How Roger Federer Sees the Ball
As you know, I have used Roger Federer as my example of how you should see the ball for a long time now. Since I have not had the pleasure of talking to Roger, I don’t really know what he really sees when he watches the ball. I do know that he keeps his head at the contact point for a short time after he hits the ball. You can look at any of his matches to see this.
However, I have not really emphasized this part of seeing the ball. That is until now. Yeah, I thought it was a good thing to do, but I felt that if you made sure that you just saw the ball spinning to your racket, that was good enough.
Well, I am wrong. I know, it is pretty hard to imagine me being wrong. Anyway, as you know, I also say that playing the mental game is a process and even though I have been using the mental game techniques for over 30 years now, I am still learning things about what I need to do to play at my very best.
A few months ago a teaching pro from France named Damien Lafont sent me an e-mail about some articles and studies he had done on seeing the ball. He sent them to me for my comments as he had read my book and knew that I talked about seeing the ball a little different from most teaching pros.
After reading his work, he made a believer out of me about keeping my focus on the contact point for a short time after hitting the ball. I am now doing it in my own play and I am getting very good results. The only thing I would like to emphasize is that you still need to consciously see the ball spinning to the blur of the racket as well as the other parts to seeing the ball. Don’t just think that keeping your focus on the contact point for a short time is enough. It will help a lot, but when you do both, watch out. Or maybe I should say that to your opponent.
As anything worth doing, it is an easy concept to talk about, but is hard to do consistently. I have put Damien’s articles at the bottom for you to download and read. Please read his articles and then “just do it” to use a popular phrase. You won’t be sorry. Of course, I may be sorry if I ever play you because if and when you can do this, you will be playing so much better.
Here is a hint on how you can learn to do this and how you can get back on track if you find yourself having difficulty. When I am having difficulty focusing on the ball the way I want to, I just bring to mind a picture of how Roger Federer hits the ball. I see in my mind, his head staying on the contact point for that short point after hitting and immediately I can get back my ability to focus on the ball.
The other way you can help yourself is to make sure you watch Roger play as much as possible. As you watch him hit the ball, watch for his head movement and watch for his facial expressions. It is a little hard to see his face as he hits when you watch him play on TV but sometimes they play the points back in slow motion and you get to see his face and head position so much better. Of course, if you get to see him live you will have no problem seeing what he does with his face and head.
I hope you will read Damien’s articles and take doing this part of seeing the ball seriously. Just think, when you do, you can play just like Roger. Pretty cool, eh?