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Physical Demands of Tennis Across the Different Court Surfaces, Performance Levels and Sexes: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis.


Physical Demands of Tennis Across the Different Court Surfaces, Performance Levels and Sexes: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. Thumbnail



BACKGROUND: Tennis is a multidirectional high-intensity intermittent sport for male and female individuals played across multiple surfaces. Although several studies have attempted to characterise the physical demands of tennis, a meta-analysis is still lacking. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to describe and synthesise the physical demands of tennis across the different court surfaces, performance levels and sexes. METHODS: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL and SPORTDiscus were searched from inception to 19 April, 2022. A backward citation search was conducted for included articles using Scopus. The PECOS framework was used to formulate eligibility criteria. POPULATION: tennis players of regional, national or international playing levels (juniors and adults). EXPOSURE: singles match play. Comparison: sex (male/female), court surface (hard, clay, grass). OUTCOME: duration of play, on-court movement and stroke performance. STUDY DESIGN: cross-sectional, longitudinal. Pooled means or mean differences with 95% confidence intervals were calculated. A random-effects meta-analysis with robust variance estimation was performed. The measures of heterogeneity were Cochrane Q and 95% prediction intervals. Subgroup analysis was used for different court surfaces. RESULTS: The literature search generated 7736 references; 64 articles were included for qualitative and 42 for quantitative review. Mean [95% confidence interval] rally duration, strokes per rally and effective playing time on all surfaces were 5.5 s [4.9, 6.3], 4.1 [3.4, 5.0] and 18.6% [15.8, 21.7] for international male players and 6.4 s [5.4, 7.6], 3.9 [2.4, 6.2] and 20% [17.3, 23.3] for international female players. Mean running distances per point, set and match were 9.6 m [7.6, 12.2], 607 m [443, 832] and 2292 m [1767, 2973] (best-of-5) for international male players and 8.2 m [4.4, 15.2], 574 m [373, 883] and 1249 m [767, 2035] for international female players. Mean first- and second-serve speeds were 182 km·h-1 [178, 187] and 149 km·h-1 [135, 164] for international male players and 156 km·h-1 95% confidence interval [151, 161] and 134 km·h-1 [107, 168] for international female players. CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this study provide a comprehensive summary of the physical demands of tennis. These results may guide tennis-specific training programmes. We recommend more consistent measuring and reporting of data to enable future meta-analysts to pool meaningful data. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: The protocol for this systematic review was registered a priori at the Open Science Framework (Registration DOI ).

Acceptance Date Dec 21, 2022
Publication Date Feb 8, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 9, 2024
Journal Sports Medicine
Print ISSN 0112-1642
Publisher Springer Verlag
Pages 807-836
Keywords tennis; athletic performance; surface; sexes; sports medicine; medical and health science
Publisher URL


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