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Tennis Coach's Corner

Tennis Tip

Presented by Peter Burling, Camp Director
Nike Tennis Camp at Otterbein University

Tennis Tip: Keeping a still head

Eyes On The Ball Tip Feature

“Keep your eye on the ball” is one of the most commonly used phrases in any sport, tennis being no exception. Peter Burling, Head Men’s Tennis Coach at Denison University says, “When approaching your groundstroke, you have your setup, rotation of hips/shoulders, and the arm swing. You want your head to remain as still as possible, following the ball all the way into the strings.” But why is that so important?

It works like a machine - when one thing doesn’t go right, nothing will. As the ball approaches, your brain calculates the ‘sweet spot’ to make contact. The second you turn your head, you additionally turn your shoulders. This leads from your shoulders, to your arms, to your hands, and eventually your racquet which now loses the ‘sweet spot’ you were just calculating. The smallest adjustments can have the biggest reactions.

The next biggest reason is that, “keeping a still head maintains your balance and generates more power to your groundstrokes,” adds Burling. Jerking your head to one direction can get you off balance, which creates a less-powerful shot making it easier for the opponent to return.

There is so much that goes into a proper stroke. But because it is so heavily focused on the arms, players rarely think about their head. Keeping a still head gives you more control over your shot, and helps you find the ‘sweet spot’ for each and every hit.

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