Grunting Helps Tennis Players Play Better

the mag
pete gamlen
pete gamlen / pete gamlen

This story originally appeared in print in the August 2014 issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe to our print edition here, and our iPad edition here.

by Joe Mejia

Tennis greats Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are often picked on for grunting on the court. In 2012, there was even talk of monitoring decibel levels and penalizing players for excessive shrieks and yelps. But could all that noisemaking serve a purpose?

Short answer: Yes! A University of Nebraska study found that grunting increases a ball’s velocity by 4 percent, all without compromising a player’s oxygen consumption, heart rate, or energy expenditure. A strong grunt apparently stabilizes the core, allowing extra force to travel through the arms.

More importantly, grunters have an advantage because the noise masks the sound of the racket hitting the ball, making the return harder to anticipate. So while grunting might sound terrible, in terms of winning, it's sound advice.