August 12, 2017 05:19 GMT by dailymail.co.uk

Consistent backswing key to becoming a star tennis player

People who performed consistent lead-in motions were able to perfect their techniques twice as quickly, found research led by the University of Plymouth (stock image, Roger Federer)

Golfers wanting to shoot below par or tennis players looking to smash their way past opponents should focus on their backswing, a new study suggests.

Scientists assessed the speed at which people learned the basic skills in both golf and tennis, and found that those with consistent backswings perfected their techniques twice as quickly.

Tennis star Roger Federer and golfer Rory McIlroy have climbed to the top of their game partly due to their powerful - and consistent - lead-in movement. 

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Tennis players who were able to perform consistent lead-in motions were able to perfect their techniques twice as quickly as those who couldn't. Pictured is tennis champion Roger Federer who is known for having one of the most efficient and consistent backswings in the game

Tennis players who were able to perform consistent lead-in motions were able to perfect their techniques twice as quickly as those who couldn't. Pictured is tennis champion Roger Federer who is known for having one of the most efficient and consistent backswings in the game

THE PERFECT BACKSWING

The study demonstrates that any immediately preceding movement needs to be consistent to achieve fast learning.

People who were able to perform consistent lead-in motions were able to perfect their techniques twice as quickly as those who couldn't.

For the research, participants were asked to make two successive movements (a lead-in movement followed immediately by the main movement) while grasping the handle of a robotic device.  

Researchers found that if someone had mastered a consistent lead-in they were better at dealing with changes in visual lead-in - which is when the ball comes from a variety of directions.

Research led by the University of Plymouth and the Technical University of Munich suggests focusing on lining up the shot might be more important than taking the shot itself. 

In order to improve quickly, this movement needs to be consistent - regardless of the position of the ball. 

Dr Ian Howard, one of the lead authors of the study told MailOnline: 'All top players have a very consistent backswing, since it is needed to generate a consistent and precise forward swing, as well as the role it plays in speeding up leaning of new skills.

'Federer and McIIroy are good examples of such very consistent backswings.'

This research shows the final (or main) movement is only one part of the learning process.

Generating a consistent lead-in allows players to learn new skills faster.

'Rapid learning can be critical to ensure elite performance', said Dr Howard.

'And while learning a new skill such as golf or tennis takes considerable practice, the rate at which we can compensate for environmental changes and learn new skills plays an important role in our performance.'

For the research, participants were asked to make two successive movements: a lead-in movement (the backswing) followed immediately by the main movement while grasping the handle of a robotic device. 

A second experiment then examined if watching a computer-generated lead-in movement before actively performing the main movement would have the same effect.

In both experiments, researchers found a variable backswing movement meant people learnt a lot slower.

Researchers found that if someone had mastered a consistent lead-in they were better at dealing with changes in visual lead-in - which is when the ball comes from a variety of directions. 

The study demonstrates that any immediately preceding movement needs to be consistent to achieve fast learning. Pictured is professional golfer Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland who is known for having a consistent swing 

The study demonstrates that any immediately preceding movement needs to be consistent to achieve fast learning. Pictured is professional golfer Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland who is known for having a consistent swing 

As a result, they could learn much faster.

This research builds on a previous study by the team which found the nature of the follow-through has significant influence on the extent to which new skills are acquired.

Researchers believe the current results could have implications for both skill learning and movement rehabilitation following neurological conditions. 

Dr David Franklin, one of the authors of the study, said: 'These findings may also have implications for stroke rehabilitation, where fast relearning, or recovery of movement, is desired, but this also needs to be balanced with generalization to everyday tasks.'

 

 

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