Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For, and Offering, Advice on the Sport They LovePlayer to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.
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This week's question from Pam:
I was wondering if anyone has ever played platform tennis. If so, what are your thoughts on whether it can help your tennis game during the winter off-season? I have heard conflicting opinions about this.
Please share your advice with Pam by e-mailing Player@USTA.com and include your name and hometown.
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Last week's question from Ryan:
(Please note: There's no need to send additional responses to this question)
While playing on a sunny day, I had a tough time seeing the tossed ball. The sun was directly on my eyes. But it seems with better players that the sunlight does not bother them at all. They toss and hit big serves as normal. Is there a technique to this? Somebody told me that the higher-ranked players do not see the ball, if the sun is directly in their eyes. They just toss and hit, which becomes natural after all those practices/years. Is this true? Please help.
From Robert C.:
I asked the pros about this, too, and got two answers. One, they hit it blind like you indicated, and, two, they alter their toss a little to get the ball to one side of the sun or the other. I finally decided to wear dark glasses, and that helped a lot. So, what I do now is wear the dark glasses and alter my toss out of the sun disc. I'm still in awe of how the pros handle the sun. Most of them don't seem affected at all.
From Patrick J., Manila, Philippines:
Here in the Philippines, where it’s sunny most of the year, we usually play under the sun, and serving with the sunlight blinding one's vision of the ball can be bothersome for any player, no matter how good he is. Good advice that I got from a book written by the great Rod Laver is to test how you can hit the ball better when you serve against the sun by tossing the ball a number of times at different angles above your head. Check which direction as you toss the ball before you serve that enables you to see the ball better. This means you will need to adjust your tossing and serving motion towards the line or angle where you can see the ball better.
Definitely, seeing the ball (establishing eye contact) before hitting it will make you serve with confidence, even with the sun in your eyes.
From Jeff M.:
I will inform you that I am a beginner. I've been playing on a league for almost eight months now, so I'm probably not right on when I say this, but if you are playing a match with a friend on a sunny day, then I don't see anything wrong with asking to serve from the side of the court where the sun is to your back. For example, on the weekends, if my team has a make-up match and it's a bright sunny day, I can ask the opposing team if I can take the side of the court where the sun is to my back, and they have said that it's fine, but most of the time I wear a hat if it's sunny.
Also, to the second part of the question, it is somewhat possible. I have a low-toss kick serve that I use. The only time I see the ball is right when I start my toss, and before it leaves my hand, I am looking at the other side of the court. Nine times out of 10 I will hit the ball with success if this is my toss. The fact that I toss the ball straight up and back a little, I try to toss it the same every time, but it's still no guarantee. This is a serve that I have worked on ever since I started playing leagues. The low toss helps on windy days, but I don't advise it. You really should go buy some sunglasses and a hat or wait a couple of hours for the sun to move across the sky.
From Kenny S., Highland Park, IL:
Yes, it’s true. Years of dealing with the sun on the serve and on overheads gets easier, and sometimes totally gone. On the tour, they still wear hats to beat the sun, like wrist bands to beat the humidity. Get in your serve preparation; try not to toss the ball at the sun. Alter it as needed. The overhead is also very tough. Be careful, point your hand at the ball as you should and to block the sun. Like the wind, temperature, elevation and humidity, the sun is a challenge but can be beat. Isn't the challenge, the intense workout the reasons we play tennis? It is both a mental workout and a huge physical workout, unlike the game of golf!
From Jennifer S., Savannah, GA:
I, too, am always baffled as to how the pros play outdoors on sunny days without sunglasses! I have a difficult time when the sun is a factor, even with sunglasses on! I frequently end up seeing "spots" after hitting an overhead and having to call on my partner to temporarily cover for me until I can recover my normal vision. Pros never seem to have this problem! How can this be?
From Eric R., Santa Rosa, CA:
Sun in your eyes? It will eventually be in your opponent’s eyes just as much. Do try to work constantly on your toss. Do not think that there is any easy way. Practice is the only way.
However, toss without hitting until you can discover a way to angle your body to the best spot for avoiding the direct blind spot of the sun. If you play doubles, just find a lefty; then as a righty you will both always have the best side to serve from.
Mostly it is "mind over matter." If you don’t mind, then the sun won’t matter.
Do not psych yourself out. If you show that the sun bothers you, a cagy opponent will lob you to death on the "bad side." Instead of cursing him, just let it bounce and put your hand up into the worst sun spot before swinging into your shot.
Polarized lenses do help some, if you like glasses. If in blinding sun, just "keep your eye on the blur.” If you can only see the outline, that still is enough to get your shot in.
Stay positive, relentlessly.