Photo Credit: Woojin Kim. Edit: Nikita Taparia

Patterns of Play

Tennis is a game of patterns and each player has their own comfort zone. It is human nature to repeat these patterns either due to a particular situation or a particular opponent. For example, Rafael Nadal’s forehand attacking Roger Federer’s one handed backhand until it breaks down. There are certain tactics that seem rather universal such as the serve +1 (or as I like to call it, the 1–2 punch). The overall challenge is to tell us a story about these patterns of plays. You form the question, test the data, and present your results!

The Court

Use 1500 words or less and a minimum of 4 data visualizations to reveal a story hidden within the unique data-set being generated by The Match Charting Project. Unfortunately, Medium does not host d3 or Tableau visualizations, so my suggestion is to create a gif of what you want to show and link to your visuals. Stories should focus on the “Patterns of Play” embedded in the shot-by-shot detail. To help, Tennis Visuals has built a point parser to help deconstruct the CSV files.

The Rules

You may choose to do an aggregate analysis across many players or you may focus on a specific player. If you choose to investigate a single player, make sure they have at least 20 matches charted. If there is a player you would like to investigate who has fewer matches charted, then you may chart additional matches and add them to the data-set. One visual must be an interactive Silk graphic.

Optional: At least one visual must be your own creation. If executed well, it will have more weight when we make final decisions.

The Match

A final article should be published as unlisted and be emailed to I will send you instructions afterwards.


Some questions to get your creative juices flowing:
1. What is your player’s most frequent type of winning shot? Most common error?
2. In which situations is this winning shot possible?
3. What are common strategies (sequences of shots) that your player implements?
4. Which strategies are most successful?
5. Do patterns of play change when your player is ahead/behind? (i.e. serves)

An aggregate example from Jeff Sackmann analyzed return effectiveness. You can also search the Tennis Notebook archives. Lastly, Jeff recently started a community resource for research questions and notes here.

All visuals must be captioned.

If you choose to do audio narration, upload your narration to Clyp or Sound Cloud for embedding in your article.

If you use images, make sure they are under the proper Creative Commons license and credited. If you use a video, try to use an official video released by tournaments or ATP/WTA.

For more information

Good luck and we look forward to your stories!