Scaling constraints in junior tennis: the influence of net height on skilled players’ match-play performance

Vera Limpens, Tim Buszard, Emma Schoemaker, Geert J. P. Savelsbergh, Machar Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Purpose: The net height in tennis (0.91 m) is approximately 50% of a professional tennis player’s height. Children are also expected to play with this net height, even though it is approximately 70% of the average 10-year-old’s height. This study examined the immediate effect of lowering net height on the performance characteristics of skilled junior tennis players aged 10 years and younger. Method: Sixteen players were matched in 8 pairs of even tennis ability and same sex. Each pair played 25-min singles matches in 4 conditions that varied in net height (0.91 m, 0.78 m, 0.65 m, and 0.52 m). Match-play characteristics were analyzed via video replay. Results: Results showed that lowering the net height to 0.65 m and 0.52 m led to players adopting a more attacking style of play, as evidenced by a significant increase in the number of winners without a commensurate increase in errors and more shots struck inside the baseline. Lower nets also led to a greater percentage of successful first serves. The lowest net (0.52 m), however, reduced rally length significantly and therefore decreased hitting opportunities. Conclusion: These results offer support for equipment scaling to enhance match-play performance for skilled junior tennis players. We propose that current net height recommendations for junior tennis should be revised.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalResearch Quarterly for exercise and sport
Volume89
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2018

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