We have all been there, asking ourselves why our child is losing this match. They’re better than this. But in the end, all you do is sit there and wonder as you watch your kid lose the match grasping at reasons why this is happening. But, what if I told you that there IS a way to figure out what is going on during a match AND a way to improve your child’s game at the same time. This magical solution is called match charting, and it allows you to use the power of statistics to figure out what your child is doing wrong and what they should work on next.
Charting in tennis is when you write down and keep track of individual statistics during a match or practice set. Examples of this would include marking down how many times your child double faulted, keeping track of their first and second serve percentage, keeping track of how many errors they made and much more. At the end of the match, you can then go back and look at the data to see what your child is doing and where they can improve.
In this article, we will be going over why you should chart, what statistics to chart, and how to chart
Why should you chart your child’s tennis matches?
Tennis matches can be long, making it hard for you to keep your attention on your kid for the entire match. Charting will help keep you engaged by keeping your mind occupied and your focus on each point.
As you chart, you will also start to pick up on patterns and get a better idea of how your child plays. You will start to see things like whether or not they like to come to net, if they make more mistakes on their forehand or backhand, and how often they make their serve. As these patterns become more apparent, you will be able to identify what strokes need improvement.
By charting, you will not only be able to understand your child’s game better but will start to understand the game of tennis more in general. This understanding will allow you to be much more efficient in guiding your kid through the tennis world. This knowledge will also help you communicate better with your child’s coach allowing them to be more efficient when teaching your child
What statistics should you chart?
What statistics you should chart will depend on your charting experience as a parent and how comfortable you are with it. We will be breaking it down into a few different levels, and we suggest that after reading one you stop and take the time to use it before moving on. We also advise you to try charting some professional matches on T.V. to get a better understanding of how they work before you use them for your child. Each chart can be used for either one set or an entire match. We suggest starting out by doing one for a whole match first and then moving to one chart for each set. Splitting it into sets can give you a better idea of the ups and downs your child experienced throughout a match. Charts can also be used to keep track of practice sets as well as matches.
All charts should have the players names, date, the surface of the court, weather, and final score.
Beginner – If you are brand new to charting these are some easy statistics that you can use that will be both an excellent introduction to charting and useful.
The statistics that you should track when first starting out are serve percentage, double faults, and unforced errors.
Serve Percentage- This is simply how often your child makes a serve. To do this, you tally the number of serves made and divide it by the total number of serves hit. This category will be split between first and second serve
Double Faults- This is simply a tally of how many times your child double faults during a match or practice set.
Unforced Errors- An unforced error is when your child misses a shot that they should have made. They should make any shot that they don’t have to run too and/or doesn’t hit the baseline. Any time your child misses a ball that is hit right to them you should tally it under unforced errors.
Below is an example of what this chart can look like. You can download the PDF HERE.
Now let’s learn how to chart starting with the serve.
Let’s say your child is serving first, and it is the first point of the match. If they make their first serve, then you make a tally on the “In” section under “First Serves.”
Then let’s say on the second point they miss their first serve. You would then put a tally in the “Out” section under “First Serve.”
Now they go up to hit their second serve. Let’s say they make it in. You would then put a tally in the “In” section under “Second Serve.”
On the next point let’s say they double fault. We would put one tally in the “Out” section under “First Serve” AND one tally in the “Out” section under “Second Serve” since they would have had to miss BOTH serves to double fault. We would then place one tally in the “Double Faults” section to mark down the double fault.
At the end of the match, you would find the totals and write them in their respective place.
Once you have the totals, you can then figure out the serve percentages by dividing the number of serves in by the total number of serves. So in this example, to get the first serve percentage we would take the number of first serves in (8) and divide it by the total number of first serves (20) to get the first serve percentage of (8/20 =) 40%. To get the second serve percentage, we do the same thing (10/12) to get 83% (rounded down).
Now let’s move on to unforced errors. Any forehand unforced error (including slices, returns, drop shots, lobs, and approach shots) goes in the “Forehand” box under the “Unforced Errors” Section. Any backhand unforced error (including slices, returns, drop shots, lobs, and approach shots) goes in the “Backhand” box under the “Unforced Errors” Section. And all other unforced errors (such as volleys, overheads, and double faults) go in the “Other” box under the “Unforced Errors” section.
So let’s say on the first point of the match your child gets an easy short ball to their forehand, and they hit it into the bottom of the net. This is an unforced error and would go in the “Forehand” box in the “Unforced Errors” section since it was a forehand unforced error.
Then on the next two points, your child gets an easy backhand up the middle, and they hit it long and misses a second serve forehand return wide. The backhand unforced error would get a tally in the “Backhand” box under the “Unforced Errors” section, and the forehand return error would get a tally in the “Forehand” box under the “Unforced Errors” section.
Later on, in the match let’s say your kid double faults one point, misses a volley hit right to them on another point, and misses an easy overhead on the point after that. All of these would go in the “Other” box in the “Unforced Errors” section.
At the end of the match, you would tally up all the totals. Here is an example.
Now that you have an idea of how this charting system works it’s time to go and try it out! You can start by printing out the basic chart PDF HERE and then either try using it for a professional match on T.V. or one of your child’s matches. Once you are comfortable with the system, you can come back to this post and try out the intermediate chart!
Intermediate– After you have used the beginner chart a few times and are comfortable with judging unforced errors you can then start to track more statistics.
The statistics that you should track at this level are serve percentage, double faults, unforced errors, aces, first ball errors, and net errors. A picture of the chart is below, and you can download the PDF HERE
Aces- An ace is a serve winner. A winner is when your child hits the ball, and their opponent is unable to get to the ball or even touch it.
First Ball Errors- A first ball error is when your child either hits and unforced error on the return of serve or hits an unforced error on their first shot right after their serve. As an example, if your child missed an easy forehand right after they hit their serve, that would be a first ball error.
Net Errors- Net Errors are any unforced errors your child makes while hitting a volley or overhead.
The key differences between the beginner and intermediate charts are that we added aces in the service portion and split up the “Other:” category to be more specific. Again you can download the intermediate chart HERE to start trying it out!
Once you are comfortable with the intermediate chart and charting, in general, you can play around and make your own charts to try to track specific things. You can also look into charting apps. There are plenty of useful apps for both iOS and Android that you can check out in their respective app stores.
Below is an additional list of items that we think could be useful to try to track. You DO NOT have to try to chart all of this at once. In fact, I would suggest you pick a theme when you try to chart a match and add only that theme to the intermediate chart.
- First Serve percentage on the Deuce and Ad side
- Second Serve percentage on the Deuce and Ad side
- Double Faults on the Deuce and Ad side
- Forehand Winners
- Forehand Slices (Both the amount hit and errors made off them)
- Forehands Hit throughout a match
- Backhand Winners
- Backhand Slices (Both the amount hit and errors made off them)
- Backhands Hit throughout a match
- Forehand Volleys winners
- Forehand Volleys hit in a match
- Backhand Volleys winners
- Backhand Volleys hit in a match
- Overhead winners
- Overheads hit in a match
- Lobs (Errors, Winners, and lost points)
- Drop Shots (Errors, Winners, and lost points)
- Approach winners and errors
- Return Winners
- Returns made
- Return results on the Deuce and Ad side
- Forced Errors