The role of the racket in high-speed tennis serves

The high-speed first serve has become an increasingly dominant factor in tennis, raising concerns over the influence modern racket technology has on the game. One concern is that rackets are now too powerful and so overemphasise a player’s ability to produce fast serves. This may help explain the ‘penalty shootout’ scenario, where match result id dictated by the relative speed and consistency of the players’ first serves. There is some concern that on the faster surfaces, maximum service speeds have reached, or are approaching, the service returnee’s reaction threshold, making it virtually impossible for players to return the ball. To shed light on the issue the factors relating to ‘racket power’, the amount a racket magnifies a player’s innate ability to impart linear velocity to a tennis ball, need to be considered. Various studies have been performed that shed some light on the subject. This paper presents an overview of the published literature related to ‘racket power’ in the game of tennis, a review of previous research on specific and sometimes controversial issues. Areas meriting further investigation are identified to encourage future research into racket power.