Practice improves court mobility and self-efficacy in tennis-specific wheelchair propulsion

Purpose: Wheelchair tennis (WT) chair propulsion is uniquely characterised by the requirement for racket-holding coupled with effective hand-rim contact. Thus, investigations involving strategies to enhance chair mobility skills are merited. The aim was to examine effects of organised practice on WT match-play responses and the impact of racket-holding during practice.
Materials and methods: Following physiological profiling involving graded and peak exercise testing, sixteen able-bodied (AB) participants performed bouts of WT match-play interspersed with practice involving wheelchair mobility drills completed with (R) or without (NR) a tennis racket. A data logger recorded distance and speed. Self-efficacy was reported.
Results and conclusions: Significant main effects for match revealed higher post-practice overall and forwards distances (P < 0.05), peak (P < 0.005) and average (P < 0.05) speeds, and self-efficacy (SE) (P = 0.001) were attained. During practice, lower distances and speeds were achieved with R, with a lower physiological cost than NR. Practice increases court-movement and SE with no associated increases in physiological cost. Changes represent enhanced court-mobility. Differences between practice characteristics provide options for skill development and optimisation of health outcomes.