Coaching Tip - June 2018

    Visually tracking the ball
    Will Improve Your Concentration

    To help you achieve focus

    The majority of Tennis players are not trained and/or skilled enough in the most important aspect of playing tennis – the mental game.
    The emphasis at many training/coaching sessions is on technique and probably to some extent on movement and match tactics particularly for the intermediate to advanced players.

    Players often lose focus during their match/training session at hand so that

    • Their concentration goes
    • They don’t watch the ball closely
    • Resulting in an increased number of unforced errors
    • They lose matches after being in a winning position

    The first step is for you to ask your coach to adopt mental skills training as part of your regular coaching/training on technique, movement and tactics.

    Become the master of concentration so that you can discipline your mind to focus on the critical task of visually tracking the ball.
    This concentration skill training has two parts or steps ie Focus and The Cycle that must be followed to achieve success.

    FOCUS – Step 1
    Try to really watch or focus on the ball by

    • Watching the brand logo (on new balls)
    • Looking for the seam on the tennis ball
    • Looking at the spin on the ball – forward for topspin or backward for slice
    • Seeing the ball as a standout from all the background distractions

    THE CYCLE – Step 2
    A cycle involves the time that the ball travels from one player’s racquet to their opponent’s racquet and back to the first player’s racquet again.
    Try to visually track the ball by using the FOCUS tips as outlined above throughout the entire cycle.
    For example
    When your opponent is serving to you the cycle

    • Starts once the ball leaves the Server’s hand
    • And continues as it goes upwards reaching its peak height and drops to contact point
    • As the ball leaves the Server’s racquet and heads in your direction
    • As it clears the net, drops to the court and bounces up to you
    • As the ball comes into contact with your racquet
    • As the ball leaves your racquet and continue to follow it back to the server’s racquet

    The first cycle finishes when the ball is contacted by your opponent’s racquet.
    The same process should be repeated for each and every cycle.

    During your training sessions or matches try to concentrate so that you play in cycles ie 1 cycle finishes and the next begins so that there will probably be many cycles within each point played.

    The key is to strive to focus on each cycle so that you can achieve these effects

    • You feel like you are in the zone
    • You feel like the ball appears bigger like a football
    • You feel like you have more time to play your shots
    • You feel like the ball is moving slower or you are playing in slow motion

    There will be times when you will lose or have breaks in your concentration so it is important that you can refocus so that you can redirect your attention back to the above mental skills training process.

    These skills can be learned and/or improved by taking some specific mental skills training sessions with the Club Professional at your local Tennis Club.

    I hope that you can adopt the coaching tips above to strengthen  your mental skills so that you can improve your concentration and focus and as a result help take your tennis game to the next level.
    Try not to confuse yourself by thinking too much.
    Keep it Simple.
    Relax and let it happen

    Let me know if you can think of any other options to help you achieve a more consistent and effective game.

    Tennis the game of a lifetime

    Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful Tennis hints.
    Let me know the things that work for you.

    Coach Steve