Game Set Map: A Cartographer’s Guide to Data Visualization in Tennis

Game Set Map

One of the most beautiful and interesting applications of data mining and analytics is Game Set Map – a site dedicated to applying tools like GIS and data visualization to tennis. The site’s author has taken a unique approach, using info-graphics and other visuals to highlight patterns and geospatial information collected from matches on the pro tour. I highly recommend checking out some of the site, especially how Game Set Map has used hawk eye data to show 3d ball trajectory and 2d movement throughout matches with GIS.

Hawk Eye Data Dump

My Side of The Net

The ATP and the WTA have been hesitant to share data with fans the way that MLB, NBA, and NFL have done for years. Data sharing is not only important for coaches, but it also provides a new way for fans to interact with the game from the sidelines. When watching tennis, we are left with the same old metrics of unforced errors, winners and aces. These data points don’t allow fans to understand how a match is played and won. A match is not purely won or lost based on winners and unforced errors; it is won when a player utilizes his go to patterns to execute a winning game plan. By unlocking this data, fans can understand and relate to the strategic side of the game and engage with their favorite players in a new way.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. David Lewis says:

    I’ve been frustrated with commentator’s use of statistics when calling matches. For example, at the beginning of a match they do that segment where they say Player A wins 92% of the time when they win 63% of points between 3 and 7 shots. They’re just burping up numbers. There’s nothing a player can do to just reach that bar. Actually, there probably is, but it’s hidden in the data and that’s what needs to be cracked. Another example might be about hitting x% of balls in front of 3 feet behind the baseline. That player can’t just decide to stand closer to the line so they’ll win. Analytics needs to decode something under the player’s control that lets him stand close; i.e., ball rpm, net clearance or velocity of shots, etc.

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    1. acattas says:

      I totally agree that numbers alone will not allow fans to truly comprehend the x’s and o’s of the sport. It’s more along the lines of breaking the numbers down into something meaningful. For example, we constantly see Nadal executing a 1-2 combo of serve/winner where he serves the ball out wide to open the court for a forehand winner. Breakdown the data into something tangible like pattern play allows fans to understand how Nadal is able to open up the court to hit that forehand inside the baseline for a winner.

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  2. acattas says:

    I think we may also need some new commentators in the sport……

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  3. David Lewis says:

    As it turns out (nice article you posted), I was right about this bogus use of data.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2013/09/07/despite-advanced-stats-tennis-has-a-data-problem/

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  4. AusApproach says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

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