Do you have trouble concentrating on the ball? Do you regularily mis-hit? Do you hear the sweet sound of "ponk" or something else?
If you mis-hit a little too often, practice saying: "bounce...hit" as you play. It’s a technique that practically guarantees you’re focused on the ball.
As you exchange groundstrokes with a practice partner, concentrate on the flight of the ball between racket. When it strikes the court on your side say "bounce" exactly on time, out loud. When you make contact, say "hit" exactly on time, out loud.
Obviously this technique requires that you track the ball with concentration all the way through your contact zone.
Check yourself by having your practice partner call out "bounce...hit" too; that way you’re tracking the ball in both directions and your voices should coincide. Perfect! It can’t get any better than that!
One you’ve perfected the technique, you can just say "bounce...hit" to yourself, in your own head.
Gary Sherby is tennis director at Racquets and Togs Tennis Center, 115 Bradford St., just off the downtown square. His tennis tips appear Sundays.