Mechanics of Tennis

Topics: Energy, Potential energy, Classical mechanics Pages: 5 (1276 words) Published: April 20, 2012
Sports Mechanics Of Tennis
The hitting and subsequent motion of a tennis ball in playing a forehand topspin Abstract
The forehand topspin is one of the primary techniques that is utilised in modern day tennis. It has been used to enhance a player’s overall forehand skills that result in the maximising of a players groundstroke power output. This report will analyse the motions the tennis player and tennis ball undergo, the forces acting on the player and the ball and lastly, the force transformation from the player to the ball. By examining the physical properties of this process, this report will attempt to describe the motions, forces and energy transformations that are present throughout the initial stance, the swing and contact and also, the forces acting on the ball after it is hit. This study will provide tennis players with information that could be used to optimise their overall forehand topspin technique which ultimately increases speed and accuracy.

The forehand topspin is normally executed during a baseline rally and approach shots. It is also applied in passing shots. For most professional players, the topspin forehand is their main shot of choice in today’s high paced game. A forehand topspin is the best of both worlds, because a player can hit the tennis ball with maximum power and topspin while still being able to keep the ball in play. The physics involved within the forehand topspin examines the motions involved from the generation of power from the human body and racquet which is then transferred to the ball in order to apply an optimum amount of power and a forward rotation on the tennis ball. Also, air resistance and gravity on the ball after the impact off the tennis racquet to the opposing opponent eventually results in a decrease of speed and rotation. This technique is considered one of the most effective forehand groundstroke used in today's style of tennis. The forehand topspin aims to maximise the ball's speed whilst travelling in the air and also after it lands on the court due to the forward rotation of the ball.

The Initial Stance
The initial stance of the forehand topspin is very important because of the generation of power. Elliot and Wood (1983) suggested that power or force in tennis is generated by a sequence of movements carried out by the body. These sequences involve the right footwork technique where the legs are bent and the feet are pushing against the ground. As a result, the ground exerts force that propels the player upwards or forward as a reaction. This force then is transferred towards the upper body generating some biomechanical energy. From this, we can see that the role of the legs during the initial stance of the topspin forehand is of utmost importance as it is the initiation of power. The generation of power is also increased through the involvement of the hips, trunk, shoulder, elbow and wrist action. The synchronization of all these bodily movements is vital to maximize power with the proper technique.

Diagram 1: This diagram illustrates the forces acting on the player during the initial stance. The player's legs exert force towards the ground and as a reaction, the ground exerts force back to the player which the player is able to generate towards the upper body in order to maximise power.

The Swing and Contact
The swing and contact between the racquet and the ball during the forehand topspin is very important as they are both masses that collide with each other. During this collision, they exert force against each other which results in the propulsion of the ball (Brody, Cross and Lindsey, 2002). During the swing and contact, gravitational force should always be considered as it is always present.

Diagram 2: This diagram illustrates the swing from the initial stance, the contact of the racquet and ball and the follow through.

The Forces Acting On The Ball
There are two stages that this report shall...
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