Grunting tennis player, faster ball
For some tennis fans it's a source of entertainment, for others a source of irritation: the grunting and groaning that some players use to get more out of their strokes. Sports scientists at the University of Nebraska at Omaha have discovered that all that grunting and groaning can actually be useful. According to their study, players that grunted produced faster shots.
Grunting tennis players are a favourite subject among sports commentators, but until recently no research had been done on grunting in tennis. So these researchers decided to fill this gap.
Research set up
The researchers got 10 – five male and five female – tennis players to hit balls for two-minute periods, both forehands and backhands. They did this on five occasions. The researchers used portable radar to measure the speed of the balls. Between sessions the players took one minute of rest.
On the one occasion the players hit the ball with their mouths shut [No Grunt]; on the other occasion they had to grunt [Grunt]. As you can see in the figure below, the balls that the players hit while grunting were faster.
"The results of this study provide an evidence base for using grunting as a means of enhancing sport performance", write the researchers. "Our study shows benefits for hitting groundstrokes in tennis with greater velocity. It may be worthwhile for players and coaches in tennis and other sports to experiment with grunting to determine possible improvement in performance."
J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jul;28(7):1915-9.
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