Any tennis fan who has ever been to a live match has likely been surprised at how noisy the game actually is.
This is often puzzling due to the fact that there are so few players and very little equipment to produce such a loud volume!
History of grunting in tennis
Even though tennis players have been grunting during their games for decades, it wasn’t until the US Open in 1988 that players began to complain. Andre Agassi grunted during his match against Ivan Lendl, who complained that the noise threw off his timing.
Another player who has had complaints against her is Michelle Larcher de Brito, who was grunting loudly during the French Open in 2009.
So why do tennis players grunt?
The sounds that have fans on the edge of their seats aren’t from the ball hitting the racket or bouncing off of the ground but instead from the tennis players themselves. They’ve been called grunts, groans, screaming, and shrieking and are common noises in both men’s and women’s matches.
The most common reason why tennis players grunt when they hit the ball is because it helps them to actually hit harder. Players find that they can apply maximum force to the ball when they grunt.
Doctors have explained that grunting or screaming requires the engagement of core abdominal muscles, which will help to provide the player with more power when hitting the ball, no matter if it is a front hand or back hand swing.
Another reason why players tend to grunt when they are hitting the ball is because of psychological reasons. When players grunt, they are actually able to release some of the tension that they feel during the game and will become more relaxed.
Additionally, it would be remiss of players and spectators to forget that this grunting can also help to intimidate opponents, making it a way to appear much more formidable on the court.
No matter what you think about grunting in tennis…
..it looks like it’s here to stay.
Is it legal?
Even with all of the benefits of grunting, it’s normal for people to wonder if it is legal to grunt, especially so loudly, during matches. While there are some players who want grunting to be forbidden during games because they feel that it is a distraction, it is legal for the most part.
However, umpires can award points to players if they think that the grunting of their opponents has hindered their performance.
Who has the loudest grunt?
It’s pretty incredible how loud some tennis players can get when they grunt. Maria Sharapova is well known as being one of the loudest grunters on the court and easily reaches over 100 decibels when she grunts.
Monica Seles generally grunted over 90 decibels and Michelle Larcher de Brito has a reported grunt of 109 decibels.
To put that in context, chainsaws and jackhammers run around 100 decibels, making these players incredibly loud when they are on the court.
Can players stop grunting?
While spectators often assume that tennis players could stop grunting if they wanted to, many tennis players say that they don’t realize they are grunting.
It’s a natural expulsion of air that is difficult to control, which means that players can’t easily stop the sound.