The Development of a Methodology to Determine the Relationship in Grip Size and Pressure to Racket Head Speed in a Tennis Forehand Stroke

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Procedia Engineering, 2016, 147 pp. 787 - 792
Issue Date:
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© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This study developed a methodology to examine the effects of grip size and grip firmness on the kinematic contribution of angular velocity (KCAV) to the generation of racket head speed during a topspin tennis forehand. The KCAV is subdivided into kinematic contribution of joint angular velocity and kinematic contribution of the body segments in the upper trunk translational and angular velocities. Two Babolat Pure Storm GT rackets, with grip sizes 2 and 4 respectively, were used with Tekscan 9811E pressure sensors applied to the handles to examine pressure distribution during the stroke. Upper body kinematic data taken from the racket arm and trunk were obtained by means of a Vicon motion capture system. One elite male tennis player was recruited. Fifty topspin forehand strokes per grip at two nominal grip pressures were performed in a laboratory environment with balls being tossed towards the player and struck on the bounce towards a target on a net in as consistent a way as practically achievable. Processing of the results showed that the firm grip condition led to a significant (p<0.001) increase in average racket head speed compared to a normal grip condition. The normal gripping condition resulted in a significant (p<0.001) increase in average racket head speed for grip size 2 compared to grip size 4. A trend in negative linear relationships was found between upper trunk and shoulder joint in KCAV across conditions. Using the smaller grip also led to a trend in negative linear relationship between shoulder joint and wrist joint in KCAV across grip conditions. Grip pressure for grip size 2 showed the same pattern across gripping conditions. From 50-75% of completion in forward swing, the pressure difference due to grip firmness decreased. This feasibility study managed to quantify the KCAV while performing a topspin forehand, with respect to changing of grip size and grip pressure in an elite male tennis player for the first time.
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