TU Delft Sports Engineering Institute | PhD Studentship in the modelling of tennis ball impacts on a tennis racket at Sheffield Hallam University
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PhD Studentship in the modelling of tennis ball impacts on a tennis racket at Sheffield Hallam University

08 Aug PhD Studentship in the modelling of tennis ball impacts on a tennis racket at Sheffield Hallam University

The Centre for Sports Engineering Research (CSER) at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) invites applications for a PhD exploring the modelling of tennis ball impacts on a tennis racket. This PhD is sponsored by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) based in London, and the student will have the opportunity to work closely with the ITF Technical Department. Travel expenditure will be covered.

The International Tennis Federation and the Centre for Sports Engineering Research have been research collaborators since 1998, working on the development of a single model of the mechanics of tennis. This single model is called TennisGUT (Grand Unified Theory) and is composed of three discrete components, that model:

  • The ball-racket interaction;
  • The ball flight;
  • The ball-surface interaction.


The TennisGUT model allows an analyst to simulate multiple scenarios to aid their understanding of the influence of technological advancements on the nature of the game. For example, it can be used to quantify the effect of a stiffer racket on serve speed.

CSER are constantly revising and developing the algorithms used to model the discrete components of TennisGUT. In this PhD, a series of laboratory based experiments will be performed using a range of tennis balls and rackets. An advanced, numerical model of a ball impact on a tennis racket will then be obtained from this large data set using appropriate data mining techniques.

This revised ball-racket model can then be used in TennisGUT to run simulations of a range of typical tennis strokes, to calculate the trajectory of the ball. This can be used to quantify the relationship between the swing mechanics, mechanical properties of the racket and shot trajectory. In this PhD, there will also be the opportunity to correlate the output from the TennisGUT simulations with a large database of match play data, which is also collected by the ITF.

Applicants should have a 1st or 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in sports science, mathematics, computer science, engineering or a related area. An MSc. in a related area would be beneficial, as would experience of data mining with large data sets. As well as academically talented, applicants should be self-motivated, autonomous and have excellent problem solving abilities. Suitable candidates from outside the UK/EU can apply but non UK/EU students must fund the difference between the International and UK/EU fee. Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to have an IELTS overall band 6 with a minimum score of 5.5 in all skill areas.

For further information or an informal discussion please contact either Dr Simon Goodwill (CSER, email: s.r.goodwill@shu.ac.uk, telephone: +44(0)114 2254435). For more details about CSER, please visit www.shu.ac.uk/reseach/cser/

Please send a one-page covering letter outlining your interest and proposed approach with an accompanying CV (maximum length two A4 pages) to cser@shu.ac.uk