Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Height in Pro Tennis

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by BrianGordon View Post
    Well Arturo… you make a nice case. But based on what I see in my realm, and on the tour, I’ll stick by my prognostication that the future of women’s pro tennis will be ruled by the taller athletes.

    However, you could be correct and I have a bunch of very talented young ladies that certainly are pulling for your point of view - banking on it in fact.

    Suggest we time capsule this one and revisit when said data is more credible - five years or so should do the trick.
    I was thinking of your assessment of what is coming in women's tennis. I am still leaning to the 5'7" - 5'10" range for best height for a female tennis player. After that there is just too much of a loss in mobility.

    The other thing is that the gain in serve speed doesn't offset the movement. Women just cannot serve that much harder to compensate when they are taller.

    Barty is on the shorter side of things but Rybakina is just not mobile enough at 6 foot tall. I realize that it is the exception but my sense is that the smaller girls may need more time but once they mature, they should be every bit as good. Notice that I am considering 5'7" to 5'8" as smaller in this scenario. Barty is an exception that we might not see often. Kind of like Diego but not having to deal with such big serves. She also seems to be able to serve very well for her height.

    https://youtu.be/tPY0hE1s4_Q

    Maybe she is just an outlier but we see Grand Slam champions on the shorter side for women. For men, there have been none shorter than 6 foot since Agassi. I think the shortest in recent memory is Wawrinka at 6 foot even.

    I will copy and paste these into a document to see how it all shakes out in 5 years.

    Leave a comment:


  • doctorhl
    replied
    Great thread as people shouldn’t be afraid of physical capacity assessment. Honest, anecdotal self-assessment of my 5 decades of tournament level racket sport participation revealed exceptional athletic ability only in hand speed. Fencing, perhaps, would have been a better fit. (but I would have missed out on a lot of fun)!

    Leave a comment:


  • BrianGordon
    replied
    Well Arturo… you make a nice case. But based on what I see in my realm, and on the tour, I’ll stick by my prognostication that the future of women’s pro tennis will be ruled by the taller athletes.

    However, you could be correct and I have a bunch of very talented young ladies that certainly are pulling for your point of view - banking on it in fact.

    Suggest we time capsule this one and revisit when said data is more credible - five years or so should do the trick.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by BrianGordon View Post
    Hi Arturo - apparently I went to the edge when I suggested genetics was important - now you want me to jump off the cliff with the genders lol? But.. I think time will tell more about the women. Through no fault of their own it is my opinion that athletic and technical development for the ladies has lagged behind - but is catching up.

    A complication in height generalizations for the women is that there is less variability in women's tennis - this makes it harder to understand differences at the extremes that could be chalked up to primarily height. That said, I believe heights near the top of the range are beneficial to first serves (and I see this in my practice everyday).

    A quick look at fastest serves recorded (not necessarily indicative of a "good" serve overall) show Perez (136 mph; 6'2"), Sabalenka (133 mph; 6'0"), Lisicki (131 mph; 5'10"), McCarthy (130 mph, 6'2"), V Williams (129 mph, 6'2").

    You may be correct that the rate of agility decrease as a function of height is greater for women but it is my view that the top heights for women (6'2" ish) will not be as big a detriment to movement as the top heights for men (7'0" ish) especially with the sophistication in athletic development we are seeing.

    I suspect that while the ideal height for men may be around the middle of the overall range, the ideal height for women will fall near the top of their range (5'10" - 6'1" or so) and that range will gradually increase as seems to be the case for the men.

    Of course in these fuzzy conversations there are a lot of confounding variables so I could be wrong - very thought provoking question though!
    Thanks for the great answers Brian. Even Anders Ericsson best known for the idea of deliberate practice but made famous by Gladwell's incorrect assertion of a 10,000 hour rule, believed that height was genetic. And if height is genetic and it translates into an advantage then it is impossible to deny it. Genes matter for a physical game. Even the Brian Brothers are slightly different in height and weight. It turns out that identical twins are not identical and that the little genetic differences matter. There is also epigenetics which I still don't understand fully. But my understanding is that "identical" twins have minor mutations that lead to differences. So genes matter but they are not absolute.

    Height matters. I am 5'7" and that is definitely genetic. My dad was 5'10", my mom 5'0". I got lucky in some ways. I have had to play plenty of taller players that serve lights out. It becomes a battle of hope with the idea that if you annoy the taller player enough they will blow their top. But the big serve is always there lurking and trying to keep it at bay is no easy feat.

    So back to the women. I like the comparison of Venus and Serena because it is the closest we can get to a height comparison with very similar levels of play and very similar genetics.

    Of course, we have the younger sibling as getting the benefit of harder practice at an earlier age. Different body types etc.

    In the end Serena is closer to what I think will end up being the ideal height for women. Somewhere between 5-7 to 5-10. If I had to pin it an absolute, I would put it at Steffi Graf's height of 5'9". Sharapova was around that height when she broke through. She got worse IMHO when she got taller. Same thing with Seles. Of course, we have the issue of the very unfortunate incident. But she grew too tall and was not as good. Some of it was trauma but part of it was physical height. The other thing people on this board are probably tired of hearing me say (write?) is that it is just so hard to win 7 matches lugging a larger frame around. At 6'1" for women it is just too much to lug around.

    Serena is much closer to the ideal height and she was able to win many more slams than Venus. They are both great players. World class and hall of famers. All things being equal Serena had more tools and being closer to the ground afforded her advantages that Venus did not have. And the serve is every bit as good if not better.

    I am still big on Shapovalov, Sinner and Rublev. For men I still stick to 6'1" as the modern GS champion height. Medvedev is defying the odds. But he is good only on some surfaces so he is unlikely to win multiple slams. Hard to win that many if you are only REALLY good at one slam, the US Open. I won't even go into the standing way back as viable strategy. I can only imagine what Sampras would have done to anyone (even today) that stood that far back.

    So back to the women again. For the women there does seem to be a bigger range. But Ash Barty is surprising at 5' 5". Kenin is 5'7".

    The taller women seem more limited. They can hit big but can they do it for 7 straight matches. My money is still on the shorter women at this point.

    But if you have any real data, Brian, I am open to changing my mind. Data is data so keep throwing it at us!

    Leave a comment:


  • BrianGordon
    replied
    Hi Arturo - apparently I went to the edge when I suggested genetics was important - now you want me to jump off the cliff with the genders lol? But.. I think time will tell more about the women. Through no fault of their own it is my opinion that athletic and technical development for the ladies has lagged behind - but is catching up.

    A complication in height generalizations for the women is that there is less variability in women's tennis - this makes it harder to understand differences at the extremes that could be chalked up to primarily height. That said, I believe heights near the top of the range are beneficial to first serves (and I see this in my practice everyday).

    A quick look at fastest serves recorded (not necessarily indicative of a "good" serve overall) show Perez (136 mph; 6'2"), Sabalenka (133 mph; 6'0"), Lisicki (131 mph; 5'10"), McCarthy (130 mph, 6'2"), V Williams (129 mph, 6'2").

    You may be correct that the rate of agility decrease as a function of height is greater for women but it is my view that the top heights for women (6'2" ish) will not be as big a detriment to movement as the top heights for men (7'0" ish) especially with the sophistication in athletic development we are seeing.

    I suspect that while the ideal height for men may be around the middle of the overall range, the ideal height for women will fall near the top of their range (5'10" - 6'1" or so) and that range will gradually increase as seems to be the case for the men.

    Of course in these fuzzy conversations there are a lot of confounding variables so I could be wrong - very thought provoking question though!





    Last edited by BrianGordon; 01-06-2022, 06:04 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    So, now we have it from an official source. 6-1 to 6-4 the ideal height for a male player. I think we could even inch down to 6 foot if he were talented enough.

    Now I wonder about the women. The serve seems to matter less in women's tennis and the return matters more. In fact, the best servers end up being too tall for women.

    Any comment or view on the difference? Is it just increasing size leading to agility dropping down much more quickly in women? Upper body strength being relatively reduced?

    I have a sense that you have addressed this somewhere but am blanking on it right now.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
    Yep. Brian should be a highly paid consultant for USTA, PTA , PTR and the ATP. Too much info, credibility, experience, and coaching success. That threatens bureaucracies...
    Yes, similar to the fate that Tom Byer suffered in soccer. After helping Japan move from relegation to elite in soccer, US Soccer got rid of him after a very short stint. Part of the quibble was on measuring improvement in individuals. Byer had a more collectivist, generational view on improvement.

    Lansdorp has a similar view on tennis and also very underappreciated.

    If I could go back to grad school, I would find a way to work some time in as an apprentice to Brian during my training.
    Last edited by arturohernandez; 01-05-2022, 03:28 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • BrianGordon
    replied
    Thanks guys!

    Leave a comment:


  • johnyandell
    replied
    Yep. Brian should be a highly paid consultant for USTA, PTA , PTR and the ATP. Too much info, credibility, experience, and coaching success. That threatens bureaucracies...

    Leave a comment:


  • doctorhl
    replied
    Apologies for my rant, but I just feel like Brian Gordon and others don’t get their due sometimes. Thanks must also go out to John for providing a bridge to useful tennis applied research. I know he opened eyes as a trailblazer with the usefulness of ball speed/ spin ratios among other things.

    Leave a comment:


  • johnyandell
    replied
    Uh Brian

    Leave a comment:


  • doctorhl
    replied
    Originally posted by BrianGordon View Post
    Interesting - when I put something out for public consumption I spend a lot of intellectual capital honestly assessing any potential flaws in my logic - and I have no problem being controversial if I can defend my position. But... the latter never even entered my mind - I'm getting old doctorhi.
    The Australian tennis community back in the day certainly didnt have problems with paying attention to talent profiling(kinanthropometric assessment, morphological optimasation, etc.) along with othe parts of applied anatomy and biomechanics in sport. Researchers like T.R. Ackland, B. Abernathy, B. Elliott, J. Bloomfield, G.R. Tomkinson come to mind. Trivia question--Can anyone on this board name U.S. tennis biomechanics researchers, whether basic or applied?

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Originally posted by BrianGordon View Post
    Hi Stotty -

    Good question and interested to hear what others do also but... you left out Andre. This is a whole other discussion but for me (fall back options addressed also) in a nutshell:

    Position: Standard (with offensive mindset) based on server.

    Movement: Forward step into a laterally skewed jab split then step out.

    Hitting Lower Body: Linearly oriented jump through.

    Hitting Upper Body - "3/4" shortened adaptation to my base ground stroke model.

    Shot Direction: Wardlaw Directionals with inside/out and wide ball to deep middle options.

    Thanks, that's a useful reply.

    I teach positioning relative to the quality of serve being received but there is nothing wrong with standing deep and taking a longer look at a serve if it makes returning easier and gets 'em back. I also encourage to returner to take up subtely different positions (not gamesmanship stuff) occasionally just to alter the server's depth of field.

    I saw a stat taken of Novak's returning through the course of Wimbledon one year which revealed 68% of his returns landed deep down the middle third, erring slight towards the backhand. So even at Wimbledon he is looking to neutralise more than attack. I always think he could go for more at times.

    My return was lousy...worst part of my game.

    Leave a comment:


  • BrianGordon
    replied
    Hi Stotty -

    Good question and interested to hear what others do also but... you left out Andre. This is a whole other discussion but for me (fall back options addressed also) in a nutshell:

    Position: Standard (with offensive mindset) based on server.

    Movement: Forward step into a laterally skewed jab split then step out.

    Hitting Lower Body: Linearly oriented jump through.

    Hitting Upper Body - "3/4" shortened adaptation to my base ground stroke model.

    Shot Direction: Wardlaw Directionals with inside/out and wide ball to deep middle options.


    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Brian

    It's a great article and good to see Diego used as the model. It also backs up my theory that it's mostly about the player as the player brings a lot to the table the coach has zero control of.

    Diego is a great returner, as were David Ferrer and Connors who were also under 6 foot.

    With my performance players we work a lot of returning. Hardly a lesson goes by without at least some returning as I consider it hugely important. I wonder what aspects Brian and other coaches on the forum work on when teaching the return of serve. What locations do you teach them to hit? Do you teach returning from standard, offensive and deeper positions? What generalised, technical aspects do you work on that you work on with all your players?

    I am always curious how others coach their players to return.

    Leave a comment:

Who's Online

Collapse

There are currently 127 users online. 7 members and 120 guests.

Most users ever online was 1,830 at 05:47 PM on 12-17-2019.

Working...
X