Let me start by explaining the process of what to watch and then I will explain the benefits. When the ball is coming towards you, you should keep watching it until the moment it hits your racket. At that moment, keep your head still, don’t try to follow the ball after it leaves your racket. When you keep your head still, you will see the blur of the racket head and the blur of the ball, but the blur of the ball will stop at the point of contact.
Keep you head still for a moment longer and then look up to where the ball went. Remember, you can’t watch the ball hit your strings and immediately move your head to follow it. Not only is it impossible, but it will give you a headache pretty quickly. Your first thought might be, “but don’t I need to see it hit the front wall? How will I know where it has gone otherwise?“. No, you don’t need to watch the ball hit the front wall. Look at the photo below. In it, you can see Gregory Gaultier watching the ball hit his strings.
After you have hit the ball you can then direct your attention to your opponent. You will get more information about where they intend to hit the ball from watching their body and timing than you will from staring at the ball. Once they hit the ball, you can then direct your attention at that.
What Are The Benefits Of Watching The Ball Hit My Strings?
The first benefit is better contact. You will hit the ball with more control and accuracy. It’s hard to believe until you try it. For some it’s easy to do, for others it takes a little more work. But it is simply a matter of developing the habit. The need to look up to see where the ball is going is less important when you are more confident where the ball is going!
The next benefit is balance. This is related to better control, but that’s not its only benefit. By keeping you head still, you will be better balanced. You will make less movement after the ball because of it. In some cases, this means saving two steps; the extra one you took because you weren’t balanced, and the one you need to take to get yourself back into the correct position.
The third reason is that you give less information to your opponent about where you intend to hit the ball. Do you remember I said that after you have hit the ball, you should watch your opponent? That’s because most club players signal where they are going to hit the ball by looking up at the front wall where they expect the ball to hit. if you don’t do that you make it harder for them to anticipate where you plan to hit the ball.
But The Pros Don’t Do It, Why Should I?
You are right, it seems like a lot of pros don’t watch the ball hit the strings. Firstly, when you are a pro, you can do anything you want. You have earned the right to close your eyes at the moment of impact if you want to, because you would have spent thousands of hours on court training. Until that time, follow my advice. Secondly, it may look like they aren’t watching the ball, but most of the time they are.