Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Bridging the strength gap between able-bodied and disabled tennis players using the Bill Starr training program

Francesco Borea, Andrea Ceciliani, Francesca D'Elia



The strength deficit is a very evident problem in the comparison between wheelchair tennis players and able-bodied tennis players, with important repercussions from a technical-tactical point of view. The aim of the study is to demonstrate that with strength-hypertrophy training using the Bill-Starr methodology, it is possible to fill, at least in part, the deficit in this motor capacity. Participants in the study are twenty tennis players (age: 28, weight: 70 kg; height: 184 cm) who compete regionally, comprising 10 wheelchair tennis players belonging to the experimental group and 10 able-bodied players belonging to the control group. The study includes three phases: a pre-test phase where players took a quantitative assessment test, an 8-week adapted Bill Starr strength-hypertrophy training period, and a post-test phase where the athletes they repeated the quantitative assessment test. Through the use of the t-test for dependent samples, a significant increase in the average speed impressed with the service by the experimental group was found. Specifically, the average increase was 19.7 km/h, with a gap with the able-bodied companions which went from an initial value of 77.6 km/h to 57.9 km/h. This therefore not only led to actual improvements for wheelchair tennis players, who will be able to rely more on the service to search for direct points and therefore reduce the time duration of exchanges and better manage energy, but also leads to the possibility of playing mixed matches in a more balanced way than before.


Wheelchairs; Adapted physical activity; Adapted performance


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