Envisioning Better On-Court Performance

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Tennis is a sport in which exceptional visual skills are critical. Strong vision improves split-second on-court movement—reacting to shots, setting up in the proper position and tracking the ball to your racquet—for consistent, powerful groundstrokes and volleys.

If you train your eyes with purpose, like you do your muscles, you can expect better on-court performance. Dr. Larry Lampert, a board-certified optometric physician who specializes in vision training, lays out the benefits.

On-Court Benefits

Properly training your eyes results in a finely-tuned visual system, which helps you…

1. Determine the trajectory and spin of the ball immediately after it has been struck. This gives you time to set up and calculate your next shot rather than racing to reach the ball.

2. Track the ball to your racquet face and deliver consistent and powerful shots.

3. Improve peripheral vision to better follow your opponent's movements so you can hit a shot that puts you in position to win the point.

Ace these Dr. Lampert-recommended drills to better serve your on-court performance.

Sticks and Straw Drill

Purpose: Peripheral vision expansion
Benefit: Improves awareness of opponent's court position when focusing on the ball
Equipment: 1 straw, two toothpicks

  • Draw a black line around the circumference of the straw
  • Stand one to two feet in front of straw held horizontally by partner
  • Holding toothpick in each hand, attempt to place them into both ends of straw while focusing on the black line

Adaption: Use a longer straw for more challenge
Sets/Frequency: 1 x 3-5 minutes, 4-7 days each week

Bug Walk

Purpose: Eye muscle training
Benefit: Improves your ability to track the ball on its entire path from your opponent's racquet directly to your racquet's face.
Equipment: 10" to 15" string

  • Attach string to doorknob and hold end to nose
  • Focus eyes on string
  • Slowly walk eyes from nose toward distant end of string
  • Slowly walk eyes back toward nose
  • Walk eyes back toward end of string and relax

Sets: 5
Coaching Point: Imagine a bug moving up and down the string; follow it with your eyes

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock