Developing the best athletes at Point of Contact by improving balance, agility, timing and spacing – Hugo Allen & Lenny Schloss
Striking the ball in the sweet spot and keeping the eyes on the point of contact for at least a tenth of a second ensures a player is on balance, increasing the number of successful shots. Unless you are Roger Federer, it is a learned skill and requires much practice to achieve consistently.
Humans are born to track objects; even a child can track at a long distance but will struggle to focus at close distances. Whilst tennis players can track a tennis ball 78 feet from the other end of the court, their eyes need to be trained to focus on the last three feet as the ball travels to the racket and then maintain it there for 1/10th of a second. Roger Federer retains his eyes at the point of contact for 3/10ths of a second and maintains superb balance for his next shot.
In all target sports such as tennis, golf and squash, the player’s attention is easily pulled from the ball to the second target on the other side of the court (where they intend to place the shot) too early.This habit takes the body off balance and increases the risk of an error. If we can train the eyes to stay on the point of contact for a minimum of 1/10th second we dramatically increase the chance of the ball hitting the sweet spot. To do this with the minimum of effort requires a new ball delivery system where the ball does not fly away.
The kinetic chain is critical for transferring power from the lower body through the upper body, maintaining balance and powering into the shot. The kinetic chain is only as strong as its weakest part. If the player’s head shifts to focus away from the point of contact, the kinetic chain is broken resulting in reduced balance and power. By stabilising the head the kinetic chain is strengthened, balance is maintained, the ball is struck more consistently on the sweet spot and the chance of a miss hit is significantly reduced.
The extent of the problem:
Lenny Schloss, former top 10 American pro, award-winning club owner and renowned Point of Contact expert, did an extensive study by recording over 1000 hours of footage of players hitting the ball at the last 1/10th of second to study the travel of the ball during the last 3ft before contact. He found that at every level of the game, from red ball players to professional tour players, 70% of balls miss the sweet spot; even with the best coaching.
Point of Contact Training:
One essential of the Point of Contact training system is repetitive practice to train the eyes to focus on the point of contact and stop the head shifting away from the primary target of a stroke. Coaches can increase the learning process by using Point of Contact Training in conjunction with Billie Jean King’s Eye Coach. This offers coaches and players the opportunity to learn how to dramatically reduce unforced errors faster and with less effort or time wasted on ball pick up.
New sweet spot warm up drills get student focussed and ready to play in 5 minutes – hitting 150 balls with no ball pick up in preparation for a great lesson
Coaches learn to use the ball delivery system to coach whatever they want to teach with the student learning and able to feel it faster. This means coaches will no longer have to repeat the same instruction over and over
Coaches also learn how to diagnose and correct technique issues in 5-10 minutes
Players can practice between lessons and achieve 150 reps in only 5 minutes, increasing the number of balls hitting the sweet spot for faster consolidation of the coach’s instruction and speed up the rate of improvement.
Using this innovative Point of Contact Training programme coaches find an increase in player progression, retention and increased player recruitment.
Daily Repetitive Practice at Home:
Some players choose to have Billie Jean King’s Eye Coach at home for continual practice and cardio workouts. Hitting 150 balls a day consistently trains the eye to remain on the point of contact and makes easy the repetitive practice needed to instil their coach’s instruction. The unit requires a space of approximately 3 square metres and can be used in the garage or lounge in poor weather or on the patio.
sportsprosconnect.com would like to thank Hugo Allen and Lenny Schloss for providing such insightful information about Billy Jean King’s Eye Coach. We think Point of Contact Training is one of the most important aspects of training any player and is not only extremely useful for all coaches worldwide, but it can be used by players at home by themselves.
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