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Owing to players such as Maria Sharapova, Serena Wiliams, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, tennis has generated a lot of public interest. Tennis players have become superstars, their names being mentioned alongside those of popular musicians and actors. Behind the glamour, however, a lot of hard work is going into improving the quality of the game. The high level of tennis did not happen overnight. Sporting excellence is supported by scientific research in all aspects of the sport. What are the major scientific advances of the past 10 years and what is their impact on the game of tennis?
Player analysis technology
Specialised equipment (‘smart’ devices) are now available that have the ability to measure the way the player performs or interacts with his equipment.1 This gives objective information that was previously only available from a subjective analysis by the coach. These devices include the KITRIS-KIT, the Babolat Play racket and the PlaySight smart court.
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. It is also possible to relay this analytical information to spectators and the media which could significantly change the way that these groups interact with tennis.
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. The use of the technology is restricted in accordance with the Coaching Rule, which means that players cannot access any coaching information generated by their equipment when coaching is not permitted.
A particularly noticeable scientific recent advance has been the introduction of …