Bringing (advanced) stats to junior tennis

Tennis players are often praised for their work rate” — how much effort they put into moving around the court. But how exactly can we measure this? In team sports like soccer, work rate refers to off-ball contribution. Tennis is different, because in either singles or doubles, the work rate depends on how movement translates into winning points.

I’ve been observing this for years, but analyzing the data takes a lot of work. Getting match recordings can be difficult without using video systems, and I can only get footage from home games, not away. I wish high school tennis was more like basketball or football where filming matches was standard, but we’re not there yet and some coaches don’t allow it.

I record practices using Swingvision and show players the real-time data on their phones, which has been helpful. But for matches, I use a more laborious process of tagging video afterwards with Dartfish or Swingvision, less for efficiency and more to nerd out!

I drew inspiration from basketball’s hustle stats” and soccer’s pressing intensity metrics. Why not bring that level of tactical insight to tennis? Here are the three metrics I created:

Work Rate quantifies effort through total distance covered per point. It’s scaled from 0-10, where 10 represents exceptional court coverage.

The formula is:

WR (0-10) = (Yards per Point / Maximum Expected WR) x 10

This shows how much ground a player covers in pursuit of each point, highlighting their physical exertion.

CLUTCH reveals effectiveness in pivotal moments. Using a baseline conversion rate of 40%, it measures performance on clutch points compared to expectations:

CLUTCH = (DPS% - Baseline%) x Conversion Factor

Positive scores indicate excelling under pressure, while negative scores reflect faltering.

NET Score

NET Score evaluates overall match efficiency by combining Work Rate and points won/lost. It assesses conversion of effort into points:

NET Score = WR x Conversion Score

Higher scores mean maximizing winning efforts with minimum exertion.

Seeing These Metrics In Action

Let’s examine a fictional match between Serena Smith and Taylor Jackson to demonstrate how these metrics work in practice, where the score was

The match score was 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in favor of Smith.

Work Rate

  • Serena Smith: 9.24
  • Taylor Jackson: 9.35

Their nearly identical Work Rates show tireless movement and effort in covering the court.

CLUTCH

  • Serena Smith: 3.84
  • Taylor Jackson: -1.62

Serena Smith’s positive CLUTCH reveals her ability to capitalize on critical points. Smith’s negative score indicates she struggled during crucial moments.

NET Score

  • Serena Smith: 87.34
  • Taylor Jackson: 78.22

Doe’s superior NET Score demonstrates how she more efficiently converted effort into winning points compared to Smith.

The Benefits for Players and Coaches

Advanced analytics like these provide:

  • A more complete evaluation of strengths/weaknesses
  • Targeted insights to inform strategy and training
  • Metrics tailored specifically for tennis’s dynamics

While the box score has its place, there is so much it fails to illuminate. Work Rate, CLUTCH, and NET Score shine a light on the hidden side of the game.

I drew inspiration from basketball’s hustle stats” and soccer’s pressing intensity metrics.

Why not bring that level of tactical insight to tennis? Here are the three metrics I created:

Work Rate

Work Rate quantifies effort through total distance covered per point. It’s scaled from 0-10, where 10 represents exceptional court coverage.

The formula is:

WR (0-10) = (Yards per Point / Maximum Expected WR) x 10

This shows how much ground a player covers in pursuit of each point, highlighting their physical exertion.

CLUTCH

CLUTCH reveals effectiveness in pivotal moments. Using a baseline conversion rate of 40%, it measures performance on clutch points compared to expectations:

CLUTCH = (DPS% - Baseline%) x Conversion Factor

Positive scores indicate excelling under pressure, while negative scores reflect faltering.

NET Score

NET Score evaluates overall match efficiency by combining Work Rate and points won/lost. It assesses conversion of effort into points:

NET Score = WR x Conversion Score

Higher scores mean maximizing winning efforts with minimum exertion.

Seeing These Metrics In Action

Let’s examine a fictional match between Serena Smith and Taylor Jackson to demonstrate how these metrics work in practice, where the score was

The match score was 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in favor of Smith.

Work Rate

  • Serena Smith: 9.24
  • Taylor Jackson: 9.35

Their nearly identical Work Rates show tireless movement and effort in covering the court.

CLUTCH

  • Serena Smith: 3.84
  • Taylor Jackson: -1.62

Serena Smith’s positive CLUTCH reveals her ability to capitalize on critical points. Smith’s negative score indicates she struggled during crucial moments.

NET Score

  • Serena Smith: 87.34
  • Taylor Jackson: 78.22

Doe’s superior NET Score demonstrates how she more efficiently converted effort into winning points compared to Smith.

The Benefits for Players and Coaches

Advanced analytics like these provide:

  • A more complete evaluation of strengths/weaknesses
  • Targeted insights to inform strategy and training
  • Metrics tailored specifically for tennis’s dynamics

While the box score has its place, there is so much it fails to illuminate. Work Rate, CLUTCH, and NET Score shine a light on the hidden side of the game.

The Relativity of the Net Efficiency Tennis Score Across Levels of Play

This work rate model provides a framework to quantify player effort in tennis. It gives coaches an analytical edge to develop strategic game plans that maximize strengths and improve weaknesses. The metrics reflect both the physical and mental game - effort, efficiency, performance under pressure.

It’s important to note that the range of NET Scores will vary significantly across different levels of tennis. The standards for Below Average” to Excellent” are relative to the specific competitive tier.

At elite college or junior tennis, the baseline for an Excellent” score is much higher than at high school level, given the greater intensity, athleticism and strategy involved. For a typical high school team, the effort and efficiency to achieve each NET Score category will differ. Coaches should calibrate expectations according to data from their competitive circles.

Moreover, collecting such detailed metrics may be challenging outside elite tennis. The resources to accurately measure distance, points played and conversion rates are often limited. While the NET Score offers intriguing insights, its applicability is greatest for programs that can support data-driven approaches.

In essence, the NET Score is a versatile but context-dependent tool. At grassroots levels, its principles can still inform coaching on movement and pressure conversion, even if the metrics are not rigorously tracked. The key is tailoring analysis to the players and teams at hand.

November 2, 2023

Measuring the impact of (design) consequences

I’m tired of talking about design, I want to focus on what we’ve created.

Design is inevitable. Like many unavoidable things, design constraints the ways services, systems & experiences are shaped. We see the fallout of these everyday. No one thinks about borders being design problems, but they are. With many people getting themselves in a tizzy about the newest design adjacent hotness — systems thinking, design thinking, even service design — it’s not ever asked what people are going to do with this newfound knowledge.

It’s pretty clear that we know now, people are looking for tricks to manipulate and consign people they don’t consider as part of their audience with design choices that can’t be fixed.

One of the problems with the so-called laws of things like user experience, is that we’re presupposing that people reach our websites, use our apps, or experience our services in a uniform way. Every time someone asks to speak to a manager, they’re an edge case. Some people have a legitimate gripe that can be solved at these low levels of interventions, but none of these experiences are consistent, and it’s the reason that you and a friend can visit the same restaurant, order the same food and walk away feeling like it was a subpar or stellar experience. It depends on who served you, what time of day you went, and perhaps many other smaller interactions that never get mapped.

Designers need to consider the externalities of present day design choices. I’m sure anyone who ever designed a delivery app didn’t think about the impact of this technology on entire communities. I’m sure lots of people who lamented the frustration of getting a taxi cab late at night, think there’s a lot of value in having a fleet of cars available at all hours of the day able to take them to their airport, home from a bar or ordering a car for a friend in a far-flung locale.

By themselves, interaction architectures aren’t bad. But thinking more widely about the ways that we’ve allowed a bevy of non-local tools consume many of the interpersonal connection points that used to exist locally has some merit. The genie is never going back into the bottle, but having policymakers and civic-minded people able to measure these harms will give us an ability to quantify what we’ve lost.

The incursion of AI onto everyday life makes it even more crucial to education and inform people about the challenges that exist, how these impacts can harm and devising standards and empowering a practice of designers who adhere to them and insist on holding the industry accountable. There’s a lot of talk about how people working in tech need more the liberal arts now more than ever, which I agree with.

The phenomenon of brand masking outsourcing reveals a quintessential design flaw - companies projecting brand omnipresence while operationally outsourcing to remote entities. This creates an illusion of authenticity but enables precarity at scale. Workers embrace the mirage of being brand employees, although in reality the jobs are outsourced.

This collective veil of ignorance obscures the harms that arise when no local employees actually represent the brand on their shirts. The social fabric depends on shared agreements and understanding. Such exploitative schemes appear cheaper but make communities poorer - emptying Main Street stores, reducing businesses that donate to local causes. What seems efficient on the surface often carries hidden costs to communal bonds and shared prosperity.

Consequence Impact Scoring

Consequence Impact Scores” (CIS) could help assess design’s broader impacts. Like how economists measure value, CIS would quantify externalities. It would go beyond user-focused metrics to also consider societal, ethical, and interpersonal effects. CIS would thoroughly evaluate each design choice’s potential downsides, like isolation, ethics dilemmas, and community impacts. The final score would show the overall societal footprint, enabling more balanced conversations between designers, companies, and society.

Adopting CIS could promote accountability and transparency in design. Companies could better anticipate ripples and make informed, ethical choices. Public scoring could enable new levels of openness. CIS could also bridge tech and the humanities. A shared language around consequences could shift focus from just user metrics to holistic evaluation. CIS represents a paradigm shift toward conscientious design. Impacts would be measured and integrated from the start. Dialogue could evolve from metric monologues to diverse, nuanced conversations enriched by many perspectives. The screens mediating our digital lives would be created with deeper understanding of their broad footprints.

Our collective acquiescence obfuscates harm and limits envisioning humane design frameworks. This is where Consequence Impact Scoring becomes pivotal - by quantifying externalities and societal costs of current choices, it compels reevaluating policies and consensus that sustain harmful paradigms.

Advocating for CIS isn’t academic but an urgent call to action - urging policymakers, designers and the public to look past brand facades and into the designs shaping our realities. It’s an invitation to unmask hidden costs, challenge entrenched paradigms, and enable enlightened discourse on operations’ community impacts.

Together we can foster more conscientious design, where consequences are measured and integrated from the outset. The screens mediating our digital lives can be created with deeper understanding of their broad footprints.

October 29, 2023

Service design wasn’t designed to serve everybody

As I prepare to teach a service design studio course in the winter at a university, I must grapple with my own frustrations with the inadequacies of service design as a practice. Simply put, we’re not going to blueprint, journey map, or design our way out of intractable problems. It does not do any good to trace the steps of so-called customer journeys” if we’re not prepared to actually do anything about solving them.

At its core, service design is a business practice. Its goal is to sell more widgets by making the experience of widget acquisition better. 

This does not presuppose that you might not need any more widgets because you bought some yesterday or that you should diversify your acquisitions of other things.

No, it does not care about this.

We’re meant to encapsulate regular people into personas, ignore the people we dislike or don’t envision as part of the journey and get onward with the business of selling more, buying more.

Professor Cameron Tonkinwise wrote back in March about the things that service blueprints conceal, and how service designers — even if they’re thinking about these things — are not really incentivized to solve for these inadequacies because they’re not being paid to do that. Frankly, the entire challenge of the adoption of service design as a practice in the United States is largely due to our antipathy for providing widespread access to public services, specifically for people whom we as a society find undesirable. Depending on where you find yourself in the country, this disaste manifests itself in different ways, but nonetheless, it’s ingrained in our cultural milieu.

Alas, when I give talks about service design in other countries, I have to always caveat that while my practical foundations for the discipline come largely from imbibing sources that aren’t US-based, my perspectives are shaped by living — being born and growing up — in a place where I’ve had many opportunities to deeply understand the flaws of service design, because I’ve experienced this growing up in a small urban minority-majority city, attending Title I schools, living in rural areas throughout the Midwest, South & Mountain West and seeing how it manifests in cities to this day.

Service design gaps aren’t a reason to throw it out. Lots of good work developed that can help us improve everyday systems, services & structures. We need to be more mindful of where we can improve things.

October 17, 2023

On Putting Yourself Out There

I chose to move to a more urban part of the city after the COVID lockdowns. My old area had coffee shops and food, a weekend buzz of people, but it wasn’t close to downtown to feel the tourist crowds, though they did show up sometimes.

I respond better when I see people out and about. I don’t fear missing out, because I’ll do something alone if I want to. Moving blocks from downtown has been more lively.

There are people who seem mentally distressed that sit for hours at the nearby bus stop. One just uses his phone. Another acts out animated conversations with someone invisible, getting more agitated as it continues.

Computers unraveled our world, aided by people. This stuff happened before the internet too, but there were different safeguards when you had to solve problems locally, and it was harder for troublemakers to unleash outrage on strangers. Worse, they don’t understand the chaos they cause because they’re busy chasing internet points.

When I talk of consequence design, I mean how human-computer interaction” created incentives to disengage from neighbors. There were never incentives to talk to strangers, but we used to do it. Metrics-driven data mining has us seeking connections while ignoring answers in front of us.

A TV ad shows a mom giving her son’s resume to anyone, to help him find work. How quaint it once was to fill out an application and get hired on the spot by a manager who knew their hiring pool. Lamenting empty offices overlooks that landlords don’t connect with local small business owners getting by on small margins who can’t afford leases. These problems seem chicken and egg. Why take a lease you can’t pay? Why don’t cities give space to grow? Corporate welfare lures companies with no local ties who leave when tax breaks expire.

It’s wild that people want to starve local schools of money, with officials whose kids don’t attend public school. This isn’t consequence design, but part of a narrative I can’t escape.

I don’t see improvement. My practice now involves strategic foresight and design futures because you have to envision the future you want. For decades, companies and governments invested in future-casting that led to today’s developments, almost always certain types of men, as if no one else was qualified.

My frustration with civic life is that many solvable problems await action while we remake time horizons. Winning is fun, and you might luck into it when circumstances align. But sustained winning is hard work. Decision-making isn’t about winning; we must constantly reevaluate our definitions of good” and wins.”

As a kid, I wondered why school districts experiment in the name of progress. How can latchkey kids think the best thing is to deprive kids of field trips, sports and infrastructure built for them before?

It’s as if we’ve decided everyone could have a good life by just applying somewhere, rather than fix the structural harm done in the name of progress.

October 9, 2023

On Rage Tweets, Reddit & the painful silence of a post-twitter world

There’s something cathartic about putting half-baked ideas into the world and getting feedback. Losing Twitter is hard to quantify, even though I didn’t like it, because it amplified voices literally out of obscurity. I’ve seen similar laments from academics who did important but disconnected work in random places. Conferences help, but gatekeepers structure our world in ways that make it hard for those not at the right schools” or with the right titles” to pole vault into consciousness.

Many people I came up with in the early 2000s blogosphere have risen from Blogspot to prominent publications and media. It’s cool to see their ascent. A challenge has been figuring out how to market myself, message my ideas, and where to start.

Mostly, I’ll talk about sharing ideas freely, owning my ideas, and tie this to my post on the anti-engagement era, where disinformation and rage tweets are currency in a metamodern world.

Generative AI tools like Midjourney show bias plainly by revealing their default audience. Now it may seem fun, but when a few people train” the new canon on what we’ll see and hear, they determine what’s important.

There’s never been another Oprah, because she was a glitch in the matrix, benefitting from timing, self-belief, and assuming her show wouldn’t work, ensuring there would be no other like her. We see this in tech too.

What will happen if the tech monoculture designing our tools erases key parts of our existence due to blind spots or malice? It doesn’t matter for those who know how to find things without them. But future generations won’t remember life before the internet or making things from scratch.

The experimentation gold rush is a 1.0 thing. The next generation learns to consume, not build. Early adopting means wasting time learning the new puzzle, contextualizing it, and adding it to life. It seems wasteful from outside, because it mostly is. But taking these tools and breaking them to understand how they work, think, and are programmed is crucial for living in an increasingly modern and hostile world.

September 30, 2023

Notes from the age of disengagement

We exist in the Age of Disengagement, an era marked by weaponized speech online where our words are not only used against us but also synthesized by machines to form a new canon of beliefs and attitudes. Yet, behind the algorithms are people, curators who selectively shape this modern narrative akin to a new Bible, impacting how we view different individuals, genders, and non-conforming identities.

Transitioning from this idea, the primary actors often present themselves as benign, assuring us that our private data is safe and being used ethically, yet the mechanisms of their operations remain veiled in secrecy. Our state bureaucrats and policymakers live in a world where they believe there’s no need for transparency regarding measurable progress. However, if tangible change isn’t apparent to the public, leaders need to leverage their power to demonstrate meaningful progress. Public relations gestures, like press conferences, ribbon-cuttings, or podcast appearances, are inadequate substitutes for genuine accountability.

Amidst this backdrop, the current era has also seen a transition in information dissemination. We moved from an age where you could voice any opinion, largely unnoticed, to an age where attention could potentially garner you a book deal off of Twitter, to our current reality. Now, capital has co-opted the democratized mechanisms of free speech, turning them into engines of disinformation—a venture that’s become disturbingly profitable.

This shift leads us into a realm where, in the absence of credible information and veracity, we find ourselves in a vacuum. Instead of holding the powerful accountable, we fight among ourselves on platforms like Reddit, engaging in endless debates about what should be. We find a parallel in the non-profit sector, where many are part of the problem while believing themselves to be part of the solution.

The narrative further unfolds as complicity becomes a universal trait in our current state, and at some point, we must coalesce all stakeholders, including the public, for a moment of reckoning. We all must share the burden to solve our problems, acknowledging the vast organizational technical debt we’ve accumulated. Our societal architecture is burdened by a debt that can’t simply be dissolved through bankruptcy. We must be agile and nimble in addressing these issues, despite society’s inherent resistance to such change.

In reflecting upon this, we live in a world of escalating crises, always on the brink of being permanently upended by the next pandemic. Those in power must recognize that secluding oneself and making reactionary, self-serving policy choices are no longer acceptable. If the instability of the Global South hasn’t made it abundantly clear, those in power are only one day away from losing their seat.

Drawing parallels to our own situation, we like to think we’re beyond such instability here, but the proliferation of societal fissures and bad actors who invite and exploit these divides for personal gain suggests otherwise. In the face of societal upheaval, those who have contributed to the instability wouldn’t shed a tear for the repercussions.

July 31, 2023