Saturday, November 3, 2007 - INDi2010 Racing Team
INDi2010 Update: Bounce Hit

- By: Tasha Betcherman

The term "bounce hit" comes from tennis, the mother sport of hand eye coordination. Hand eye coordination has to do with the control of eye movement and the processing of visual input to guide body movement. Bear with me here.

Let's begin with the problem: in skiing, we are attempting to be as efficient as possible, to save energy wherever possible and to produce the most forward momentum for a unit of energy. Why is that a potential problem? Well, it goes back to hand eye coordination. In tennis, they talk about how the brain and hand movements get slightly out of sync after movements are repeated over a period of time. Tennis players spend many hours a day hitting the ball, it has to become automatic but it also needs to be consistently powerful. Similarly, in skiing we practice the same motions over and over; we are processing visual input that guides our body movements. Why are tennis players so concerned with the brain lag phenomena and not skiers? We should pay attention because it's happening and it's real. Tennis is a multi- million dollar sport; a female tennis player at a similar level to me in skiing would easily be earning six figures a year, so think about the top of the sport. That's why they research this stuff.

At the Bollettieri Tennis Academy tennis players are taught the bounce hit drill. It's simple, the ball bounces you say "bounce", you hit the ball you say "hit". You repeat millions of times over your career and it transforms into the grunt you hear at Wimbledon. Many people assume the tennis grunt is from exertion, that the player is releasing energy and they're doing so at such a strenuous rate that they make a loud grunting sound. Wrong, they're playing bounce hit. It forces the player to keep the timing and rhythm and avoid the natural lag that your brain drifts towards. Not all players make grunting sounds to enforce bounce hit but it's quite common. Think about the power of a tennis stroke, if you stay with the motion keeping your head still over the stroke for a split second you increase your power output. If you peel off during the stroke you lose power. O.K. how does this relate to us? We rehearse our technique as often as possible for hours a day. Your body wants to become efficient but in trying to save energy, it can trick you into incomplete movements, that's the brain lag that tennis players are trained from a very young age to avoid. It becomes easy to ski like that, it even looks o.k. on video but it's a trick. All you need to do is bring it back to your awareness and don't peel off the motion too early. By staying on the motion through the entire application phase and follow through, the power output is increased, and real efficiency is gained.

I think we can draw parallels from different sports because the concepts are similar. Hand eye coordination is universal and very important to good sound technical skiing. It's not a small detail like what angle your elbows are at, it's the bigger picture. Along with excellent fitness and energy, playing bounce hit is a Grand Slam in tennis as well as skiing.

The best in the business: Note the head position, staying with the stroke.


Two of the best bouce hitters in skiing: Staying on the motion maximizing output.

Chandra was unstoppable on the climbs in the first round.

Team Supporters

Will and Sheila Davis

Will and Sheila Davis (Uncle Will and Aunt Sheila to Jeff) have always shown great interest in Jeff's athletic pursuits. Both of them are active and fit people themselves, and can be often found swimming at the local YMCA in Orillia. Will is an accomplished pianist and a real estate agent and Sheila is a social worker. Their support is greatly appreciated!

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