#2397: Racquiet

It can be annoying when a tennis player decides to grunt every time they hit the ball.

My working theory is that this tendency is about more than attempting to sound dominant to one’s opponent.

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I think that it’s at least partly an unconscious ploy to disguise the noise made by the ball’s contact with the strings of a racquet.

There is a lot of information contained in that signal about the impact location on the strings and about whether the ball is now backspinning or not.

Given that no-one hits the ball anywhere near the speed of sound in air, this information may reach an opponent in time to allow their body to prepare very slightly for its arrival.

Today’s invention is therefore a device attached to a tennis racquet which makes a bumping noise, loud enough to drown out the most ardent grunting, and yet stays the same, irrespective of any details of the ball’s behaviour.

This would have the effect of making it much harder for players to anticipate where the next shot was going and thus lessen the need to disguise the impacts by disturbingly loud utterances.