The #1 Way To Objectively MEASURE Progress In Tennis?...

Kylo Reed

Rookie
I think most players looking to improve their tennis strokes will measure their progress by how far they get into tournaments, how powerful or clean they FEEL like they're hitting, or judging from how their opponents react to the ball or solely based off their coach's opinion. But this is extremely subjective, not a controlled environment (opponent could just be having a bad day), and susceptible to multiple biases.

Of course, at the highest level, biomechanists like Brian Gordon will have you in a 3D suit and get exact measurements for literally everything... but most players can't invest in or don't have access to that kind of technology so it's not practical.

We've got tools that easily track MPH. But what are the best ways to measure ball spin (anything besides using a 500fps camera?) and consistency (should consistency be measured within a controlled environment like against a ball machine or should we be taking into account variability in match play)?


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My case for why I think objective measurement is important:

I recently read this article by FeelTennis where he explains the trap players fall into when attempting to "perfect" their stroke technique. I personally fell into this trap for years... analyzing myself on camera and tweaking areas of my stroke that didn't look like the pros.

Looking back, the self-analysis was great but sometimes I didn't know whether I was trying to develop a certain technique because of common convention and "looking like the pros" or for the sake of actually improving as a tennis player... If only I had a way to objectively measure my progress, I would have probably been able to come to this conclusion much more rapidly. And if every tennis coach had to objectively measure the results of their instructions, we'd probably get rid of most harmful tennis instructions.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Dealing with humans is not the same as science and math.
Engineers and doctors have to adapt to live in the real world.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
No such thing. All that matters for pros is wins, and all that matters for recreational players is not getting injured.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
Tennis is about being able to:
  • Do things consistently.
  • Qualified by, doing it consistent enough to win.
 

coupergear

Professional
Priorities! With finite time to pursue tennis (or any sport/hobby) you end up with trade-offs.

I think it's safe to say that most recreational players would just prefer to go out and play they're really not that concerned about their strokes or improving them. they know there is untapped potential and lessons or drills would probably help them but they just don't want to commit to the time and resources. They have fun and get what they need to from the sport.

On the converse side, and potentially some of the personalities we find in here are people that are constantly seeking to improve their game and really get into technicalities and the nuts and bolts of improving their strokes. they may do video evaluation lessons internet tutorials coaching etc. But paradoxically may never test themselves in match play. they really enjoy the wonky part of the experience and are fine not doing a lot of match play.

Then you have people that do a mix of both.
 

user92626

Legend
I think most players looking to improve their tennis strokes will measure their progress by how far they get into tournaments, how powerful or clean they FEEL like they're hitting,
If a player keeps getting farther and farther into tournaments (or achievements) and feel great doing it, what else does he need?
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
If only I had a way to objectively measure my progress, I would have probably been able to come to this conclusion much more rapidly.
Some traps on this route. You need to exactly know what and how you need to do, what to achieve. Measuring improvement on the way might give defective feedback. That’s why good coaching is so valued - based on knowledge of how target result is shaped, what are prerequisites, and what are the ways to get there.
 
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