I believe Performance Analysis is the single greatest tool to unlock the 1% gains from high performers within Tennis. Not the only one of course; the power of the player coach relationship or the environment that a layer surrounds themselves in are also key for marginal gains. From my experience on the ATP Tour, the ability to use statistics, facts and videos for analysing matches combined with the experience of the Claudio Pistolesi Enterprise (CPE) team has given me the tools to build foundations for the players I am working with.
How much does the average coach remember after watching two hours of the live match? 70%, 50%? Well according to some of the leading Sports Science experts, coaches on average remember 20% of the match they watched meaning up to 80% could be guess work! Is this the scenario you want to be in during the post match debrief?
The use of video tagging software, which in my case is Dartfish allows the accurate account to be broken down and moulded into tailor made information for the player. This can be used for example on effectiveness of serve direction or percentage of returns made on the advantage side on big points.
Percentages from the 2015 Australian Open (Credit BrainGame Tennis 2015):
70% of points were between 0-4 shots.
The player winning 51% of these points went on to win the match 90% of the time.
So what does this really mean for how we train on the practice court? The Mens game is really serve/return + 1 and thats about it. So why do we see hundreds’s of Tennis academy’s across the globe delivering tolerance based drills when this accounts for only 10% of points in a Tennis match? Of course there is time to groove strokes and build on technical foundations but ultimately do we need to create sessions based around serve/return +1 more often? In my opinion absolutely yes. Make the focus on games based coaching with realistic situations that allow the player to become more effective early in the point instead of training for long points that happen infrequently. When it comes to creating opportunities & getting the job done on the first ball after serve or after return.
Good practice can be focusing drills on the first ball after serve and return; this area should be the priority of sessions instead of traditionally being focused on the end of practice when players are fatigued.
At CPE we put a lot of focus on this area and create practices built on the the first ball after serve and return. Performance Analysis benefits are when you’re looking at ball length & position and player & opponent on the court during the 0-4 phase of play. The questions that come out of these practices are: is the players serve creating opportunities for the first ball? Is the second serve return allowing them to have the first big strike in the rally?
This for me is why CPE has a world class team to build players strengths from a holistic tailor made approach with Claudio Pistolesi leading. Claudio has worked with 10 top 100 players on the ATP & WTA Tour; myself & Jonny Fraser add strong Sports Science and Performance Analysis data to support and help players build confidence in match situations and reinforce what the CPE Senior Coaching Team delivers on the practice court.
Mike James Tennis Analyst & Communications Consultant