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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coaches Q and A: Is Grunting/Screaming Really Necessary?

In this month's Coaches Q & A, we tap the expertise of Andy Brandi and Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a very controversial topic in professional tennis today.

The recent focus on the noise made by Michelle Larcher de Brito, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams during competiton came to dominate much of the conversation about women's tennis at Wimbledon. What causes players to adopt this practice, and is there a need for regulation of the volume?

Harold Solomon responds:

For players to hit the ball effectively, they need to let the air out of their bodies during each shot. We teach our players to breathe out when the ball hits the racket. Breathing allows the body to stay loose and flowing during the hitting process, while holding your breath will tend to shorten the swing and produces a much stiffer and mechanical shot.

Many players emit some sort of sound or grunt upon striking the ball, and this is an effective way of assuring that you are breathing correctly on the court. There is no therapeutic reason however for the excessive sounds that some players make, especially on the women’s tour. Rather, the loud grunting has simply become one of the players’ normal routines or habits.

Loud grunting is a major distraction to fans attending the matches and watching on television. It may seem cute to players, parents or coaches when the player is young, but it is definitely not something that is attractive to fans or sponsors. Players need to learn to breathe effectively, but keep from becoming a distraction on the court.

And with the National Clay Courts and Hard Courts coming up, please see Harold and Andy's suggestions from a previous installment on playing in extreme heat.

Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line. Next month they will answer a question on the benefits of boys and girls playing and training together.