A three-dimensional kinematic method for determining the effectiveness of arm segment rotations in producing racquet-head speed

J Biomech. 1994 Mar;27(3):245-54. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(94)90001-9.


The contribution that a segment's anatomical rotations make to racquet-head speed depends on both the segment's angular velocity and the instantaneous position of the head of the racquet with respect to the segment's axes of rotation. Any analysis of racquet swing technique that does not consider both of these factors simultaneously is, at best, incomplete. With this in mind, a three-dimensional kinematic method was developed to determine the effectiveness of the anatomical rotations of the upper arm, forearm, and hand in producing racquet-head speed. The method entailed developing a system of vector equations for three-dimensional upper limb rotations that used displacement histories of 10 selected landmarks as input. The required three-dimensional displacement histories were obtained using three cine cameras and the DLT approach. To test the diagnostic capabilities of the method, a tennis serve was selected for analysis. For the player and serve analyzed, the greatest contribution to racquet-head speed at impact was produced by internal rotation of the upper arm (8 m s-1). Forearm pronation, although exhibiting the fastest rotation at impact (24 rad s-1), ranked only fourth in terms of its contribution (4 m s-1) to racquet-head speed. To test the performance of the method, a comparison was made between the racquet-head speed measured directly from film and the racquet-head speed computed by summing all of the individual segment contributions to speed commencing at the start of forward swing and ending at ball contact. The results indicate that the method can successfully determine the individual contributions that the different anatomical rotational velocities of the arm segments make to the measured instantaneous racquet-head speed.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Forearm / physiology
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Motion
  • Pronation / physiology
  • Rotation
  • Tennis / physiology*