One of the things we tell players who play centre-style, as most do nowadays, is
that when they address the ball their hands should be well out in front of their
body. In fact, there should be a gap of about one foot between the hands and
body for most people, depending on stature and body shape. (I had one player
who said, "but my arms are not long enough for that. My body is a foot out in
front already!") This allows plenty of room for a full backswing, so that the stroke
can be played using the full weight of the mallet without having to jab or hurry the
forward swing, and applies to all grips and stances, whether the hands are
together or apart.
Many players address the ball with their hands much closer to the body, with
elbows bent so that the backswing will be severely restricted, and a common
reaction when they are told to comfortably straighten their elbows so that their
hands are further forward is, "But if I do that I will not be able to see the ball as I
hit it." They are often surprised when we tell them that they do not need to see
the ball as they hit it; because they have been told in past years to fix their eyes on
the back of the ball and keep them there during the swing.
This is good advice
and is essential during the lining up and the backswing, in order to get the body
square to the line of the swing and ensure that the mallet is swung back in the
correct line. Fixing the eyes on the ball and keeping them there, also helps to
keep the head and shoulders still during the swing; but as long as the shoulders do
not move, it is not essential that you be able to see the ball during the forward
To illustrate this, you can line everything up, swing the mallet back, then close
your eyes as you start the forward swing. It will make no difference in your ability
to roquet or run a hoop that your eyes are shut. Actually, if your eyes are open
and you see something going wrong (e.g. your mallet starting to go offline) there
would be nothing you could do about it anyway, because your reaction time is
too short to make any correction after starting the forward swing. Your hands
should come forward slightly ahead of the mallet head, and will usually block your
view of the ball before the mallet impacts it, but this will not be a problem.
So when addressing the ball, remember to push your hands out away from your
body and give yourself more room.