Now you see, now you don’t … the influence of visual occlusion on racket and ball kinematics in the tennis serve

Georgia Giblin, David Whiteside, Machar Reid

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The serve is considered amongst the most important strokes in tennis. Not surprisingly, the development of a mechanically consistent and proficient serve is paramount. Correspondingly, drills that involve players serving with their eyes closed are thought to promote mechanical consistency. The purpose of this study was therefore to contrast the effect of the removal of visual feedback on ball and racket kinematics in the serve. A 10-camera 500-Hz VICON MX motion analysis system recorded the service actions of eight elite young players as they performed three serves with eyes open and three serves with eyes closed. Removal of vision resulted in considerable differences in both racket and ball kinematics, with players failing to make contact on 16 of 24 serves. Temporally, the preparation phase was significantly shorter with eyes closed. Spatially, the ball was located 6.5 cm further to the right at zenith, and 13 cm higher at impact with eyes closed. These results highlight that the serve is not entirely pre-programmable, and that visual feedback is critical to the spatiotemporal regulation of the serve. In turn, coaches need to be aware of the implications of modifying visual feedback in serve, and ensure that the consequence is congruent with their intent.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-33
    Number of pages11
    JournalSports Biomechanics
    Volume16
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017

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