A few days ago I wrote a post mentioning something called biomechanics in tennis.
This term is extremely important because it is the foundation for good tennis technique. For some reason most people, even within the tennis community, don’t understand what it means.
This post will explain in plain English what biomechanics is, why it’s important in tennis, and why many coaches and organizations don’t want you to know about it.
The study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms
This definition from Google explains biomechanics in its simplest form. A better explanation would be something like this:
Biomechanics is the study of the ‘mechanics’ of the body. While we don’t think of humans as machines, in many ways, we actually perform a lot like them. The concepts used in basic mechanics can also be applied to the body. Biomechanics is a large field which covers many things like the mechanical function of muscles, connective tissue, cartilage, skin, nerves, bones and joints. Biomechanics research also includes research that is focused on human movement and performance where the internal and external forces that the body uses to produce movement are examined. By taking the laws of physics and engineering and applying them to the human body, we are able to explore the relationships between body movement and the prospective outcomes. For example, we can learn how to run faster, hit the a tennis ball harder or what may cause injury.
Phew! Now that we got the technical stuff out of the way…
The Benefits of Biomechanics
Basically, it’s studying how the human body naturally wants to move, and applying that to sports. By understanding biomechanics we can teach people to move in a natural way that optimizes strength and stability. By moving in a way our body likes we can remove stress and pressure on the bones, joints, muscles and ligaments. Doing so, reduces the risk of injury. Makes sense right? Yeah I think so too.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Teach This?
The odds are that most tennis coaches and organizations don’t even know what biomechanics is. Or if they do, they don’t understand it and don’t want you to know about it. Because if you did you would demand they teach tennis with this in mind. This would require them to admit they are wrong and re-learn everything they have been taught. And that’s way too much effort. It’s a shame because the field of biomechanics is well understood and taught in other sports such as sprinting, swimming and even cricket.
I Learned the Hard Way so You Don’t Have to
I have had an unusual amount of injuries through my tennis career. Back, knees, achilles, shoulder, you name it and I’ve probably had surgery there. It’s a regret that I did not have this information during my professional tennis career. It would have saved me from so many injuries. Changing my technique and adopting the principles of biomechanics has allowed me to stay healthy, improve my game, and continue to compete on the champions tour. If biomechanics has great benefits for a grandfather like me, imagine the potential it has to help the players of today.
I hope this post has given you a better understanding of what biomechanics is and why it is so important to tennis. In the coming weeks I will write about specific techniques, do in depth analysis, and give you biomechanically proven step-by-step guides on how to improve your shots.
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