Sweeping The Lines

SONY DSCThere are probable very few weird people like me who have wondered “What is the most efficient walking path to use when sweeping the lines after playing on a clay court?”

Well, Naples tennis friend (and retired engineer) Jack Moter is one of those people! He writes….

“When sweeping clay courts lines, I’ve always wondered what pattern to use to minimize total steps. I decided that since I have time on my hands, I’d take a crack at that problem.
moter2“In the accompanying tennis court diagram, the intersection of lines or of lines and the net are denoted by numbers in a circle. The accompanying chart shows the path followed which attempts to minimize the distance traveled.

“The chart has a column labeled “S” which shows the start of a leg of the pattern, and a column labeled “E” which shows the end of the leg of the pattern. The rightmost column shows the distance (in ft.) traveled for that leg of the pattern.

“Wasted movement (no lines swept) is indicated by blue shading. Each leg of the pattern begins where the previous leg ends.

“Not counted is the distance traveled to arrive at the start point, the small distance traveled to get from one side of the net to the closest point on the other side of the net (movement between points 12 and 13), and the distance from the final point in the pattern to where the line sweeper is kept.

“This example shows a pattern with total distance traveled of 604.5 ft. where the wasted distance traveled is 124.5 ft.

“Can you find a pattern that covers less distance?”

Thanks to Weird Jack Moter.

If you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at George@seniortennisandfitness.com

11 thoughts on “Sweeping The Lines

  1. I may be missing something, but how does one get from points 7 to 9 and 19 to 21?
    Weirdness runs in my family, too.
    See you all soon in Naples where we all do a fair share of line sweeping.

  2. Hey, Michael,

    You made the same mistake that I initially did. The numbers in the “picture” only define the intersections. Gotta look at the “chart” for figgerin out the order in which those dots are connected.

    Weird?? I wonder why in the world there aren’t papers written on this subject. 🙂

  3. I think I just wasted more time trying to figure this out than I would walking my usual path to sweep a court at my tennis club. But thanks for sharing, George! LOL

  4. Jack! This analysis is a little weird. I don’t care how the lines are done, just get it done. I am trying to push, make it a requirement, at out club to brush the courts and do the lines after playing. It only takes 5 minutes, two people, to accomplish this. Not only will the court be ready for the next players, you would only have to do them once, and it is very healthy for the maintenance of the courts.


  5. That is exactly the way I sweep the court, or at least my half of the court! George, you are a true genius. I would make one change, however, in the last step on the right court, for example, (since rarely does one have to sweep both sides). Instead of 4-7 and 7-6, I go 4-6 and sweep 6-7. This places me closer to position 2 as it is usually in that corner of the court where the line sweep should be hung on the fence.

  6. I just discussed this yesterday while sweeping the court after some singles. IMOP before sweeping those 256 linear feet of lines, the best route is to go vertically from the net to the baseline, for two reasons:
    1. Fewer turns made means faster coverage.
    2. Clay surface eventually gets under the lines and lifts them, creating bad bounces. Fewer lines to cross when going vertically decreases this process.

  7. Glad to see this article has stimulated discussion. A few comments:

    Ron Mishko – a agree that sweeping the lines after a match is a good practice. We always did that in new England at the clubs where I played.

    Dag – Have you created a new acronym? IMOP? If you do all the lines vertically from net to baseline, it must be very tedious doing the service lines with all those tiny vertical strokes!

    Bill Wachtel – The definition of retirement is having too much time on your hands. We can’t sit around just drinking beer all day.

  8. BTW, I just printed out this entire article and I am going to post it on my club’s bulletin board today. There are a few engineers who are members and I am sure it will interest them to the point of distraction. As for the rest of us doctors, lawyers, dentists and businessmen, we will go play tennis!

    Marty – Great … drive them nuts! george

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