The Schroders Battle of the Brits tennis tournament marked the long-awaited return of competitive tennis in the UK, proudly organised by Jamie Murray and shown live around the world on Amazon Prime.
During each match, every player wore a Catapult wearable device, tracking live data such as PlayerLoad, accelerations, and distance covered.
Matt Little, Andy Murray’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, became a regular face as he served up a detailed analysis of players’ physical metrics live on air. Over the week, viewers became familiar with the terms ‘ high-intensity tennis actions’, ‘heart rate’, ‘tennis load’, and ‘maximum speed’ within a tennis context.
In an interview with the LTA, Matt highlighted “Catapult data tells us how fast they have been moving and how difficult their matches have been. This can, therefore, tell us how much recovery they need and also it can inform their practice sessions so that they match up with the demands of matches.”
Explaining the numbers ahead of Dan Evans and Andy Murray’s semi-final match, Matt highlighted the physical differences between the pair. “Andy came into the match running more than a kilometre more than Dan on a singles court. Breaking that down on how it looks per point, both players run on average the same distance per point (13m) and also hit the same amount of shots on average per point (five). It sounds the same, but it’s actually very different.”
Matt discusses that the energy demands of the way that Andy runs means he is the highest high-intensity mover of the week. “Andy’s heart rates are much higher than Dan’s. Dan’s averages at 120bpm, whereas Andy’s average heart rate is around 140bpm and can max out at 180. So the energy costs of Andy’s actions, and the way he does it, would be higher than Dan’s.”
In terms of speed, there were three contenders for the fastest player of the week. Ryan Peniston came away with a maximum speed of 6.62m/s, whilst Cam Norrie’s result was 6.63m/s. Pipping them both to the post was Paul Jubb, who’s maximum speed peaked at 6.64m/s.
Catapult data also revealed that in Andy Murray’s match against Kyle Edmund, Andy had the highest loading stats of any player that week. Matt highlighted that Andy had 98 high-intensity tennis actions, which “shows how hard he was having to change direction, and how quickly he was having to accelerate to stay in the point.”
Matt commented on some great physicality on the court by Joe Salisbury, he topped the leaderboard for high-intensity tennis movements (31) on day three in his doubles match, which was almost double the amount of the other players. Likewise, the day before, Jamie Murray hit 48 high-intensity tennis movements.
The LTA’s Head of Performance Science & Medicine, Dan Lewindon, highlighted that Catapult’s ClearSky system was installed “as a part of our drive to find innovative ways to support players, coaches, and practitioners throughout the pathway, while also accelerating our understanding of the physical demands of elite tennis.”
Matt echoes this sentiment and indicates that using match data to inform practice sessions needs to happen globally in the sport. “The LTA is one of the only associations embracing and running with this new technology. It is fantastic that British players can access this level of support at the LTA, but much more work has to be done to get an understanding of the true demands of tennis globally.”