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Tracking the ball flight

Published: 15 Aug 2008 - 13:12 by paul-sf

Updated: 26 Sep 2008 - 06:58

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I have trouble tracking the ball flight of my opponents shots. I have gotten more consistent at watching them strike the ball, but from the raquet to the front wall, I get a very blurred image of the ball and have trouble seeing where the ball is headed. When I watch pro matches, the pro will turn their head and intently watch the player, then after the ball is hit, they turn their head to the front wall and they are already on their way to pick up the shot.

I find that I lose track of the ball flight during that head turn and end up getting just a blurred view of the ball going forward. Do others just use their peripheral vision? Less head turn?

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From rippa rit - 21 Aug 2008 - 13:47

If you watch something moving fast, providing you do not lose sight of it, you can track it. It is when you take your eye off the ball, because of your bad body positioning that you cannot track the ball.

When you can move around the court and always follow the ball, your speed and reaction time will increase dramatically.



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From stevo - 21 Aug 2008 - 13:38

Hamburglar is correct, there is no way you can track a ball at 100mph while on court.

Of course it is easy off court watching a match, your line of vision means you hardly have to move your head and your eyes. On court you have to follow the ball from the back to the front, there is no way your eyes and head can move that quick.

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From rippa rit - 19 Aug 2008 - 07:55

hamburglar - so you do not get the continuous flow of the rally/ball.  That is a pity.

Very hard to track something when you see it/don't see it/chase/stop/look/realise/start again and it sure would make for a jerky game. 

When you sit as a spectator/marker or referee watching play  you can track the rally without interruption so what is the difference from standing on the court, provided you are watching the play from a direct angle?


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From hamburglar - 19 Aug 2008 - 02:10   -   Updated: 19 Aug 2008 - 02:10

of course you can't track the ball, it's moving over 100mph across your vision.
i've always believed the pros are watching how the other player is shaping up to hit the ball, and from that, they see what kind of shot is being hit, and then know which part of the front wall to look for the ball coming off.

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From rippa rit - 16 Aug 2008 - 17:17   -   Updated: 16 Aug 2008 - 17:24

This is not going to happen overnight as the more experienced you get the more cues you will pick up.

Safety eyewear would also be worthwhile.


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From paul-sf - 16 Aug 2008 - 16:36

rippa, I had a chance to try the tips you generously provided and they worked well. the "wide eyes" thought worked for me in particular.

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From rippa rit - 15 Aug 2008 - 13:24

paul - it sounds as though you are looking at the ball out of the corner of your eyes, maybe because you are afraid of being hit.  What to do:

  • Watch the ball so you can see it clearly and in perspective
  • Have wider eyes (take in the opponent's movement, shaping, ball positioning, ball bounce, proximity to the walls) as you watch the ball, and narrow eyes as the opponent shapes to strike the ball.
  • Move your body position out of the way so you are not afraid to watch the ball.  This way you will take off a lot faster too.
  • Never take your eye off the ball, and keep flexing your movement/footwork depending on the speed and flight path of the ball, ie before the striker actually hits it.
  • As the ball moves you move to take advantage of the positioning.

There are a lot of clues there if you can just pick up on them, eg angle, height, speed, backswing, ball positioning in relation to the body, nearness to the ball, etc.


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