Tennis FAQ: Why Do Tennis Players Grunt?

Have you ever wondered why most tennis stars make a loud, sometimes disturbing sound every time they smack the ball? It’s no coincidence because this noticeable shriek is considered to be a tactic that can have different impacts on the game. Tennis grunting is one of the more controversial features of tennis that has been both applauded and criticized. Regardless, ranging from female superstars, such as Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, to male icons including Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, most tennis players grunt openly as part of their playing routines.

You might be also interested to update your knowledge on Tennis rules at Most Important Tennis Rules ! Basic Guide for Singles and Double Tennis

Why Do Tennis Players Grunt?

Tennis players grunt for many different reasons. Each player has their own reason to make the noise but the one thing common is that the grunting sound only comes up when that player attempts to hit the ball. The following can be considered one of the reasons why players prefer to vocalize themselves at any given point:

1. Maintaining Accuracy and Gameplay Rhythm

Most tennis players have claimed that psychologically, grunting helps them to maintain balance and accuracy. The grunt is part of the breathing system that essentially symbolizes the position of the ball. Consequently, tennis players can synchronize their breathing and footwork in a manner that makes it easier for them to judge the movement of the ball.

Can we conclude that they’re just being superstitious at this point? It’s really hard to say, especially since some psychologists have acknowledged this feature. According to a report, tennis players who frequently grunted were able to increase the speed of their serve by approximately 7 kilometers per hour. In retrospect, this can prove to be no less than a game-changer!

2. Release of Energy

Many tennis players have claimed that sound is simply a reflex action made unconsciously. We can consider it to be a sigh of breath with added power involved. As a matter of fact, many players don’t even realize the sound they make unless they’re specifically asked about it.

On one occasion, Serena Williams was asked as to why players (including herself) grunt loudly as part of their gameplay. Surprisingly enough, Serena was unable to give out a logical response. Instead, she simply claimed that it’s become a part of their personality as an athlete to make the sound and that she does it without even thinking about it.

At another moment, Maria Sharapova, known for having arguably the loudest tennis grunt, also claimed that the sound is a natural reaction. She claimed that it was something you either do it or not. There’s no rationale behind grunting nor any strategy involved.

3. Establishing Authority

In real-life situations, we often interact with people who have a habit of speaking loudly. There’s also a saying that dictates that people deceptively tend to speak louder to establish authority over others. The same can be said about grunts.

Apart from its physical aspects, tennis is also a game of wits. Players on both sides try to get under each other’s skin. The reason why tennis players grunt can be because they want to maintain an aggressive attitude.

Psychologically, players may think that the louder they grunt, the more dominant they will appear to their opponents. This, may or may not be true for the opponents, but at times, the audience can definitely feel the wrath of all the loud grunters out there!

The dominancy certainly affects social media in form of interviews, questions, and occasional memes. Many tennis stars have been exploited for their loud grunts. The media attention has been such that some organizations even took the liberty of scientifically calculating the amplitude of the noise created. According to a report, Maria Sharapova was officially recognized to be the loudest grunter by scoring a whopping 100 decibels.

4. Annoying & Deceiving Opponents

You know what they say, if you can’t beat them, just annoy them! As unethical as this may sound, tennis players also grunt to distract their opponents by making them lose focus.

Some of the grunts can be so hilariously loud that even the attending crowd can’t stop themselves from chuckling. Imagine what the effects could be on an opponent who’s trying to concentrate on the ball.

One of the main reasons why tennis player grunts are considered controversial is because of how deceptive they can turn out to be. We know so far that tennis players only grunt when they smash the ball from the racquet. However, that’s not always the case!

On many occasions, players have deliberately grunted out loud BEFORE hitting the ball to confuse their opponents. Players have a habit of judging the ball based on the grunting sound. When a player deliberately grunts before moving the racquet, there’s a good chance that the opponent on the other end may misread the ball movement.

Another common trick can include a twist in the shot. Let’s look at it this way; tennis players usually grunt loudly to portray the force that’s put in their shot.

The louder the grunt, the faster we expect the ball to travel. But what if it’s the opposite? Instead of smashing the ball, the loud grunt could be used as a cover-up for a drop-shot. Imagine that you’re expecting a shooter but end up missing it altogether because of the lack of force.

Nonetheless, this makes some experts and analysts question the art of grunting. Having been originally used as the means to release tension, grunting has now become a clever tool used to mislead opponents.

Tennis Players Grunt: Is It Cheating?

Over the years, there have been many occasions where players have been called out for their grunting. Analysts have also been divided on this issue. While many acknowledge its strategic value, some have also blatantly called it to be a form of cheating.

In 2009, during the French Open tournament, controversy arose after tennis star Aravane Rezai stopped in between a match to complain about her opponents grunting. Rezai protested that her opponent, Michelle Larcher de Brito, had been making overly loud grunting noises that put Rezai off her game.

Although no action was taken at the time, this incident began a sequence of hot media debates, provoking many to ban grunting altogether. Martina Navratilova, another tennis icon, termed grunting to be an act of cheating for which, players should be penalized.

Should Tennis Player Grunts Be Banned?

So far, what we’ve discussed is how grunting can affect players and opponents in different ways. One on end, we’ve talked about how tennis stars grunt habitually. At the same time, the noise can also be used to somewhat enhance gameplay capacity or to distract opponents.

On the other end, this very same distraction is what makes grunting questionable. Critics have argued how the incessant noise has become the means for players to commit to unethical ways of winning.

This begs the question, is it time to place a permanent ban on tennis grunting? In all honesty, placing a complete ban on grunting seems like a very unrealistic possibility. Think about it this way, grunting is to tennis players what breathing is to us. It is something they have been practicing from the very beginning of their careers. Asking them to suddenly stop grunting would most likely negatively affect their overall gameplay.

Rather than having to ban tennis player grunts altogether, we can try to come with alternate restrictions. For example, if a player is found to be making noises deliberately to annoy their opponents, then a certain form of penalty may apply. This, however, would require umpires to remain more vigilant than ever!

Tennis Player Grunts: The Do’s and Don’t

To Grunt or Not To Grunt?

Respect Is Earned, Not Given As a Birth Right!

As a future tennis star, your ultimate aim would be to become successful and gain your audience’s respect. There are two types of individuals in this world. The first type consists of people who chase success without having any regard for others. They do end up achieving some form of success but it comes at the risk of losing respect.

The second group is made up of people who properly rise through the ranks. They earn success through genuine recognition and admiration. That is the type of person we need to aspire to become. Roger Federer and Serena Williams are two such people who have gained immense success and respect from the global community.

In the same context, grunting, being controversial as it is, needs to be scaled down to a certain extent. As a beginner or intermediate tennis player, you can try to adjust your breathing in a manner that is suitable to maintain. That doesn’t necessarily imply that you stop grunting altogether. Rather, keep the volume of the noise to a limit where you’re able to enhance your skills and beat your opponent without giving them a chance to call you out for anything. Remember, a victory feels even sweeter when your opponent acknowledges you for it!

For more tips and tennis FAQs, make sure to visit our website where we talk about how your child can become a pro in tennis.

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