A simple but effective tip I often suggest to my students is to keep your eye on the ball. While I always bring this up to beginning players, this applies to all players.
When Coaching Tennis
Tennis coaches will often talk with their players about keeping their eye on the ball. We think we are doing it, but the fact is we really aren’t focusing. As we have discussed before, the more we can narrow our focus the more success we will achieve. That is why many tennis coaches tell their students to focus on the lines on the ball. By sharpening our focus on a smaller area, we not only remain more engaged but were also able to see what kind of spin was on the ball.
Watch the Holes
The analogy in pickleball is to watch the holes in the ball. This may be difficult for newer players, but as you advance it is a goal that will help you improve.
Tennis – Pickleball Differences
Though there are many things we can bring from tennis, there are differences between the two sports. One very important one is the amount of court we need to cover and the time available to cover it. Because the time provided to respond to the next shot is shorter in pickleball, we must keep our eye on the ball but also see the court.
Some players who focus on watching the ball, practically putting blinders on when it comes to the rest of the court. This is why I recommend that you track the ball with your paddle and your body, rather than your head. If you attempt to keep your eye on the ball by only moving your head, your body may not be in the correct position to respond when the ball comes your way.
If I’m doing my job and keeping my paddle out in front of me and tracking the ball with my paddle, I can keep my eye on the ball and the court at the same time. As an aside, when I was playing in rec play the other day, I called a couple of foot faults. The players were shocked that I could see so much of the court. But my goal is to see the whole court at once. I use my peripheral vision rather than bob my head from side to side.
My advice for you is to start simple. Watch the ball with your paddle and follow the ball with your eyes. When you realize you are moving your head too much, or not following the ball with your paddle…try to correct it. We all slip up from time to time, regardless of our level of play. Just take your time and practice keeping your eye on the ball.