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Movement patterns in elite men's singles tennis.

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Only the work of Pereira et al (2001) attempts to link footwork patterns to the outcome of the rallies, and the sequencing of these patterns, which enables a much more relevant picture to be obtained of what exactly happens in the game. This, and other research, has shown the developments made within the field of squash regarding the analysis of movement pattern, however such research has yet to be extended to the field of tennis. The aim of this study was to analyse movement patterns of elite men's singles tennis players.

Ten sets from matches in the third round onwards of the 2002 Wimbledon Championships were used, and data were collected using a computerised database designed in Microsoft Access. Two intra-operator and one inter-operator reliability tests were conducted, all of which showed good levels of reliability (< 3% and 5% respectively) when analysed broadly, however as the depth of analysis increased, so the reliability decreased (7.9%). Profile data were also compiled, which showed great variation in the levels of normalisation across all the data variables collected, and further extension of data collection was also recommended for future research.

The data showed distinct sequences of movement produced by elite men's grass court players. The sequences showed trends towards split steps as the initial movements (66.59%), then a combination of side steps (ranging 27.84%–32.6%) and strides (ranging 24.31%–25.95%) used to get to the ball. The movements at the ball then resulted in strides (34.51% and 58.26%) and then subsequent use of side steps (42.01%) in recovery. The combination of serving and cell sequence data also leads to the conclusion that movement behind the baseline predominates on the grass surface, however the net and volleying was also utilised with great success (31.8% winners). The data also showed that the mid court was utilised as a transitional area of the court.

Further research was recommended to fully utilise the potential of the system, and that the data collection be extended to include different playing populations and surfaces.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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