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Researchers: Tennis grunters gain advantage. From O. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on October 4, 2010


VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and other tennis players might gain something by grunting.

That’s according to researchers at the University of British Columbia and University of Hawaii, who say that tennis players who grunt during points might be getting an advantage over their opponents.

Their study, posted online Friday by the Public Library of Science, looks at the effects of noise on how people perceive where shots are going, and says: “The presence of an extraneous sound interfered with a participants’ performance, making their responses both slower and less accurate.”

One of the study’s authors, Scott Sinnett, says he plans further research on the subject.

Occasionally, professional players complain about opponents’ grunting during rallies.



20 Responses to “Researchers: Tennis grunters gain advantage. From O. Thanks.”

  1. xeres said

    Researchers got there a little too late…this is what Navratilova has been saying for a long time.

    • Jenny said

      Very true. Grunt: “to utter the deep, guttural sound characteristic of a hog” Some ladies scream, some men roar, the only real grunt that describes the above grunt sound is Verdasco. As far as the men are concerned, I haven’t seen it off put a quieter opponent that he loses a match because of it, a good player learns to block it out, as they have to block out a raucous partisan crowd, or they would be on the road to nowhere, neither to my knowledge have I heard any complaints, apart from Aravane Rezai against Michelle de Brito. I’m sure it isn’t all done deliberately as far as gamemanship is concerned, although I would question one of the ladies at least. At the end of the day, the noise machines will still be around, so in all honesty, and imo there isn’t too much point in this survey, but thanks for posting, O.

      • sperry said

        The first woman I remember doing it was Monica Seles, and I’m not sure we could find a more honorable person who ever played tennis. So, yeah…I think frequently it is the just a matter of the grunt focusing your energy… a well known phenomena in Karate, say. I think even Sharapova’s squeel might (might not) fall into that catagory. But there are at least a couple women (Azarenka and deBrito) who, I THINK, scream to distract their opponents. The noise they produce just doesn’t sound like the “natural” reaction to exertion. In Azarenka’s case, I have seen and read enough other negative stuff about her (violent tantrums, screaming at ballkids…and the fact she is quiet (I’ve heard) during practice) that I believe she would do almost anything to win a match. And that bugs me.

      • Super Mario said

        Grunting to get energy is all well and good in theory. But when you see women players screaming their lungs out while doing simple volleys, that is pure (anti)gamesmanship. Serena, Maria, Venus are all guilty.

      • Sol said

        I agree with Super Mario. I’ve seen Maria grunt while doing a dropshot at the net (and the ball wasn’t coming at her in full speed or anything). It’s ridiculous.

  2. sperry said

    What? We need research before we believe stuff that seems obvious?

  3. Growltiger said

    Players are taught to exhale on hitting the ball. It seems a natural extension that they would then move on to a grunt. Agassi used to exhale a “uhhhhhhh” when he struck the ball. Djokovic grunts much like Agassi does. Seles (my favorite female player) grunted too loud, but Graf used gamesmanship against her at Wimbledon when she complained. Monica was disallowed grunting and Graf won.

    When I played (I was a 4.5 club level player), I used the sound of the ball being struck to some extent. A grunt didn’t bother me but a shriek would have totally put me off my game. I suspect it’s the same for pros.

    I think “grunting” has destroyed the women’s game. I can’t stand to watch women’s tennis because of the noise. I believe tennis should put a mic on the net alongside the “let” mic and if the noise level reaches a certain level, the player should be warned, then lose a point, then a game, then the match. To be fair, this rule would be instituted in time for all the grunters not to be affected, such as after the next US Open to take effect Jan 1 of 2012.

    • Jenny said

      I certainly agree about some of the women players, all that way over the top shreiking and screaming has got out of hand, it has certainly put me off watching as with others, and I’m pretty tolerant. The situation between Rezai and de Brito was a farce even when the referee and umpire were involved after Rezai complained on court twice, they both tried to reason with Michelle, but she atill carried on screaming regardless [I believe it was clay court]. As I recall, Rezai won the match.

    • O said

      “I think “grunting” has destroyed the women’s game” – Maybe they should have grunting match first, then they play the real match without grunting.

    • sperry said

      RE: the mic. Absolutely. I’ll go one step further and say, “why the hell hasn’t it been done?”

  4. Super Mario said

    I just found this pretty interesting quote from Brito: “I’m 16 and I’m still learning. Maybe I can eventually put it under control. I don’t know, but I’ll try. It comes from Seles; it comes from Sharapova. It comes from great players.”

    This really brings home the strength of example. If Fed or Rafa can inspire people even half as much, (men’s) tennis may yet have good days ahead of it. Beyond the tree-tops!

    • Jenny said

      I know she’s only 16, so one has to give her a little slack, but what a strange and immature statement, it’s very cavalier as she was on court that day, despite Rezai’s complaints. Doesn’t she realise fans and others don’t like this stuff? She will need to change her attitude and modify her habit if she wants to succeed on the big stage.

      As you say, Super Mario, “This really brings home the strength of example”

      • Arjun said

        “Doesn’t she realise fans and others don’t like this stuff?”

        There are some fans that really don’t mind at all

      • Jenny said

        True, but when an opponent officially complains, [Rezai]and nothing is done, then there’s a problem, don’t you think.

      • Arjun said

        Actually, no.

        The opponent complaining about something doesn’t mean it’s a genuine problem. It could just be a whiny opponent, or a sore loser

      • Jenny said

        That’s also true, but on this occasion de Brito’s screams were way over the top, she even didn’t even try to tone it down after the ump and then the referee spoke very quietly and reasonably to her. I thought Rezai had a valid point, she took a long time to complain, even our comms remarked on it and weren’t in the least bit surprised she did so.. I don’t watch too much WTA, but I saw this match.

  5. bunnee said

    … a bit off topic… one can ski AND play tennis in lotus land, all on the same day!

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