Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine selected movement characteristics of the tennis volley by evaluating temporal and ground reaction force (GRF) parameters.
Methods: Seven skilled tennis players performed volley strokes under 18 experimental conditions including variations in lateral contact location (forehand (FH) and backhand (BH)), ball contact height (high, middle, low), and ball speed (fast, medium, slow). A ball machine was modified so that the subjects could not predict the ball trajectory before it was released from the machine. The GRF and temporal parameters were determined using two force platforms and two high-speed (120 Hz) video cameras, respectively. Average and maximum values of each measured parameter were computed for different phases of the volley.
Results: The average reaction times (from ball release to initial racquet movement (IRM)) for FH and BH trials were 226 and 205 ms, respectively, and the difference was statistically significant. The average stroke time (from IRM to ball impact) ranged from 381 ms in fast speed trials to 803 ms in slow speed trials. A distinct racquet forward motion immediately before ball impact occurred in 75% of the trials and they were evenly distributed between FH and BH trials. An ipsilateral side step (a side step of the foot on the same side of the oncoming ball before the crossover step of the other foot) occurred more often in FH (45%) than in BH (34%) trials.
Conclusions: The GRF during the stroke phase suggest that the subjects initiated lateral movement by leaning sideward when ball velocity was low and by a vigorous pushoff of the contralateral foot when ball velocity was high.