London: Scientists have claimed that the infamous “tennis grunt” that can put an opponent off the game, actually has the potential to improve the players’ game by boosting the power of their strokes.
The study said that limited grunting could increase the core strength and stability of the players. “By inhaling before the ball is hit then crying out at the moment of impact, a player’s throat narrows, keeping some wind in the lungs to improve core strength and balance,” a newspaper quoted Professor Alison McConnell of Brunei University as saying.
“We all instinctively inhale just before we make a physical effort such as lifting furniture or swinging a racquet at a ball. We do this because holding air in the lungs helps to provide the stability required for injury-free and forceful movements of the trunk.
“Maximizing the power of a tennis shot is created by transferring muscular force to the racquet head efficiently. A strong core and trunk is vital for this process because the force transmission starts below the players’ waist.
“A more effective technique is to breathe out through a controlled, forceful exhalation using the larynx or voice box.
“It is in using this technique that some players feel the need to grunt. This braking action doesn’t need audible grunting but it’s easier to coach if you can hear it,” she stated. She added that players who exhale normally as they hit the ball, risk losing this “stability and control in their core”.
Well-known grunters include 24-year-old Russian beauty Maria Sharapova, who at 100 decibels is louder than a small aircraft and Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, 29, who at 90 decibels is equivalent to a pneumatic drill.