It isn't very ladylike to grunt, which has left many dissatisfied with players like Maria Sharapova, despite the fact that she is ranked as the world's no. 1 player.
- (PHOTO:REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao)
Sharapova is one of a few female tennis players who have developed a growing problem of grunting while on the court. Of course it doesn't really appear to be a problem at all for the players, many of whom are at the top of their game.
Sharapova herself admitted that her vocal exclamation when hitting the ball is not exactly "a peaceful shriek," but it is something of habit.
"I've done it since I basically started playing tennis. It's one of those things that you don't even think about any more you know?" Sharapova said during an interview earlier this year with Star Sports. "I don't like to think when I'm playing a match. I mean I do think but I play by instinct. I try to do what works for me."
However, the Women's Tennis Association believes that grunting on court has gotten out of control, regardless if it's beneficial to the player's game.
"It's time for us to drive excessive grunting out of the game for future generations," WTA chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster said according to a USA Today report.
In order to achieve this the intent is to begin what will resemble a "grunt-o-meter" in which certain levels of noise will be found impermissible during the game. That's bad news for players like Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, the top two women in the sport right now.
"I like to let my emotions out on court, definitely," Sharapove admitted during the Star Sport interview. "I don't know its either you do it or you don't but you shouldn't think about it."
Now though, Sharpova and players like her may be forced to think about it. Some tennis fans think that the new rules sound outrageous and possibly even sexist.
"Just stop putting a microphone at court level and the grunts will become tolerable or is it that it is offensive because the grunters are woman who should be gentle of manners while they smash the ball?" BoogBop questioned on the USA Today blog.
Others suggest that its foul play because the grunts are distracting to the opposing player. Is that what makes grunters like Sharapova top players, simply because they distract their opponents? It's unlikely, and in fact there could be a positive correlation between grunting and being a good player.
One man suggests that the link may be similar to a maneuver that weight lifters use in order to lift more weight.
"Whenever you exert a large amount of energy that utilizes your entire body, especially your core (torso, abdominal and back muscles), you constrict your thoracic diaphragm," Brian Gallegos explained on Quora.
"Before exerting this a person will intake a large breath of air in order to stabilize their core. As they exert the energy, their diaphragm constricts and pushes against this lungful of air. Often times a small amount of air will release, passing over the vocal chords, and will cause a 'grunt,'" Gallegos stated.
Jeff Scheuer referred to the process as the "modified valsalva maneuver." When Sharapova is grunting she is not doing it when the opponent is about to hit, which would seem like a distraction, but rather when she herself exerts forces. Based on this theory, grunting may actually help tennis players exert more force when hitting the ball, which could explain why some of the best make a habbit of it letting it all out.