Tennis Science for Tennis Players

Tennis Science for Tennis Players

Howard Brody
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 160
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fhshn
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  • Book Info
    Tennis Science for Tennis Players
    Book Description:

    How does your opponent put that tricky spin on the ball? Why are some serves easier to return than others? The mysteries behind the winning strokes, equipment, and surfaces of the game of tennis are accessibly explained by Howard Brody through the laws of physics. And he gives practical pointers to ways players can use this understanding to advantage in the game. Through extensive laboratory testing and computer modeling, Brody has investigated the physics behind the shape of the tennis racket, the string pattern, the bounce of the tennis ball, the ways a particular court surface can determine the speed of the game, and the many other physical factors involved in tennis.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0146-8
    Subjects: Physics, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Introduction Why Another Book on Tennis?
    (pp. 3-4)

    This book will not make you an instant champion; it will help you to play as well as your physical endowment allows. There is no substitute for athletic ability and practice, but there are many things that will help you to win more points—without the drudgery of long hours of lessons, practice, and hard work. In addition, taking an understanding of all the laws of nature onto the tennis court with you will add to your enjoyment of the game.

    You do not need knowledge of science or engineering to use the material presented here. In order to profit...

  4. Chapter 1 The Importance of the Strings
    (pp. 5-22)

    There is a famous advertisement in many tennis magazines that points out that the ball never touches that very expensive, high-tech tennis racket. The ball only touches the strings. That is why this book will start by discussing the strings.

    What tension should you string your racket at? Should it be 50 pounds? Or 55? Or 62? Or 73? How can you determine what tension is optimum for a racket, a style of play, and the strings that are in use? When players decide to have an old racket restrung—or even to get a new one—they usually ask...

  5. Chapter 2 The Sweet Spots of a Tennis Racket
    (pp. 23-38)

    When you hit a shot and it really feels good, you claim that you have hit the sweet spot. But can this feeling be quantified? What is the real definition of sweet spot? When you hit a ball in the wrong place on the racket, you experience anyone of several responses. A shock may be transmitted to your arm, the whole racket may seem to shudder and vibrate, or the ball may not leave the strings with the speed or power that you expect. What causes these shock tremors, vibrations, and losses of power? Do some rackets have a sweet...

  6. Chapter 3 The Size, Shape, and Weight of the Racket
    (pp. 39-60)

    Rackets come in an assortment of sizes, shapes, and weights; with each of them, the manufacturer is attempting to accomplish something. A manufacturer seldom, if ever, reveals why the head is squared or the throatpiece is inverted or the head is enlarged in some particular way, however, so you have no way of selecting one model over another on the basis of what performance you desire or what your own style of play dictates.

    Although the idea of enlarging the width of the head has been around for many years, and a patent on such a racket was granted in...

  7. Chapter 4 Understanding the Motion of the Ball (The Bounce)
    (pp. 61-71)

    The motion or path or trajectory of a tennis ball through the air is completely determined by the laws of physics. The height to which the ball bounces and the “speed” of the court are also subject to the same laws. But you do not need to be a physicist in order to use physics to play better tennis, for you have learned from experience to take the first few feet of a ball’s trajectory and anticipate exactly where that ball will be at some later time. From years of watching tennis balls, you know instinctively to start to move...

  8. Chapter 5 Understanding the Motion of the Ball (Ball Trajectories)
    (pp. 72-93)

    After the ball has left the racket, the laws of physics take over and determine where it will go, and there is nothing more you or your opponent can do to guide it or change its path. There are three forces acting on the ball during its flight; gravity, air resistance, and—if the ball is spinning—something called the Magnus force, which causes the ball to curve. The force due to gravity is always pointed straight down toward the earth; without it the ball would never end up in the court. Air resistance slows the ball, and in the...

  9. Chapter 6 Getting the Ball In (With Position)
    (pp. 94-114)

    The probability of a shot that you hit going in and being good is related to where you are when you hit the ball. If you knew that by hitting the ball from one location the chances of the ball going in were higher than if you hit it from another spot on the court, you would avoid the low probability position and always try to hit your shots from the place that increases the chances of the ball going in (if your opponent is willing to cooperate). You also would aim your shots so that your opponent would be...

  10. Chapter 7 Getting the Ball In (Using Your Strokes)
    (pp. 115-135)

    Despite all the theory and computer analysis, you still have to hit the ball yourself. Choosing a good strategy and position, hitting high-percentage shots, and using the proper equipment may help you win more points, but basic strokes still dominate the game, and you may not win the match if you cannot place the ball where you want it to go as well as your opponent can. Even players who are able to aim the ball fairly well may lose their control when their opponent starts to put pressure on them. What causes this? Can a knowledge of the physics...

  11. Chapter 8 Using Mathematics to Plot Game Strategies
    (pp. 136-144)

    This chapter turns from physics to mathematics. Its purpose is to help you to assess the value of each successive point in a game and to apportion your energy reserves most efficiently in applying your current game skills.

    Is there one most important point in a game, or are they all equally important to you as a player? If, like the average tennis player, you do not have a vast amount of energy, it is very important to pace yourself and to play at a reasonable level, while reserving the extra effort for those points that are really important. For...

  12. Chapter 9 Reflex or Reaction Time
    (pp. 145-147)

    If you have trouble playing the net, returning fast serves, or playing on a fast court, or the ball always seems to be upon you before you move your racket into position, it could be that your reflexes are not as good as they should be, and no matter how much you practice, this is a fundamental limit that you cannot overcome. On the other hand, it could be that your shot preparation, body positioning, or balance is poor, or that you lack concentration. There is a very simple test that you can perform to measure how good your reflexes...

  13. Chapter 10 Advice from a Tennis Scientist
    (pp. 148-150)

    A physicist looks at tennis in a special way. True, it is the same game with the same rules for everyone, but it must also obey the laws of nature, and physicists spend their lives applying those laws to physical situations. Some aspects of the game can be easily analyzed by this methodology, and useful, helpful conclusions can be reached. Other aspects of the game—for example, the biomechanics of strokes—are not as easily analyzed by these techniques and are better studied with high-speed photography.

    The material in this book will not suddenly make you a tournament professional or...

  14. Index
    (pp. 151-152)