THE POINT


Jun 15, 2020
Daniel McCain / CONTRIBUTOR

The Problem 

Tennis is way behind other sports in the use of video and analytics.  

Video is so important in college football and basketball that teams employ video coordinators whose chief responsibilities are to shoot, edit and organize video of games and practices.  Teams are able to extract a wealth of data from video that they use to enhance performance.  

Data has become front and center for NBA games where almost every decision is now either based on analytics or informed by it.  Teams have become recently more dependent on analytics to design winning strategies because it’s based on real information that reveals real patterns among their players.  

The range of statistics they collect and track include player efficiency rating, win shares, offensive/defensive efficiency, points per possession, true shooting percentage, free throw rate, usage percentage, rebound rate, assists/turnover/steal/block rate, shot charts, adjusted plus/minus, and more.  These stats inform them what’s working for them at specific times or game situations, and what’s not working for them, and why.  

The match statistics that, for example, tennis fans currently see on the ATP Tour app for current ATP event matches include 1st serve %, win % for 1st and 2nd serve and return points, aces, double faults, break points won and saved, how many games they played, and that’s it.  These statistics from the ATP app look like the nuance-rich, strategic ebb and flow of a tennis match was reduced to a serving contest.  Kind of like if basketball game stats reduced the sport to appear like a game of H-O-R-S-E, players and coaches would very often miss out on the value of a wide range of players, their strengths and weaknesses and how to maximize performance.  

And yet, with all the benefits of analytics derived from video that we have seen in other sports, the typical competitive tennis player has not accessed video or reliable, useful data from their own practices and matches either at all or with any regularity.  The typical junior development coach and college coach has no convenient or consistent path to watch, video and chart matches to produce real data on players that impacts performance and player development. While the match stats ATP Tour app tell an important story about serve and return outcomes, no information appears about impact shots – shots…
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