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Original Research Kinematics and Kinetics of the Racket-Arm During the Soft-Tennis Smash Under Match Conditions

The purposes of this study were to (a) describe the racket-arm kinematics and kinetics of the soft-tennis smash during match rallies, and (b) assess the characteristics of this smash vs. the laboratory-simulated smash of our previous study. In the current study we recorded soft-tennis smash motions during match play of the 3rd East Asian Games. Racket-arm anatomical joint angular velocity and anatomical joint torque were calculated from 3-D coordinate data of 13 collected motions obtained using the direct linear transformation procedure. The results showed that most of the maximum values of the anatomical joint torques were qualitatively smaller than those of the tennis serve. Peak elbow extension, shoulder internal rotation, and elbow varus torques in match play were significantly greater than values reported for laboratory-simulated conditions. The greater forward swing torques did not result in significantly different racket head velocity, possibly because there was a significantly shorter forward swing phase in match conditions. In particular, a clear peak of the elbow extension torque during the forward swing phase was the most characteristic pattern in the smashes under match conditions, for it was 160% greater than laboratory-simulated conditions. These results supported our hypothesis that racket-arm kinematic and kinetic characteristics of the smash under match conditions differ from those under laboratory-simulated conditions. Possible explanations include the time-pressure conditions of the competitive situation in a match, and the Hawthorne effect (Hudson et al., 1986), both of which alter performance between match conditions and laboratory-simulated conditions.

Authors: Hirofumi Ida, Seiji Kusubori, Motonobu Ishii

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