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Relationship between split-step timing and leg stiffness in world-class tennis players when returning fast serves

Research output: Contribution to journal › Article

  • Sami Mecheri
  • Guillaume Laffaye
  • Celine Triolet
  • David Leroy
  • Dr Matt Dicks
  • Mohamed Choukou
  • Nicolas Benguigui
This study investigated split-step timing when returning serves and whether this timing is related to neuromechanical capabilities in world-class tennis players. In Experiment 1, the split-step timing of four groups of world-class players (male and female ATP/WTA seniors, and ITF juniors) was measured on court when returning serves of the same level players. The four groups initiated the split-step at a similar time, starting around the time ball-racket contact in the serve stroke and landed when early ball-flight information was available. In Experiment 2, the neuromechanical capabilities (leg stiffness and vertical jump performance) of a group of world-class players and three groups of less-skilled tennis players were examined. The results showed an increase in leg stiffness with an increase in level of expertise. A cross-experiment analysis in world-class male players (ATP/ITF, n = 10) revealed that the timing of initial foot movement was significantly correlated with the leg stiffness (r2=0.54), with later lateral step after the serve in the players who had higher stiffness. The findings support the hypothesis that world-class tennis players adapt perceptual-motor control on the basis of their neuromechanical capabilities and maximise the time before initiating their interceptive action to rely on more reliable
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Early online date29 Apr 2019
Publication statusEarly online - 29 Apr 2019


  • Mecheri et al. Accepted

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Sports Sciences on 29/04/2019, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 769 KB, PDF-document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 29/04/20

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