The Most Complex Motion
Brian Gordon, PhD
I have stated in many venues that the upward swing of the “power” tennis serve is the most technically complicated movement in all of sport. The upward swing is defined in my work as beginning at the instant the tip of the racquet attains its lowest point vertically coming out of the backswing, ending at contact.
I presume some would debate that it is the "most" complex. Indeed, I concede that certain sports possess complicated (and often dangerous) feats of strength, balance and motion. Yet having researched the serve for many years--actually decades--I've noted several attributes of the “power” serve upward swing that support my position.
For a high-level server the racquet head speed can be increased by 70 mph in 1/10 of a second during the upward swing. (To see an analysis of this on the Sampras serve, Click Here.)
To accomplish this that server will utilize at least nine unique body rotations, many in sequence. And at the end of the upward swing these joint rotations must position the racquet into a precise orientation with very little margin for error.