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Coaches Corner - tip of the month


Insights to Mastering your Game, from Jak

Reading Their Mail

Misperceptions abound regarding reading an opponent’s shot in the midst of a point. “Watch their racket.” “Look at their hips and shoulders.” Those are two that I constantly hear from well intentioned, motivated players keen to improve.

But this is wrong!

Anticipating the direction of the opposition’s shot prior to impact is a crap-shoot at best, especially if you’re literally thinking/analyzing what’s probable and then attempting to “guess right,” as the TV analysts have an unfortunate penchant for repeating over and over.

As usual instead, it's all about the ball! Remaining visually connected to your own outgoing shot, or your partner’s shot in doubles, all the way into an opponent’s strike zone, is the key to reading your opponent's shot.

Veteran teacher/coach Peter Burwash coined the term “triple vision” long ago, and his take on this readily developed skill still holds up, and always will.

Since the eyes and the brain work in concert, exclusively tracking the ball, while maintaining a peripheral awareness of both the opponent and their court position, will allow you to predict where the ball will be struck in relation to an opponent’s body.

Clean ball striking requires that all groundies, volleys, and approach shots be struck in front of one’s body in a relatively small, optimal hitting area. A closer look reveals that cross court shots are struck the furthest in front, down-the-line shots the least in front, and balls directed up the middle of the court are contacted in between those two, albeit subtle, extremes.

All players utilize this technique either by design, or in the instance of the less experienced, accidentally.

Observing these differences at the point of impact, as they are taking place, results in the ability to move comparatively far sooner than previously, in the appropriate direction precisely at the moment an opponent’s shot is being struck.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to realize how do-able this reading technique can be integrated into your game; focusing primarily on your own shot in its outgoing path, and not on your opponent or the court.

You’ll get off the mark quicker and more effortlessly than ever before, to simultaneously defend your end of the court more effectively and strike your own shot - not only more cleanly, but with a bonus perception of more time to get it done, as well.

This tip is adapted from Jak's book More Than Just The Strokes

Questions and comments are welcome at anytime for all tips present and past via email.

This Tip of the Month is copyright© by Jak Beardsworth Tennis. All rights reserved. Copies may be made only with the permission of and by Jak Beardsworth. Contact him here.

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