A Three-Dimensional Cinematographic Analysis of the Tennis Serve

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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Three dimensional (3-D) high-speed photography was used to record the tennis service actions of eight elite tennis players. The direct linear transformation (DLT) method was used for 3-D space reconstruction from 2-D images recorded from laterally placed cameras operating at 200fps. Seven of the eight subjects initially positioned their center of gravity toward the front foot during the stance phase. When the elbow reached 90° in the backswing, the knees of the eight subjects were at or near their maximum attained flexion, and the upper arm was an extension of a line joining both shoulder joints. A mean maximum vertical shoulder velocity of 1.7ms−1 during the leg drive produced a force at the shoulder that was eccentric to the racket-limb, thus causing a downward rotation of this limb as measured by a mean velocity of the racket of −5.8ms−1 down the back. This leg drive increased the angular displacement of the loop and therefore provided a greater distance over which the racket could be accelerated for impact. All subjects swung the racket up to the ball, and all but one hit the ball with the racket angled slightly backward (M = 93.9°). An effective summation of body segments was apparent because resultant linear velocities showed an increase as the more distal segment endpoint approached impact, although all subjects decelerated the racket immediately prior to impact. Mean resultant ball velocities of 34.4ms−1 for the female subjects and 42.4ms−1 for the male subjects were achieved.

Bruce Elliott, Tony Marsh, and Brian Blanksby are at the University of Western Australia. Direct all correspondence to Dr. Bruce Elliott, Dept. of Human Movement and Recreation Studies, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, 6009, Australia.

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