The Influence of Tennis Playing Ability on Change of Direction Speed and Reactive Agility
University of Wales
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Player’s movements in tennis comprise of short, sharp, high intensity movements, intermittent in nature. Despite the importance of these movements, an absence of research was observed in the area of tennis-specific agility. This study aimed to investigate whether the agility performance was able to distinguish between players of different abilities. It also aimed to create a test that could accurately assess a player’s change of direction speed (CODS) and reactive agility. Seven participants from UWIC 1st & 2nd men’s tennis teams (20-years ± 1) and a further seven non-team players (19.5-years ± 1.5) from UWIC tennis club voluntarily took part in the study; they were defined as elite and non-elite, respectively. Each participant completed a planned and reactive agility test, in a single and then repeated format. Single tests involved 6 lateral and forward movements starting from a central point, returning to this central position before every repetition. Repeated tests consisted of completing five sets of a pre-planned or random 6-gate course, with 20 seconds rest in between sets. Results showed that the non-elite participants completed every test apart from planned single, faster than the elite. However, significant differences were only found in the planned, repeated average and planned, repeated best scores (P<0.05). Elite participants did fatigue at a slower rate than the non-elite performers, but no significant difference was found (P>0.05). It can therefore be concluded that this particular test in not a valid indicator in discriminating between players of differing ability in a tennis population. It can also be concluded that a light-gate may not be the best stimulus to separate abilities in a tennis-specific environment.
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