If you are as much a fan as I – then we are both so looking forward to the upcoming 2009 Australian Open. Will Nadal extend his dominance over the men’s field? Can Djokovic defend last year’s title? And what of Roger Federer – does he still have more in the tank? In the last few months he has accumulated more and more losses, but the record of 14 Grand Slam titles is so tantalizingly close. And in the women’s game, it feels to be a wide open draw – with Ivanovich, Jankovic, Safina and the Williams equally in the hunt.
But, imagine for a moment the classic tennis commercial where the spectators move their heads from left to right, following the ball from one end of the court to the other. Interestingly the same thing occurs when we watch a match on television, that is our eyes follow the ball.
In this way we enjoy the match, watch the incredible movement and shot making, but entirely lose track of if not the awareness of the split step – the all important readiness that occurs each and every time the opponent hits the ball.
So try the following the next time you view a match (either live or on television). Watch one player the entire point, if not the entire game. Do not follow the ball, but listen closely to the hit on the opposite side of the net.
Then observe when where and how the player you are watching splits. Does the split occur before during or after the opponents hit? Does the hit occur always on the center of the baseline? If not where does it occur? Are there times when a player runs through their split, and if so what has occurred to enable them to do that?