Date of Award

8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Industrial Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Kevin Taaffe, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Rae Cho

Committee Member

Dr. Joel Greenstein

Committee Member

Dr. Sandra Eksioglu

Abstract

In order to improve tennis player performance, we first need to investigate the features of performance that define a tennis player. This research begins with a focus on understanding how performance errors occur in the game. Over a span of two years, data were collected and analyzed in order to demonstrate the impact of various performance characteristics on the player's capability. The outcome of this work was twofold. The research has been employed by the Clemson University tennis program to design improved training drills. The research has also been used to form a baseline for making decisions at the management level. When managing a tennis program for a Division 1 school such as Clemson, recruiting is achieving higher levels of success. Since recruiting depends heavily on a player's performance characteristics evaluation, expanding the gained knowledge in this area seems a natural development. Concluding a preliminary review of recruiting processes beyond the sport of tennis, it became clear that a gap exists in evaluating the decision-making nature of the player. While some players may present a more strategic style, others may lean toward a tactical mind set, and some will be able to adapt to both when required. In order to fulfill this gap, a theoretical framework is presented in this work, that bridges between performance characteristics and decision making. Utilizing certain situations that the player will face in in the game, the player's decision-making style can be evaluated when all the alternatives have been considered and compared. The best response to a scenario will vary between recruiters depending on the decision making profile they desire in a potential recruit. The suggested framework has been tested in a small scale case study with the Clemson Club Tennis team. The results demonstrate certain differences between the players' decision-making styles and was used as an exploratory tool to understand a player's metal or analytical reaction (as opposed to physical reaction) to the game situation. With knowledge gained from exploring both performance characteristics and decision-making abilities, a logical progression was to assess how these components of a player's game would work in practice. This knowledge was put to the test in the final research chapter - identifying the impact of fatigue in a target selection game and improving player performance (i.e., scoring on the targets) via informed decision making based on a player's physical state. In this section, a tennis game and a computer simulation model were used in order to illustrate to tennis players how to make better decisions when considering their performance under fatigue. While the players are making decisions based on their perceived ability to hit the target, their biodata is captured to identify trends of heart rate, stress levels, shot acceleration, and skin temperature over time. In addition, each player's shot selection and success rate were recorded to identify patterns in their reasoning. As heart rate was the main biodata identified as significant, a simulation model embedding a player's heart rate data, as well as his or her success rate in hitting each target and target selection decisions, in order to test better shot selection or decision making to improve overall score. The contribution of this research could support competitive college tennis programs with specific applications to practice, training and recruiting.

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