Don’t be a hater.
Serve and Volley always, always works…
There are three types of basic tests that we do to figure out if a tennis strategy works or not.
- the eye test
- word-of-mouth test
- data test
Eye Test = Fail
For so many of us around the world, serve and volley fails the eye test. We think it’s lucky if players employs the strategy and win the point. When they serve and volley and lose the point, we wonder why they would ever do it again. It seems so risky to just run to the net and hope you win the point. Why not stay back and grind?
Word-Of-Mouth Test = Fail
This one is also an easy fail. When you listen to a lot of commentary from the pro tour, serve and volley gets a really, really bad rap. It’s outdated. It has no place in the modern game. Yadda, yadda, yadda…
Data Test = Pass
Hang on. A pass? You mean to tell me that my eyes and ears deceive me and the data suggests it is actually a winning strategy? Yes, that’s exactly what the data shows. Here’s 15 years of proof.
Wimbledon 2002 – 2016 (15 years) / Average Win Percentages
- 46% baseline
- 64% approach & volley
- 68% serve & volley
- 47% baseline
- 65% approach & volley
- 66% serve & volley
Our eyes lie to us. Unfortunately, so do the opinions of others. Serve & volley has been and always will deliver a winning percentage – MUCH higher than the baseline!
And for those of you thinking that of course it works just on grass at Wimbledon, think again. The rally length numbers of grass and hard courts are almost IDENTICAL, and those win percentages above are very typical of clay, grass or hard.
I just wrote an ATP World Tour / Infosys analysis of Mischa Zverev and his prolific use of serve and volley in his game. The 29-year-old German just posted his best career ranking of #30 last week. Congratulations!
Here’s the link to the story.
I also wrote a New York Times analysis of serve & volley back in 2014. Here’s the link.
And here’s my analysis of Zverev’s victory over Andy Murray Down Under
A major part of the decline of serve & volley is how little it is actually taught by coaches. The baseline rules at junior academies all over the world, and the net is needlessly overlooked.
The more we can go to proven data, the better. Serve and volley has been and always will be a winning strategy. Let’s get back to teaching it to teenagers!
- MEN Baseline win % = 46%
- A 50% improvement on 46 = 46+23 = 69
- Serve & Volley = 68%
The win percentage of serve and volley over baseline play is approximately 50% BETTER.
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