03. Performance

This Is How Fast a Tennis Serve Looks Like

January 23, 2016

One of the main things that determines how good a player is in a given sport is their reaction time. Reaction time depends on many factors. One of the aspects that can help determining reaction time is how quickly the brain interprets information it receives, and how rapidly it sends out orders to active motor skills. The first part of the process is known in the scientific community as visual information processing speed. What is actually like to see a super fast serve is really surprising.

The fastest tennis serve on record is held by Australian tennis player Samuel Groth, when he hit a serve reaching 263 kph/163.4 mph (Source: Guinness World Records).

As you can see in the video, a 150 mph serve can be quite difficult to return. A player on the receiving side of the court not only needs to have the skills to be able to return the ball in a very short decision-making moment, but he also has to anticipate where it's going. In fact the ball moves faster than conscious perception can manage to execute a reaction. This means that tennis players have to initially return serves unconsciously, the consciousness catches up.

Both of these tasks could challenge the brain's cognitive functions beyond regular day-to-day activities. This is where perceptual-cognitive training might be able to help. In a recent study, a group of researchers were able to provide some evidence that perceptual-cognitive training has the potential to improve attention, working memory, visual information processing speed and other executive functions.

The video above provides an extra understanding of the challenges tennis players go through during a match.

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