Increasing # of Miss Hits?

Joe Mcaleer

Are you finding that you suffer from an increasing number of miss-hits on the tennis court as you age?  One friend and veteran tour player has that question.

Is It Just Me?

“George.  i have a topic that i would be very interested in hearing explored.

Are all older players experiencing the same thing as I am: loss of timing and vision problems?.  I miss hit so many balls these days, i cant figure out if its exclusive to me or are other senior players going through same experience. what do you think?”

Joe Mcaleer

Some Possibilities

Joe, I would think that diminishing vision could be the main culprit.  When was you last eye exam and what did they find?  If you can’t see it, you can’t hit it.

Another real possibility is in the footwork.  When we are younger, we are on the balls of our feet and continually adjusting to the flight and bounce of the ball; but I find myself getting very lazy sometimes and am out of position because I did not move my feet enough.

An option to consider … go to the oversized Big Bubba, or similar racquet, which will give you a much bigger sweet spot and hitting area; therefore, less likely to miss hit the shot.

What do YOU think Joe should do?

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11 thoughts on “Increasing # of Miss Hits?

  1. George, am hoping to win the first to respond race – got to try and win something! Depth perception problems making timing the shot too late for proper footwork is an increasing issue for me. One offset is emphasizing the Federer technique of holding eye focus on the ball until after contact. Put more emphasis on not looking where you want the ball to go.

    Winder, yes, you win the “Sunday Morning First Responder” award! And “watching the ball” solves a multitude of problems. thanks, george

  2. You are spot on with vision and racquet size.
    As I have aged, I switched to the Weed 135 racquet. The extra size and power make up for some of the loss of strength and accuracy due to ageing and correct some of what would have been mishits.
    I have also noticed that many senior players who have not had their cataracts corrected, or have other visual problems make a greater number of mishits.

    Michael, tks, george

  3. Good comments George. I’d particularly point out that Mike Fenster hasn’t had a miss hit in years since he went to the supersize frame!

    I’d recommend a couple of things for us getting more and more miss hits:

    1. In the warm-up take many small steps to get your legs and feet activated. This minimizes our otherwise poor positioning.

    2. Have a go-to habit when you are not in position. Usually it would be taking a short backswing and hit a lob toward the diagonally opposite doubles corner where you have more real estate for safety and avoid giving the angle for the overhead.

    3. Learn and practice the game of “bounce…hit” in your own head. Take all other thoughts (ie. concerns of the success of your shot, where your opponents are, the importance of the point, etc.) out of your head and simply say “bounce” when the ball hits the ground and “hit” when the ball touches your strings. When you say “hit” be sure your still seeing the last possible image of the ball before it leaves your strings. This takes practice just as much as any stroke or shot!

    I don’t care how many miss hits he makes, I would still have Joe, and all the other people in his head, as a partner anytime!

    Spike, Joe’s poor play is somebody else’s “good day.” And see Dr. Fenster’s comment above. thanks, george

  4. As you know, my vision issues cause frequent mis hits and some non hits!! In the past, I used a larger head racquet. In the last 5 years, I switched to a mid plus head. and either real or imagined, I feel like I mis hit more often. I might consider going back to a 110 head just to see what happens.
    BTW, any recognition for second place responding?

    Steve, sorry, you were #4 this morning. Thanks, george

  5. George, unfortunately we face the effects of “father time” eventually in our lives in somewhat different ways. Continuing to play the game we love, takes true commitment to keep working on our game. It’s frustrating when I miss hit shots I should have hit correctly. For me, vision, footwork, and reflexes are my problems. I find, sometimes I am missing forehand volleys because I am not meeting the ball far enough in front. I’m late and it’s due to slower reflexes. Apart from the normal slowing down of movement and reflexes, a lack of power is evident. My goal is to reduce the number of unforced errors in order to maintain a winning percentage of points. Psychological thinking pays dividends on how I play out points. As we age, staying in shape and training properly will help keep us from getting injured. We need to be wary of strains, sprains, and the bane of all tennis players, tennis elbow. For those who are a bit arthritic, as I am, the regularity and frequency of playing is more important than the amount. All in all, noticing you’ve aged is not the most pleasant experience, but then as someone once said, “It sure beats the alternative.”

    Glenn, when i practice, i always end with a series of nose-to-nose, reflex volley drills vs my practice partner. It does an amazing job of improving fading reflexes — and the results show in “real matches.” If you haven’t, try it! thanks, george

  6. Merriam Webster dictionary says it is “mishit”.
    Thank you, Spike, for your kind words.

  7. Whether it’s a groundstroke, a volley, an overhead, or a serve miss hits are typically the result of the player moving his or her head and/or taking one’s eyes off the ball before the racquet strings make contact. It’s usually not due to a vision issue. I tell those who I coach not to look where they intend to hit the ball until AFTER they hear and feel the pop of the ball off the strings. I have a pic on my phone of Federer which I often show to players. If it were possible to post it here it would illustrate my point. When I show people this pic I ask them: Where is Roger looking? The answer is usually: At the ball. No no wait he’s looking…at his racquet? In this photo the ball has been hit and Fed’s eyes are still focused on where the ball was when his strings made contact a moment before.

    As Confucious say: “He who looketh seldom see wondrous thing”.

    Alan, yes, the classic image is of Roger staring at where the ball was when he hit his backhand! thanks, george

  8. Only my first or second response to your good stuff George To answer Joe: Do the obvious – sunglasses, dark underside to the bill of your hat, clean racket handle, start with your warmups on even on a hot day, keep thinking how great it feels to hit in the sweet spot. Do not try for a winner when you are in trouble or not in balance – just hit it deep to the middle – at least you won’t lose wide.
    Personally — I like to think that in the 90’s I’m getting better. Of course I never was that good. I loyally do my stretching and strengthening exercising almost every morning before breakfast for 45 minutes. Also watch on computer Ian’s tennis advice. Do not play too much or every day. Know when to quit for the day and take days off to recover and do other things. I don’t think your racquet is that important. Bobby Riggs liked to beat people with a mop. And when you get to like the lower string tension, pretty soon, lower it some more. For me it is cause for celebration when I break a string. I put string-a-lings in the sweet spot where the string cross.
    Some of my best winners are miss-hits if I follow through.
    Hope to see you again this year at Newk’s.

    (for the readers… Dick is 90 and still plays hard court singles at Newk’s each year! Puts me to shame). Dick, great to hear from you and your routine is to be modeled by all. thanks, george

  9. I checked online dictionaries and with a tennis writer friend of mine. “Mishit” is correct, but it always seems at a glance like the word an Irishman would use to describe his morning bathroom deposit. I like “miss-hit” better and will use it out of deference to George.

    I think watching the ball is the best and most obvious solution, but that’s remarkably difficult to do consistently. Focusing on it whenever rallying and during warmups would help make it habitual. I’ve played entire three-set matches aggravated at myself for not watching the ball while I continued not watching the ball.

    Here are a few more thoughts:

    Hitting the ball too far in front will cause miss-hits. We’re always hearing about hitting the ball in front. We see many photos of Federer hitting his forehand so far in front that he sees the ball through the strings of his racket. That forward contact point only works if you have a big shoulder rotation into the ball, if you lay your wrist back, and/or if you have an open (western or semi-western) grip. If you don’t have those things, hitting in front will produce miss-hits. I think finding the right contact point for your different shots may reduce miss-hits.

    You have time to remember to watch the ball on your return of serve–also, when serving, you can remember to watch the serve toss and your first shot after serving. After that, it gets more difficult.

    Two shots tend to produce miss-hits, lobs and any shot that stretches you out. Maybe those shots should alert you to make watching the ball (as opposed to numerous other objectives) job #1.

    I think miss-hits occur when we are rushed, so the earlier you turn and get your racket in position and the shorter the backswing, the fewer miss-hits.

    Finally, all the advice above about moving our feet and getting in better position is important. Watching the ball really closely can compensate somewhat for failing to get in position, so anytime you find your not ideally positioned, focusing on the ball might bail you out.

    BJ, thanks for the spelling support! Strange to think that being too early on the swing becomes a problem as we age; but could be correct. thanks, george

  10. spike gonzales has brought out in me the best tennis i have ever played. i was so lucky to partner with him when i did. there is a reason why he is a master teacher. he’s one of a kind. and thank you, george, for all the free advice.

    Joe, we hope it helps and I look forward to losing to you again and again! Thanks. George

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