International vs. National female tennis players: A comparison of upper and lower extremity functional asymmetries

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Asymmetries have been reported to negatively impact sport performance. This study examined the magnitude and direction of whole-body functional asymmetry in international versus national female tennis players.

METHODS: Ten internationally and twelve nationally ranked tennis players participated. Upper extremity functional asymmetries (or side-to-side performance differences) were evaluated using handgrip strength, seated shot-put throw and plate tapping. Lower extremity functional asymmetries were determined using the single leg countermovement jump, single leg forward hop test, 6 m single leg hop test, 505 changes of direction (time and deficit), and Y-balance test (anterior, posteromedial, posterolateral). ANOVAs were used to compare the dominant (overall best or fastest result of a specific test) versus non-dominant performance values (best or fastest result of the corresponding extremity) within the internationally versus nationally ranked players. Functional asymmetry magnitudes differences (expressed as a %) were examined using Mann-Whitney U tests. Kappa coefficients examined the consistency as to which extremity performed dominantly across tests.

RESULTS: Significant asymmetries for every upper and lower extremity test were found. The functional asymmetry magnitude was significantly (p=0.020) higher on the single leg forward hop test for the nationally (6.3%) versus internationally ranked players (2.9%). Kappa coefficients showed perfect levels of consistency regarding all upper extremity tests (k=1.00), indicating true limb dominance whereas more variance was found as to which lower extremity performed dominantly across tests (k range=-0.067-0.174).

CONCLUSIONS: The included female tennis players displayed significant whole-body functional asymmetries. Poor consistency as to which lower extremity performed dominantly across tests warrants individual asymmetry monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2021

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