Striking the clock face
“Watching the ball” has been taught in tennis forever and remains sound advice for players of all levels. You should be watching the ball off your opponents racquet, through the air to the bounce and then to your contact point.
Players want to know where the ball is going and will take their eyes off the ball too early in anticipation of seeing where it goes. This can result in mistakes. But the key is not just to watch the ball but to actually watch and aim for a specific part of the ball. Narrow down your focus.
The clock face
By using a clock face you can take the benefits of watching the ball and combine it with directing the ball where you want it to go. The clock face is the key to hitting angle, crosscourt, down the line and inside out strokes.
Nearly every shot is hit between 8pm and 4pm. Only on rare situations when close to the net would the ball be hit between 9pm and 3pm.
So some examples on where to aim on the clock face for a right hander:
- Hitting a cross court f/h? Aim at 5pm.
- Hitting a cross court b/h? Aim at 7pm.
- Hitting a b/h angle drop shot? Aim at 8pm.
- Hitting an inside out f/h? Aim at 7pm.
- Hitting a f/h volley down the line from the centre line? Aim at 7pm.
- Hitting down the line from the deuce return side? Aim at 6pm.
So this is helpful for players of all levels. From beginners to more advanced levels, narrowing your focus to a specific part of the ball is the key to both timing the ball and also directing the ball.