Tennis is a global sport. It is also a physically very demanding sport, which takes its toll on the bodies of players. The sport has a high injury rate, while there is still a great deal of knowledge lacking about the extent of the physical and biomechanical stresses affecting those who play it. These are among the issues Swedish researchers are now hoping to gain a deeper understanding of.
The Karolinska Institute is to conduct a scientific study in collaboration with the Swedish Sports Confederation, Swedish Tennis Association, Sophiahemmet University Collage, Monark Exercise AB, Qualisys AB, which is providing the movement analysis system, and the Good to Great Tennis Academy. The aim is to investigate in greater detail the physical stresses tennis players are exposed to and to analyse the body’s degree of efficiency while playing tennis, in order to find alternative, tennis-specific methods of training that are gentler on the body, and to gain a better understanding of injury prevention and injury rehabilitation for tennis players.
“In the long run, of course, we hope the study will act as a foundation for those who want to carry out further research. There’s a huge amount of development work to be done on these issues,” says Fredrik Johansson, the head researcher from the Karolinska Institute.
The researchers also hope the study will enable them to generate new knowledge concerning movement patterns and efficiency: a kind of performance analysis. In the long run, the study will also be useful as a basis for producing better training and test protocols for ergometric bicycles, which are particularly suitable for tennis players.
It is important in this kind of scientific research to be able to carry out the study in the field, where it is possible to gather both physiological and biomechanical data for analysis. For this reason, all the measurements will be carried out in Good to Great’s premises at Catella Arena in Danderyd, which means that all the data will be collected in the best possible environment for relevant analyses and applicable results.
“It’s essential for us to be out on the tenniscourt so that we can carry out the study with as realistic a result as possible. You can’t get an accurate result of what we want to study any other way,” emphasises Magnus Norman, who runs the Good to Great tennis academy with Nicklas Kulti and Mikael Tillström.
The participants will be fitted with reflective markers over their entire bodies, so that all their movements can be measured to the nearest millimetre in 3D. They will have pressure-sensitive soles put in their shoes, for flexible analysis of the pressure distribution and the changes in forces that take place during a match. During the measurement process, a wearable oxygen intake system will also play a key role by measuring the physiological stress during play. This is the first time all these advanced measurement systems have been combined in tennis, making the study globally unique.
Mikael Swarén from Monark Exercise AB is optimistic about the study:
“Having access to these systems, and being able to combine them, gives us infinitely greater opportunities to take a deeper look at the specific issues from a number of directions. Maybe the study will also have a ripple effect for people who develop various sports tests, and of course for those who work in rehabilitation.”