Researchers study tennis grunting effects

Oct 02, 2010
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves against Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan during their women's singles first round match at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo on September 27, 2010. Those loud grunts some tennis players make when hitting the ball could actually have a negative effect on their opponents by distracting them and slowing their reaction time, scientists said Friday.

You've heard them at tennis matches - a loud, emphatic grunt with each player's stroke. A University of Hawai'i at Manoa researcher has studied the impact of these grunts and come up with some surprising findings.

Scott Sinnett, assistant psychology professor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, has co-authored a study on the potential detrimental effect that noise has on shot perception during a match.

Sinnett's work is published in the October 1 online issue of Public Library of Science ONE. He co-authored the study with Alan Kingstone, psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, to determine if it is reasonable to conclude that a tennis grunt interferes with an opponent's performance.

As part of the study, thirty-three undergraduate students from the University of British Columbia viewed videos of a tennis player hitting a ball to either side of a tennis court; the shot either did or did not contain a brief sound that occurred at the same time as contact.

Participants were required to respond as quickly and accurately as possible, indicating the direction of the shot in each video clip on a keyboard. The extraneous sound resulted in significantly slower response times, and significantly more decision errors, confirming that both response time and accuracy are negatively affected.

"This is the first study to look at the issue of grunting in tennis. Our current work is also looking at how advanced and professional tennis players perform, to determine if they have developed any strategies to limit the negative effects of a grunting opponent," said Sinnett.

While these findings must still be validated on the tennis court, Sinnett and Kingstone noted that these consequences on faster tennis surfaces, such as the grass courts of Wimbledon or hard courts of the Australian and U.S. Open, are likely to be profound.

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More information: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013148

Provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa

4.1 /5 (7 votes)

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Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2010
People, Martial Arts instructors have known this for millenia.

Grunting or a "Kia" both distracts the opponent and increases your own body's performance through breath control and enhanced muscle memory.
Ravenrant
5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2010
Interesting. Evidently the grunting has the same effect on me (the viewer) as the opponent and I immediately hit the channel button.
StarDust21
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
thats a good arcticle, lets hope they will ban grunting in wta and atp. Plus it doesnt even give you more power, well at least not when you grunt on purpose. Just look at the bests of all time sampras, federer...they don't grunt
samlehmanwilzig
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
There's a huge difference between getting some students to react to grunts on the one hand,and on the other hand professional players who have become completely inured to these sounds after thousands of grunts. Much like visitors to a house near the airport who can't stand the takeoffs and landings -- when the hosts who live there don't even "hear" them anymore!