Muscles Involved in the Backhand Action of the Tennis Shot Essay

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The number of movements carried out in any sport is known as technique. This technique is the one that is behind a backhand stroke or a forehand stroke. This technique can go for all strokes, swings and basically all the movements involved in sports. This technique is a result of the different forces, whether they are external or internal, acting on the body of the player (Bahamonde, 1992). In order to achieve well though and strategic shots, both coaches and the players need to have a sound idea of this technique.

Before we get into explaining the whole planning and order of events behind a backhand stroke, it should be cleared out that smart strokes are never copied. It should be known that most of the great shots come out because of the physical qualities of the player and not his or her technique. (Hays, 1993) This statement and great observation itself highlights the importance of being toned out and having good muscles in order to work them and make a successful shot.

A backhand stroke can either be one handed or two handed. One hand backhand strokes were common practice. Just recently, there has been the advent of a two handed stroke as well that is hit from a closed stance. Till now, there are no studies done or no form of research that shows that one hand back hand stroke is better than two handed stroke. If both the strokes are carried out in the best possible way and done so with good technique, they can produce required results. (Groppel, 1992) According to a study done, it was shown that there were no relevant differences were found in the muscles used both the strokes. However, there was increased use of pronator teres muscle while carrying out the two handed backhand stroke. (Giangarra et al., 1993)

To brief it all up, to have a good one handed back stroke, there should be good elbow joint rotation so that adequate velocity is made. EMG studies have revealed that during a one hand back stroke there has been activity of the triceps, supra spinatus, infraspinatus, and middle deltoid during the acceleration phase. (Morris et al., 1989) Following the acceleration phase comes the backswing phase. This phase involves the trunk muscle to make the adequate momentum and cancelation. The involvement of the shoulder and the trunk muscles adds on a significant amount of force. If we get into the details of the movement, tennis is a complex sport that is made up of intricate movements. All these movements result from the strategic involvement of joints and muscles of the body.

Definition of terms

Flexion: In case of the arm, this is basically the movement of the arm towards the upper arm. This occurs in the sagital plane.

Extension: This means straightening out a joint and it normal occurs in a posterior direction.

Abduction: This is the movement of an arm or a leg away from the midline of the trunk. This movement occurs in the coronal plane.

Adduction: This movement is movement of a limb towards the body in the coronal plane

Medial: To be located near the median plane of the body

Lateral: To be located away from the median plane

Rotation: This is basically movement of part of the body along its long axis

Table of Muscles




Pectoralis Major

Sternum, Clavicle and upper six coastal cartilage

Lateral lip of bicipital groove of humerus

Serratus Anterior

Upper eight ribs

Medial border and inferior angle of scapula


Occipital Bone, Ligamentum nuchae, spine of seventh cervical vertebra, spines of all thoracic vertebrae

Upper fibers insert into lateral third of clavicle, middle and lower fibers into acromion and spine of scapula


clavicle, acromion and spine of scapula

Deltoid tuberosity of humerus

Latissmus Dorsi

lumbodorsal fascia via thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, sacrum, ilium intertubercular groove of the humerus

Supra Spinatus

Supraspinous fossa of the scapula

Greater tubercle of the humerus

Infra Spinatus

Infraspinous fossa of the scapula

Greater tubercle of the humerus

Teres Major

Inferior angle of scapula

Lesser tubercle of humerus

Teres Minor

Lateral border of scapula

Greater tubercle of humerus


Subscapular fossa of the scapula

Lesser tubercle of humerus

Biceps Long head

Supraglenois tubercle of the scapula

Radial tuberosity of the radius

Biceps short head

Coracoid process of the scapula

Radial tuberosity of the radius

Triceps Long head

Infraglenoid tubercle of scapula

Olecranon process of ulna

Triceps lateral head

Posterior humerus

Olecranon process of ulna

Triceps Medial Head

Posterior humerus

Olecranon process of ulna

Rectus Femoris

Anterior inferior Iliac Spine

Via quadriceps tendon into patella and them through ligament patellae onto the tibial tuberosity of the tibia

Vastus Lateralis

Greater Trochanter of the femur

Via quadriceps tendon into patella and them through ligamentum patellae onto the tibial tuberosity of the tibia

Vastus Medialis

Linea Aspera

Via quadriceps tendon into patella and them through ligamentum patellae onto the tibial tuberosity of the tibia

Vastus Intermedius

Shaft of femur

Via quadriceps tendon into patella and them through ligamentum patellae onto the tibial tuberosity of the tibia


Lateral and medial condyle of the femur



Proximal tibia and fibula; interosseous membrane


Gluteus Maximus

Posterior Ilium, Sacrum and Coccyx

Illiotibial tract and gluteal tuberosity of femur

Gluteus Minimus

Lateral Ilium

Greater Trochanter of the femur

External Oblique

Lower Eight Ribs

Xiphoid Process, linea alba, pubic crest and tubercle and iliac crest

Internal Oblique

Lumber Fascia, iliac crest, lateral two third of inguinal ligament

Lower three ribs and coastal cartilages, linea alba, xiphoid process and the symphsis pubis

Muscles Involved

To get into specific details, there are different muscles that come into action during a one handed back hand stroke. During the acceleration phase, there are legs muscles used that allow the lower body to be pushed off. These muscles include the concentric gluteus, quadriceps, gastocnemius and soleus. Following that, there is the action of trunk rotation. As the name suggest, this part would involve the trunk muscles. These muscles include the Obliques, abdominals, and the concentric and eccentric back extensors. Following that, there is the arm forward swing. In this action, most of the muscles of the body are used. These include two of the rotator cuff muscles namely the teres minor and the infraspinatus. Along with those, the muscles involved are the rhomboid, posterior deltoid, serratus anterior, triceps, trapezius and the concentric wrist extensors.

In the follow through phase, there is the trunk rotation part and the arm deceleration. For the trunk rotation, there is the use of obliques, concentric and eccentric abdominals, and the back extensors. In the arm deceleration action, the player will make use of the eccentric wrist flexors, subscapularis, pectoralis major and the biceps.

Breakdown of the shot

Push Off

In the preparation or the push off of the shot, there are two phases. Firstly, there is stepping in the right position with the right leg forward. The other movement is to pick up the racquet and not making it go ahead of the shoulder level. These two moves just in the start of the shot are achieved by the deltoid and the bicep muscles. The joint that is used is the elbow joint in the beginning. This allows the player to extend his arm and allow the action of the triceps to come in action. This action happens at the shoulder or the glenohumeral joint. In this, the player would also make use of the cervical vertebrae as he or she moves his head to see where the ball is coming from.


After setting the preparation or loading phase in action, the now main action is to hit the ball. Firstly there would hip rotation towards where the ball is coming from. This action is taken forth by the gluteus…[continue]


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  • Musculoskeletal Anatomy

    Muscles Involved in the Backhand Action of the Tennis Shot The Muscles That Initiate and Assist in Backhand Motion The motion that is most important in the backhand motion is the grip. A proper grip is vital in any movement when playing tennis. For the grip, the index knuckle of the dominant hand is placed on the top bevel. These muscles are smaller muscles and include; Abductor Pollicis brevis Flexor Pollicis brevis Abductor digiti minimi

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