As a tennis player, you have probably heard the term ‘break point’ before. The most recent Netflix documentary on tennis was called Break Point so it is topical. But do you really understand what it is and why it matters in a game of tennis?
Personally, I think a break point can be one of the most crucial moments in a tennis match, and it can change the entire fortunes of a match in an instance.
In this article, we will explore the concept of break points, their significance, and how they can impact your game.
What is a Point in Tennis?
Before we dive into break points, let’s first understand what a point is in tennis. A point is the smallest unit of scoring in a tennis match. When a player wins a rally by hitting the ball over the net and landing it inside the opponent’s court, they earn a point.
What is a Break Point?
Now that we know what a point is, let’s talk about break points. A break point is a crucial moment in a tennis match when the server is at risk of losing their service game. Let’s give you an example. The server starts their serve, serves two double faults and then hits a rally ball in the net. They are now down 0-40 and this is classed as a break point. In fact, this is known as 3 break points as the receiver has 3 chances to break the serve.
If the receiver wins a break point, they ‘break’ the server’s serve, which means they win the game and potentially take a lead in the set.
As you will know, most tennis players win their service games. I remember one season Ivo Karlovic and John Isner had stats of over 90% of wins on their service games for the entire season. So for a player to lose a service game, it can have a big impact.
A break can be a significant advantage as it puts the receiver in the driver’s seat, and the server is then forced to play catch-up.
Do Break Points Really Matter?
Yes, they do – and here’s why. A break point can swing the momentum of a match in favor of the receiver. It can also put tremendous pressure on the server, who may start to doubt their abilities. A player may be playing incredible free-flowing tennis, finds themselves serving for the set and boom all of a sudden they get a little tight, they hit a double fault and find themselves break point down. Now their stress levels goes up, their opponent is on the charge and it is as much a mental battle as it is physical.
And this is why break points have such huge impacts on games, win a break point and you have the upper hand on the opponent at that point in time. Fail to take your break points and your opponent feels they have staved off the threat and they are now in the ascendency!
This mental part of the game is something that coaches spend many hours with players on. Just look at Rafael Nadal or Novak, the way they are able to put so much pressure on opponents and yet at the same time always seem to find a way to escape from trouble when needed.
What Are the Stats?
According to tennis statistics, the average break point conversion rate is between 30-40%. This means that players only convert roughly one-third of their break point opportunities. It is not much and shows how essential it is to be mentally prepared and focused during these critical moments.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do you win a break point in tennis?
To win a break point, the receiver needs to win the next point after the score reaches deuce (40-40). If the receiver wins the point, they break the server’s serve, leading to a game point opportunity.
How do you save a break point in tennis?
To save a break point, the server must win the next two points after the score reaches deuce. If the server wins the next two points, they win the game, and the break point opportunity is eliminated.
Break points are an integral part of tennis and can change the momentum of a match in an instant. We encourage you as a player to really focus the next time you play and face break points against you. How do you feel? what are you thinking about? try really hard to focus on either winning the break point or defending it against an opponent.
Even with an average conversion rate of only 30-40%, the impact of each successful break point can be game-changing. Therefore, next time you’re on the court, remember the importance of these pivotal points. Embrace the challenge, stay focused, and strive to tip the balance in your favor.