Success in tennis requires a mix of player talent, good coaching, appropriate equipment, and an understanding of those aspects of sport science pertinent to the game. This paper outlines the role that biomechanics plays in player development from sport science and sport medicine perspectives. Biomechanics is a key area in player development because all strokes have a fundamental mechanical structure and sports injuries primarily have a mechanical cause. Success in tennis is greatly affected by the technique a player uses and biomechanics plays an integral role in stroke production. All strokes have a fundamental mechanical structure, and sports injuries primarily have a mechanical cause.
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Success in tennis requires a mix of player talent, good coaching, appropriate equipment, and an understanding of those aspects of sport science pertinent to the game. This paper outlines the role that biomechanics plays in player development from sport science and sport medicine perspectives. Biomechanics is a key area in player development because all strokes have a fundamental mechanical structure and sports injuries primarily have a mechanical cause.
Success in tennis is greatly affected by the technique a player uses and biomechanics plays an integral role in stroke production. All strokes have a fundamental mechanical structure, and sports injuries primarily have a mechanical cause.
An understanding of biomechanics from a sports medicine perspective is also important if player development is to occur with minimal risk of injury.
The examples given in the following sections are intended to reflect general directions rather than provide a comprehensive review of the literature. More detailed reviews can be found in the ITF publication Biomechanics of advanced tennis, 2 and the books From breakpoint to advantage, 3 The physics and technology of tennis 4 and Biomechanical principles of tennis technique: using science to improve your strokes.
The review will be presented under a number of headings that reflect the different areas in which biomechanics is important to player development. Firstly, biomechanics from a general perspective will be followed by the role it plays in stroke production.
Sports medicine, as it plays a role in the development of stroke production, is then discussed from a biomechanical perspective. Biomechanics theory provides coaches, players, and sport science support staff with a general framework for the development of stroke production. I will discuss a number of the general principles that guide this development.
This is also supported by the fact that the concentric action begins with the appropriate muscles under higher tension than would be created if they were to contract purely concentrically from a resting state. Groundstrokes: Rotation of the shoulders greater than the hips creating a separation angle and the positioning of the upper limb relative to the trunk during the backswing phase of these strokes, place appropriate muscles on stretch. The key to the recovery of the elastic energy is the timing between the stretch and shorten phases of the motion.
The benefit of this stored energy is reduced if a delay occurs between these phases of the movement. In tennis it is therefore essential that only a short pause occurs between the backswing and forwardswing phases of stroke production or at maximum knee flexion during the serve. In strokes where power is required such as the service and groundstrokes , a number of body segments must be coordinated in such a way that a high racquet speed is generated at impact.
Where precision is needed, the number of segments is reduced and segments operate more as a unit such as the volley at the net , although the drive volley now challenges this general principle. Efficient function, with maximal performance and minimal risk of injury, requires optimum activation of all the links in the kinetic chain designed for power.
Work by Knudson 13 has shown that selected aspects of the stroke production of high performance players are variable, whereas other aspects are repeatable. For instance, in the forehand drive, wrist and elbow angular positions are generally consistent at impact. However, this repeatable angular position was not the result of highly consistent patterns of angular velocity and acceleration of the same joints. That is, a given end result is achieved through a variety of movement strategies.
Coaches in developing stroke production must then vary drills—for example, pace, spin, direction, and height of ball feed or drill structure—to develop a variety of neuromotor timings associated with a given stroke, to achieve the almost infinite combinations of racquet speed, trajectory, and impact characteristics associated with a successful return.
Technique analysis falls on a continuum between subjective qualitative and more objective quantitative analyses. Research shows that an expansive view of subjective technique analysis, the procedure generally used by coaches, is required if performance is to be optimised.
Any effective process must evaluate movement to identify both strengths and weaknesses in performance and then diagnose the movement to prescribe an appropriate intervention. A variety of models of technique analysis have been proposed. However, they may generally be divided into approaches that focus on:. The advantage of this approach is that the relations between variables is highlighted. Published with permission of the International Tennis Federation.
Irrespective of what procedure is used, the four stage approach to technique development preparation, observation, intervention, and reassessment developed by biomechanists in combination with pedagogists has had a major influence on the way tennis stroke production is analysed, interventions developed, and performance reassessed. A discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this paper, and the reader is directed to the book by Brody et al 4 for a complete review of this broad topic.
However, there is no doubt that modern racquets have enabled the ball to be hit with a higher speed than was possible with previous designs.
Functionally, the internal rotator musculature must accelerate the upper arm in the swing to impact, before the external rotators eccentrically contract to decelerate this rotation during the follow through phase of the action. As the external rotators are much smaller than their internal rotator counterparts, it is essential that specific training is structured to protect the shoulder from injury, as discussed in the sports medicine section below.
The player has given permission for publication of this figure. Remember, these figures relate to the approximate contributions at impact and take no consideration of such movements as leg drive in the service action. They are indicators of the movements responsible for the generation of racquet speed and do not indicate the importance of a particular movement in a stroke.
For instance, in the power serve, pronation is primarily responsible for racquet orientation, and elbow extension assists in the generation of impact height.
The view most commonly held by coaches was that a player rotated the trunk horizontally about a near vertical axis during the forward swing in the service action. Although science again cannot claim that it was the reason for these movements, it certainly played an integral role in their integration into player development. Research at the University of Tokyo has provided insight into the role of lower limb drive and pelvic rotation in the forehand 17 and backhand 18 strokes.
The importance of internal extensor moments at the back hip was identified in both the above studies. Again the importance of hip pelvic rotation has been highlighted in both forehand and backhand strokes. Epidemiological data have shown that tennis injuries are primarily caused by overuse. Research on elite players at the Sydney Olympics provided an insight into the load placed on the shoulder and the elbow joint of these players.
In very general terms, this paper showed the following. Loading increased with an increase in service speed. That is, irrespective of sex, if a player wishes to develop a more powerful serve they need to modify technique rotate selected segments more quickly and prepare the body physically to perform the higher speed movement s. This finding needs to be further clarified such that the effect of leg drive on loading is assessed; this is currently taking place at the University of Western Australia.
There was a trend for players with very abbreviated backswings to record higher force levels at the shoulder. This finding is also currently being tested in a more controlled design. Staying on the topic of loading and the tennis serve, Chow et al 20 investigated activation on the lower trunk muscles during various types of service actions.
The abdominal muscles were more active in the topspin serve than the flat and slice serves during the upward swing of the racquet to impact. These results reinforced the importance of abdominal and low back exercises core stability together with the muscles about the shoulder and lower limbs in strength and rehabilitation programmes in tennis.
The prevalence of lateral humeral epicondylitis is acknowledged as a condition that primarily occurs in the recreational athlete. Research on the one handed backhand stroke shows that this condition may be related to the use of faulty stroke mechanics by novice players.
That is the extensor muscles about the wrist joint act concentrically to develop racquet speed through impact. That is the extensor muscles about the wrist joint contract eccentrically, before the contraction concentrically following impact. Wrist extensor electromyography for both groups showed similar levels of activity in the period before ball impact, whereas the skilled players showed greater electromyographic levels after contact.
The above study was followed by another with a similar design but with professionals and intermediate level players with and without a history of tennis elbow.
As with the study by Blackwell and Cole, 21 lateral epicondylitis has been associated with an eccentric contraction of the wrist extensors at impact. No significant differences were found in impact acceleration or elbow kinematics between the three groups. Certainly work by Tod Ellenbecker and Paul Roetert has provided players, coaches, and sports medicine personnel with isokinetic profiles of highly skilled and junior tennis players.
Such information is critical to the preparation of athletes where explosive concentric and eccentric contractions are common place. For example in the serve you have:. It is therefore apparent that we must train muscles in concentric and eccentric modes, while also recognising that large muscle imbalances will lead to injury.
Prehabiliation or exercises to minimise loading stresses should be included in any training programme before a return to full training. There is no question that players striving for more power, more control, or more variety in stroke production through trial and error are the primary determinants in changes to stroke mechanics. However, I have shown that biomechanics certainly plays a role in the process of change.
General theory provides a base on which modifications can be made, and an understanding of individual stroke mechanics inevitably leads to improved performance. Science also enables players to modify their training regimens with minimal risk of injury. Areas where science can play an improved role are in the linking of growth and development of the body, pedagogy, and skill development.
When should selected biomechanical principles be introduced? When should we teach the leg drive in the service action from skill development and lower limb strength perspectives? Although sport science has certainly assisted tennis development, it is also important to realise that much is still to be accomplished.
The biomechanics of tennis has been well researched, but publications are spread over a wide range of journals. Furthermore, interpretations of findings are in various formats, thus limiting their application. This review succinctly integrates biomechanical research from performance and sports medicine perspectives. Competing interests: none declared. The player in figure 2 has given permission for its publication.
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Br J Sports Med. B Elliott. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Accepted Dec This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Success in tennis requires a mix of player talent, good coaching, appropriate equipment, and an understanding of those aspects of sport science pertinent to the game. Keywords: biomechanics, loading, stroke production, tennis.
General theory of biomechanics Biomechanics theory provides coaches, players, and sport science support staff with a general framework for the development of stroke production. Open in a separate window. Variability in stroke production Work by Knudson 13 has shown that selected aspects of the stroke production of high performance players are variable, whereas other aspects are repeatable.
Analysis protocols Technique analysis falls on a continuum between subjective qualitative and more objective quantitative analyses. Equipment design A discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this paper, and the reader is directed to the book by Brody et al 4 for a complete review of this broad topic.
Trunk rotations in the serve The view most commonly held by coaches was that a player rotated the trunk horizontally about a near vertical axis during the forward swing in the service action. Lower limb and pelvic drive in groundstrokes Research at the University of Tokyo has provided insight into the role of lower limb drive and pelvic rotation in the forehand 17 and backhand 18 strokes.
Applied biomechanics in sports: New Tennis Project
Anschrift: Gesundheitscampus Nord Nr. Daniel Hahn Tel. Eccentric exercise: Do you have the main ingredient for an eccentric dish? Neural control is an important ingredient of eccentric recipes. Journal of Applied Physiology doi:
[Biomechanical and Orthopedic Problems of Tennis and Indoor Sports Shoe]
Biomechanics and tennis