10 Point Beginners Guide to Tennis Tactics – #3 Unforced Errors

Posted by Brodie under: 10 Point Beginner's Guide to Tactics, Strategy

5 Apr 2013

New to tennis tactics? Curious how you can analyze a match? Wondering why your favourite player tends to win or lose against a specific style of opponent? You’ve come to the right place. The following is part 3 of the 10 Point Beginners Guide to Tennis Tactics. The explanation of the segment can be found above, as well as all other 10 parts as they are completed and archived.

Truth be told, this one isn’t entirely to do with tactics. When we say “tactics”, we mean the strategies and shot making players are making in order to try to gain an upper hand on the opponent, and successfully win more points. However, if we zoom out, we as people analyzing a match are not only looking at decision making but execution – what are all of the factors that are playing into one opponent beating another?

Obviously, unforced errors and mistakes of all kind need to be taken into account. The easiest place to start is frequency. Is the player you’re watching making a particular amount of unforced errors off of a certain wing? You can often tell a bit about the error by where they’re trying to aim the shot. For example, if it is on the backhand and they’re simply missing cross court into the middle of the net, it is likely a poor error. If they’re trying to be aggressive and go down the line, the decision might not be a terrible one.

Unfortunately, there is no steadfast rule over what exactly constitutes and “unforced” error. The truth is, unforced errors always come from some sort of exchange of shots, and you can start to deduce things about the pattern of play from them. For example, if the player is making a lot of backhand errors, where on the court are they making them? Are they continually being dragged wide, and while unbalanced, plopping it into the net? This would likely go down as an unforced error.

The type of ball delivered from the opponent may also have something to do with it. Are the forehand errors of the player you are watching continually off of deep, driving balls into the corner? Suddenly, you as the analyst have started to deduce things about the other player you aren’t even largely focusing on – they are doing an excellent job of keeping the ball deep, for example, and that is keeping the player you are watching off balance and causing them to hit more forehand unforced errors. Unforced errors can often have as much to do with tactics as winners.

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