The main muscle groups used in tennis are in the legs (quadriceps and gastrocnemius), and the arms (biceps and triceps) and abdominals.
The legs, especially the large muscles called the quadriceps which are a group of four muscles known as Sartorius, Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Lateralis and Vastus Medialis (as you can see in the diagram) are used to make swift movements across the court. They are used to lunge in order to reach and return the ball. The arms, especially the player’s most used arm, in Sharapova’s case this is her right arm, is used to play forehand shots where the biceps and triceps work in antagonistic pairs (as one contracts, the other relaxes). Sharapova uses her powerful arm to power shots across the court including explosive serves, driving forehands and backhands. Sharapova served two aces in a row in her US Open match in the second set proving her strength and determination. She is known for her hard and powerful serves and her ability to pound forehands. The abdominals are also very vital. They allow the trunk of the body to twist and turn to get into effective positions to play quality shots.
The serve and overhead shots involve the twisting of the trunk which uses the abdominals. It involves hip and knee extension (before the shot), this uses Sharapova’s quadriceps and gluteals which contract concentrically before impact and eccentrically during impact. The triceps are responsible for the arm extension. The muscle lengthens and so therefore contacts eccentrically. Arm swing and wrist flexion aid the shot.
In the forehand drive shots, to push off, the soleus, gastrocnemius, quadriceps and gluteals use isotonic muscle contraction. Sharapova starts creating a force as she bends her leg, concentric contraction is produced in the gastrocnemius and quadriceps, this is where the muscles shorten while contracting. The latter stage of the ‘push off’ creates eccentric muscle contraction where the muscles lengthen which creates an explosive muscle contraction.
The next part of the shot is the trunk rotation where the obliques, spinal erectors and the abdominals are used. The abdominals use concentric and eccentric muscle contraction to rotate the trunk in order to reach back and gain as much power in the follow through as she strikes the shot.
The last part of the shot is the forehand swing where the arm does the movement to carry out the shot. The anterior deltoid, pectorals, shoulder internal rotators, biceps and serratus anterior are used. The biceps will contract eccentrically whilst the arm is pulled back (helped by the trunk rotation) ready to hit the ball then the biceps will contract concentrically during the swing and follow through of the shot (also aided by the trunk rotation allowing the body to twist).
Factors affecting participation-Gender Module 2
There are many factors that can affect participation. They depend on where you live, how much money you have, your ability, gender and so on.
I will be focusing on how gender affects participation. In the past there were many more clubs for men than women in sport and mixed clubs often put females off as they felt under pressure and therefore not comfortable. Although unfortunately some of these issues are still around today, this is not the case in tennis. There are many more opportunities for women, giving them equal funding and opportunities to train alongside men and even allowing females to play competitively with and against males in mixed doubles on the court.
Years ago sport was seen as just for men and it was very unladylike for a woman to play sport as it involves running around and a typical sports person is muscular. Women were discriminated against for being female and the ‘weaker sex’. Females did however play badminton as they could play together in single sex female sessions and still wear their big dresses and the game did not have to be too strenuous or hard work so women could retain their femininity. Today women may still be seen as the weaker sex but people like Sharapova who play with outstanding talent prove that women should be involved in sport and given an equal chance. This change has taken place because policies have been developed as the government wanted to increase participation, starting in schools to encourage female participation (girls in sport). Schools have been linking up with clubs to provide more opportunities with a more recreational purpose, not just a competitive focus. The PE syllabuses in schools use varied classes of mixed or single sex sessions to break down stereotypes. The positive media coverage and increase in female role models has also aided the breaking down of stereotypes gaining social acceptance allowing women to have equal funding and opportunities such as coaching and employment. Women can participate in sport in groups using it as a social activity. Sport encourages women as they can gain a more healthy and toned body improving their over all fitness, playing sport can be graceful and give you that ‘celebrity’ sought after body of which Sharapova’s body is a great example rather than the broad manly figure that prevented female participation and caused discrimination in the past.
Historically in tennis, females have been paid less than men for their matches. They play fewer sets as they are seen to be weaker than men. However very recently Wimbledon have reviewed the pay and have now changed the rules so that females get paid the same as males. This has caused some outrage as females play less sets than males, therefore are often playing for a much shorter period of time yet getting paid the same as the males who play more sets and whose games can go on for hours.
Tennis has a high level of equality in participation. Males and females can train together and even compete together in mixed matches as Sharapova has previously. This prevents gender from limiting participation. Sports such as football do not allow men and women to train together and so gender becomes an issue.
Muscle Fibres- Module 4
There are two main types of muscles fibres which are slow twitch and fast twitch. You are born with a certain amount of each of these fibres and can never increase this amount. However you can develop and improve their efficiency. Human muscles contain a mixture of both slow and fast fibres. On average, we have about 50% slow and 50% fast fibres. Fast twitch fibres are used in anaerobic activities such as sprinting; they produce powerful bursts of energy, whereas the slow twitch fibres are more efficient at using oxygen without lactic acid build up. This allows repeated fuelled muscle contractions such as those required in aerobic activities such as a marathon. In tennis both of these fibres will be used but fast twitch fibres predominantly will be used. In tennis fast twitch fibres produce the short bursts of energy and movements that Sharapova needs when she has to sprint to the net to return a drop shot and then sprint back again to play her next shot.
The two types of muscle fibre generally produce the same amount of force but fast twitch fibres produce the force at a higher rate (working faster). Having a lot of fast twitch fibres helps when short and powerful bursts are needed. The slow twitch fibres work less rapidly but can go on for a longer period of time before they tire.
To improve the efficiency of fast twitch fibres Sharapova would do anaerobic training such as short bursts of sprinting or weight training with a heavy weight and few repetitions to improve power.
At a basic level of performance, using the principles of training will dramatically improve performance. However, at the elite level of performance, the natural makeup of muscle fibres is important. In tennis the player would be at an advantage to have a high proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres so that they can sprint across the court as Sharapova does. Her tennis serve, forehand and backhand strokes will generate power based upon how fast she swings the racket. The quicker she is on her feet, the more balls she can get to, and this enables her to quickly get well positioned to set up faster and more often. Tennis players are built differently to football players and wrestlers. They are fast and quick on their feet, and their racket speed is what delivers their powerful strokes.
Commercialism- Module 5
Elite sport is being professionalised and commercialised in a number of ways. In particular it offers high financial rewards available for top performers in sports that receive a lot of media attention such as tennis and also football and golf. Tennis is highly publicised and the media follow it religiously making the sport rich through sponsorship from businesses. Tennis is easily televised as the court is rectangular (as are our televisions) and fairly small so the movement of the players is easily seen. This media attention may also increase the pressure for athletes leading to the ‘win at all costs’ attitude which can even lead to cheating. Sport is sold as a product of the media gaining it money through business sponsorship. The media has many functions such as educating, informing, entertaining and advertising. Sport needs sponsorship as it is expensive to run and it has advantages such as gaining extra publicity which may have a knock-on effect and ensure further media coverage. It also increases revenue which attracts top level performers to an event or team. Individual sponsorship allows full time coaching which is how Sharapova has reached her full potential in order to win matches. The Golden Triangle (diagram at the bottom of the page) illustrates how commercialism in sport works. At the each point a term is assigned, sport, media and business. Each one of these affects the other as for sport to keep going it needs business and media investment to provide money and sponsorship to fund the sport. Sport relies on business and media to keep going as do the performers.
Sharapova earned over $US25 million ($A33 million) in 2005 in endorsements, making her one of the highest paid people in sport. She was set up to earn more millions in endorsements following her win at the US Open.
As well as her famous grunting, Sharapova is also noticed for her looks. She is glamorous and young and the media love her. She has taken occasional modelling jobs, earning comparisons to . She appears in numerous adverts gaining her money and attracting even more sponsors as they know the media are following her and that their advert will get seen. Sharapova has many sponsors including Colgate, Land Rover, Canon, Gatorade- the leading sports drink brand, Motorola and many more of which she appears in TV advertisements. Performers such as Sharapova do have a certain amount of control as to the nature of the companies using them to advertise, for example it would not be sensible to allow a tobacco company to advertise an elite sports performer as this would gain a negative image and portray an unhealthy lifestyle so there are implications.
Successful performers gain media attention attracting sponsorship and business investment helping to fund sport. However some people believe that the industry has gone too far in terms of sponsorship. There is a vast amount of money involved for top level performers but will this take over their career? The performers seem to be losing the control that they once had and the commercialised side of sport seems to be taking over.
Energy Systems- Module 4
In game sports such as tennis both the aerobic and anaerobic (ATP-PC) energy systems are used in a match and contribute some ATP. In a tennis game the anaerobic system contributes more, about 75% of a tennis match is anaerobic and about 25% is aerobic. Sharapova must have very well developed aerobic and anaerobic pathways. The player needs to be able to sprint around the court to return shots using the anaerobic system (without oxygen) but also needs to last the whole match involving the aerobic system (with oxygen). Both systems are vital and need to be developed well, however the anaerobic system is used more therefore this system is likely to be most efficient in a tennis player.
Sharapova shows us just how efficient her anaerobic system is developed when in her match she sprints across the court returning the ball relying on instant energy to allow her to do this showing that she has a very efficient anaerobic pathway. This anaerobic system is very useful in tennis; it delivers oxygen fast to the muscles causing muscle contraction in order to produce fast and powerful movements such as Sharapova’s powerful forehands that she is famous for. In the anaerobic (ATP-PC) system Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) stores in the muscle last for approximately 2 seconds and the resynthesis of ATP from Phosphate Creatine (PC) will continue until PC stores are depleted, approximately 4 to 5 seconds. This gives around 5 to 7 seconds of ATP production. Once the Phosphate Creatine stores have been depleted within the muscle the body resorts to stored glucose for ATP. Glycogen is broken down and converted into the compound glucose-6-phosphate. This is then downgraded to form pyruvic acid which in anaerobic conditions (without oxygen) results in lactic acid converted by LDH. The net gain is 2 ATP.
This system is used a lot in Sharapova’s match as she can recover during the rest intervals. The stop-start nature of the game means her anaerobic system has to be very efficient to keep allowing her body to produce powerful bursts of activity allowing her to win the game with her powerful serves and forehands.
The limitations of this system are the fact that the breakdown of glucose or glycogen in aerobic conditions results in the production of lactate and hydrogen ions. The lactic acid lowers the pH levels in muscles therefore preventing the muscles from contracting properly and leading to muscle fatigue causing cramp-like pains. Sharapova’s training has allowed her to build up a high tolerance to lactic acid allowing her to delay the onset of blood lactate (OBLA). Sharapova’s lactic acid system sets in once her ATP-PC system runs out which happens around 10 seconds. The anaerobic training that she has done will increase her ATP-PC stores in muscle cells. Her ability to provide oxygen will rapidly increase because of the increase in capillarisation. It also improves her cardio-respiratory system providing more oxygenated blood more rapidly. The adaptations increase the possible onset of blood lactate and decrease recovery time enabling us to see how Sharapova can produce such a large amount of anaerobic energy enabling her to continually return balls with such powerful forehands.
Sharapova is able to delay her ATP-PC lactic acid threshold (the point at which the ATP-PC system is exhausted and the lactic acid takes over). She can also delay the onset of the aerobic threshold which is the point at which the lactic acid system is exhausted and the aerobic system takes over. The aerobic energy system utilises proteins, fats and carbohydrate (glycogen) for resynthesising ATP. In Sharapova’s match against Justine Heinin-Hardenne at the US Open 2006 Sharapova really fought in the rallies that occurred and played to her best ability aerobically as this system took over eventually but Sharapova proved her aerobic system was very well developed.
In two 45-minute sets, Maria Sharapova defeated Justine Henin-Hardenne, 6-4, 6-4, for her first U.S. Open. She finished with 5 aces, 4 double-faults, 20 winners and 24 unforced errors, Maria was 8 of 10 at the net. Maria hit a famous service down the line to make the game score 15-15, she then hit a big serve followed by the forehand winner to reach 30-15, and the final score came from Justein being forced to net a shot giving Sharapova 2 championship points and again Justein was forced to net a forehand. Game, set, match and title!
The graph shows energy over time when exercising at 100% effort. The (T) thresholds indicate the point at which the energy system is exhausted, however training can improve thresholds and this is how Sharapova will have built up tolerance to lactic acid and have longer thresholds.