Imagine seeing Roger Federer in a vintage video playing a match against Rod Laver, Fred Perry or Rene Lacoste. If Federer had been born between the 1920s and 1930s, his career would have been different. But the Swiss could not have benefited from all the advances for performances and health of recent years.
A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine identified the best advances that were useful for not only professionals but also amateurs. Let's find out what they are: "1) Player analysis technology. Specialized equipment or smart devices are now available that have the ability to measure the way the player performs or interacts with his equipment.
This gives objective information that was previously only available from a subjective analysis by the coach. Players now have access to sophisticated coaching information at low cost, even if they have no coach, and this is having a major impact on the sport.
The information is of real-time (or very close to real-time) and is much more detailed than was previously possible. The development of this player analysis technology is evolving so rapidly that the 2014 Rules of Tennis have been amended to permit International Tennis Federation (ITF) -approved devices to be used during play.
2) Electronic line-calling. A particularly noticeable scientific recent advance has been the introduction of an electronic line-calling system in tennis, Hawk-Eye. This complex system uses high-performance cameras to track the ball and determine where it lands on the court, which is displayed using computer graphics.
This information can be provided to players, spectators and match umpires in close to real-time and is accepted as a definitive answer to the eternal question 'in or out' 3) Biomechanics and video analysis. Biomechanics has helped tennis coaches to understand the mechanical characteristics of the tennis stroke and to unlock the complex mechanisms by which players develop power and control.
While most of the early research involved the tennis serve, recently groundstrokes have been analyzed. Coaches have always asked for information on stroke development and it is pleasing to see investigations into which techniques change over time (variant) and those that are similar for the young high-performance players and the professionals (invariant).
4) Low compression tennis balls. The introduction of low-compression tennis balls has fundamentally changed the way children and adults learn to play tennis. These are essentially lightweight balls that are easy to hit. As players become more familiar with the basic strokes, they progress to normal-sized balls that are 'soft' so that the ball flight is slower and the bounce is lower.
5) Sport psychology. There is now high awareness of the importance of parents of junior tennis players, and parent education programs have been developed. For coaching beginners and intermediate players, there is much more focus on the motivational climate, as this is highly relevant.
High-performance tennis players use a variety of emotional control strategies, as this has been shown to affect performance in a positive way. 6) Injury surveillance. General knowledge of tennis injuries has increased over the years, but the reported incidence, severity and nature of injuries show great variation between studies.
Although some of this variation can be accounted for by different sample populations and conditions, the main reasons are related to the significant variation in injury definition and the disparate methodologies employed by the separate studies.
Recently, research has explored the links between loading and tennis injuries, although much more work is needed in this area before defined conclusions can be reached. 7) Nutrition. Recent advances in nutrition have mainly focused on sports with high-energy demands such as cycling and marathon running, but awareness of the benefits of proper nutrition in tennis has increased.
Nowadays, most professional players have a well thought out diet before, during, and after play that includes fluids, carbohydrates and protein in the right combination for optimal performance and enhanced recovery. 8) Heat stress.
A number of studies have been performed to investigate the thermoregulatory response of tennis players to heat stress. 7–9 These show that core body temperature (CBT) can be maintained at a safe level across a wide range of environmental conditions and is determined mainly by the intensity of the exercise and the resulting metabolic rate.
When the cooling mechanisms of the body (sweating and cutaneous vasodilation) work normally, thermal equilibrium is reached and maintained after approximately 40 min of tennis match play."