Effect of stroke direction on plantar pressure in each foot during the forehand and backhand stroke among healthy adult tennis players of different performance levels

Background: In tennis, previous studies have shown differences in plantar pressure depending on tennis-specific movements (i.e., baseline play, serve & volley play, change of direction), playing surface (e.g., hard, grass, or clay), and serve type (e.g., slice, topspin or flat). However, the influence of stroke direction on plantar pressure in tennis players with diverging skill level is unknown. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the effect of stroke direction on plantar pressure in each foot during the forehand and backhand stroke among players of different performance levels.

Methods: Thirty-nine female and male healthy adult tennis players (mean ± SD age: 23.5 ± 6.4 years) representing athletes from three performance levels (recreational, intermediate, advanced) participated in this study. The players performed longline/cross forehand and backhand groundstrokes (topspin) on a clay court while plantar pressure distribution was measured in each foot using flexible instrumented insoles.

Results: The three-way ANOVA (performance level × stroke direction × foot dominance) showed (a) no significant differences in plantar pressure data between cross and longline strokes in almost all cases, (b) in part, significantly larger pressure values in advanced compared to intermediate and recreational players, and (c) significantly larger pressure data for the dominant compared to the non-dominant foot in nearly all comparisons.

Conclusion: Regarding an appropriate plantar pressure distribution, our results suggest that during training of especially recreational and intermediate players attention should be paid to the feet rather than to stroke direction.


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