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Serve 'em hard
05-13-2007, 10:33 PM
I've still never seen a good definition of what an unforced error is, and who exactly decides whether an error is 'forced' or 'unforced' during pro matches. (I remember Federer complaining about this after some recent match, saying he disagreed with the stats compiled for him.)

So, anyone know the definition of an unforced error?

Bottle Rocket
05-13-2007, 10:40 PM
From the TENNIS website-->

Designation of an Unforced Error
Q. What are the criteria for designating a shot an unforced error?
-Rolland LeBlanc, Saratoga Springs, NY

A. For this one we deferred to the industry expert, the renowned Dr. Leo Levin of IDS Sports, who does or has done statistics for all of the major tennis tournaments and then some. He's also the person who came up with the term "unforced error" in 1982. Here's what he said.

"By definition, there are only three ways to end a point - with a winner, forced error or unforced error. The idea of an error being either forced or unforced is to place the blame for the error - who is responsible for the missed shot? Was the error forced by the aggressive play of the opponent or was it unforced, just a mistake by the player who hit the shot?"

"This is how we train our staff to judge an unforced error. An unforced Error is when the player has time to prepare and position himself or herself to get the ball back in play and makes an error. This is a shot that the player would normally get back into play. The real keys here are time and position. When the opponent takes away time by hitting the prior shot with extra pace this can result in a forced error. Also, when the opponent forces the player out of position with placement (depth and/or angle) this can result in a forced error."

"As examples, most missed returns of first serves are considered to be forced errors - forced by the pace and placement of the opponent's serve. Many, if not most return errors against second serves, would be unforced errors since most second serves are just means to get the point started and do not put extra pressure on the receiver."

"Other examples, most passing shot attempts that fail would be classified as forced errors, forced by the opponent's aggressive play (the exception would be when an opponent hits a weak approach and the player has time to setup and then misses the shot, that would be unforced). Most approach shot errors would be unforced because the player is attempting to hit an aggressive shot and misses."

"Another way to look at it is this. Would you classify the prior shot as "weak" or just "in play" Or would you say it was "forcing" or "aggressive"? An error made off of a "weak" or "in play" shot would be unforced. An error resulting from a "forcing" or "aggressive shot" would be forced."

"By definition double faults are unforced errors."


Having to deal with Nadal, for example, seems to give a pretty misleading number of unforced errors for his opponent. When you have to deal with his groundstrokes for an entire match and hit so many extra balls, it changes the meaning. The errors stats for some matches are more meaningfull than others...

Serve 'em hard
05-13-2007, 11:23 PM
You are my hero, Bottle Rocket. Thank you.

Interesting stuff. Seems to be leave a lot of room for interpretation...

HellBunni
05-14-2007, 07:00 AM
what about mental pressure?
that would "force" errors!
there are really no unforced errors. Maybe with a few exceptions.

samizram
05-15-2007, 06:13 AM
what about mental pressure?
that would "force" errors!
there are really no unforced errors. Maybe with a few exceptions.The question was about "unforced" errors, not "undrawn" errors. Sure, most errors are solicited from, or suckered out of, a player somehow. But that isn't FORCING an error from him or her. Very different things.

MauricioDias
11-23-2013, 05:59 PM
From the TENNIS website-->

Designation of an Unforced Error
Q. What are the criteria for designating a shot an unforced error?
-Rolland LeBlanc, Saratoga Springs, NY

A. For this one we deferred to the industry expert, the renowned Dr. Leo Levin of IDS Sports, who does or has done statistics for all of the major tennis tournaments and then some. He's also the person who came up with the term "unforced error" in 1982. Here's what he said.

"By definition, there are only three ways to end a point - with a winner, forced error or unforced error. The idea of an error being either forced or unforced is to place the blame for the error - who is responsible for the missed shot? Was the error forced by the aggressive play of the opponent or was it unforced, just a mistake by the player who hit the shot?"

"This is how we train our staff to judge an unforced error. An unforced Error is when the player has time to prepare and position himself or herself to get the ball back in play and makes an error. This is a shot that the player would normally get back into play. The real keys here are time and position. When the opponent takes away time by hitting the prior shot with extra pace this can result in a forced error. Also, when the opponent forces the player out of position with placement (depth and/or angle) this can result in a forced error."

"As examples, most missed returns of first serves are considered to be forced errors - forced by the pace and placement of the opponent's serve. Many, if not most return errors against second serves, would be unforced errors since most second serves are just means to get the point started and do not put extra pressure on the receiver."

"Other examples, most passing shot attempts that fail would be classified as forced errors, forced by the opponent's aggressive play (the exception would be when an opponent hits a weak approach and the player has time to setup and then misses the shot, that would be unforced). Most approach shot errors would be unforced because the player is attempting to hit an aggressive shot and misses."

"Another way to look at it is this. Would you classify the prior shot as "weak" or just "in play" Or would you say it was "forcing" or "aggressive"? An error made off of a "weak" or "in play" shot would be unforced. An error resulting from a "forcing" or "aggressive shot" would be forced."

"By definition double faults are unforced errors."


Having to deal with Nadal, for example, seems to give a pretty misleading number of unforced errors for his opponent. When you have to deal with his groundstrokes for an entire match and hit so many extra balls, it changes the meaning. The errors stats for some matches are more meaningfull than others...

Really good definition. Thanks

PhrygianDominant
11-23-2013, 09:37 PM
what about mental pressure?
that would "force" errors!
there are really no unforced errors. Maybe with a few exceptions.

Although I might be inclined to agree with you because it is so interesting, I don't think one can reasonably begin to keep statistics in the realm of psychology.

dominikk1985
11-24-2013, 03:08 AM
I would say an UE is an error in an offensive or neutral position.

If the opponent has you against the ropes it is not an UE. but if you miss a normal rally ball or winner attempt it is an UE.

5263
12-01-2013, 04:59 AM
Bottle Rocket gave some great info on the tech def of UEs. thank...one of the beauties of UEs is that you can use your own thoughts about your subject/player due to what you know about them and what they train to do.

For instance, when I chart my player, I know what I expect them to do and target, so if they vary with that it can affect the UE count. If the opponent rips a speedy Fh at them because it appears they try to hit harder back, then miss...that might be a UE since they have been trained to just redirect that power back vs trying to match or 1 up them.

Another example would be if my player is pulled wide and goes for a dtl winner and just misses, instead of rolling a high topspin crosscourt (safer shot). By going for a winner placement, they had deemed it a ball they could handle with aggression and should be held responsible for the miss. Rolling a high TS back crosscourt would likely NOT have missed and would often give time to recover.

On the other hand, if I know my player is struggling with a high Bh in practice and the opponent hits high rollers to their weak spot....I consider that forced errors for their development, even though another student of mine my handle that shot easy.

This type approach makes the UE way more useful for coaching and training, but may have less to do with Official type scoring you see on TV. :)

rufus_smith
12-01-2013, 05:36 AM
On TV they show charts during match. Anybody what do they count as unforced errors?
especially a double fault? or a missed return of second serve?

5263
12-01-2013, 07:01 AM
On TV they show charts during match. Anybody what do they count as unforced errors?
especially a double fault? or a missed return of second serve?

Imo Bottle Rocket above, answers this as well as you will get. :)