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Changes in exercise characteristics, maximal voluntary contraction, and explosive strength during prolonged tennis playing
  1. O Girard1,
  2. G Lattier1,
  3. J-P Micallef1,
  4. G P Millet2
  1. 1Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France
  2. 2Aspire Academy for Sport Excellence, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to:
 O Girard
 Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Montpellier, UPRES EA 2991, 700 Avenue du Pic Saint Loup, Montpellier, France; olivier.girard{at}


Objectives: To examine changes in exercise characteristics, maximal voluntary contraction, and explosive strength during prolonged tennis playing.

Methods: Maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MVC), leg stiffness (hopping), and peak power in squat (SJ) and countermovement (CMJ) jumps were measured before, every 30 minutes during, and 30 minutes after a three hour tennis match in 12 well trained players. Heart rate (HR), the effective playing time (EPT), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and muscle soreness of knee extensors were also measured.

Results: Decreases in MVC (−9%; p<0.05) and leg stiffness (−9%; p  =  0.17) were observed after the match and were significantly correlated (r  =  0.66; p  =  0.05). Peak power in SJ and CMJ tests was maintained during the match but was lower (p<0.001) 30 minutes after. Average HR and EPT were 144 (8) beats/min and 21 (4)% respectively. A strong correlation was found between EPT and HR (r  =  0.93; p<0.05). RPE and muscle soreness increased linearly during the exercise and were significantly correlated (r  =  0.99; p<0.001).

Conclusions: Progressive reductions in maximal voluntary strength and leg stiffness highly correlated with increases in perceived exertion and muscle soreness were observed throughout a three hour tennis match, whereas explosive strength was maintained and decreased only after the match. These alterations may result in less efficient on-court movement and stroke production. They are, however, lower than those reported during continuous exercise of the same duration. The intermittent pattern of tennis and the numerous stretch-shortening cycle movements partly explain these results.

  • CMJ, countermovement jump
  • EPT, effective playing time
  • HR, heart rate
  • LS, leg stiffness
  • MRJ, multi-rebound jump
  • MVC, maximal isometric voluntary contraction
  • RPE, rating of perceived exertion
  • SJ, squat jump
  • fatigue
  • intermittent exercise
  • leg stiffness
  • peak power
  • tennis

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  • Competing interests: none declared