Modern foreign research in team sports (volleyball, tennis)

PhD M.V. Aranson1
PhD, Associate Professor E.S. Ozolin1
Dr. Hab., Professor B.N. Shustin1
PhD, Associate Professor A.V. Ivanov2
1Federal Research Center for Physical Culture and Sport (FRCPCS)
2St. Petersburg Scientific Research Institute of Physical Culture, St. Petersburg

Keywords: volleyball, tennis, sport training systems, research

Background. Studies of the topical research issues and analyses of the key findings of the leading foreign research communities in the elite sport training systems make it possible to identify the priority progress trends in the modern sports. Presently these issues are of growing interest in the modern pedagogy, psychology, medicine, biology, biomechanics, etc.; and it is only natural that the national research community strives to take benefits of the best foreign practical and theoretical findings and experiences to help the national athletes hold the lead in the global sports and cope with the growing competitiveness. The Federal Research Center for Physical Culture and Sport (FRCPCS) specialists keep track of the foreign research findings and their applications in elite sports [1, 2] although the searches and analyses of the best publications are increasingly challenging due to the rapid expansion of the physical education and sports databases and analytical resources.

Objective of the study was to analyze the top priority topics of the modern foreign research in team sport disciplines and novelties in the training systems.

Methods and structure of the study. The study was designed to analyze the priority theoretical and practical research topics on different aspects of spot training systems for the period of 2015-2018.

Results and discussion. We have analyzed for the purposes of the study 5,450 volleyball and 8,600 tennis study reports, with 97% and 86.1% of them ranked topical, respectively. Given in Table 1 hereunder is the analysis of the research topics classified by the key areas of interest.


Table 1. Team sports research publications classified by the priority areas, % of the total

Research topics



Training system design



Sport selections, children and youth sports



Sport physiology and biochemistry



Sports-related injury and morbidity



Athletic performance rehab and improvement



Sport psychology



Sport biomechanics



Competitive performance



Sport facilities, equipment and assets



Sport management and finance



Other: history, progress, sociological surveys etc.



As demonstrated by Table 1, the modern ongoing research gives a special priority to the sports-related injury and morbidity prevention issues. All the other topics widely vary in their current relevance for the research community. Modern tennis studies, for instance, give a special interest to the sport facilities, equipment and assets plus the sport selections and practices; and the volleyball research community makes an emphasis on the training system design and sport biomechanics issues. We analyze hereunder the most topical research subjects classified by the priority research fields.

In volleyball, the modern authors [9] prioritize the following competitive success qualities and factors: attack/ counterattack efficiency; unpredictability of the attacks, conditional on the due balancing of other components of the game; decision-making and game control skills, practical experience and emotional balance of the players. Modern elite volleyball teams are expected to be highly efficient in their attacks and versatile in every attack element, with the competitive success secured by the top physical and mental fitness. A special priority in the individual progress is given to the game-specific jumping skills and the relevant training elements analyzed by the sport science.

A special attention in the training system design component is paid to the competitive fitness improvement trainings. Many foreign analysts tend to rank that interval/ periodic training models among the most promising and beneficial, and, hence, the relevant research is expanded. A special study [4] analyzes the transitional training period to prove benefits of the 12-week beach volleyball training model for the jumping skills and special endurance improvement trainings in elite classical volleyball. The study found a signficant progress in the thigh extensor/ foot flexors endurance and foot flexor strength and total leg strength building domains.

Competitive progress in modern volleyball is secured by the growing jumping work per match, and this is the key reason why the training systems give a special priority to the jumping skills training tools [10]. The sport-specific jumping skills require explosive efforts and fine movement control. In this context, the modern study reports classify the jumping skills training models and tools into the muscle extensor/ flexor trainings; and movement control/ balance/ coordination training ones.

Modern plyometric exercises are considered among the most common means to improve the muscle extension/ flexion. These training systems normally offer 50-60min practices 2-3 times a week taking 8-12 weeks in total. It should be noted, however, that many analysts [3, 11] recommend the plyometric exercises being used on a conservative basis due to the high risks of injuries. One of the studies showed benefits of the 50min 3-times-a-week vibration trainings taking 8 weeks for the jumping skills in volleyball [11].

In tennis, a UK-based research team completed a study [8] to develop, implement and rate benefits of special age-specific transitional training system for the junior and senior age groups in tennis. The training system based on a sound theoretical basis was geared to build up the individual resource, knowledge and determination to cope with the transitional period challenges. A French engineering team studied [12] the tennis racket string tension and balancing model with the basic design customizable to the ball type; and ranked the racket balance as the key success factor followed by the ball type.

One of the key topics of the modern tennis research is the benefits of the tennis equipment and techniques versus the injury rates [5], with a special attention to the ball striking techniques, racquets, strings, ball types and the workloads on the upper limbs versus the footwear and ground contacts. It should be noted that these studies are dominated by the retrospective and modeling issues to analyze and forecast the long-term effects of equipment modifications versus the injury risks. Modern racket design technologies are known to improve the racket performance on the whole and service rates in particular. One study tests and analyzes [6] 100 racket types using the relevant portable test tools to come up with the test procedure improvement recommendations.

Furthermore, the sport science gives a growing attention to the hip/ shin injuries in the tennis elite. One of the study reports gives an injury statistics analysis [7] to find that injuries of the lower limbs are more often than of the upper limbs, and many tennis players are increasingly exposed to the risks of acute lower limb injuries. The study analyzes the hip injury and rehab statistics versus the kinetic chain analysis to find that a special attention should be given to the postural controls in the hip injury prevention and healing practices.

Conclusion. The study found both of the sport research communities giving a special priority to the sport injury and morbidity prevention issues. On the whole the priority research topics were found sport-specific, with the volleyball research community currently focused on the training system design and movement biomechanics issues; and the tennis research community making an emphasis on studies of the modern equipment and accessories and the sport selection issues.


  1. Aranson M.V., Ozolin E.S., Shustin B.N. Foreign elite sport research system: design and key fields. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2018 no. 11. pp. 101-104.
  2. Aranson M.V., Ovcharenko L.N., Ozolin E.S. et al Study of current trends in scientific research in elite sports. Vestnik sportivnoy nauki, 2016, no. 5, pp. 55-59.
  3. Balasas D.G., Christoulas K., Stefanidis P., Vamvakoudis E., Bampouras T.M. The effect of beach volleyball training on muscle performance of indoor volleyball players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018. 58(9). pp.1240-1246.
  4. Bisagno E., Morra S. How do we learn to ‘‘kill” in volleyball?: The role of working memory capacity and expertise in volleyball motor learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2018. Volume 167. pp.128-145.
  5. Costa Pereira T.J., van Emmerik Milton R.E.A., Misuta S., Barros R.M.L., Arruda F.Moura Interpersonal coordination analysis of tennis players from different levels during official matches. Journal of Biomechanics. 2018. Volume 67.  pp.106-113.
  6. Dixon S., Dunn M., Knudson D.Tennis Equipment and Technique Interactions on Risk of Overuse Injuries. Tennis Medicine. 2019. pp.61-79.
  7. Félix I., Draovitch P., Ellenbecker T.S., Dines J.Tennis Injuries of the Hip and Thigh. Tennis Medicine. 2019. pp. 381-399.
  8. Kolman N.S., Kramer T., Elferink-Gemser M.T., Huijgen B.C.H. , Visscher C. Technical and tactical skills related to performance levels in tennis: A systematic review. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2019. Volume 37. Issue 1. pp.108-121.
  9. Kim Y.-Y., Min K.-O., Choi J.-H., Kim S.-H. The Effects of Sole Vibration Stimulation on Korean Male Professional Volleyball Players’ Jumping and Balance Ability. The Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2016. 28. pp.1427 – 1431.
  10. Linek P., Saulicz E., Myśliwiec A., Wójtowicz M., Wolny T.The Effect of Specific Sling Exercises on the Functional Movement Screen Score in Adolescent Volleyball Players: A Preliminary Study. Journal of Human Kinetics. 2016. volume 54. pp.83-90.

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The study of the topical research issues and analysis of the achievements of the leading foreign research groups in the field of training of elite athletes are among the most important directions in determining the development trends in modern sports science.

The experts of the All-Russian Scientific and Research Institute of Physical Culture and Sports keep paying considerable attention to the actualization of the modern foreign study findings in the field of elite sports. Moreover, with every passing year, the search for the most informative publications is complicated by the expansion of the network of information-analytical databases in the field of physical education and sports.

The paper presents an analysis of the main avenues of the scientific and applied researches on various aspects of athletic training in volleyball and tennis carried out abroad over the past 5 years. It has been established that the issues of the training process design, sports selection, inventory optimization, injuries and morbidity are the major area of the scientists’ interest. The predominance of certain research areas due to the sport specifics (biochemical studies in volleyball; inventory and equipment, features of sports selection in tennis) was revealed. Most of the studies are carried out in the countries with the largest number of sports, as well as international teams, mainly representatives of educational institutions.