six ways to improve your tennis game thru vision

by Dr. Dan Laby


There are many different types of shots and strokes that can be used during a match. Most players will use their forehand and backhand for more than 80% of their points. Being either an indoor or an outdoor sport many factors go into making a point successful. Some include racquet grip, skill, footwork, balance, strength, and accuracy. But one factor that is often overlooked is a player’s vision and visually based abilities. How can we improve your tennis game thru vision?

There are at least 6 ways that you can improve your tennis game thru vision:

1) Maximize basic visual abilities – Most people only use a small percentage of their basic visual abilities when they play tennis. By improving your ability to see clearly (both near and far), you’ll be able to see the ball better, pick up its movement earlier and make better shots.

2) Optimize depth perception – Depth perception is key in tennis. You need to be able to gauge how far away the ball is and thus plan your action to react optimally.

3) Maximize rapid visually based decision-making – In order to hit a good shot, you need to make a quick decision. By improving your ability to process visual information quickly and accurately, you’ll be able to decide how and when to react to the ball.

4) Perfect visual anticipation – Anticipating where the ball is going will help you get into position to hit the ball correctly at precisely the right time.

5) Improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time – Hand-eye coordination is key in tennis. As you need to be able to hit the ball with the racket at exactly the right time and place. Reaction time is also important, as you need to move quickly to the ball.

6) Maximize field of vision and awareness. In order to cover all parts of the court, it’s important to have a good field of vision. By improving your awareness of your surroundings, you’ll be able to cover more of the court and make those amazing shots.

All of these factors are important in order to play a good game of tennis. By improving your vision, you’ll be able to improve your game and hopefully win more matches.

Let’s look at each of these factors in greater depth and see how they can be tested, corrected, or trained.

Maximize Basic Visual Abilities

Improve your tennis game thru vision

When we think about how does vision help tennis, we immediately think about higher-level visual skills and sports vision training. But before we can consider these higher-level aspects of the visual system, we need to consider basic visual abilities such as visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.

Visual acuity is a description of how small a target are you able to see. In tennis, the tennis ball can be as far away as 78 feet across the tennis court. Considering that the ball diameter is just 2.5 inches and maybe moving at over 120 mph when the opponent’s racket strikes – it’s no wonder that your ability to see and track the target is crucial to your performance and making the proper return shot.

There are two main types of vision: static visual acuity and dynamic visual acuity. These are two distinct visual skills and are tested and corrected/trained separately. We’ll have more detail on each in later posts.

Also, we prefer not to have a dominant eye, but instead to have both eyes working maximally on an individual basis as well as together for best stereoscopic vision.

By maximizing both of these visual skills, tennis players will have the best chance at successfully returning a serve or a shot and playing tennis successfully.

Maximize Depth Perception

Depth perception is built on excellent visual skills as well as basic vision and dynamic visual acuity. Tennis players must optimize these basic vision skills before testing and possibly starting a training program to improve this skill.

Judging where the ball is and how fast it is coming towards you is a critical visual skill. This can be an important visual advantage over your opponent.

Maximize rapid visually based decision making

The difference between a world class player who seems to have a great deal of tennis wisdom and a rising amateur is often the expert’s ability to use what they see to make a fast and accurate decision and begin a motor action.

A tennis player can never lose focus on the game. They must always be aware of the boundary lines, the opponent’s position and watch the moving object at all times. These factors along with making a decision often within approximately half a second will lead to the greatest success.

Maximize Visual Anticipation

It’s not enough to only see the ball and decide what to do with it, but it is also critical to be able to anticipate when it will come to you. This ability is built on all the above skills and is impossible if those skills are not optimized.

A sports vision exam can test your eye tracking and your ability to track a target. Visual tracking or eye tracking is critical to anticipation for tennis players and can be both tested and improved with a sports vision training program. The tennis players’ ability to make rapid eye movements along with their visual attentiveness ensures timely and accurate anticipation of the target and can enhance the tennis player’s game.

Improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time

Eye hand coordination along with a player’s visual skills following the appropriate use of sophisticated neuro visual processing leads to maximal success for tennis players.

Built upon a highly tuned visual system, the world class player closely monitors how fast they can react to visual information and how accurate and precise that reaction is.

Regular sports training is able to improve both of these abilities through a specifically designed program of vision therapy and maximizing the role vision plays in these physical actions.

Placing the racquet at the right spot at the precise right time will lead to maximum swing power and the best chance for success. Eye hand coordination and reaction time are essential vision related capabilities critical to choosing the right contact point and engaging the fast moving object as it approaches.

Maximize Field of Vision and Awareness

Peripheral vision as well as visual search, being aware of the net and boundary lines are a primary challenge to tennis players.

Testing and training athletes to be fully aware of their surroundings and being able to interact quickly, accurately, and efficiently is a critical part of sports vision and sports vision training.

Normally we are less sensitive to changes in our peripheral vision as compared to our central vision. Sports vision training can teach us to be more aware of peripheral targets and respond to them sooner with the proper visually guided motor action.

Conclusion – improve your tennis game thru vision

Whether an athlete needs to wear contact lenses, uses glasses, or does not need any visual correction at all for maximal visual input, they still need the ideal ability to see the whole court and react accordingly.

Whether athlete training takes place outdoors or indoors, there are many internal as well as external influences tennis. Athletes must quickly shift focus, utilize maximum swing power, be able to make a visual search of the court efficiently for cues as to what is coming next, as well as have optimal sports vision.

By being aware of the different visual skills required for elite tennis performance, an appropriate training program can be designed to follow proper vision testing in order to ensure maximum performance.