August 19th, 2014

There is a Better Way to Keep Score in Tennis


Better Way 8-19-14_In Article PhotoLast month, I had the pleasure of learning first hand from a 30-year veteran coach from Spain, Oscar Borras. He leads the new wave of Spanish coaches who are trying to secure Spain’s tennis armada after the current crop of 14 in the Top 100 rankings run out of the sport.

We brought him here from Spain so he can teach at the “” clinics that we have going on here in South Florida and South America. During the intense 8-hour daily clinics, we were exposed to ways to see the court, foresee a play, and care less about how the other player plays us, but focus on the geometry of the court and what you can do with it. The experience was truly eye opening as some kids improved their level immediately with the techniques.

There was one nugget that I want to share, as a parent, a coach and a student of the game.

When playing a game, keep score, but rather laser-focus on this :


Obviously track the score, but focus, plan and play with this simple tip: you need to concentrate on winning two points at a time, sequentially.

Explain it to me!

If you make a point your get +1/2; If you lose a point you get -1/2. So, if the criteria is as the tip suggests, neither of you has won a series of two points (a series would be winning two points, ½ + ½ = 1 series), then plan your next point, strategize your movement and shot selection, based on the fact that you need to win two sequential points at a time.

If the score is 15-15, and you have won the last point, you need to win the first series of two points. If you do, the score is now 30-15; you have just secured the first two point sequence and if you understand this, the momentum will be yours, if not it is a toss-up possibility.

From a psychological point of view, you only need the next series to finish the game. For your opponent he just lost a series and needs desperately to win the next point. What that means to you is, he may be rushed, he may go for broke, he is certainly more nervous and for you it means, momentum is under your control, you can pressure him, you can be calmer, you have a better shot selection moment and can be calm and confident with a plan.

We had all of our camp kids play under this great tip, and guess what happened? The kids immediately became smarter in the court, they looked like 40 lbs. of pressure disappeared and they started to play tennis one point at a time, which is the objective. Try it, it works.

I still don’t get it? Visually:

Score    Opponent Series      Your Series
0-15      ½ series0
0-30One series of 2 point  sequence won , 1-00
15-30  Still 1-0½ series won
30-30Now 1-1One series won of 2 point sequence, series is now tied 1-1
30-40Still 1-1½ series won
GameWon   series, score 2-1     —-

So, think of the score in terms of series of two, as opposed to 15, 30, 40, deuce, advantage, game.

Objective: try to win two continuous points all the time — the winner of the match is who wins more series of two points. it is as simple as that.

Say its 30-15 and you have just lost the last point. So, for you, you know you have to win the next two points to win the game, but also to win the series of two sequential points. For your opponent, if he wins the next point he will have won that series, and tied you.

How differently (shot selection, aggressiveness, risk, position, net approach, rallying) do you think you will play the next point? If you think in terms of series? Very differently, I assure you.

(, @palenquej)