Ball Watching
Part 2

Paul Hamori, MD

Not all elite players use the same ball watching techniques as Roger Federer.

There many great ball watching in tennis beside Roger Federer. There are also some fantastic players who have really poor ball watching.

Theoretically you can play great tennis without great ball watching. But I believe Federer's ball watching is foundational to his beautiful game and the tennis magic we see when he takes the court.

We are all familiar with his prolonged sideways head position. But what my research found was something additional that I don't believe has ever been studied.

This is a pronounced narrowing of his eyes around contact. Furthermore, on a significant percentage of his shots, he goes on to actually close his eyes after contact.

That's right. Narrowed and/or closed eyes. Surprised? Read on.

The Data

As I said in Part 1 of this series (Click Here) I have watched Federer play live over 40 times. But to get to the root of his ball watching technique I needed evidence.

I developed this by photographing him in practice. I watched him practice 2 hours a day for 2 consecutive days taking non-stop photos with the burst feature on a DSLR camera.

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I began writing the book that is the basis for this article - The Art and Science of Ball Watching - in August of 2019 and finished it in January of 2021. In a sense, though, I have been working on it since I started playing tennis fifty-five years ago at the age of five. In high school I played four years of varsity tennis in addition to sanctioned USTA junior tournaments. I probably reached a 4.5-5.0 level. I considered playing small college tennis, but by then I was burned out on the sport, and knew that my pre-med studies wouldn't allow time for college tennis.

But tennis was in my blood, and I started playing again with a passion after medical school. During this time, I really started to study the technical aspects of the game.

My idea for the book started out with various technical ideas that I had been kicking around by watching great players over several generations. In the end I came to the conclusion that good racket to ball contact depends on good ball watching. I wrote the book to teach myself how to see racket to ball contact and my hope is it can help you do the same.

The Art and Science of Ball Watching

The Art and Science of Ball Watching takes the reader through the scientific principles involved in tennis ball watching, with a focus on those aspects of Physical and Biologic science that facilitate the ability to see ball contact.

Click Here to Order!

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