70 percent of all rallies last 1 shot (all levels). Strategy implications?

#1
Sorry, guys. It was 30 percent of all rallies are one shot. 70 percent of rallies are 0-4 shots.

While this is still way shorter than most would think, it’s not close to 70 percent being unreturned serves.
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You may have seen the reports that show, by far, the most common length of rally is one shot. That's an ace, unreturnable serve, or return error.

I read an article talking about how this seems to fly in the face of most strategies. Staying in the rally for 5 shots, focusing on consistency, etc. The writer believed we should put much more focus on serves and returns and less on rallies. He mentioned how most people practice by hitting back and forth for extended rallies rather than more realistic, shorter points.

What do you think about these findings and what they say for how we should practice and play?
 
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#3
You may have seen the reports that show, by far, the most common length of rally is one shot. That's an ace, unreturnable serve, or return error.

I read an article talking about how this seems to fly in the face of most strategies. Staying in the rally for 5 shots, focusing on consistency, etc. The writer believed we should put much more focus on serves and returns and less on rallies. He mentioned how most people practice by hitting back and forth for extended rallies rather than more realistic, shorter points.

What do you think about these findings and what they say for how we should practice and play?
What I think is I don’t believe these findings.
 
#10
Maybe this is one shot not counting ROS and serve?
No, they clarified that it was counted as Double fault=0, serve=1, ROS=2, and so on.

The focus of the article was how shocked everyone was when these findings where presented at a PTR conference. People theorized it might be different on clay or in slow conditions, but the results always remained essentially the same. One analysis of a tournament where it was cold, rainy, and played on clay dropped to about 68% of points being 1 shot in length.
 
#11
Modern servebot tennis at its finest :)

I don't think pro matches on clay in the 80's or 90's had this short of rallies. Just watch some French Open from the 1980s or 1990s and do some quick stats...
 
#13
I think the ROS might be the big thing we can take from this. Most people practice their serve a good amount. People rarely dedicate a chunk of time to practicing return of serves.
ROS probably my worst part of my game. Lately I've been trying to practice ROS with anyone that wants to get in some extra serve practice.
 
#16
Link? Not saying I don't believe the study, but I've seen so many bad statistical studies that I don't believe anything I hear anymore.
Link? Not saying I don't believe the study, but I've seen so many bad statistical studies that I don't believe anything I hear anymore.
I don't have a link, as it's in the actual journal sent out by PTR through the mail. I will try to take a picture of the pages and upload them soon.
 
#17
I’ve looked back at a lot of videos I have taken against different players and we average at least 4 shots per point. So I don’t believe this study, maybe it was all doubles because this is not what happens in most singles matches.
 
#18
When my coach and I play games I still return some of the serves and get into rallies and he's a couple of levels above me. I don't see this very often in my rec league either. I mean seriously how hard is it to slice back a few returns.
 
#19
I’ve looked back at a lot of videos I have taken against different players and we average at least 4 shots per point. So I don’t believe this study, maybe it was all doubles because this is not what happens in most singles matches.
I will double check and post the study. Keep in mind this was mode, not average.
 
#26
I thought O'Shaunessy said something like 70% of all rallies are 0-4 shots?
Could be true for rec as you say. Anyway, still, gotta work on that serve.
Yeah, something in there.

But people confuse repetitive rally ball practice at pace for over-training because you only need to be able to sustain 3-4 most the time. The idea of rally ball is simply mechanics reinforcement and build confidence not that you can make the shots when needed, but that you cannot miss. It is about focus and rhythm as well.

I only do rally ball for the first maybe 10 minutes, then we go on to other things anyway. I do a lot of live ball play where you rally for a couple shots and then both go for winners. I like that kinda drill most because it translates well to matches.
 
#28
Yeah, something in there.

But people confuse repetitive rally ball practice at pace for over-training because you only need to be able to sustain 3-4 most the time. The idea of rally ball is simply mechanics reinforcement and build confidence not that you can make the shots when needed, but that you cannot miss. It is about focus and rhythm as well.

I only do rally ball for the first maybe 10 minutes, then we go on to other things anyway. I do a lot of live ball play where you rally for a couple shots and then both go for winners. I like that kinda drill most because it translates well to matches.
Also, has anyone collected info on break points...do these critical points often feature longer rallies than 1 shot? We dig in our heels on certain points.
 
#29
There is only one strategic implication we can garner from this information - look for different sources, because this is clearly wrong. Not to mention his conclusion is atrocious. If you want to play high variance tennis, by all means, go for a winner off the first swing. If you want to be a solid player, get the first ball in (and in a good spot) and learn to build a point.

You can go on youtube right now and look up so many tennis matches where 70% of the points go beyond 1 swing from each player.
 
#32
This works.

Sledging or "Mental Disintergration" as it is also known is the tactic of talking to players on the opposition side (particularily batsmen, as taking on a whole team in the field is never a good idea) with the objective of destroying either their concentration or their confidence/self esteem. Sledging is practised in a large way by the Australian Cricket Team, but most International teams partake in sledging. Sledging can be merely an opposition player talking constantly to the batsman, but has mostly become known as players swearing and questioning their lineage.
 
#33
Yeah, something in there.

But people confuse repetitive rally ball practice at pace for over-training because you only need to be able to sustain 3-4 most the time. The idea of rally ball is simply mechanics reinforcement and build confidence not that you can make the shots when needed, but that you cannot miss. It is about focus and rhythm as well.

I only do rally ball for the first maybe 10 minutes, then we go on to other things anyway. I do a lot of live ball play where you rally for a couple shots and then both go for winners. I like that kinda drill most because it translates well to matches.

So if your in a match do you usually go for a winner after a couple of shots?
 
#34
So if your in a match do you usually go for a winner after a couple of shots?
Every. Damn. Shot.

Just kidding. Exactly the point, to be able to have shot tolerance and wait for those attack balls. But it usually takes a decent, sometime a lot, of neutral rally balls to get there.


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#35
Every. Damn. Shot.

Just kidding. Exactly the point, to be able to have shot tolerance and wait for those attack balls. But it usually takes a decent, sometime a lot, of neutral rally balls to get there.


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Okay that’s what I thought. But I have practiced similar to what you mentioned. We will hit rally shots but if any shot is hit short it is attacked which is a fun way of practicing.
 
#36
You may have seen the reports that show, by far, the most common length of rally is one shot. That's an ace, unreturnable serve, or return error.

I read an article talking about how this seems to fly in the face of most strategies. Staying in the rally for 5 shots, focusing on consistency, etc. The writer believed we should put much more focus on serves and returns and less on rallies. He mentioned how most people practice by hitting back and forth for extended rallies rather than more realistic, shorter points.

What do you think about these findings and what they say for how we should practice and play?
I read somewhere, not sure if this was O'Shaunessy or I just Googled tennis stats of shot selection, but here is what I remember:

They did a study of all shots made at AO 2017 and the average rally was 4.2 shots.

In % the different shots was like this

Serve 40% (Returns something like 35%)
Topspin Forehand 30%
Topspin Backhand 20%
All other shots combined 10%

Women's game were about the same.

So you are absolutely right, serve and returns are the most important shots in tennis.

Cheers, Toby
 
#39
I think practicing a two, three shot sequence is important. After the serve, coming out of the serve you have a different "balance situation" that you need to tame. Practicing s&v helps this.
Practicing rallying also important and helps develop a portion of required control.
 
#40
I'm inclined to believe the statistics after my doubles match last night. We played pretty aggressive with serves and ROS and finish at net. Most of our points only lasted 1 or 2 hits.
 
#42
What the stats tell me is this:

1) Get the return of serve in play. This is the advice from Pancho Segura in his book "How to Play Winning Tennis" written in 1976. He says that if you miss more than 5 returns for the entire match, that's too many. This probably seems wrong to most people, but it's not. For a while now, I started holding a continental grip and lob/floating the ball high and deep as my return. Think of what some people do in doubles to get it over the net man on the return and you get the idea. You might think this won't work, but it does. Even against stronger players. I don't return this way on every serve. But my focus is on making nearly all returns in play. If I decide to be aggressive on the return, I do it "with intent". I don't just "hit and hope".

2) Get your serve in play. If you double fault, work on your second serve until you are SURE you won't miss. If you can't do this with a traditional second serve, then start using a "baseline start stroke" as your second serve.

Understand on the serve, that the risk you take has to be justified by the reward FOR THIS PARTICULAR OPPONENT. So obviously there are 2 parts to this. How well you serve and how well your opponent returns. If your opponent is a brain dead ball basher on return, just let him hit errors. If your opponent tends to block your fast serve and slow serve back in play equally well, then don't take the risk with your fast serve. If your opponent can't handle a particular spin, that's all you hit. Even if your favorite serve is something else.

If you are "smart" with your serve and return of serve, you'll win matches. But, I'd advise against being complacent. It makes sense to take (unnecessary) risks sometimes for the sake of improvement. This doesn't give you a license to "ball bash" however.

Finally, you need to understand the difference between "relative" and "absolute" advantages. And learn to understand the best balance. I think people focus too much on developing absolute advantages on the tennis court and not enough time understanding strategies for maximizing relative advantages (which are much, much easier).
 
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#43
If the typical first serve is spot on, there's nothing the returner can do - there's no point over practicing the return of 1st serves. The second serve return is similar to a ground shot (unless it's Isner or Ivo). Based on a widely accepted study, 70% of the points last 0-4 shots - it all starts with the quality of the serve and the server is in charge there. Given the serves are extremely hard to break in PRO game, the matches are actually decided by 30% of the points that last more than 5 shots. That's why the focus is more on GS shots- even though points are less, the most critical points are won via the ground shots. (even if the point ends at the net, the ground game allows the net set up).
You got to practice serve so that you win most if your serves - but pay more attention to the difference maker - the 30% of the points that determine the winner.
 
#44
If the typical first serve is spot on, there's nothing the returner can do - there's no point over practicing the return of 1st serves. The second serve return is similar to a ground shot (unless it's Isner or Ivo). Based on a widely accepted study, 70% of the points last 0-4 shots - it all starts with the quality of the serve and the server is in charge there. Given the serves are extremely hard to break in PRO game, the matches are actually decided by 30% of the shots that last more than 5 shots. That's why the focus is more on GS shots- even though points are less, the most critical points are won via the ground shots. (even if the point ends at the net, the ground game allows the net set up).
You got to practice serve so that you win most if your serves - but pay more attention to the difference maker - the 30% of the points that determine the winner.
Well at least somebody gets it.

You should probably leave TW.

J
 
#47
That's exactly why I decide to work exclusively on my serve and my ROS ;) 20/80 rule.
Serve and ROS are the 2 most important shots in tennis. Period.
The serve can be great, but do we get more points if we ace by hitting 120 miles an hour vs 80 miles an hour? 80-90 mph is all that's needed to ace or get return error at 4 or 4.5 level if you get the placement right.
A better ground game can make you win more in case you miss your 1st serve or when you get tired deep in the second set or 3rd.
 
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