We all hear about the “big” or crucial points in tennis, but sometimes it’s difficult to fully understand which points these are. Today I would like to share with you precisely what points have the biggest influence on the outcome of each game and ultimately each match. The ATP posts various match statistics on their website, but it is very difficult to decipher how those points are effecting the outcome matches. For example, someone could be hitting 100 forehand winners (Impressive) but still lose every match.
Thanks to Barnett, T., & Clarke, S. (2005). We now have a very good rubric for which points are the most crucial to win. As seen below there are three important columns; Winning the point at 30-all, the player who has the advantage after a deuce, and the player who wins the first point or two in any game (without a deuce.)
As shown below you can see that being the server in these situations is a huge advantage, and something to really think about. When in these situations, I believe it is important to put more energy and effort into these big points, and conserve energy during other points. Personally, when I broke someone’s serve in singles, I did not put a whole lot of energy into the following return games because I knew that I could win my service games 98% of the time. I knew only needed one break to close out a set.
Another tip to track which big points you are personally winning and losing the most of is to have someone chart your matches. During the tennis congress, we showed players a way to do this easily with a simple line graph. You just draw a horizontal line with the paper rotated horizontally, with points that are won going upward and points lost going downward. The lines should be about 1 inch long, and on each point that you make you can put a label or a note. You can customize the way you chart each point however you like. I put a picture below to show you an example.
I hope this gives everyone a better understanding of what “big points” really are and gets you thinking about how you deal with them. If you have no idea, I highly recommend you have a friend or teammate chart a couple of your matches so you can visually see when you excel and when you don’t.
– Carlos Bermudez Tennis