Effect of tactical initiative on predicting passing shots in tennis



This study aimed to demonstrate that one of the main sources of information that tennis players use to anticipate their opponents' strokes is prior knowledge of the upcoming events likely to develop when the player has the opportunity to impose his or her playing intent. Seventeen experienced male players were faced with simulated on-court situations with three different delivery conditions such that their tactical initiative was high, moderate or weak (reflecting the possibilities of controlling rallies). Each situation finished with a passing shot from the opponent that the participant had to intercept with a volley stroke in the absence of visual information (vision occluded before the opponent's stroke). Analysis of directional responses showed that the participants were more accurate if they were in firm control of the rallies (high level of tactical initiative). Forecasts were also found to be more accurate for down-the-line backhand shots. These findings increase our understanding of anticipation in tennis. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.