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Read the Ball EARLIER in Tennis – Ask Ian #79

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What if instead of chasing the ball down you had the ability to move where the ball was GOING to be? How many more POINTS would you walk away with? How many more MATCHES? It’s a skill every player can develop… Here’s how:


…Let me explain. While the age old advice to “watch the ball” is good, it’s not completely comprehensive. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “watch the ball…some of the time.”

As the ball is coming toward you, you should be getting ready to hit your next shot and your focus should be on the ball. However, once the ball has left your racquet and is traveling toward the other side of the court, your focus should actually shift to your opponent.

Watching your opponent for that small amount of time will allow you to start gathering information. You’ll be able to start noticing their:
Positioning – where they are standing on the court
Balance – whether they are surefooted or unsteady
Preparation – indicates whether they’ll hit topspin, slice, lob, dropshot, etc.
Tendencies – any patterns your opponent likes to stick to

As you practice this more and more, it becomes easier to read your opponent, and thus, anticipate the next shot that’s coming. And being able to read the ball even for just a fraction of a second earlier results in feeling like you have way more time.

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