02 December 2010

Rafter as a biomechanical model to help young tennis players

Pat Rafter puts his body on the line to help the AIS Pro Tour tennis program@ASC

Most people view retirement as a time to put your feet up and reflect on a career gone by, but that’s not the life for two-time US Open winner Pat Rafter.

The former world number one, and new Australian Davis Cup Captain, recently gave some of his time, and his body, to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Pro Tour tennis program when he spent several days with some of the best young players in the country.

Rafter and another former star, Wally Masur, the head of the National High Performance Academy in NSW, worked out at the AIS with players, coaches and performance research staff in Canberra.

AIS tennis head coach Brent Larkham said having the likes of Rafter and Masur provide their expertise to the Institute players is vital component of the program which aims to ensure the young athletes get to learn from the best.

“When someone like Pat steps onto the court with our players you can see it creates a real buzz. If a player can pick up just one new thing to add to their game from this experience then it’s a real positive.”

Not content with just offering advice or sparing in practice matches, Rafter also handed himself over to the AIS biomechanists who closely analysed his service action to allow comparison with the Institute players.

The grand slam champion had over 50 reflective markers attached to his body to allow AIS and Tennis Australia biomechanists to develop a complete profile of his technique and service action using state-of-the art motion capture technology.

“Pat was a great sport to take part in this analysis which gives us a visual and computer generated model of a really good service action. We can now use this information as a reference point to breakdown the various aspects of serving with our athletes and make the minor improvements which all add up to producing better players.” Larkham said.

“We really appreciate the time Pat and Wally took to work with the AIS players and hope they were able to get a better appreciation for what we are trying to do with the program.

“I’m sure the players would agree that the pair and other former Australian greats are always welcome to take a look at the program and provide input where possible.”

Through the AIS Pro Tour Program, athletes are given expert coaching, physical and medical support as they travel around the world on the tour, and also have access to world-class facilities and expertise not only at the AIS base in Canberra but also at Tennis Australia’s base in Barcelona and a network of other sites around the world.

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