Science of Tennis for GCSE Students

The Aim...

The aim of SEE is to introduce and promote the science, engineering and technology of sport to students in Key Stages 2 to 4 using sports science and engineering in multimedia teaching materials.

Cooke Associates has produced a new CD-ROM, in conjunction with the LTA and SEP. The Physics of Tennis will facilitate the teaching of Key Stage 4 Science, with some application at Key Stage 5.


The main page gives information: how to use this CD-ROM; quick reference; further reading; about the authors; tennis science (this is linked to each of the four modules on the first CD-ROM).

There are four teaching modules:

1. Distance-Time and Velocity-Time graphs

  • Descriptions of 6 typical shots
  • Views of shots from the sideline
  • Difference between speed and velocity
  • Horizontal and vertical components
  • Distance–time graph
  • Velocity–time graph
  • Questions

There are links to:

  • Descriptions of the six shots (serve, ground stroke, lob, volley, drop shot, smash) including the height at which the ball is hit, the distance from the baseline, the initial velocity and trajectory
  • Images showing the six shots from the side
  • A definition of speed & velocity appropriate for KS4
  • An explanation of resolving velocity into horizontal & vertical components
  • An explanation of what to look out for on a D-T graph, e.g. the significance of a straight line etc.
  • An explanation of what to look out for on a V-T graph (KS4 extension)
  • Sample graphs for students to answer questions on.

2. Energy transfer

  • Introduction
  • Racket design: Strings
  • Racket design: Power
  • Test the Apparent Coefficient of Restitution (ACOR) of your racket

There are links to:

  • Pages showing how a tennis ball bouncing off a racket is a practical example of energy transfer
  • Pages showing the students how to measure the ACOR of their tennis racket and the transfer of gravitational energy to kinetic and back.

3. Vibrations

  • Introduction
  • Racket design: Vibrations

There are links to pages showing how a vibrating racket is a practical example of amplitude, frequency, wavelength and damping.

4. Balancing forces

  • Introduction
  • Shoe: Force
  • Shoe: Friction
  • Shoe: Traction
  • Test your shoe

There are links to pages showing the students how to measure the coefficient of restitution between their shoe and the floor.

There are students' pages with questions.

Cooke Associates reserves the right to make changes to these contents. The CD-ROM is now available from SEP Resources.

Teacher pages

The teacher pages have links to:

  • Overview
  • Objectives
  • Curriculum links
  • Lesson plans
  • Handout worksheets
  • Cross-curricula links
  • Mark Amure, Cambridge University Faculty of Education (writer)
  • Angela Bryce-Taylor (editor and proof-reader)
  • Alison Cooke (co-ordinator, writer and senior editor)
  • Daniel Gandolfo, Cambridge University Dept of Physics (writer)
  • Kate Lofting, secondary school science teacher (writer)
  • Paula Martin, Cambridge University Dept of Physics (writer)
  • Timothy Moran (simulation writer and CD-ROM designer)
  • Elaine Wilson, Cambridge University Faculty of Education (writer)