TU Delft monitors wheelchair movements of tennis players during ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament
Perfect sports wheelchair
Together with the The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Daan Bregman and PhD candidate Rienk van der Slikke aim to improve their understanding of the interaction between the athlete and the wheelchair. Their ultimate aim is to develop the ‘perfect sports wheelchair’, to improve sporting performance and to reduce injury risk. ‘We will carry out research on a large number of the players taking part in the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. We can look specifically at how a player moves on court and compare that with different opponents and with points lost and won,’ explains van der Slikke.
‘To do so, we use a method developed by TU Delft and the The Hague University of Applied Sciences that allows us to monitor every movement of the wheelchair using just three inertial sensors. There are two sensors on the wheels and one on the frame. The sensors weigh only 22 grams and do not bother the player at all.’
They are used to measure the speed and acceleration of the players as well as how fast the players turn and how they move on court. This ‘wheelchair mobility performance’ is then linked to developments during the match. Combined with video analyses, this enables us to explore differences between points lost or won.
‘Performance optimisation is the ultimate aim, and the data from this research project can be used to provide more specific feedback and to see where improvements can be made,’ explains Dennis Sporrel, national wheelchair tennis coach of the KNLTB. You already get an idea from watching a match, but linking mobility performance to developments during the match provides better understanding of what actually happens.
Esther Vergeer, director of the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament and winner of four Paralympic gold medals: ‘We are very happy to allow TU Delft to carry out wheelchair monitoring at the tournament, because of the importance for Paralympic sport and wheelchair tennis in particular. Innovation in Paralympic sport is important, and we hope that this research will help contribute to improvements in the sport.’
TU Delft is also currently conducting research into wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby using the same method.