Tennis tactics: “Your forehand is your sword and your backhand is your shield” says world’s leading tennis strategy expert, Craig O’Shannessy
To improve your tennis tactics you need to master attack and defence. But which shots should you be attacking with and which should be used for defence? And when should you try and hit a winner and when should you just defend?
We’ve teamed up with the world’s best tennis tactics and strategy analyst, Craig O’Shannessy, to find out how he uses statistics to help improve the games of both top professionals and amateur players alike. Craig has now agreed to give tennishead readers this expert guidance on how to harness the power of statistics to win more matches.
In this third of a series of weekly articles to be published for free on tennishead.net, Craig looks at the data related to the percentage of points won with forehands and backhands for both men and women from all Grand Slam events in 2018. He then reveals his analysis of 178 backhand winners from 19 matches during the 2018 Australian Open. Prepare to change the way you think on a tennis court forever…
**Here, you can read Craig’s first analysis article for tennishead where he reveals the surprisingly small percentage of points won you should target in each match. And Craig’s second article focusses on how to detach your emotions to play better tennis**
Your forehand is your sword and your backhand is your shield.
This is a great analogy to help you understand the different roles of your groundstrokes. The primary role of the forehand is to make the opponent miss and hit winners. The primary role of the backhand is to not miss. Your backhand is meant to repel the forehand and keep the point alive. But every now and then, backhands can step up and hit winners too.
Here’s the overall breakdown of forehand and backhand winners for men and women from all Grand Slam events in 2018.
So where is the most ideal place on the court to hit a backhand winner from, and what’s the best target? To best understand that, you need to know the four baseline locations of A, B, C, D.
For simplicity, the data set for this analysis comes from just right-handed players. At the 2018 Australian Open I analyzed 178 backhand winners from 19 matches.
So where do you think most backhand winners were struck from? Was it Position C or Position D?
Well here’s your answer…
The overwhelming majority of them were struck with the player standing in Position D.
2018 Australian Open – 178 Backhand Winners
- Hit from Position A = 22%
- Hit from Position D = 78%
The next question is about their direction. Do you think they went straight down the line to Position A, or cross court to Position D? Where do you prefer to hit your backhand winners?
Most backhand winners were hit to…
If you guessed straight down the line to Position A you would be correct!
2018 Australian Open – 178 Backhand Winners
- Hit to Position A = 74%
- Hit to Position D = 26%
There is a clever saying on the pro tour: your forehand buys you your million dollar house, but your backhand down the line puts the Ferrari in the driveway. This is definitely one area where you can confidently copy the patterns of play from the elite level into your own game.
Read Craig’s first analysis article for tennishead where he reveals the surprisingly small percentage of points won you should target in each match.
Read Craig’s second article for tennishead which focusses on how to detach your emotions to play better tennis.
Craig O’Shannessy is the creator of Brain Game Tennis. For 20 years he’s been involved in tennis as a coach to players like Kevin Anderson and also with Dustin Brown when he famously beat Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon. More recently Craig’s been working as a match analyst at Wimbledon and for the ATP Tour. He has also used the unique insights from his match analysis software dartfish to guide players such as Novak Djokovic with analysis of opponents and performances.
Craig has been writing for tennishead magazine for a number of years and is now working with us on this series of features aimed at using his statistical skills to help you improve your tennis game.
Visit BrainGameTennis.com for your free guide on the ‘8 ways to force an error’ and to find out more about Craig, the world’s best tennis strategy coach.
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