ETI 028 | Scan and Zoom


  • ETI 028 Scan and Zoom
    ETI 028 Scan and Zoom

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Is there more to it than simply watching the ball?

Well, the answer is yes.  But the answer is not readily apparent.

Scan and zoom describes two different visual orientations, both of which occur on court.

In your own game, are you better at scanning or zooming?  Better yet, are you skilled at both? Let me know…

51 Comments

  • rob gallo

    Reply Reply January 8, 2015

    Jim,
    More great tennis advice…Thanks! For me, the Scan and Zoom technique is one I constantly struggle with since I tend to scan well (ball and opponent), to position myself for a return shot, while losing the focus for a host of reasons. Usually my head/eyes look to where I’m trying to hit the ball instead of “watching the ball hit the strings”. I’ve read that this is actually impossible for the eye to see but that trying to do this will achieve the desired result. Is this true?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 9, 2015

      Rob – I don’t know the exact answer about whether the eye can see the moment of impact – but it could be that it has more to do with keeping your head still – for with the weight of the skull (maybe 8 pounds) if it is moving at all during the stroke it could alter the swing path ever so slightly – imagine a spinning top and whether it wobbles or spins with a vertical axis – that is what we want
      Jim

  • Pat Campbell

    Reply Reply May 27, 2014

    I’ve just rewatched this video again after a few months of working on it. I originally id’d myself as a good scanner and not a zoomer. After working on this on and off as I play, I really feel that it is both a scan and zoom problem AND a focus problem. I’m seeing improvements in my game so thanks alot! I just watched the first serve video and that is one of my strengths but I’m always open to improvement. Thanks Jim

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply May 28, 2014

      Pat
      thanks for the note – the eyes are such a huge issue – maybe more important than anything else – especially to stay in the present
      Jim

  • Greg Pierce

    Reply Reply April 13, 2014

    Just a brief note to thank you for your recommendation of the book MindSet. I’ve been looking to improve my mental game and while I’ve read several good books on the subject, MindSet seems to really bring it all together in a very concrete and useful fashion. I’ve begun working the techniques into my match play and have already noticed a difference. I’ve been somewhat surprised as to how much you can improve your level of play not by working on stroke technique and tactics but by working on your mental approach to the game and to a match. I would definitely advise anyone looking to improve and enjoy this game to spend time putting together a mental game plan whether it be the MindSet approach or something else. Anyway, thanks again for the recommendation, it’s been a big help.

  • Tony Martin

    Reply Reply April 5, 2014

    Jim, I agree with the point you made regarding Scan and Zoom, my experience with most young tennis players revealed that their anxiety to hit the ball hard takes away the importance of eye on contact / Scan and Zoom.
    If I may impose on your knowledge for a moment, is there a drill that you think I may use to help these young players regarding the above?

    Thanks.

    Regards,
    Tony.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply April 5, 2014

      Tony – with many requests as yours I will make a podcast for a drill – quite soon
      Jim

  • Thomas Re

    Reply Reply April 2, 2014

    Dear Jim – important pod cast and kudos to you to so succinctly enunciate and describe the topic’s main ideas.

    Now, what about the drills to improve?

    Thanks and best Tom

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply April 2, 2014

      Tom – thanks, so many have asked for drills – I will create a follow up podcast – but give me a few days
      Jim

  • Matt Carlson

    Reply Reply March 31, 2014

    Very interesting, yes thanks for sharing this video.
    Matt

  • Drew Maxwell

    Reply Reply March 29, 2014

    Very helpful Jim. I would consider myself more of a scanner than zoomer. I seem to mentally watch the game and react, rather than focus on the ball as well as I should. The subject is a good one. Thanks for the suggestion to refer to “The Inner Game of Tennis” as well as visiting “TheMindSet” web site. I appreciate and find valuable your podcasts. Learn a lot in a short period of time. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  • Jeff McCalmon

    Reply Reply March 29, 2014

    Great topic Jim!
    MindSet is my bible for the mental game. You and Jeff Salazenstein are the only ones I know of who talk about it.
    THANKS

  • John Stone

    Reply Reply March 29, 2014

    Jim:

    Your posts are great. The scan and zoom makes sense as well. In terms of surveying the court
    anticipating, and reading signals (ques ?), are there any simple drills to improve this aspect?

    I understand that you need to zoom in on the ball through the hitting zone and then recover in an athletic position hopefully, while continuing to survey the court.

    If you can please respond. Thanks John Stone

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 29, 2014

      John – not specific drills but either The Inner Game of Tennis or even better the website http://www.themindset.eu are wonderful resources for the emphasis on mindfulness and the importance of being present – way too often players are lost in thought, worry, analysis and more – rather than just a focus on the ball
      Jim

  • Teresa

    Reply Reply March 29, 2014

    Hey Jim. I love your posts because I can listen to them in just a few minutes and gain a specific tip right away that I can work on. This is a really great tip! Keep up the good work and please keep these as short as you do. Some of the other stuff out there is really helpful also, but I never get to them because they are too long winded to schedule a time. Great job!

  • Don McD

    Reply Reply March 28, 2014

    By too close I mean either a late or jammed contact. Really worked on it and improved my percentage of serves I looked at from 10% to 40%. And that was my “strong” area. Great topic, disturbing realizations.

  • Howard

    Reply Reply March 28, 2014

    Jim, clarity and insight as always. I like the idea of the scan which covers a whole range of information that is available to you if you have your eyes open. Your opponents preperation gives you an idea of spin, height of the ball over the net, direction and power. Once the ball leaves the racquet you start fine tuning. Is this the same as the read part of your ready,read and react mantra? I guess once the ball is over the net we should be well into react mode? The link to the inner game pulls it all together with staying in the present and concentrating on the ball on its inbound and outbound flight. I am right that you can create time for yourself with the scan to play your next shot? Howard

  • Ralph

    Reply Reply March 28, 2014

    I wonder if the issue of both “scanning the court” and keeping the eye on the ball might be better understood if it were explained, not as separate skills, but as the ability to use one’s peripheral vision to recognize what is happening on the court while, at the same time, keeping one’s eye on the ball. It seems to me that this is a skill which, after much experience, would develop into what some might call “court sense.”

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 28, 2014

      Ralph – absolutely correct – this scanning is all about court sense and anticipation
      Jim

  • Don McD

    Reply Reply March 28, 2014

    Played last night with this in mind and a question occurred. To follow the ball with your eyes when it gets too close you really have to move your head/eyes fast. The more I focused on zoom, the more cramped my stroke got. I was hitting the ball OK but it felt wooden so I gave up in disgust. My game immediately picked up. Turns out that I had confused watching the ball closely with physical closeness. The reason following the ball required such a quick eye movement was I was letting it get too close. Do you think this is a common problem? If you think about it, when the ball is on the far side of the court tracking a foot of movement requires the focus of the eyes to move only a fraction of a degree even in zoom mode. At proper hitting distance your focus has to move a couple degrees to track a foot of movement. But in moving the last foot from a foot in front to even with the eyes, it would have to move around 15 degrees. (estimates only)

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 28, 2014

      Don – I am not sure I understand your question about the ball being “too close” but a still head and a clear mind are required from the bounce to your racquet strings
      Jim

  • Clive Hooton

    Reply Reply March 28, 2014

    Jim:

    Your comments on athletic neural attention and focus are very important. We have demonstrated that attention can be objectively measured, trained and improved, as shown in an article published in Nature.com last year. (reference below). The article , based on a study of 308 professional athletes, NCAA collegiate athletes and general university students demonstrates that there is an objective, measurable difference between the neurological functioning of professional athletes as compared with the rest of us. The good news is that perceptual-cognitive function can be trained and improved.

    The NeuroTracker specifically trains several aspects of attention – dynamic attention, distributed attention, focused attention, and sustained attention. All very important to tennis as you described in similar terms in this video.

    I am a long-time (now aging) club tennis player, and have found that NeuroTracker training has helped scan and zoom aspects of my game on the court.

    Clive Hooton
    (514) 817-1380
    [email protected]

    http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130129/srep01154/full/srep01154.html

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 28, 2014

      Clive – thanks for this – I will check it out – years ago I was involved with vision training and am interested in it yet again
      Jim

  • fsilber

    Reply Reply March 28, 2014

    I think my problem is I’m not good at either.

  • Jan

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Jim, this is very interesting and unfortunately doesn’t work so well for me. I am aware of the need to watch both my opponent and zoom in on the the incoming ball but the scanning part is more difficult. In my eagerness to watch the ball I cannot follow the opponents well enough to see where to hit my next shot. Should I really leave my focusing on the ball to the last moment possible?
    Interesting theme, if one can master Scan and Zoom it is a step to the next level. Jan

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 28, 2014

      Jan – the scanning is about anticipation, about shot selection, about seeing the court the likely reply and your best options – but this is really quite a project
      Jim

  • Bob

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Fantastic concepts! As an elderly player, I’m struggline with Zoom. I know that, just didn’t have a name for it until now. I’m pretty good with Scan, I think. Any ideas for improving Zoom?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 28, 2014

      Bob – the Inner Game of Tennis – was and is all about being in the moment – mindful as it were – and often the zoom is lost by a mental attention to the stroke or the score rather than simply and solely about the ball
      Jim

  • baldev piplani

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    great.

  • Tennisyoda

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Good insight, scan and zoom………….

    How do I determine which I have…….if any ?
    And what to do about it ???
    Tests……drills……..observations………
    The comments seem helpful.
    Thanks

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 28, 2014

      Tennisyoda – no real shortcuts here – but these tasks when mastered take one from simply a hitter to an actual “player” – a lot of this is covered in much more depth within the ETI Network
      Jim

  • Alan Soffer

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Jim, your stuff is always helpful. I am good at scanning, but frequently fail at zooming. I will be starting a little mantra to remind myself of both aspects in the future.
    By the way I couldn’t find you a gig in Florida this past winter, but maybe Jamaica next winter if you are interested.
    Alan

  • Tommy

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Hi Jim.
    I really like this subject.
    My zoom vision is very inconsistent, resulting in mishitting.
    Are there training methods to improve this?
    I mean something really systematic, as systematic as if you were training a movement, a “stroke form”. Including training and “measurement” / assessment of the improvements.

    Best regards
    Tommy

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 28, 2014

      Tommy – as to zoom consider the materials with the Inner Game of Tennis – for zoom is about more than just focus but it is about having nothing else on your mind but just the ball
      Jim

  • Don McD

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Sam, watching your opponent gives you the earliest indication of where she/he is hitting and what spin they are using. Plus you should frequently disguise your intentions and should check to see if they bite or not. Move just before they hit to throw them off stride. If they react great you selected their shot, if they do not then you can tempt them to make a shot that is not in their game and react early so even if they hit it you can counteract it. Further, you need to know how they moved after their shot to help select the spin and placement of your shot. In doubles there is more than twice as much to observe. Certain unsavory characters such as Mr. McLennan have been known to advocate hitting the ball where the sun does shine.

  • Rodger Schuester

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Hi Sam, I like to scan to see my opponent’s reactions to and movements towards the ball. Then I split step and pickup on the ball to see what direction it is coming. I find myself being more aware of opportunities to move forward as they develop, like if they are reaching down low or are extended.

    I’m also getting much better at repositioning after I complete my hit, rather than waiting to see what my ball result is then moving.

    So I’m repositioning and scanning at the same time.

    Though I’m sure I’m not 100% perfect in this endeavor, but scanning seems to make it easier to reposition.

  • Don McD

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Watching APAS studies of the Bryan brothers, Federer and Nadal, I noted they used their eyes differently. It appeared that Federer and the Bryan brothers watched the other side and then skipped ahead to focus on contact well before the ball got there. Nadal appeared to follow the ball all the way to contact which required a really quick head turn at the last second. Federer added one twist. He established the near focus, took a quick glance at the other side and then returned to near focus. Nadal’s method makes less sense to me than that of the others, but obviously he has trained them to work at that speed. As for me, I only look at the ball at contact when I am hitting on the short hop. I am not defending this practice.

  • Greg Dodier

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Hi,

    I like the difference between zooming and scanning.

    Thanks,

    Greg

  • Vitaly

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Hi Jim,

    I love this topic.

    The Zoom is a must. I was not privileged to meet a lot of people who were striking the nail by the hammer without zooming. For some reasons people think they can strike the ball successfully without zooming. I was looking at tennis players at your site and concluded that those who are not zooming are not constantly within best five. However, the Zoom is necessary but not sufficient to be seen on TV. The Scan is very important.

    The Zoom is an axiom like in math. The Scans are the theorems that can be proved or disproved based on axioms. I think one should scan the opponent’s tennis profile even before the match started. The opponent actions during the match will help to verify if the pre match scan was correct or needs some upgrades.

    It is always fun to get your inside in tennis.

  • Sam

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Can you name a few specific aspects of the game to which scanning is important?

  • johnson

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    hmmm. maybe that’s why, on some days, I get so many mis-hits. Maybe I am not consistent at zooming.

  • Bob

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Love your comments! I would love to improve in both, since I think I react to slowly to where my opponents (doubles) are going and also miss-hit by not “zooming” enough to where my racket makes contact.
    Any suggestions as to training my eyes to do better??
    Thanks!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 27, 2014

      Bob – sometimes a way to improve scanning is to sit at the back of a court outside the fence and observe a match to note more clearly where the court positions are and which shots make sense – for scanning is all about seeing the court and the opponents form balance and likely reply
      Jim

  • Rodger Schuester

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    All this stuff helps. I’m better at zooming and have been working on scanning. I have a friend, Clarence, who had hip surgery and doesn’t move well on the court. I asked him what he looks at after he hits the ball over to the other side of the court and he said the ball. I suggested that he probably loses a step or two, not automatically moving to his next position and looking at what is going on over on the other side before the ball is hit, and could improve his movement by listening to me. He got pretty upset with me, but I tried, and yes this isn’t the first time. Many years ago, when I first started with you Jim, Clarence told me that if I kept changing I wouldn’t be good at anything…but he has since said he noticed I move up two whole levels while everyone else around him and himself improved not a bit. Such is tennis.

  • Andy Garman

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Jim,
    Love the idea. A while back I was in a senior pro-am clinic. I and another amateur were at the baseline; the pro, let’s call him Ivan, was feeding balls from the net. I was in the ad court and hit what I thought was a really good dipping, passing shot to Ivan’s ad court. I looked up and he was standing in the ad court, as if by magic, right where I had hit the ball, to casually make the next volley. And laughing at me. “How did you get there so quickly?” I asked. “You looked at your target before you swung,” he says (with a Czech accent).

    So not only was I a bad zoomer, he was a phenomenal scanner. I think a lot has been written about the zooming part, ie keep your head still like Roger, but not a lot about the scanning part. I would love it if you did a series on taking visual clues about the opponents body language, the location of the ball, etc. and using that to reposition or otherwise anticipate the next shot.

    Best, Andy

  • Roberto

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Do you have any tips on how to improve the zoom aspect?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 27, 2014

      Roberto – zooming is about clear focus, the ball always in the center of your vision as it approaches, and about absolute stillness (with your head and body) at contact
      Jim
      But that doesnt mean that these words will make an immediate improvement but might get you started

  • Rich Berman

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    I have recently retired from teaching full time, otherwise I would have sent my note of appreciation for your work and sharing your knowledge.
    Again, thank
    Rich

  • Rich Berman

    Reply Reply March 27, 2014

    Great advice. I also use the term ‘darting eyes’ that I read in a book by Shatespeare (forgot his first name). This means – after the hit (hopefully with a still head) , one should dart there eyes ahead of the ball towards their opponent’s racquet. Even when one darts their eyes, they can’t help but see the ball because it’s yellow and it’s moving, but the focus is ahead. By doing this, I believe the student will subliminally sense the spend of the swing, the type of swing (topspin, slice, etc.) and know when to split steps a fracture of a second earlier.
    Your thoughts and thanks for all you do for our sport.
    Rich
    P.S. letsrollwheelchairtennis.com is a wonderful , free site David Hall and I put together. If you teach wheelchair tennis, I know you will enjoy it.

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