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Monday, May 22, 2017

Keep your Eye on the Ball to the Paddle - the Real World

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

Keep your eye on the ball. We have seen the coaches talk about it. We have seen that science says it is impossible - at least in some circumstances. Now we will continue our discussion by looking at what happens in real play. We will do this by reviewing 2 Pickleball Channel videos that show the moment of impact and give a pretty good idea of where the eyes are looking. The first video is called The Forehand with Slow Motion - Scott Moore.

As the title suggests, the video shows Scott hitting some forehands off of easy shots from his drilling partner. As we discussed yesterday, these shots are slow enough and of such a distance (note his position behind the baseline) that Scott's eyes can follow the ball the whole way to the paddle.

Now watch the video and pay particular attention to Scott's eyes.

But science says that this cannot be done with balls at higher speeds and shorter distances. Another video, Super Slow Motion - USAPA Nationals VI, shows Joy Leising in a rally against Jennifer Lucore. Joy shows the same ability as Scott to watch the ball when hitting a slower and longer shot from the baseline.

But her eyes fail to follow the ball when hard volleys start with each player near the NVZ. In this case, they are only about 16 feet apart and the ball is traveling quickly. Joy follows the ball as it flies toward her but her eyes remain focused forward while hitting the winning volley. She obviously used the method discussed yesterday:
they might follow the path of the ball for 70-80% of its flight, but then their eyes can't keep up and they estimate or extrapolate the remaining path and make a guess as to where they need to swing to have the bat meet the ball. In this case, they don't actually "see" the bat hit the ball.

The real world of competitive pickleball shows that science is right...and wrong.

And that players can adapt with practice. Aren't pickleball players amazing?

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