Racquets Round Up
This week’s lessons show some drills you can do to help you develop more feel on the volley and help you use the flight of the oncoming ball to make tactical decisions when playing doubles. To view please click the link below:
Make the practice court smarter!
Although the past 12 months may not have been your most active in terms of playing tennis due to the pandemic, I want you to think back to some of the times you walked off court after your game. Were you thinking ‘my forehand was good? My backhand was good? I served well. I came forward at the right times!’ I imagine there were not that many times where everything clicked and felt good. Tennis is a difficult game and to perform well at all these things consistently is extremely difficult. Therefore, if you are hoping for perfection every time you step on court you are going to be disappointed. The best way to win a point is to force the opponent into making an error. Therefore, you should be looking to force errors. There are eight ways to do this:
- Consistency – get the ball in more times than your opponent
- Direction – getting the ball left then right
- Depth – getting the ball deep then short
- Height – get the ball up high to your opponent and down low
- Spin – use different spins
- Power – hit the ball harder
- Court position – step into the court to make it harder for your opponent
- Time – take away opponent’s time to prepare and hit shots
If you were to practise one of these on the practice court, I would recommend depth. Getting the ball deep. Once the ball lands closer to the baseline than the service line and is coming up to your opponent, it’s very difficult to time the ball with the usual big backswing, therefore players will have to abbreviate their backswing, or they must move back. Typically, players do not do either of these things. So, if you hit the ball deep you are going to win a lot of points.
A relatively new statistic in tennis is the research into the average rally length. Knowing this information can help us tailor the practice court to compliment the patterns we are going to see on the match court. Below is the breakdown of the average rally lengths in tennis matches. It’s also important to add that these stats are not just concerned with the professional game, but the data remains the same across all levels of tennis. Club players, juniors, men, ladies etc.
70% of rallies are between 0-4 shots
20% of the rallies are between 5 – 8 shots. 10% of rallies are more than 9 shots
You can see from these stats that a huge percentage of rallies are only 4 shots as a maximum. This is a serve, plus 1 shot and a return plus 1 shot. That is only 2 shots for each player accounting for 70% on the points in a match.
We must also consider than if only 10% of rallies last longer than 9 shots it does not make sense to spend 90% of our time on the practice court dedicated to something that only happens 10% of the time. While hitting 100’s of crosscourt balls on the forehand and backhand may be good to practice the repetition of the stroke and mould technique, it certainly does not mirror what is going to happen the next time you step on the match court. Therefore, we must elevate the serve, the return and the following shot.
So, when we can all eventually step back onto the practice court, I urge you to think about the stats above and ensure there is a higher percentage of your practice dedicated to what we now know happens on the match court.