View Full Version : Ergonomic tennis raquets?

10-24-2001, 03:45 PM
Dear Biomech'ers/Ergonomists (esp. of the sporting orientation),

The following is a quote from a recent article on product innovation and
strategic marketing, etc. etc. in an Australian business/management-oriented

"Racquet design formed the basis of (Mr X's) presentation. The crux of his
message was that technology can win in the laboratory yet lose in the
marketplace. He cited pioneering 'ergonomic' racquet designs featuring bent
handles and skewed heads. In performance tests these designs rated
consistently higher than conventional racquets, in some cases up to 18 per
cent higher. Yet they never succeeded as products, because tennis players
didn't like the way they looked." The article was accompanied by
illustrations of a racquet with the long axis of the oval head oriented
about 45 degrees to the axis of the handle; and another raquet with a
conventionally oriented head but with lower half of the hand grip offset
some 30 degrees or so. (No other info. provided on the tests - I'm trying to
chase up the author).

Tennis is not my area at all - to me, it's a place where you go to get a
sore neck.

But I was astounded by the assertion that, in an era where top players stand
to earn (or fail to earn) fortunes, the "look" of a raquet that "performs"
some "18%" better would dictate its acceptance.

So something smells off about the above. Does anyone know of tests such as
those referred to, or similar (in Oz or O/S)? There is also a potentially
large number of variables (objective and subjective) to which that "18%
better" might refer. Then there's the issue of skill transfer - players with
decades (or even years) of experience using a conventional design might not
find any advantage in an alternative design, even if it was associated with,
for example, some early performance advantage for novices. In that latter
regard, I'm reminded of the associated problems with the various alternative
layouts that had in the past been suggested for the alphabet key positions
on keyboards. There are probably lots of other considerations, too. Finally,
it may just be possible that the term "ergonomic" has been yet again (shock!
horror!) MIS-APPLIED....

Feel free to direct any comments either to the list or to me and I will
compile and re-post.


Max Hely.

PS Have you registered for the Ergonomics Society of Aust. Annual Conference
being held this November (28 - 30th) in SYDNEY? See below for the Conference
Max Hely
Safety Science Associates Pty Ltd
PO Box 708
NSW 2042

Phone 02-9572-6767
Fax 02-9572-6868
Mobile 0412-920-300
Email max.hely@safetyscience.com

SEE www.iceaustralia.com/esa/

To unsubscribe send SIGNOFF BIOMCH-L to LISTSERV@nic.surfnet.nl
For information and archives: http://isb.ri.ccf.org/biomch-l