Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Automated processes in tennis: Do left-handed players benefit from the tactical preferences of their opponents?

Automated processes in tennis: Do left-handed players benefit from the tactical preferences of their opponents?

Authors: Florian Loffing a; Norbert Hagemann a;Bernd Strauss b
Affiliations: a Institute of Sports and Sports Science, University of Kassel, Kassel
b Institute for Sport Science, University of Mnster, Mnster, Germany
DOI: 10.1080/02640410903536459
Publication Frequency: 14 issues per year
Published in: Journal of Sports Sciences
First Published on: 19 February 2010
Subject: Sport & Exercise Science;
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Previous research on laterality in sport suggests an over-representation of left-handers in interactive sports such as tennis and cricket. These findings potentially reflect left-handers' advantage over their right-handed competitors in those sports. Although considered crucial for successful performance, the tactical component of their superiority has yet to be analysed. Two studies were conducted to test for a side bias in tennis players' tactical preferences. In the first study, 108 right- and left-handed players of varying skill watched rallies on a computer screen and had to indicate where they would place the ball in the opposing half. The results showed the tactical preference of players to place more balls on a left-handed opponent's mostly stronger forehand side compared with when faced with a right-hander. In the second study, 54 professional tennis matches involving right- and left-handers were analysed with respect to ball placement frequencies on the opponent's backhand side. Significantly fewer balls were hit to the backhand side of a left-handed opponent, thus replicating the findings of Study 1 in on-court situations. Both studies indicate players' preference to place shots to their right irrespective of their opponent's handedness. Findings support the assumption that left-handers might enjoy a strategic advantage in tennis.
Keywords: Laterality; handedness; strategic advantage; ball tracking
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