Tennis racket stiffness, string tension and impact velocity effects on post-impact ball angular velocity

Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sports Engineering, 2007, 10 pp. 111 - 122
Issue Date:
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There has been significant technological advancement in the game of tennis over the past two decades. In particular, tennis rackets have changed in size, shape and material composition. The effects of these changes on ball rebound speed have been well documented, but few studies have considered the effects on ball angular velocity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of three factors on post-impact ball spin. Tennis balls were projected at three velocities toward a clamped racket simulating three levels of stiffness and strung at three string tensions. The angular velocity of each tennis ball was measured from stroboscopic images during an oblique impact with the racket. A three-way factorial ANOVA revealed significant (P < 0.01) differences in the post-impact angular velocity for string tension, racket stiffness and impact velocity, as well as two-way interactions between string tension and impact velocity, and between racket stiffness and impact velocity. The possibility of tangential elastic strain energy being stored in the racket and ball was evident in low impact velocity trials. These displayed a postimpact angular velocity where the circumference of the ball was translating faster than the relative velocity between the ball s centre of mass and the string surface. It was concluded that increasing the relative impact velocity between the racket and ball was the best means of increasing the post-impact angular velocity of the tennis ball.
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