Grunting (tennis)

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Michelle Larcher de Brito (pictured in 2013) achieved a maximum volume of 109 decibels at the French Open in 2009

The term grunting ( English grunting for grunts , coll. " Moaning ") is used in tennis for sounds made by players when hitting a ball. These are repeatedly discussed, especially with female athletes, as a possible disruption to the respective opponent.

Importance in sport

Some tennis coaches recommend these vocalizations through particularly expressive breathing at the moment of ball contact as part of the breath control, which is necessary for optimal energy transfer. As in throwing sports and weightlifting , the glottis closes after inhalation and stabilizes the upper body for the subsequent load, after which (voiced or unvoiced) the breath is forced out.

Grunting is used more on topspin hits than on serve and is not necessarily known to the respective player. With the players Monica Seles and Anke Huber it could be shown that pitch and volume are in relation to the effort of the individual hit and also to its importance in the game. Vince Spadea looked at the Grunting as one to keep several options of tennis player's concentration high and to protect themselves from distraction.

Scientific reception

Tennis as a sport of the upper class: María Eulalia of Spain in tennis clothes typical of the time (1907)

According to the phonetician Angelika Braun, who scientifically investigated grunting in tennis , the phenomenon is more common in women's tennis. The Grunt was first used in a textbook on phonetics by Gloria Borden and Katherin Harris in 1984 to illustrate the glottal stop using vocalizations made by tennis player Jimmy Connors . However, it is a so-called effort closure in the larynx , through an active and spasmodic closure of the vocal folds and entanglement of the control cartilage with subsequent release. This process extends over three phases, the closing, locking and releasing phases. Since only the release phase is audible, the resulting sound is also called release lock loud.

In women's tennis, these vocalizations would be perceived differently than in men's sport , since the socially accepted social role of the sportswoman collides with traditional ideas of femininity and female behavior. The sounds would trigger associations with those related to sexuality:

“But the female ecstasy through exertion is always an unmistakably erotic one, while the masculine star imitates the work machine that gives its best in the fight against death. [...] Correspondingly, one initially perceived the difference between female and male moans in tennis. "

- Merkur : German magazine for European thinking, 1993

A sports- sociological approach by Karl-Heinrich Bette and Uwe Schimank suggests that tennis has developed from the sport of the upper classes, which was exercised with a certain refinement, restraint and without pressure to succeed, to the performance-oriented sport of the aspiring middle class and the "moaning and groaning" an expression of this change.


The Portuguese player Michelle Larcher de Brito was given a top spot with 109 decibels. Other well-known loud moans are:


Jimmy Connors was already known as a loud player in the 1970s. Grunting in professional tennis came into the debate in the 1990s, especially through Monica Seles . A prominent continuation was the noisy appearance in the game with Marija Sharapova. Other tennis players like Jelena Dementjewa complained about their loud groans. The loudest groan in professional tennis was previously measured at 109 decibels (dB) from Portuguese Michelle Larcher de Brito . Other players also produce vocalizations over 70 dB.

Former tennis pro Boris Becker called for a rule change in 2008 regarding moaning, which he found to be too sexual and unhealthy. Michael Stich , also a former professional player and now sports commentator for the BBC, described it as "disgusting and unsexy" in 2009, which earned him heavy criticism, and on the other hand, gave new food to the discussion about moans in women's tennis. Martina Navrátilová described the utterances of some players as “fraud” and joined the demand for a rule change. In doing so, she anticipated the results of a study by the University of British Columbia in October 2010, in which it was found that loud moaning when touching the ball offers the moaning player an advantage. As an explanation for further research it was offered that the sound of the player superimposed ( masks ) the self-noise of the ball and thus made it difficult for the opponent to react adequately quickly and correctly, as he no longer received any information about the spin and speed of the ball. This criticism could already be found in the previous years with Ivan Lendl and Nathalie Tauziat .

Ian Ritchie, executive director of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club , which hosts the Wimbledon tournament , pointed out in 2011 that players could complain to the referee about loud opponents. He also expressed the wish that the athletes should behave more quietly.

In 2011, the BBC used special filter software for broadcasts of tennis matches from Wimbledon, with which disturbing noises from the athletes can largely be masked out from the speaker's voice. The television viewer was able to install the Netmix player , suitable software, locally and regulate the sound transmission themselves. The Netmix Player developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen is available for common operating systems. A comparable technology had already been used in the previous year at the soccer world championship in order to limit disturbances caused by vuvuzelas .

See also

  • Kiai , a battle cry in Asian martial arts


  • Angelika Braun: Phonetic considerations on a phenomenon in tennis: an exploratory study on grunting . In: Language and text in theory and empiricism: Contributions to German linguistics: Festschrift for Wolfgang Brandt . Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 978-3-515-07877-1 , p. 198–208 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  • S. Sinnett, A. Kingstone: A Preliminary Investigation Regarding the Effect of Tennis Grunting: Does White Noise During a Tennis Shot Have a Negative Impact on Shot Perception? 2010, doi : 10.1371 / journal.pone.0013148 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Scott Williams, Randy Petersen: Serious tennis . Human Kinetics, 2000, ISBN 978-0-88011-913-9 , pp. 158 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  2. a b c Angelika Braun: Phonetic considerations on grunting . In: Language and text in theory and empiricism: Contributions to German linguistics. Festschrift for Wolfgang Brandt . Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 978-3-515-07877-1 , p. 198–208 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  3. ^ Vince Spadea, Dan Markowitz: Break Point: The Secret Diary of a Pro Tennis Player . ECW Press, Toronto 2006, ISBN 978-1-55022-729-1 , pp. 234 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  4. Precilla YL Choi: Femininity and the physically active woman . Routledge, 2000, ISBN 978-0-415-16561-7 , pp. 7th f . ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  5. Pleasurable level . In: Der Spiegel . No. 22 , 1995, p. 176 ( online ).
  6. Merkur : German magazine for European thinking , Volume 47. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1993, p. 871. Snippet view in the Google book search
  7. Karl-Heinrich Bette, Uwe Schimank: The doping trap: Sociological considerations . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2006, ISBN 978-3-89942-537-6 , p. 85 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  9. BBC News on June 22, 2005: Why do women tennis stars grunt? Retrieved July 6, 2011 .
  10. on June 23, 2009: Nobody groans as loud as Michelle Larcher de Brito. Retrieved July 2, 2011 .
  11. Focus online on June 12, 2008: Becker calls for a ban on moaning. Retrieved July 2, 2011 .
  12. Merkur online on June 22, 2009: Sting about women's tennis: "disgusting and unsexy". Retrieved July 2, 2011 .
  13. Die Presse on June 23, 2009: "Disgusting grunts": Sting offends women's tennis. Retrieved July 2, 2011 .
  14. ^ The Sunday Times, June 7, 2009: Martina Navratilova: the grunting has to stop. Retrieved July 3, 2011 .
  15. Scott Sinnett, Alan Kingstone, Warren H. Meck: A Preliminary Investigation Regarding the Effect of Tennis Grunting: Does White Noise During a Tennis Shot Have a Negative Impact on Shot Perception ?. In: PLoS ONE. 5, 2010, p. E13148, doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0013148 .
  16. Groan for victory . In: Die Welt , April 5, 2011
  17. rp online on April 12, 2011: Tennis study - advantage of moaning. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 16, 2011 ; Retrieved July 2, 2011 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  18. on June 24, 2011: Groaning bothers Wimbledon officials. Retrieved July 3, 2011 .
  19. Description at BBC, accessed on July 3, 2011 (English) ( Memento from July 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  20. Download from the Fraunhofer Institute, accessed on July 3, 2011 ( Memento from July 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  21. on July 1, 2011: The BBC listener can mix the live sound himself. Retrieved July 3, 2011 .
  22. Eurosport on July 1st, 2011: Wimbledon - Colorful - TV station puts an end to moans. Retrieved July 2, 2011 .