It’s 2019 and after 8 years of mapping and analyzing Junior Tennis Match Play Data, the numbers still tell a consistent story – the majority of points played in matches land between (0-4) shots.
As our coaching team across the globe continue to analyze and map data from Junior match play (ages 10-18), the number 2 and the number 3 are the most popular shot rally lengths. Styrling Strother is widely known as the #1 Junior Tennis Strategy Expert in the World and doesn’t stop at the rally length data alone. There are many more data analytics that are telling us exactly how to interpret the flow of the match. In 2018, Styrling discovered what he is now calling the Momentum Scoring System that helps players become more aware of exactly how momentum shifts from point to point, and game to game. Using Momentum (winning 2 points in a row) and Conversion (winning 3 points in a row) Points, players are able to consistently stay in the moment or the “zone” more often and for longer periods of time throughout the duration of their match.
Analyzing the data with players on the court before practice is essential to leading a player to understand how to capture and keep momentum from point to point. Even breaking the points down to controlling momentum shot to shot!
At the Art of Winning Global Project, our coaching team is discovering that players are able to control momentum better by sequencing 2-shot patterns and combinations. The importance of 2-shot sequencing integrates with the data confirming the average rally length of points throughout the match.
If 85-90% of the points played are ending 0-8 shots, then 2 shots + 2 shots for each player is where ALL the action takes place!
There are thousands of coaches across the world embracing the powerful truth of this data and beginning to spend more practice time addressing the tactical and strategic plans of the first 4 shots a player will strike.
S / S1 / S2 / S3
S/S1 Combination Sequences involve the 1st and 3rd shot of the point
S2/S3 Combination Sequences involve the 5th and 7th shot of the point
R / R1 / R2 / R3
R/R1 Combination Sequences involve the 2nd and 4th shot of the point
R2/R3 Combination Sequences involve the 6th and 8th shot of the point
Here is one of many matches tracked thus far this year and the story remains the same:
Girl 16s Level 3 North Carolina Tournament Match
Oliver vs. Kerrigan (Oliver was the player mapped)
Match Score 4-6, 5-7
The Rally Length Win/Loss Ratio Chart developed by Styrling Strother in 2016 shows that Oliver struggled with the S1, R, and R1 shots with emphasis on the Return of Serve as being the main hindrance to Oliver winning the match. What is interesting is that even though Oliver spends approximately 10% of practice time with extended rally practice, she won 8 out of the 11 points that where +9 shot rally length.
As our coaching team continues to track match data every week, we find that players are steadily improving after seeing how the numbers land into the different categories of rally length. Adjustment recommendations are worked out with each player and the continued emphasis on learning and practicing the art of re-focusing after each point is making a big impact in the overall performance of each player from match to match.
Matches like this one where a player loses a close match can then be analyzed with pin point accuracy of when and where a player needs to re-focus more as well as understand the dynamics of pressure and momentum and use these forces to advance their lead or capture one if necessary.
Click on the link below to access the Momentum Flow Chart PDF and study more closely each point rally length and how momentum shifts from one player to the next throughout the match –>
In the PDF, you will be able to see the entire match momentum flow chart, below is a quick picture of each Set of the match. The Momentum Equilibrium Line (MEL) is there to help a player understand that moving above the line is “gaining momentum” and moving below the line “losing momentum” in the match. This is a powerful visual for players to see how they earn momentum (2 in a row) and conversion (3 in a row) points.
Oliver earns Conversion points noted by a RED triangle, and Momentum points noted by a RED square.
Kerrigan earns Conversion points noted by a BLACK triangle, and Momentum points noted by a BLACK square.
Momentum Scoring System Chart (MSSC)
The Momentum Scoring System (MSS) analytics show how many Momentum and Conversion points were won by each player. Conversion points are more valuable than Momentum points as they carry more weight with regards to gaining a greater separation value in the Game Score. For example, in Game 4,5, and 6 of Set 1 – Kerrigan earns 3 Conversion points to Oliver’s 0 Conversion points to win the Set 6-4.
Even though Oliver earned more Momentum points than Kerrigan, 16-8. Kerrigan was able to convert 13 Conversion points to Oliver’s 6.
The Chart below shows the total number of Momentum/Conversion points for each player and how the difference in Conversion points won was reflected in the match score.
As you can see in the Stacked Column, Oliver actually scored more combined Momentum/Conversion points with 24, Kerrigan combined Momentum/Conversion with 21. However, the Conversion point difference is enough to help Kerrigan get the victory this time around.
When it comes to building and sustaining momentum, Conversion points are the ultimate to achieve towards winning the match. If Conversion points are tied between the two players, the Momentum points become more valuable to separate the winning and losing player.
So, how does this type of data analysis transfer to practice scenarios? Every month at the Art of Winning Project, our coaches are creating new challenges and games for players to experiment with the types of adjustments and changes in their mental/emotional mindset and tactical plans needed to win more points in a row. One of the games we use at the Art of Winning is a game called Conversions.
- Player focuses in the present moment by tracking the number of points they win in a row to gain momentum.
- Player focuses on stopping their opponent from winning 2 or 3 points in a row.
- Player begins to understand how momentum can be captured and how points are the object of momentum.
Click on the Video below to watch the Conversions Game – this game is to encourage players to focus on winning consecutive points in a row to capture and build momentum.