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One of the things that I find myself not doing as well as I need to is keeping my eye on the ball. I am a tennis player but I am sure this could apply to other sports as well (baseball, football, racquetball, squash, cricket) that require players to keep their eye on the ball.

I have heard of doing things like getting different colored markers and drawing colored shapes on the ball and continually trying to figure out what color the shape is on the ball - are there any other drills that could help in this area of focus?

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In one youth baseball hitting drill, the instructors used broomsticks and dried beans instead of bats and baseballs:

Dried Bean Drill

We have taken soft toss of small waffle balls to a new level. We use dried butter beans (50 cent a bag). It gives the kids something different to hit at and trust me, when they can hit the bean, a baseball starts to look like a basketball coming at them. A few of my hitters are even able to use a broomstick instead of a bat to hit the beans. After starting this drill we had 2 consecutive games where the entire line up batted around twice. Not bad for 7 and 8 year olds.

Similarly, another instructor/coach used the following drill:

Can You Hit This Drill

My 14 u team was struggling to see the ball. We began working with whiffle balls, then went to ping pong balls, then pinto beans, then navy bean and now lentils.

If ya player can see and hit a lentil he can hit a baseball. Our batting average at the plate doubled after using this drill.

The challenge of hitting smaller targets with a smaller bat should improve one's hand-eye coordination for all ball-striking sports.

For a tennis specific drill, one instructor used the following technique:

For instance, if a player were not keeping his eye on the ball, most coaches would give advice such as: ‘Keep your eye on the ball.’ When a player received this sort of instruction he would try to do what the coach was asking him and watch the ball more closely. Unfortunately, no one can keep instructions in the front of their minds for long, so players usually slipped back into their old habits and both coaches and players grew increasingly frustrated.

So one day, instead of giving an instruction, Gallwey asked:

`Can you say “bounce” out loud when the ball bounces and “hit” out loud when you hit the ball?’

In order to do this, players had to keep their eyes on the ball but no longer had a voice in their heads repeating the words ‘I must keep my eye on the ball.’ At this, their play started to improve markedly and the Inner Game method of coaching was born.

With luck, one of these techniques will work.

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    "If ya player can see and hit a lentil he can hit a baseball." Similarly, if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. :-) – Robert C. Barth Feb 16 '12 at 20:14
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One problem that you will probably face is that most of our hand-eye coordination is developed at very young age and it is hard to develop further once you get older. And because of that, most tools, games and programs will be geared towards toddlers and younger. However, there are things that can help.

First, the most important thing you can do is play more tennis (or whatever sport you are interested in improving) nothing can match the experience of the actual sport since you will not only be tracking the ball, but you will also get familiar with tracking the correct colored ball on the correct colored background with a racquet in your hand, etc. Also, it is most valuable to play with another person and not against a machine so that you are able to track the ball without knowing in advance which direction it will be traveling or what kind of spin there will be.

However, playing more tennis requires another player which is not always an option. Another possibility is buying a Reaction Ball which is basically a strange shaped rubber ball that you can drop on the floor or throw against the wall and it will bounce off at unpredictable angles and you try to catch it before it hits the ground. This will improve both your tracking ability and your reaction time.

Another idea is a very easy one: Play video games! Many video games, especially fast-paced first person shooters, can really test and improve your hand-eye coordination. If you are not into first person shooter games, almost all video game consoles have a wide selection of "whack-a-mole" type games that are geared directly towards increasing hand-eye coordination.

Finally, for a DIY answer, a common technique is to use the hammer and ball drill. To do this, you take a ball peen hammer and lay it flat on its side, then you take a tennis ball and bounce it off of the side of the hammer while holding the hammer in your hand. The goal is to be able to keep the ball bouncing off of the hammer for as long as possible without hitting the ground. Once you get good at that, you can start walking around while performing the drill, then move on to using a golf ball instead of a tennis ball. Finally, if you get really good, you can turn the hammer 90 degrees in your hand and bounce the ball off of the hammer head instead of the side of the hammer as demonstrated in the video above. Another added value to this technique is that it will also improve the strength in your forearm and grip which is beneficial for tennis as well.

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