Tracking refers to following the ball both in its incoming and outgoing path. That’s the primary focus during a point, the other being shot visualization.
So when do you look at the court or the opponent? Except for just prior to the serve, you don’t. Although certainly you can “see” and are aware of your opponent through your periphery. Hence the widely used term “triple vision”
Ideally, the end result is an ability to consistently maneuver yourself to strike your shots at exactly the right place at the right time, producing the optimal moment of racket-on-ball impact as you perceive it.
Just seeing the ball through your periphery without a clear and singular focus on it will still allow you to make contact, but will always result in poorly timed mishit shots from out-of-sync court positions.
In the end there’s “seeing” the ball and there’s tracking the ball — only the ball.
Jak Beardsworth (USPTA) is based at the Crowne Plaza-Lake Placid Resort. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 941-626-0097 or through his website:
Jak Beardsworth demonstrates how to track the ball on the tennis court.
Photo by Shaun Ondak