The earliest history of tennis dates back to the 11th century in France. It was termed jeu de paume, meaning game of the hand after French monks who played against their monastery walls.1,2 By the late 19th century, tennis became more popular than croquet and was now being played on croquet lawns.1,2 In 1913, the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) was formed and a conference was held among 12 nations.1,2 Tennis became an Olympic sport when it was first held in 1896 in Athens. It was then dropped from the Olympic games in 1924, but was reestablished as an Olympic sport in 1988 where both men and women could compete in singles and doubles competition as candidates for medals.1,2
Over the years, the game of tennis evolved. It has been influenced by advances in sports science and equipment technology.3 Power, speed, strength, agility, and mental and physical conditioning have moved to the forefront of today’s tennis game. This chapter highlights the most advanced tennis equipment including rackets, wearable sensors, shoes, and strings. In addition, we will also cover the physical demands of tennis, potential injury sites, how to prevent injuries, and tennis-specific conditioning.
Today’s advancements in equipment design have played a significant role in changing the game of tennis. Racket materials, head size, racket length, and string type have all influenced the hard-hitting, aggressive game. In addition, advancements in footwear have developed such that a specific “tennis” shoe is recommended for different types of court surfaces. Advances in technology such as wearable sensors and player tracking are being used to elevate the game to the next level. Below, each of these areas and their influence on the current game style will be described.
Racket composition has evolved from wood and ceramic to composite, graphite, carbon, titanium, and tungsten. A racket composed of graphite alone provides for a light sturdy frame. This light material promotes increased racket speed and acceleration. Graphite also increases racket stiffness, thereby reducing the impact forces and vibration resulting from ball contact. A composite frame typically consists of a combination of graphite and ceramic materials. The composite frame achieves increased power over the graphite frame and is balanced by the control component of the ceramic ingredient. Carbon and titanium are the newest advancements in racket materials, promoting racket head acceleration, increased racket stiffness, and increased force and heaviness behind the ball.
Racket head size has evolved from the standard size to a midsized, midplus, or oversized racket face. These larger racket heads increased the overall width of the racket. As a result, a greater “sweet spot” exists, thereby lessening the vibration transmitted to the wrist and forearm on off-center hits.4 Recreational players who are ...