Where To Look?

Mike Lewis

Where do you look when your partner is serving?  When your partner is returning serve?  When your partner is hitting a baseline shot and you are at the net?  Look the wrong way and you could lose critical time.

Your Partner Serving

According to Pelican Bay tennis pro Mike Lewis, when you are at the net and your partner is serving, you should NOT watch the serve land in the box.  Rather, you should focus on the returner and try to see if they are hitting a forehand, backhand, lob, cross-court drive, etc.  He says the half-second you gain focusing there could be the difference between being ready or not.

Your Partner Returning

I am a firm believer in an important sequence of three steps for you as the non-returning partner:

  • Watch the service line in order to call the serve in or out.
  • Then, do not watch your partner return the ball, but turn and key on the net man to watch and see if he is poaching or hitting a ball at you.
  • If your partner’s return goes past the net man, then move your focus to the server to see if he is staying back, coming in to hit a high volley, or coming in and fighting off a tough return at his feet. This will tell you to be aggressive or defensive.

Your Partner Hitting a Baseline Shot

Many net players turn all the way back to watch the deep ball land and see what their partner will be hitting.  And then they turn and are surprised to see the net man coasting across the net to pick off the next shot and drill it right at them.  So, better to stay focused in front of you watching your opponents and getting ready for the next shot.

What do you think… where do you look?

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4 thoughts on “Where To Look?

  1. Agreed… although when playing with heavy hitters… I usually just pray their 100 mile an hour serve doesn’t hit me in the leg or back 🙂

  2. I have trained myself to keep looking forward and sometimes point it out to people, one player who at first thought I was crazy and later came up to me and said it was one of the most important things he ever learned. When you lose half a second even of “getting ready” time, usually the point is over before one knows it. And when one’s partner is returning to first focus (after first making sure the serve is in) on the net man is huge because focusing on his partner can lose you that half a second also. One key ingredient is the split step in that situation because ideally one has to get that split step at the same time as the ball would have been hit by the man at the net. Then if it gets by him it necessitates another split step on the moment of the contact with his racquet.

    Dave, you are correct! that half second can mean losing the point. thanks, george

  3. “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” (Satchel Paige)
    It also takes your eye off what’s in front of you– the opposing net man.

    Joe, you and Satchel are both right! thanks, george

  4. Absolutely agree. If I can tell that the serve to my partner is definitely going to be in I stop looking at the box and focus on my opponents to gain just another split second. Of course, doesn’t work when opponents hitting deep hard first serves. I try to almost never look back at my partner but look up
    front even let him call out shots. If my partner is banging serves, I crouch down to try to avoid the back of the head serve.

    Ralph, most of us can’t really hurt you hitting you in the back of the head! thanks, george

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