20 februari 2017 • By Marisa Rodrigues & Kimberley Brewster
THUAS researching speed and agility of tennis wheelchairs
After designing a fast, lightweight basketball wheelchair, THUAS is collaborating with Delft University of Technology on researching the movement of sport wheelchairs.
Measurements were taken among all the players participating in the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament from 14 through 18 February. This was a unique opportunity to take measurements of players ranked at similar performance levels. Sensors on the wheelchairs make it possible to measure such factors as speed and rotation capacity. What makes this concept unique is that the sensors are attached only to the wheelchair, so the players are entirely free to move as they please. The Loughborough University had already conducted similar research using an indoor GPS system, but this could be used only for sports in which the athletes remain on a track.
‘The objective of this research is to improve the performance of the sport wheelchair and to prevent injury among the athletes. It also gives the players a chance to discover how they could improve their own performance,’ said Rienk van der Slikke, a PhD candidate and lecturer in Human Kinetic Technology.
Six students at THUAS are making an active contribution to this research by taking measurements, making data and video analyses, etc. It also gives our students the chance to be involved in such an international tournament and see first-hand how it is run.
By making technical adaptations to the sensors (and thus making them less expensive), Van der Slikke hopes to use his follow-up studies to make these kinds of studies more accessible and of benefit to wheelchair athletes, and also to expand this research to include other wheelchair sports such as rugby, hockey and sprinting.