The Speed of the Process of Playing Tennis With the Help of Physics

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Tennis is a sport enjoyed by people in all walks of life. It’s a game that I have been playing for almost a decade and understand this game very well. Tennis, just like any other sport uses various aspects of physics.

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Tennis encompasses many concepts like Gravity, Impulse, momentum, and Newton’s laws of motion to name a few. Any aspect of this game, such as rallies, volleys, and serves, use a combination of such physics concepts to execute a perfect shot. The most difficult skill to master in tennis is the art of serve.

A serve is nothing but a shot to start a point. It includes a player tossing a ball in the air and hitting the ball with the racquet in such a way that it crosses the net and falls into the opponent’s service box. A typical serve hit at a speed of 120 miles per hour, only comes in contact with the racquet for only five milliseconds and the entire service may last only up to a second at most. That second might make the entire difference in a game or win the game itself.

A serve can be mastered using kinematics, as it involves velocity and momentum. The biggest problem with a service is the placement of the ball into the service box and its pace. The concept of angular momentum could be used to perfect the serve. The relationship between angular momentum and velocity can be effective in serving the ball with a good pace and angle, making it difficult for the opponent to return the ball.

Tossing the ball perfectly is the first step to a good serve. The ball should be confidently tossed to about a foot upward and in front of you and you should simultaneously turn your shoulder, trunk, and hips to align yourself with the ball toss and in order to attain maximum angular momentum. Next, is the point of contact. After the ball toss, flex your elbows as much as you can and bend slightly backward. This bend increases the angle of impact and hence creates space to hit the ball at a better pace. Now bring your legs closer together and jump forward in order to put your weight into the ball. This increases your velocity and consequently the momentum.

Last but not the least, is the point of contact. All the effort you have put into the service leads up to this point. In these five milliseconds, all the momentum gets transferred from your body and the racquet into the tennis ball. These milliseconds can either make or break your serve.

As difficult as it may seem to execute the perfect serve, physics provides a whole new view to help make this process easier.      

07 July 2022

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