How We Draw It Up
(Not always how we do it)
The hardest part of playing sports is improving. As athletes, we are always working to take our game to the next level, whether that is from JV to Varsity or from College to the Pros. Right now, I'm faced with the reality that i must really improve as a player if i want my professional career to continue. I always spent time in the gym and on the court, but what i've been missing is an understanding of the game and how it's really played at the highest level. Tennis is a game of split second decisions, where to hit the ball, how hard to hit it, where should we recover to after our shots; all these decisions have a most probable answer though, and that can help slow the game down for us. So how can you get to a new level? The chart above can help.
I have watched 20 sets of men’s professional tennis at the ATP level and charted every shot to see where their shots land on their opponents side of the court. Every set was a righty against a righty so that there would be no mixing up forehand and backhand sides, and of course the chart above only shows one side of a tennis court with the green line representing the net. The blue lines are about four feet from the singles sideline; those are “Zone A” and “Zone D.” Zone A is on the forehand side of a righty, and zone D is the backhand side. The percentage you can see in each zone is the overall percent time the ball landed in each “Zone.”
These percentages shocked me because I thought the top pros would have played more balls into Zones A and D of their opponent. Hitting closer to the lines opens up your opponent's court and makes it easier for you to get the advantage in the rally. I thought hitting close to the lines reaped such huge rewards that the risk of missing wide was worth it, but apparently I was wrong! They’re only hitting 10% of their shots within four feet of the sideline on both sides. I took into account every shot; passing shots, volleys, overheads, mishits, every shot except the serve.
With this knowledge we should be able to take the court with a sense of relaxation because we know where our opponent is going to hit the ball, and where we should hit most of our shots! Do you aim for zones A and D more than 10% of the time? Should you make adjustments to your game that would cut down on unforced errors and personal frustrations? This was just an introduction to the work I have been doing, and over the next four weeks I will be releasing more strategies and findings that I have realized the pros are using that can help all of us, so stay tuned and let me know what these percentages reveal to you!