You might not have thought about it before, but everything in tennis depends on your vision. In fact, your vision is one of the biggest limiting factors in how well you play.
So much so, it's highly likely the parts of your game that aren’t improving, are because of poor visual processing!!!
For example, if you have poor depth perception, you’ll tend to hit the ball late and miss hit too many shots.
It doesn’t matter how many times your coach tells you to meet the ball out in front, if your brain can’t accurately judge depth, you’ll never be able to do it.
Another example is if you can’t time overheads.
This is often caused by poor vertical eye tracking. So as the ball drops, you temporarily lose it and you to send the ball sailing long or into the bottom of the net.
Again it doesn’t matter how much you practice, if your vertical eye tracking sucks, you’re destined for a life of panic every time your opponent throws up a lob!
Now before you close the tab in frustration, let me tell you that with a little bit of training you can improve your vision.
Which in turn will make you into a better player.
Your eye movements are controlled by 6 muscles. When these muscles are weak or poorly coordinated, your eye movements will be worse, making it harder to track the ball.
These muscles are innervated by 3 nerves. If these nerves aren't healthy, you'll have slower reactions and you'll be more likely to make poor decisions when you get tired.
Luckily, the muscles and nerves that control eye movements can be trained and improved, just like every muscle and nerve in your body.
You can also train the parts of your brain that create, coordinate and process visual information.
Amongst other things this can give you:
- Faster reflexes
- Better timing
- More consistency
- Improved focus & concentration
- And better decision making
Now, I can’t cover every aspect of vision training in this article, but what I am going to do is show you how to test, correct and train one of the foundational visual skills needed in tennis.
We’re going to be looking at something called convergence.
Convergence is the skill that lets your eyes move inwards together to track an object and it's an important part of depth perception. So for obvious reasons, this is a big deal for tennis players!
If you can’t converge well, you'll often be out of position.
It also messes up your timing, making you hit the ball late.
And it drastically increases the likelihood of you miss hitting shots and shanking the ball!
When I test players, convergence insufficiency is one of the most common problems I find, especially in people who hit the ball late!
By correcting convergence, I've seen numerous tennis players fix timing issues that years of lessons has failed to fix.
So what you're about to learn could save you thousands of dollars on lessons and years of frustration 🙂
Below are three videos.
- How to test your convergence
- How to correct convergence insufficiency
- How to train convergence
Start by watching video 1. It’s really quick, about 2 minutes long. And the test is really easy. All you need is a pen or a pencil (and 30 seconds do it).
If you have a problem with convergence, then watch video 2, which will show you how to correct the issue.
If you don’t have an issue, you can skip to video number 3, which is going to show you how to train convergence in a way that will take your timing to the next level.
How did you get on?
If you are like most of the players I test, then you are going to need to start by doing some corrective work to fix the issue.
In the video below I'm going to show you 3 different corrective exercises you can use.
Depending on how bad the issue is, it could take anywhere from a few days, to a few weeks to address the issue.
(If the issue doesn't resolve with the exercises above, reach out to me, because we might need to do some more advanced testing to figure out what's going on.)
Now for those of you who can converge fully, I'm going to show you some training drills you can use to take your timing and consistency to a new level.
The video below will take you through 3 different training progressions.
- Standard pencil push ups
- Different head positions
- Shot specific
Ok, that's how you asses, correct and train convergence.
Like I said at the start of the article, if you work on the drills in these videos consistently, it has the potential to drastically change your game.
It's hard to emphasize enough how important your visual system is.
There is no amount of practice or lessons that can make up for visual dysfunction.
Convergence is just one of many visual skills that are needed in tennis. So while the exercises above are really important, you probably need to work on some of your other visual skills too.
To help you, I've made a program that shows you how to train the 9 essential visual skills you'll need on court.
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About The Author
Richard Brice is a Neuro Athletic & Performance coach. He specializes in helping athletes optimize their performance by using applied neurology. Richard is an open level tennis player himself and has trained and coach tennis players of all ages and abilities up to players in the top 200 in the world.