In this interview, we chat with the Founder of Tennis Analytics, Warren Pretorius. Warren is probably the most mentioned person on this podcast and is a pioneer of sports analytics, especially tennis.
Tennis Analytics provides match reports and videos for colleges, ATP & WTA players, as well as tennis coaches. Their data-driven approach helps players at all levels improve.
In this conversation, we talk about how analytics can help you including:
- How and when to make changes and do so effectively.
- Why using video analysis is the fastest way to improve your game.
- Simple strategies used to help tennis enthusiasts such as Robert Redford.
- How to find the perfect coach to improve faster.
We also discuss how Warren got into tennis, why he finds college tennis intriguing, and how he thinks doubles can become more popular.
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Interview Notes from this Podcast
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- Tennis & Moneyball
- Warren learned Dartfish, a sports performance analysis software, working with skiers like Lindsey Vonn and professional baseball teams.
- Warren has worked with Craig O’Shannessy, Novak Djokovic, the USTA, Tennis Canada, and dozens of college teams and professional tennis players.
- Improving with Analytics & Strategy
- We analyzed over 1,400 points (a relatively small amount) of 3.5-4.5 tennis to understand club-level players better.
- Of these points, 68% were 1-4 shots, 7% were 9+ shots.
- Backhand returns had more winners and fewer errors than forehands.
- Forehand groundstrokes had more winners and more errors than backhands.
- Although things like short rallies will likely hold up once we have more data, some of these findings should be taken with a grain of salt until more data is available.
- Still, some takeaways include focusing on percentage of 1st serves won not just percentage in, putting more returns in play, and making practice realistic.
- Even pros like Hsieh Su-wei and Marcelo Arevalo have their coaches blast balls at them to volley to make it more realistic.
- Finding a Good Coach
- One of Warren’s first coaches was Vic Braden, an International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee in 2017.
- Ask if the coach uses video, how they plan to measure improvement, if they focus on repetition, and how long they have been teaching/if they’re certified.
- Steve Smith and Andy Fitzell do great work at greatbasetennis.com if you prefer online lessons.
- Warren’s Favorites
- Tournament: NCAA Championships
- Tennis Book: A Handful of Summers by Gordon Forbes
- Non-tennis Book: The Sports Gene by David Epstein & Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
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