too early and also to stay more stable through the shot, I think many things work best for different players when it comes to this, just like what you said.

  7. I think it's depend on the ball. If the ball come very low you need to watch. if the ball come a bit higher you can look forward and change your raquect direction if your opponent is moving.

  8. Nice video, just a little something to add. Roger is left eye dominant. Whereas Andy is right eye dominant. This plays a major role in head position at contact and this show with head placement. Agreed Roger exaggerates this but if you analyse most players forehand and backhand head positions there will be a difference in head position relative to contact point.

  9. Great vid, but I often hit the ball way too far from the sweet spot, almost framing it, even though i'm trying to watch the ball as long as i can. any tips to get better at this?
    Raoul

  10. Other coaches, online, are stating that if you turn your head during the shot it makes you unconsciously turn your shoulder too early causing you to lose balance. I will give it a try and see how it goes based on your teach. So far I am used to watch obsessively where the ball goes after the contact. In the last minutes of your video, where you copy Djokovic, you keep your eyes on the ball until contact. In the video from Djokovic he seems like is not even watching the ball at contact?

  11. Awsome breakdown. Started playing as an adult unfortunately after wasting my youth in soccer.. Terrific communication

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