The Bounce at 10,000 Frames
Per Second

Paul Hamori, MD

How long is a tennis ball actually on the court surface?

In my recent article on about contact at 10,000 frames per second I found that contact is actually about 20% shorter than the generally published numbers. Additionally, I found that the trend toward low-tension stringing is probably aimed at increasing contact length which increases power and spin. (Click Here.)

So what about the ball bounce? What are the published figures? How long is the ball on the court surface? Again I set up controlled filming at 10,000 frames a second.

The generally accepted figure is 5 milliseconds as measured on a hard court. I found a range of 4.6-5.4 milliseconds. That is depending on whether the ball is topspin, flat, or slice.

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I began writing the book that is the basis for this article - The Art and Science of Ball Watching - in August of 2019 and finished it in January of 2021. In a sense, though, I have been working on it since I started playing tennis fifty-five years ago at the age of five. In high school I played four years of varsity tennis in addition to sanctioned USTA junior tournaments. I probably reached a 4.5-5.0 level. I considered playing small college tennis, but by then I was burned out on the sport, and knew that my pre-med studies wouldn't allow time for college tennis.

But tennis was in my blood, and I started playing again with a passion after medical school. During this time, I really started to study the technical aspects of the game.

My idea for the book started out with various technical ideas that I had been kicking around by watching great players over several generations. In the end I came to the conclusion that good racket to ball contact depends on good ball watching. I wrote the book to teach myself how to see racket to ball contact and my hope is it can help you do the same.

The Art and Science of Ball Watching

The Art and Science of Ball Watching takes the reader through the scientific principles involved in tennis ball watching, with a focus on those aspects of Physical and Biologic science that facilitate the ability to see ball contact.

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