Playing percentage tennis…high percentage Tennis! Now how often do you hear players or even hear yourself saying this… ‘beautiful match but I was the better tennis player, why did i lose? Very often it’s because you or that player are hitting small targets. You’re taking a large amount of risk. It’s not the highlight reel shots that win matches. It’s just the boring shots that do that. So very often what happens is people will go low over the net and then aim for the lines right here. Often I’ll ask players ‘where was your target?’ They are out in this area right here, In a good court position and then miss the ball wide. They come over and they place the ball right on the line! That’s your mistake right there! High percentage tennis is about hitting height over the net. You go 3 to 5 feet over the net and hit far away from the lines. Perfectly about 3 to 4 feet away from the lines. That’s a big target so the margin of safety is much greater! So you have more areas within to miss while still making the shot. We took a look at the pro statistics and we try to decrease our unforced errors. So by playing far away from the lines with big targets, we’re going with the shot we can make eight out of ten times so increasing the probability we’re going to make the shot….Vs…. going for the shot we are going to make two out of ten times. We then increase the probability that we’re going to miss. So you want to make it easy on yourself first and difficult on your opponent second. So hit the big shot to the the big target and if opponent does get there, now what they’ve done is given you another opening. So we talk about using combinations what we will cover in the course. Now you’ve got them here you hit another big target. Now you got them on the run… If they get there you have another big target right here! You do not need to go close to the lines! You do not need the net skimmers. Playing percentage tennis is about hitting big targets and going with height over the net, with the understanding that i don’t have to hit a winner on this shot but i’m going to stretch my opponent where i have a big target and I could possibly hit a winner on the next shot! The margins in pro tennis: Now some symmetrics have been released from ‘on the tee’. They’ve tracked all the points played in the Australian Open from 2014 to 2016. So when they looked at the men’s side they couldn’t determine whether or not somebody was aiming for the lines. So what they did is they made a determination that if the ball was hit within 7 inches of the line they consider that the pro is aiming for the line. So they found that between 2 to 7 percent of shots land within 7 inches or 21 centimeters of the line. Then they said ‘with the regular rally ball, what percentage of balls are landing close to the line?’. So they took a metric of one meter which is about 3.2 feet and they worked out that on average amongst the top players about 50 percent of balls landed within 3.2 feet of the line or 1 meter. That means that the other 85 percent of balls were landing inside of that. So it just proves that pros play more towards the center of the court. They play big targets and they play away from the lines! Now there were certain outlines. For instance John Isner played 27 percent of his shots within that 3.2 range but the best players, the top players averaged around 15 percent. Now we talk about the height over the net. The average height over the net for the top players was about 2 feet, that’s the average. Now to visually demonstrate what 2 feet above the net looks like i used my tape measure and put this yellow rope across the net. That’s 2 feet above the net. So that’s the average for the more flatter hitters. Nadal is actually a little bit higher than that. That’s the average ball. Now to give you an idea, during the finals of the 2017 Mens Australian Open. Nadal against Roger Federer…. Roughly Nadal’s average rally ball height was always more than 4 feet above the net. So we take that and we double it. As you can see the pros use a lot of margin, there’s a lot of safety in their shots. They don’t often miss in the net. They go with good height over the net, they keep the ball away from the lines, they play more towards the center and if they do go close the lines, it’s between 2 to 7 percent of the time that acually happens. The big difference between pros and club players/amateur’s is pros don’t go for the lines where amateurs and club players do!

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Dennis Veasley

16 thoughts on “Singles Strategy: How Pros Control The Court”

  1. thank you Florian! more video like this would be great. I personnaly try to aim for bigger target on return of serve (Second serve of the opponent). on rallies, i tend to forget about target. one important aspect is the pace the pro players are hitting. I often see "short" balls they hit but with such pace than the other only reply with a cross court short. at a club level, with less pace, the advantage is given to the opponent…

  2. das war ein super wichtiges video! wirklich aufn punkt gebracht. …und die Bälle, die die pros nahe der linie ABSICHLICH spielen, sind gespielt in situationen, wenn sie dazu gezwungen sind (gegner gehr zum netz, oder gegner ist klar überlegen im punkto bewegung am spielplatz, d.h. man muss die rallies möglichst schnell abschliessen – siehe Isner, Karlovic u.ä.). eines der besten videos im youtube in puncto percentage play.

  3. I have a bad habit of going for a bit too much on my shots, swinging a bit too flat and not giving myself enough net clearence. It is silly: you can get depth and annoy your opponent with less effort with high bounces if you just hit a bit higher… but I still do it.

  4. Yes, Using the original Smart Target Tennis as seen on Facebook. Best hitting lanes in Tennis are the Smart Targets.

  5. I aim for the side line all the time on short balls because it is fun to do that but no always helpful in winning a point. This video was extremely helpful for me and I will be practicing this strategy the next time I am out there.

  6. great advice, I recommend a microphone and filming closer. an echoing room filming far away is not enjoyable to watch.

  7. As I started playing more talented players, I felt as if I needed to aim for more line shots to win points. Now I realize that's hurting me and I need to aim for a bigger target. While my consistency improved by aiming for more of the center of the court, I now notice I'm hitting a lot of balls short (because I'm not hitting through the ball). So now I tend to aim long so that ball lands in the opponent's "red zone."

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