Thursday, January 19, 2012

Altitude and Tennis Game

While the rules and style of play in tennis do not change with an increase or decrease in altitude, the amount of air resistance does change. As a result, high altitude courts that are found in Denver and other high altitude cities often use high altitude tennis balls to offset the overall change in altitude.
Air Pressure
An increase in altitude directly correlates to a decrease in air pressure. When a tennis ball is hit through the air, the air pushes against the ball, slowing down its speed. With an increase in altitude, there is a direct decrease in air resistance, resulting in faster returns, serves and hits. To compensate, some tennis courts in high altitude regions move indoors, pressurizing an indoor facility to restore it to a higher level of air resistance.
Tennis Balls
In addition to pressurized tennis courts, tennis ball manufacturers have created both high-pressure and low-pressure tennis balls. To compensate for an increase in altitude, the high-pressure tennis ball has a bigger diameter, resulting in more surface area being exposed to air pressure. This increase in size balances out the air pressure, allowing the ball to hit and bounce in the same way that it does at a regular altitude. While high-altitude tennis balls are designed to compensate for this pressure change, large amounts of topspin on the ball can result in more severe movement than at a regular altitude.
Aside from changes in ball velocity and size, a change in altitude will affect your entire body. As a result, your training and conditioning will have to change in order to compensate for the new altitude. At higher altitude levels, there is a decrease in oxygen levels, making it harder to breathe in high-endurance sports that require consistent oxygen consumption. During weeks of training, your body will begin to produce more red blood cells, helping to bring oxygen from your lungs to your muscles. As a result, it is best to train for several weeks in a high-altitude area before a tennis competition.
A change in altitude will directly affect your body, potentially resulting in altitude sickness and trouble breathing. As a result, it is important to talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to play tennis at a high altitude. If you feel light headed or dizzy while playing, stop playing and sit down. As a safety precaution, spend a week or two in a high-altitude region before engaging in physical activity. This will help your body adjust prior to putting excessive strain on it.

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