Why do pro players hit so short on most balls?

FiReFTW

Legend
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Is there a particular reason for this? Seeing as alot of people always say depth is so important and you should try to hit deep balls as much as possible.

I usually only target the service line when I go for angles but usually strive to hit fairly deep at least middle of service line and baseline or deeper.

Maybe its more risky in terms of hitting too deep and out? Or is there another reason for this?
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Is there a particular reason for this? Seeing as alot of people always say depth is so important and you should try to hit deep balls as much as possible.

I usually only target the service line when I go for angles but usually strive to hit fairly deep at least middle of service line and baseline or deeper.

Maybe its more risky in terms of hitting too deep and out? Or is there another reason for this?
i'm guessing they aren't trying to hit short (unless it's near the side T)
but they are hitting hard enough, and/or have positioned their opponent far enough, that hitting "short" is not penalized (with an offensive shot)
also have to take into account the amount of spin they are putting on the ball... heavy spinners will have a "kick" (left and right) to their ball (depending on their contact), which is sometimes enough to prevent someone from just teeing off on a short middle court ball.
on the flip side, look at balls that land deep, and see who typically wins those points.
for me i can bang with hard hitters whose balls typically land at the service line because it gives me alot of time to prep.
folks who consistently hit deep (even "pushers") a) give me less time to set up and attack b) give them more time to recover.
 

bitcoinoperated

Professional
Depth control with consistency is just hard I think, only a small change in height over the net makes a big change to depth. If the ball has enough spin on it and doesn't sit up it doesn't penalise you too much.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Seems to me the pros have a more difficult time [relatively speaking] dealing with short balls because they have to get down low and can't hit their GS as fully as they would like to and sometimes revert to a slice. I try to remember this when playing someone who doesn't like leaving the BL.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
first rule of tennis... don't miss.
(i break this rule regularly)
To me, they are hitting "rally balls" until they can see an opening to set up a series of shots. Hitting hard to the baseline comes with the risk of hitting long. They have to calculate that risk. It's not just on any ball they will shoot for the lines. It has to be a specific attack or the risk doesn't have the probability of a pay-off.

That is, unless that is your startegy. I've seen some pros that don't hit with a ton of spin, and they specifically target deep, angled shots. They do have a few more errors. But typically they put a ton of pressure with their placement.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
To me, they are hitting "rally balls" until they can see an opening to set up a series of shots. Hitting hard to the baseline comes with the risk of hitting long. They have to calculate that risk. It's not just on any ball they will shoot for the lines. It has to be a specific attack or the risk doesn't have the probability of a pay-off.

That is, unless that is your startegy. I've seen some pros that don't hit with a ton of spin, and they specifically target deep, angled shots. They do have a few more errors. But typically they put a ton of pressure with their placement.

Yes thats exactly what I was thinking.

I can hit a ton of spin that bounces near or bit further from service line and the ball kicks way beyond baseline and no way can anyone im playing atm attack those balls.

Or I can choose to drive a bit more and bit less spin and hit deeper balls.

My though process was always the deeper the better, but since I sometimes miss long between rallies maybe I should also strive to hit a bit shorter with more spin on more of my balls?

Currently I do that only when hitting sharp angles.

Thoughts?

@rogerroger917 @nytennisaddict
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I think it's good to mix it up. Drive them deep, then hit shorter angles, throw in some deep slices. Hit flatter then spinnier. I try to never let the opponent into a rhythm. I'm not going to overpower anyone so I need to throw variety at them and hope it leads to a short ball or an error.
 

watungga

Professional
I've noticed those rallies too. I figured that they're hitting on their ballpark strokes. The center of every fundamental movements they've trained for. It's like a boxer's warm-up box with his coach.

I tried to do it as well, but I couldn't stop my urge to blast the ball coz it gives me good feeling and enjoyment.
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
Yes thats exactly what I was thinking.

I can hit a ton of spin that bounces near or bit further from service line and the ball kicks way beyond baseline and no way can anyone im playing atm attack those balls.

Or I can choose to drive a bit more and bit less spin and hit deeper balls.

My though process was always the deeper the better, but since I sometimes miss long between rallies maybe I should also strive to hit a bit shorter with more spin on more of my balls?

Currently I do that only when hitting sharp angles.

Thoughts?

@rogerroger917 @nytennisaddict
While there are patterns for example: that dictate a deep high ball to bh to push player back, short angle to then pull opponent wide to bh, then inside in fh to open court. The majority of times imo when balls land shorter when it is not intentionally more angled it is because it is hit very hard with a ton of top spin. Rally ball. Basically slam the ball but make it safe (top spin) so it lands shorter.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
While there are patterns for example: that dictate a deep high ball to bh to push player back, short angle to then pull opponent wide to bh, then inside in fh to open court. The majority of times imo when balls land shorter when it is not intentionally more angled it is because it is hit very hard with a ton of top spin. Rally ball. Basically slam the ball but make it safe (top spin) so it lands shorter.

Yes thats exactly it, my rally ball is basically aimed to be deep, so I intentionally hit with slightly less spin or maybe same spin but more arc, however its easier to slightly misshit it and then its already too deep.

So maybe focusing on slightly less deep rally ball would be better in terms of margin for error, doesnt need to be close to baseline, better hit more spin and make it land a bit shorter that way if you slightly misshit it long its still a great shot and not too deep, need to try and focus on this, I feel like im aiming too deep and too close to the lines on alot of my rally balls.

The topspin does bring the majority down but sometimes when u slightly misshit it a bit more or a bit too less spin with such a depth it goes a bit longer and its already out.
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
Yes thats exactly it, my rally ball is basically aimed to be deep, so I intentionally hit with slightly less spin or maybe same spin but more arc, however its easier to slightly misshit it and then its already too deep.

So maybe focusing on slightly less deep rally ball would be better in terms of margin for error, doesnt need to be close to baseline, better hit more spin and make it land a bit shorter that way if you slightly misshit it long its still a great shot and not too deep, need to try and focus on this, I feel like im aiming too deep and too close to the lines on alot of my rally balls.

The topspin does bring the majority down but sometimes when u slightly misshit it a bit more or a bit too less spin with such a depth it goes a bit longer and its already out.
Just get your rally ball harder with more spin. Rest works out.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Yes thats exactly what I was thinking.

I can hit a ton of spin that bounces near or bit further from service line and the ball kicks way beyond baseline and no way can anyone im playing atm attack those balls.

Or I can choose to drive a bit more and bit less spin and hit deeper balls.

My though process was always the deeper the better, but since I sometimes miss long between rallies maybe I should also strive to hit a bit shorter with more spin on more of my balls?

Currently I do that only when hitting sharp angles.

Thoughts?

@rogerroger917 @nytennisaddict
figure out some percentile that is high enough :p
if you're playing something that makes alot of errors off easy balls... aim for a 95-100 percentile of shots in (eg. bunt, moonball, whatever, just get the damn ball in)
if you're playing someone who's crushing your sitters, then you'll have to take a bit more chances, harder, more spin, deeper and/or better placement.. and scale up in each or all categories, until you're winning more points than losing :p
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
To me, they are hitting "rally balls" until they can see an opening to set up a series of shots. Hitting hard to the baseline comes with the risk of hitting long. They have to calculate that risk. It's not just on any ball they will shoot for the lines. It has to be a specific attack or the risk doesn't have the probability of a pay-off.

That is, unless that is your startegy. I've seen some pros that don't hit with a ton of spin, and they specifically target deep, angled shots. They do have a few more errors. But typically they put a ton of pressure with their placement.
yeah, i think they are rally balls too... but that said, i'm sure they'd prefer their rally ball to be deeper and/or better placed (ie. if short, then near the sideT)... but since they have a good feel of what's a "high % shot" for a particular situation, maybe landing "short at the service line with heavy spin", is all they are willing to go for.

to OP, something else to watch for is, which balls do pros typically try to change direction on (or generally go on the offensive)...
to me, it's usually when:
a) ball is short
b) player is in position
(or (a) and (b))

and watch when players ar emore likely to make a routine error (ie. trying to change direction when NOT (a) or (b))
 

onehandbh

G.O.A.T.
But watch what they do on defensive shots they can barely get to on the backhand slice.

I am always amazed at how close to the baseline Federer can hit his floating defensive slice backhands. Without pace, depth is your friend if you can keep it in.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Is there a particular reason for this? Seeing as alot of people always say depth is so important and you should try to hit deep balls as much as possible.

I usually only target the service line when I go for angles but usually strive to hit fairly deep at least middle of service line and baseline or deeper.

Maybe its more risky in terms of hitting too deep and out? Or is there another reason for this?

WTA pros hit deeper.

And the 35% you mention is not short. Short is your first category.
 

weelie

Professional
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Is there a particular reason for this? Seeing as alot of people always say depth is so important and you should try to hit deep balls as much as possible.

I usually only target the service line when I go for angles but usually strive to hit fairly deep at least middle of service line and baseline or deeper.

Maybe its more risky in terms of hitting too deep and out? Or is there another reason for this?

I've wondered the same.

Not that I was the best at that myself. I *think* I hit deep, but I've done practice on "zenniz" system court, where you can mark a target area... setting 2.5m from the baseline, it is surprisingly difficult to hit that area. I need to really focus on giving the ball some height, to get it land in that area consistently. Still, my percentage is low.

I recently hit with a local pro who is in his late 30s, former top class player, hits with a small racket and I realized the accuracy is where he got me (not that he was even really trying to beat me, it was no real match or anything). It felt like all his shots were no more than a rackets length from the baseline. Never played against that, I felt.
 
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Steady Eddy

Legend
Not a good idea for us to copy what we think the pros are doing. Watch some of the best players in your local area. I think they can hit short because they have a ton of topspin. I we watch and think, "Hey! It's ok to hit balls short of the service line." I think that can restrict our development.

I've never played an ATP player. But once in a while I enter a tournament, and eventually get destroyed. The guy who destroys me hits very deep, hard, and consistently. So I'm not sure why ATP players hit so many that land short. My suspicion is it's because they have a ton of top.
 

Dragy

Legend
I've never played an ATP player. But once in a while I enter a tournament, and eventually get destroyed. The guy who destroys me hits very deep, hard, and consistently. So I'm not sure why ATP players hit so many that land short. My suspicion is it's because they have a ton of top.
Don’t forget the quality of balls they receive. Every time we rec players get destroyed by superior player hitting every shot deep to the corners/sidelines, it’s not just his ability, but our weak balls which don’t bother him.
Now facing a peer pro player should deal with faster, spinnier balls, as well as keep up with the tempo and not give up court positioning. Consequently hitting aggressively without at least some opening becomes lower % play.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Don’t forget the quality of balls they receive. Every time we rec players get destroyed by superior player hitting every shot deep to the corners/sidelines, it’s not just his ability, but our weak balls which don’t bother him.
Now facing a peer pro player should deal with faster, spinnier balls, as well as keep up with the tempo and not give up court positioning. Consequently hitting aggressively without at least some opening becomes lower % play.

Thats a very good point! It makes a ton of sense.

If you receive easier slower balls u can be more aggressive and dictate points amd easier to place shots.

Now if you get extremely tough spinny balls trying to hit deep all the time is not a great option, much riskier.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Not a good idea for us to copy what we think the pros are doing. Watch some of the best players in your local area. I think they can hit short because they have a ton of topspin. I we watch and think, "Hey! It's ok to hit balls short of the service line." I think that can restrict our development.

I've never played an ATP player. But once in a while I enter a tournament, and eventually get destroyed. The guy who destroys me hits very deep, hard, and consistently. So I'm not sure why ATP players hit so many that land short. My suspicion is it's because they have a ton of top.

And they have to counteract incoming top by putting more top. If they wanted to hit deep on an incoming ball with lots of top, they have to be like Del Potro who can flatten it out hard. Otherwise, they have to counter the top with their own top and that limits how deep they can put it without moonballing it.
 

DavaiMarat

Professional
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Is there a particular reason for this? Seeing as alot of people always say depth is so important and you should try to hit deep balls as much as possible.

I usually only target the service line when I go for angles but usually strive to hit fairly deep at least middle of service line and baseline or deeper.

Maybe its more risky in terms of hitting too deep and out? Or is there another reason for this?

Well to be honest depends on how much spin they hit. Flatter hitters tend to hit deeper (WTA) but are less consistent. If you have heavy heavy spin on the ball it will pop off the court and get out of a opponents hitting zone so yeah it can be hit shorter (the spin brings it down). Trust me it's still a hard ball to handle.
 

Dou

Semi-Pro
if you drop feed them they will send every ball within a foot of the lines.

in a match it's impossible to middle the sweet spot.. that's why only 5% go to the intended depth.

1 inch off center the ball lands 3 yards short. 2 inches off center now it's at the service line.

the landing pattern is just what the pros figure out how to keep most of them in, when everything is moving.
 

WesternCK

Rookie
I think there are a few layers to this.

The first comment I have is that if you look at the best players in the recent past: Murray, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all average shots that have quite a few feet of margin and land a few feet beyond the service line. Murray has the lowest net clearance and his shot still clears the net by about 5 feet. While these shots may not be landing within a foot or two of the baseline, the best players are still hitting deep in the court, and with enough effect to keep their opponent's pushed back. That's the first part. They are still hitting deep more often than not.

Hitting even deeper such as within a few feet of the baseline takes time away from your opponent and does make life more difficult on them but it is also extremely risky for the person executing the shot. It also takes time away from yourself, assuming it's a topspin shot because the opponent's reply will be immediate. Tied in with this is the discussion that's already been had about rally balls. Players will only go for an extremely deep shot given the right circumstance, such as their opponent being caught in no man's land, or in response to an extremely short ball they have received of their own. Since we're talking pros, players won't often go for such shots during their "rally balls" because this becomes more of a "green light" decision since they are still hitting that depth with extreme racket head speed. Recreational players may benefit differently when it comes to hitting extremely deep.

Next, is the reality that often times players are trying to move their opponent's around the court. Angled shots will especially be more efficient with less depth. Finally, there's less volleying today and at the highest level, the only reason to worry about hitting a short ball is the reality that the opponent will be given an opportunity to hold a more aggressive court position, and in turn come to the net. A player can only have so many priorities during a match and if one feels as though the priority should be that the opponent needs to be given a more difficult path coming to the net, or standing near the baseline, then the type of depth you're talking about should become the priority only then.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Why play riskier shots if you can win without doing so?

Put aside matches where one player is much superior to the other. In most evenly matched games, very rarely do I watch a match be it pro or some high level rec match and feel that a player won because he was hitting deep or painting the lines consistently, other than maybe the odd day where everything was working for the winner. Usually, solid serves, consistency on ground strokes, and superior strength/stamina/speed seem to be the overriding factors than hitting flashy shots with low margins for error.
 

tlm

G.O.A.T.
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Is there a particular reason for this? Seeing as alot of people always say depth is so important and you should try to hit deep balls as much as possible.

I usually only target the service line when I go for angles but usually strive to hit fairly deep at least middle of service line and baseline or deeper.

Maybe its more risky in terms of hitting too deep and out? Or is there another reason for this?

Because they are smart enough to know that trying to hit to deep will lead to a high number of errors. Plus they have enough power to hit just past the service line and the ball still goes through the court.

It is a myth that the pro players hit most of their shots deep. All you have to do is look at some shot charts of pro matches. So many rec players think that they have to hit deep and end up hitting long to often.
 

coupergear

Professional
Why play riskier shots if you can win without doing so?

Put aside matches where one player is much superior to the other. In most evenly matched games, very rarely do I watch a match be it pro or some high level rec match and feel that a player won because he was hitting deep or painting the lines consistently, other than maybe the odd day where everything was working for the winner. Usually, solid serves, consistency on ground strokes, and superior strength/stamina/speed seem to be the overriding factors than hitting flashy shots with low margins for error.
I don't know. One guy on here who claimed to have been around the pro game said it was actually the ability to pull off the clutch shots under duress that was the difference between the top guys and the journeymen. Coming up with the line clippers, angle dippers, dtl passing shots, inside out forehand, droppers, putaway volleys etc. was the difference between Fed and #371. If you saw these two "sparring" as he called it, they'd look very similar, both can bang away all day on rally balls. (Note Fed will often practice with far inferior players rankings wise).

It's when an opponent hits a forcing shot, or leaves a weak shot, that the top guys have the ability to either go "defense to offense" responding to the forcing shot with a brilliant shot one better, or if they get the weak ball can do more with it offensively.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
Just re-watched the opening game of Djokovic Warinka 2015 RG final and it seems they were hitting 50% (not counting serves) past the service line.

I think they do it because they can.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I don't know. One guy on here who claimed to have been around the pro game said it was actually the ability to pull off the clutch shots under duress that was the difference between the top guys and the journeymen. Coming up with the line clippers, angle dippers, dtl passing shots, inside out forehand, droppers, putaway volleys etc. was the difference between Fed and #371. If you saw these two "sparring" as he called it, they'd look very similar, both can bang away all day on rally balls. (Note Fed will often practice with far inferior players rankings wise).

It's when an opponent hits a forcing shot, or leaves a weak shot, that the top guys have the ability to either go "defense to offense" responding to the forcing shot with a brilliant shot one better, or if they get the weak ball can do more with it offensively.

You don't need to be around the pro game to have access to game charts. In a thrilling match there will always be some memorable impossible shots that we tend to remember more over the years. The rest of the match is forgotten. Yet the game charts show that this is not how pros win. Data takes our bias out of the equation. Look at the charts that @5263 has produced over the years. I have linked one of his threads in this thread. Most are beyond the service line but are not as deep as we tend to think either.

Think of it logically also. If someone had the ability to paint the lines at will, why would they not do it all the time? They'd never lose. Yes pros hit winners. However, again, the bedrock of their game is technique,fitness, and not taking unnecessary risks. Then when you go to the best of the pros, it's also their ability to serve and return well under pressure along with their overall superior consistency. Players who play a high risk game tend to have high highs and low lows. You don't get consistent that way. The only reason you would need to consistently play a high risk game is because you feel you are over matched and that's your only chance of hanging in the match.
 

Rattler

Hall of Fame
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Is there a particular reason for this? Seeing as alot of people always say depth is so important and you should try to hit deep balls as much as possible.

I usually only target the service line when I go for angles but usually strive to hit fairly deep at least middle of service line and baseline or deeper.

Maybe its more risky in terms of hitting too deep and out? Or is there another reason for this?

Women’s tennis?
 

Mikael

Professional
At the ATP level it is all about ball trajectory and angles. Next time you watch an ATP match check out how many balls are headed for the corners, or even further out to the tramlines. It is impossible to get such angles by hitting deep.
 

coupergear

Professional
You don't need to be around the pro game to have access to game charts. In a thrilling match there will always be some memorable impossible shots that we tend to remember more over the years. The rest of the match is forgotten. Yet the game charts show that this is not how pros win. Data takes our bias out of the equation. Look at the charts that @5263 has produced over the years. I have linked one of his threads in this thread. Most are beyond the service line but are not as deep as we tend to think either.

Think of it logically also. If someone had the ability to paint the lines at will, why would they not do it all the time? They'd never lose. Yes pros hit winners. However, again, the bedrock of their game is technique,fitness, and not taking unnecessary risks. Then when you go to the best of the pros, it's also their ability to serve and return well under pressure along with their overall superior consistency. Players who play a high risk game tend to have high highs and low lows. You don't get consistent that way. The only reason you would need to consistently play a high risk game is because you feel you are over matched and that's your only chance of hanging in the match.
I see your point, but again if a match is only decided by a handful of points and as you say most of the points are not memorable, isn't it the player that can hit the memorable shots at critical times that's going to win? I think this guy's point was many players have the technique, athleticism and consistency in a neutral ball situation, it's the guys who can convert more higher risk shots in pressure situations that are the very best. I think there is some sense in that too.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I see your point, but again if a match is only decided by a handful of points and as you say most of the points are not memorable, isn't it the player that can hit the memorable shots at critical times that's going to win? I think this guy's point was many players have the technique, athleticism and consistency in a neutral ball situation, it's the guys who can convert more higher risk shots in pressure situations that are the very best. I think there is some sense in that too.

The bedrock of any top level pro is their consistency. No one becomes consistent or great by going for high risk shots. The game charts also bear that out. A few key points being decided by amazing winners doesn't mean that the overall match is decided that way, though we tend to romanticize how those few great shots made all the difference. There are a ton more clutch points where the winner wins due to factors (fitness/strength/technique/serve/return) other than going for a high risk shot. I used to think just like you before looking at the charts that 5263 has provided many times. Without that, our eyes deceive us as to what really happens. A serve is an easy example to look at. Even pros rarely go for blistering 2nd serves. Why not? They want that margin for error. The first serve is a freebie, which is why they go for a greater risk/reward shot. We can clearly see how even pros approach serves judiciously. However, rallies are so fast and furious that without game charts our eyes/brains cannot comprehend what really goes on.



Now coming to the point that at our level we can't get away without depth because our shots don't have the heaviness...there again, it's a flawed argument. If you're playing a guy clearly better than you, he's going to beat you whether you go for depth or for more consistency. However, when you play someone close to your own level be it 3.5/4.0/4.5/5.0, your strokes will be good enough so that your opponent who is also at your level won't be keying off on it. Most of us play players close to our levels. Go for smart targets that keep the ball in play than giving out free points.
 

RajS

Semi-Pro
I think pros can get away with hitting short because their shots have good pace and spin, and thus the ball kicks out of the opponent's power/comfort zone. Also, since they move like greased lightning, even if they hit a not so good short ball once in a while, they can cover the return in most cases. I try not to hit short unless I can get a good angle into open court, since I don't have either of the above skills... it doesn't feel good to be sitting duck!
 

TheLambsheadrep

Professional
As someone who records hitting sessions from behind the baseline and on a court level angle I can say that most of the shots that land near the service line are simply hit barely over the net. When I see pro level rallies where it's just spanking the ball back and forth other over the middle of the court and the ball is landing just passed the service line, even with the televised high angled view I know the net clearance is minimal.

As to why, I would think it's because if you take the same pace but raise the net clearance by a little the ball goes long. While there is topspin on these shots they're mostly flat.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
I noticed that 60% of their rally balls end up bouncing around the service line, around 35% seems to bounce around the middle of the service line and baseline, and only around 5% bounce deep and close to the baseline.

Such an excellent observation you have made that is so often overlooked....

The key here is hitting a "Quality Shot" thru a high quality hitting lane. Bounce point is very much overrated except for softly hit balls like dropshots and defensive shots, so why not bring the ball down as soon as you can once you clear the net with a high quality/pace shot?
 
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