I pondered all of the information I derived from my filming of Federer and presented in the first two articles for weeks during my morning workouts. (Click Here for Part 1. Click Here for Part 2.)
Over the next eighteen months, I tested several different methodologies to try to replicate what I saw in the photos. Ultimately, I came up with the following four step summary to be executed as you approach contact.
Four Step Summary
Turn your head towards your racket side.
Focus (saccade or eye shift down) on the hand-racket complex.
Narrow your eyes to cut out extraneous visual information.
Resist the urge to follow your shot.
While the downward saccade produces the perception of slowing or stopping a moving object, narrowing the visual field cuts out extraneous information
and limits the vision to the hand and racket.
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.