Kinetic energy transfer during the tennis serve


  • Cristina López de Subijana Alcalá University, Spain
  • E. Navarro Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain



Biomechanics, Tennis, Hitting


Several studies have established the pattern used in the over arm hitting and throwing movements, however to date there has not been one which statistically expresses the Kinetic Link Principle of the tennis serve. The main goals of this study were: first to investigate the kinetic energy transmission pattern using a complete mechanical body model and second, to create a tool which could help evaluating the individual technique of a tennis player. This tool was a statistical procedure which expressed the individual technique of a player as a mathematical function. Fourteen and twelve flat tennis serves of two top tennis players landing in an aiming area were recorded with two synchronized video cameras at 125 Hz. The experimental technique was 3D photogrammetry. A 28 points body model with five solid-rigid (the pelvis, the thorax, the upper arms and the racquet) was built. The kinetic energies from the body segments were considered the biomechanical parameters. The mean speeds of the balls were 41.9 m/s and 38.1 m/s. A Kinetic Sequential Action Muscle principle based on the kinetic energy transfer was probed statistically by mean a correlation analysis. This pattern showed the existence of a proximal to distal sequence of kinetic energy maximums. A significant discriminant function for each player  could predict the category of the serve  ("good" or "bad") in the  78,6 % and  100 % of the cases. This function facilitated the understanding of the individual technique of a tennis player showing that this could be a tool for the tennis training complementary to the qualitative (observational) analysis.


Download data is not yet available.


Abdel-Aziz Y.I., & Karara H.M. Direct linear transformation from comparator coordinates into object space coordinates in close range photogrammetry. In: photogrammetry EAso, editor. ASP Symposium on close range photogrammetry; Fall Church; 1971. p. 1-18.

Bahamonde R.E. Changes in angular momentum during the tennis serve. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2000; 18(8):579-92.

Barlett R. Reducing injury and improving Performance. London: Spon Press; 1999.

Brody H. The Moment of Inertia of a Tennis Racket. Physics Teacher. 1985; 23(4):213-6.

Brody H. Serving Strategy. ITF Coaching and Science Review. 2003 December (31):2-3.

Clauser C.E., Mcconville J.T., Young J.W. Weight, volume and center of mass of the human body. Springfield: NTIS; 1969.

Dapena J., McDonald G. A three-dimensional analysis of angular momentum in the hammer throw. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1989; 21(2):206-20.

De Leva P. Adjustments to Zatsiorsky-Seluyanov's segment inertia parameters. Journal of Biomechanics. 1996; 29(9):1223-30.

Elliott B. Biomechanics Applied to the tennis serve. In: Gianikellis K, Elliott B, Reid M, Crespo M, Bahamonde R, editors. XXth International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports-Applied Proceedings Tennis; 2002; Caceres: University of Extremadura; 2002. p. 1-6.

Elliott B., Fleisig G., Nicholls R., Escamilia R. Technique effects on upper limb loading in the tennis serve. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2003; 6(1):76-87.

Elliott B., Marsh T., Blanksby B. A 3-dimensional cinematographic analysis of the tennis serve. International Journal of Sport Biomechanics. 1986; 2(4):260-71.

Elliott B.C., Alderson J.A., Denver E.R. System and modeling errors in motion analysis: Implications for the measurement of the elbow angle in cricket bowling. Journal of Biomechanics. 2007; 40:2679-85.

Elliott B.C., Marshall R.N., Noffal G.J. Contributions of upper-limb segment rotations during the power serve in tennis. Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 1995; 11(4):433-42.

Escamilla R.F., Fleisig G.S., Zheng N., Barrentine S.W., Andrews J.R. Kinematic comparisons of 1996 Olympic Baseball pitchers. Journal of Sport Science. 2001; 19:665-76.

Fleisig G., Nicholls R., Elliott B., Escamilla R. Kinematics used by world class tennis players to produce high-velocity serves. Sports Biomech. 2003; 2(1):51-64.

Fleisig G.S., Escamilla R.F., Andrews J.R., Matsuo T., Satterwhite Y., Barrentine S.W. Kinematic and kinetic comparison between baseball pitching and football passing. Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 1996; 12(2):207-24.

Gordon B.J, Dapena J. Contributions of joint rotations to racquet speed in the tennis serve. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2006; 24(1):31-49.

Grande I. Estudio cinemático del modelo técnico individual del lanzamiento de peso. León: Un-publised thesis. University of León; 2000.

Haake S., Rose P., Kotze J. Reaction time-testing and grand slams tie-break data. In: S.J. H, Coe R, editors. Tennis Science and Technology. Oxford: Blackwell Science; 2000. p. 269-76.

ITF. Davis Cup Records. 2004 [cited 2007. From July 9th].

Ito A., Tanabe S., Fuchimoto T. Three Dimensional kinematic analysis of the upper limb joint in tennis flat serving. In: al. He, editor. XVth Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics. Jyvaskyla: University of Jyvaslkyla; 1995. p. 424-5.

Knudson D. Qualitative biomechanical principles for application in coaching. Sports Biomech. 2007; 6(1):109-18.

Kreighbaum E., Barthels K.M. Biomechanics. A qualitative approach for studying human movement. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Burgess Publishing Co; 1981.

Lai Q., Shea C. The role of reduced frequency of knowledge of results during constant practice. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 1999; 70:33-40.

Mero A., Komi P.V., Korjus T., Navarro E., Gregor R.J. Body segment contributions to javelin throwing during final thrust phases. Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 1994; 10(2):166-77.

Morris C., Barlett R., Navarro E. The function of blocking in elite javelin throws: a re-evaluation. Journal of human movement studies. 2001; 41:175-90.

Navarro E., Campos J., Vera P., Chillaron E. A kinetic energy model of human body applied to 3D-analysis of the javelin throwing. In: al. He, editor. XVth Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics; Jyvaskyla: University of Jyvaslkyla; 1995. p. 668-9.

Pérez P., Llana S., Brizuela A., Encarnación J. Effects of three feedback conditions on aerobic swim speeds. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2009; 8:30-36.

Reid M., Elliott B., Alderson J. Lower-limb coordination and shoulder joint mechanics in the tennis serve. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008; 40:308-15.

Schmidt R., Wulf, G. Continuous concurrent feedback degrades skill learning: Implications for training and simulation. Human Factors.1997; 39:509-525.

Sprigings E., Marshall R., Elliott B., Jennings L. A 3-dimensional kinematic method for determining the effectiveness of arm segment rotations in producing racquet-head speed. Journal of Biomechanics. 1994; 27(3):245-54.

USRA. Data base of racquet specifications 2002. [Cited 9th July 2007.].

Viitasalo J., Era P., Konttinen N., Mononen H., Mononen K., Norvapalo K. Effects of 12-week shooting training and mode of feedback on shooting scores among novice shooters. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2001; 11 362-368.

Woltring H.J. On optimal smoothing and derivative estimation from noisy displacement data in biomechanics. Human Movement Science. 1985; 4(3):229-45.

Zatsiorsky V.M., Seluyanov V.N., Chugunova L. In vivo body segment intertial parameters determination using a gamma-scanner method. In: Berme N, Cappozzo A, editors. Biomechanics of human movement: Applications in rehabilitation, sports and ergonomics. Worthington, Ohio: Bertec Corporation; 1990. p. 187-2002.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

López de Subijana, C., & Navarro, E. (2009). Kinetic energy transfer during the tennis serve. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 4(2), 114–128.