First, most players do not understand what "keeping your eye on the ball" really means. It is much more than just watching or looking at the ball. It is an intense visual concentration on the ball from the time it leaves your opponent's racquet until you see it hit the strings of your racquet.
Second, two-thirds of the time you can get away with a late backswing, so you get lazy. You get away with late preparation on two shots and then get surprised by a third deeper or stronger shot, and you make an error.
Interestingly, to incorporate these two exceptionally important basics into your game is more like establishing a good habit than developing a skill. Not everyone can hit a strong backhand, spin serve, or wonderful drop shot, but anyone and everyone can improve visual concentration and racquet preparation.
If you did nothing else but improve your visual concentration on the ball and get your racquet back earlier, you would have better ground strokes.
* If the ball is flying all over the place - Try to slow down the racquet speed and lengthen the follow-through. Try to keep the racquet strings and the ball together longer.
* If there seems to be "nothing behind" your forehand - Try placing the fingers of your left hand on the inside of your right elbow, loosely. Hit some easy forehands at medium speed. Yes, you'll feel weird, but this will get more shoulder rotation and less arm into the forehand. It can help you to stop swinging across your chest, which weakens the stroke.
* If you suspect your wrist may be causing mechanical breakdowns - Try putting a wristband on your wrist (two if you already wear one) to remind you to keep your wrist firm throughout the shot. Sounds simple, but it can help.
* If the ball seems never to be in the right place - Concentrate on moving your feet more. Take small, quick steps. These steps help your body to get in the best position to hit your stroke. Even perfect strokes wonít work if your legs donít put your body, the racquet, and the ball in the right place to use the stroke.
* If you are feeling rushed - Use both hands to take your racquet back on the backhand side. Whether you hit with one or two, taking the racquet back with two will help you get prepared with your shoulders turned and racquet back sooner.
* If you are playing against a weak server - Position yourself to take the serve as a backhand. When you are expecting a backhand (not hoping one won't come), your stroke will be more fluid and relaxed. You'll get practice and build confidence.
* If you feel yourself reaching or stretching to hit - As with the forehand, make sure your footwork is putting you in the best position to use your stroke. Quicker, smaller steps can often be all that an ailing backhand needs to cure it.
* If your backhands seem to "pop" off your racquet - Work on developing a longer follow-through by thinking about sailing a paper plate or Frisbee. The motion is probably natural for you, but sometimes putting a racquet in your hand can tighten you up.