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View Full Version : why is the net lower in the middle?


kuhdlie
05-25-2009, 06:01 AM
looks like the regulations state the net is supposed to be 6 inches lower in the middle, what's the reason for this? tradition? less errors so stimulating play? anyone know why?

a lot of the nets at the local parks are strung totally level but not at the pro tourneys. searched all over but there seems to be no answer for this.

zacinnc78
05-25-2009, 07:06 AM
probably to make hitting up the line more of a challenge and going up the middle easier but who knows..it was probably some sort of accident that stuck....
in other words,i dont know:)

aceroberts13
05-25-2009, 07:44 AM
probably to make hitting up the line more of a challenge and going up the middle easier but who knows..it was probably some sort of accident that stuck....
in other words,i dont know:)

that was pretty good considering; better than anything I could come up with...

esrb
05-25-2009, 09:14 AM
probably to make hitting up the line more of a challenge and going up the middle easier but who knows..it was probably some sort of accident that stuck....
in other words,i dont know:)


This is the smartest answer I ever heard about anything; the truth is not even the USTA know that....rules?
As an Engineer, my humble opinion is that the net is heavy and does´nt have any pole to keep it straight in the middle....unless the net cord is so tight that if it breaks, could kill the referee....or a ballboy.

THESEXPISTOL
05-25-2009, 09:56 AM
This is the smartest answer I ever heard about anything; the truth is not even the USTA know that....rules?
As an Engineer, my humble opinion is that the net is heavy and does´nt have any pole to keep it straight in the middle....unless the net cord is so tight that if it breaks, could kill the referee....or a ballboy.

lol:)
once i was playing at a court and my forehand went just right into the cord of the middle... the cord broke (it was sustained by big rusty paper staples) and it bounced for almost 1 minute..

Commando Tennis Shorts
05-25-2009, 10:45 AM
This is interesting and something I have never really thought about. It is interesting, though, to think about how it has affected tennis strategy over the years. For example, the cross-court diagonal rallies, placement of serves, etc.

sureshs
05-25-2009, 11:02 AM
Only for singles

dextor
05-25-2009, 11:28 AM
I also wondered why sometimes the doubles net length is used FOR SINGLES. This virtually eliminates any chance of going around the post.

THESEXPISTOL
05-25-2009, 11:50 AM
dextor i think that clubs put doubles net into singles matchs whem the court is used for both matches...
You can see at Grand-slams like i saw in AO09 that after doubles matches they change to singles net.

jimbo333
05-25-2009, 02:14 PM
Historical

tudwell
05-25-2009, 02:17 PM
Gravity

10char

THESEXPISTOL
05-25-2009, 02:25 PM
Gravity

10char

o.O explain that

jelle v
05-25-2009, 02:29 PM
In my humble opinion it is a direct consequence of the need to tighten the netcord.. without a band in the middle of the net, the net would hang very lose, which would effect the chance of the ball going over the net when hit against the netcord. Also it simply keeps the net in place. Playing tennis with a bouncing net with be very distracting.

TonyB
05-25-2009, 02:46 PM
Gravity

10char



Probably the best guess so far.

It would be physically impossible to keep the net straight across the entire court due to the weight of the net sagging down towards the middle. So, as a compromise, my guess is that they found that the average net height when tightly strung was around 6 inches lower than the posts. So, in order to make net height uniform, that height was chosen to be maintained.

Why 6 inches and not 5 or 7? I have no idea. Must have just been one of those things that were decided a long time ago and stuck.

vsbabolat
05-25-2009, 02:48 PM
Only for singles

The post for doubles is still 3 feet 6 inches tall. And the center of the net where the strap is is 3 feet.

Nuke
05-25-2009, 02:50 PM
It's physics. The net cord wants to sag in the middle (a parabolic shape). To make it perfectly level across the complete span, the cord would have to be impossibly tight.

GPG
05-25-2009, 03:15 PM
I guess that making it lower at the middle with that heigh, gives the net the proper tension

kuhdlie
05-25-2009, 03:15 PM
It's physics. The net cord wants to sag in the middle (a parabolic shape). To make it perfectly level across the complete span, the cord would have to be impossibly tight.

i did mention in the thread starter that a lot of local parks have nets that are 100% level, it's not a big feat of engineering to tighten it.

"physics" and "gravity" has nothing to do with it. even if the net is made of lead and so heavy it's too hard to lift from both ends, they can have a stick or something to hold it up in the middle to the same height as the sides.

federerdomination
05-25-2009, 03:39 PM
well why can't they put a post in the middle of the net to keep it the same height then?

Nanshiki
05-25-2009, 03:40 PM
Those are the rules. Three feet in the middle, 3.5 feet at the posts (or singles sticks). End of story.

Nuke
05-25-2009, 03:47 PM
i did mention in the thread starter that a lot of local parks have nets that are 100% level, it's not a big feat of engineering to tighten it.
They may look level to your eye, but unless the tension on the net cord is very high, the middle of the net will be a low point, even if only a fraction of an inch.

jimbo333
05-25-2009, 04:02 PM
Historical

^See above^

Nanshiki
05-25-2009, 04:04 PM
No, historical is why Wimbleton uses wooden net posts and everyone wears white.

The reason the standard net height is 36 inches is because those are the rules of the game.

kuhdlie
05-25-2009, 04:05 PM
[QUOTE=Nuke;3463242]They may look level to your eye, but unless the tension on the net cord is very high, the middle of the net will be a low point, even if only a fraction of an inch.[/QUOT

this is besides the point, a lot of the amateur nets are as close to level as possible, but the professional nets seem to be deliberately set 6inches lower in the middle, which is a huge difference.

jimbo333
05-25-2009, 04:10 PM
No, historical is why Wimbleton uses wooden net posts and everyone wears white.

The reason the standard net height is 36 inches is because those are the rules of the game.

Firstly do you realise you've actually missed the "d" by 2 buttons on your keyboard:)

Secondly, the rules of the game were made many years ago, in history, hence historically:)

jimbo333
05-25-2009, 04:15 PM
[QUOTE=Nuke;3463242]They may look level to your eye, but unless the tension on the net cord is very high, the middle of the net will be a low point, even if only a fraction of an inch.[/QUOT

this is besides the point, a lot of the amateur nets are as close to level as possible, but the professional nets seem to be deliberately set 6inches lower in the middle, which is a huge difference.

Those amateur nets you are going on about are not being looked after properly (the tie in the middle is possibly broken or not even there), that's the only reason they are as you say "close to level":)

TonyB
05-25-2009, 04:17 PM
[QUOTE=Nuke;3463242]They may look level to your eye, but unless the tension on the net cord is very high, the middle of the net will be a low point, even if only a fraction of an inch.[/QUOT

this is besides the point, a lot of the amateur nets are as close to level as possible, but the professional nets seem to be deliberately set 6inches lower in the middle, which is a huge difference.



Odd, because I've never seen a net that was anywhere close to straight across. Every single net I've ever seen in 40 years has been tied down in the center with a strap, at approximately 6 inches or so lower than the post height.

I'm actually pretty surprised to hear there are "lots" of amateur nets around "as close to level as possible." All I can think is that whoever maintains those courts has absolutely zero knowledge of tennis, so they just crank up the net tension as much as possible in an attempt to make the net straight. That's a good recipe for pulling the netposts right out of the concrete (which I have seen happen more than once).

Grizvok
05-25-2009, 04:21 PM
[QUOTE=kuhdlie;3463300]



Odd, because I've never seen a net that was anywhere close to straight across. Every single net I've ever seen in 40 years has been tied down in the center with a strap, at approximately 6 inches or so lower than the post height.

I'm actually pretty surprised to hear there are "lots" of amateur nets around "as close to level as possible." All I can think is that whoever maintains those courts has absolutely zero knowledge of tennis, so they just crank up the net tension as much as possible in an attempt to make the net straight. That's a good recipe for pulling the netposts right out of the concrete (which I have seen happen more than once).

Same. I play on regulation courts with a dip in the center. The only time I've seen a net straight across was when I was in some ghetto area and all the straps are broken off in the middle and somebody tightens the net like crazy. But in terms of actual nice courts having that, I've never seen it.

I also really enjoy the strategy that the 6 inch dip in the net brought about.

jmverdugo
05-25-2009, 04:34 PM
No, historical is why Wimbleton uses wooden net posts and everyone wears white.

The reason the standard net height is 36 inches is because those are the rules of the game.

Rules ALWAYS have a reason behind them, and you can question the rules, that is way rules can and usually change. I am sure that it has to do with the fact that no matter what it will always be lower, so they decided on a standard heght, ideally i would think that something else had that height so (maybe) it could easily be measured with some of the things in hand in a court.
jmo.

kuhdlie
05-25-2009, 04:35 PM
[QUOTE=TonyB;3463350]

Same. I play on regulation courts with a dip in the center. The only time I've seen a net straight across was when I was in some ghetto area and all the straps are broken off in the middle and somebody tightens the net like crazy. But in terms of actual nice courts having that, I've never seen it.

I also really enjoy the strategy that the 6 inch dip in the net brought about.

i guess i must play at some ghetto areas hehe, but it's not really that hard to tighten, they just got to wind the wench an extra turn or two or even tie a stick or two in the middle parts. guess a lot of the grounds keepers don't know about the 6inch lower rule. i'm sure a lot of people didn't know about this rule though, they just think it's gravity and hard to keep level.

the main question is WHY there is this rule when they can keep it perfectly level all across. maybe it's "just the rules", or maybe someone knows another possible reason.

Nanshiki
05-25-2009, 04:44 PM
Rules ALWAYS have a reason behind them, and you can question the rules, that is way rules can and usually change. I am sure that it has to do with the fact that no matter what it will always be lower, so they decided on a standard heght, ideally i would think that something else had that height so (maybe) it could easily be measured with some of the things in hand in a court.
jmo.

Rules don't always have a rule behind them. Some are completely arbitrary.

The question was why the net is lower in the middle... the reason is that the rules of tennis say it is.

The question you're thinking about is why the rules of tennis say that the net is exactly 36 inches in the middle. Perhaps they found that the game played best that way... But for the most part, the rules of any game that haven't been adjusted over time are based on arbitrary standards that are set by the game's creators.

Nanshiki
05-25-2009, 04:48 PM
Firstly do you realise you've actually missed the "d" by 2 buttons on your keyboard:)

Secondly, the rules of the game were made many years ago, in history, hence historically:)

Rules are rules. They stay that way not because of historical reasons, but because they haven't changed the rules.

Calling a reason "historical" only applies if the only reason for not changing something is out of tradition. Generally not because of the rules of a sport.

Also, I type at 90 WPM so it stands to reason that I occasionally make typos...especially with phonetical spelling.

realize, btw.

Grizvok
05-25-2009, 04:50 PM
[QUOTE=Grizvok;3463363]

i guess i must play at some ghetto areas hehe, but it's not really that hard to tighten, they just got to wind the wench an extra turn or two or even tie a stick or two in the middle parts. guess a lot of the grounds keepers don't know about the 6inch lower rule. i'm sure a lot of people didn't know about this rule though, they just think it's gravity and hard to keep level.

the main question is WHY there is this rule when they can keep it perfectly level all across. maybe it's "just the rules", or maybe someone knows another possible reason.

Why would you want it any other way? The 6 inch dip in the middle is a huge point in the game and causes much strategic thinking. Embrace it and learn to use it to your advantage.

mary fierce
05-25-2009, 04:54 PM
The notion that it is what it is because it started out that way is likely not true. Accounts of the history of tennis that I read years ago indicated that fence material was used for the first nets, since there was obviously nobody manufacturing that sort of net material in the nineteenth century. So the very first "nets" were the same height all the way across.

mary fierce
05-25-2009, 04:59 PM
Addendum -- The original "net" when Wingfield invented the game was at least 5 feet high.

woodrow1029
05-25-2009, 05:02 PM
In case anyone would like to know the correct way to get the net to the proper tension, unbuckle the bottom of the net strap so the net is not held down. Crank the net cord until the net height is 40". Then the tension will be proper, and rebuckle the center strap in.

kuhdlie
05-25-2009, 05:02 PM
[QUOTE=kuhdlie;3463405]

Why would you want it any other way? The 6 inch dip in the middle is a huge point in the game and causes much strategic thinking. Embrace it and learn to use it to your advantage.

i don't care either way, i was just wondering WHY. you can have just the same strategic thinking if the net is level or even higher in the middle.

a lot of rules are there because they are there, but other rules have a historical or practical reason, was just wondering if this one had a practical reason. if not, oh well.

Nanshiki
05-25-2009, 05:13 PM
In case anyone would like to know the correct way to get the net to the proper tension, unbuckle the bottom of the net strap so the net is not held down. Crank the net cord until the net height is 40". Then the tension will be proper, and rebuckle the center strap in.

Actually I think it varies by location... in Wimbledon the net is basically draped over the court, letting netcords bounce short and low, whereas at the US Open it's tight, and causes netcords to bounce high and long.

And FWIW, in "court tennis" or "real tennis," (the game that came hundreds of years before lawn tennis, the game we're playing today) the nets were drooped across the net *very* loosely and with the center being much lower than the sides...and there was no center strap.

Nanshiki
05-25-2009, 05:15 PM
i don't care either way, i was just wondering WHY. you can have just the same strategic thinking if the net is level or even higher in the middle.

a lot of rules are there because they are there, but other rules have a historical or practical reason, was just wondering if this one had a practical reason. if not, oh well.

I think for practicality purposes, a net that is under tension and held down by a center strap is a far simpler, far better way to make sure that all nets are set up essentially the same way.

Plus it gives us the tactic of aiming at the center when we want the best net clearance.

TBobLP
05-25-2009, 05:15 PM
in the game "real tennis" the net is parabolic (it appears to hang naturally with loose tension). this was an earlier version of tennis. according to wikipedia it was beginning to evolve as early as the 12th century and has evidence of it being played close to its current form in the 1500s. the modern game didnt start to evolve until the late 1800s. perhaps it came into play as a way of organizing play to be made uniform as it went from something being played for fun to being something played competitively. in making the rule this way, they could be sure that every net (and every statistic and record) was based off the same exact game's rules.

BorisBeckerFan
05-25-2009, 05:22 PM
in the game "real tennis" the net is parabolic (it appears to hang naturally with loose tension). this was an earlier version of tennis. according to wikipedia it was beginning to evolve as early as the 12th century and has evidence of it being played close to its current form in the 1500s. the modern game didnt start to evolve until the late 1800s. perhaps it came into play as a way of organizing play to be made uniform as it went from something being played for fun to being something played competitively. in making the rule this way, they could be sure that every net (and every statistic and record) was based off the same exact game's rules.

This seems to be the best answer. I asked this same question about 20 plus years ago to my teacher and told me it was brought over from real tennis to lawn tennis and lawn tennis is what developed into the modern game of tennis so despite the many good answers I've seen here I think historical is actually the correct one.

woodrow1029
05-25-2009, 05:22 PM
Actually I think it varies by location... in Wimbledon the net is basically draped over the court, letting netcords bounce short and low, whereas at the US Open it's tight, and causes netcords to bounce high and long.

Well, I don't really think that the OP was comparing the grand slams. As a guideline, as it is quoted in the rulebook, the way I posted it is the way to get the proper tension on a net.

Comment 1.1: How do you tighten the net to the proper tension?
First, loosen the center strap. Next, tighten the net cord until the center of the
net is approximately 40 inches above the ground. Finally, tighten the center
strap until the center of the net is 36 inches above the ground. These
measurements should always bemade before the day’s firstmatch and when
possible before each match.

kuhdlie
05-25-2009, 05:57 PM
maybe the technology/machinery centuries ago weren't strong enough to keep the net more level so they just kept the tradition years later, but they could have had things along the net proping it up to the same height. other than the historical reason, there doesn't seem to be a real purpose to it being low in the middle. if they want less errors during play they could lower the entire net.

charliefedererer
05-25-2009, 06:55 PM
in the game "real tennis" the net is parabolic (it appears to hang naturally with loose tension). this was an earlier version of tennis. according to wikipedia it was beginning to evolve as early as the 12th century and has evidence of it being played close to its current form in the 1500s. the modern game didnt start to evolve until the late 1800s. perhaps it came into play as a way of organizing play to be made uniform as it went from something being played for fun to being something played competitively. in making the rule this way, they could be sure that every net (and every statistic and record) was based off the same exact game's rules.

From http://tennis.about.com/od/history/a/earlyhistory_2.htm:
"The early tennis courts were quite different from the modern "lawn tennis" court most of us are used to. The early game matured into what is now called "real tennis," and England's Hampton Court, built in 1625, is still used today. Only a handful of such courts remain. The net is five feet high on the ends, but three feet in the middle, creating a pronounced droop."
(Wingfield invented the original rules of lawn tennis in 1874 to sell his patented portable tennis game set that included 4 racquets, a net and rubber balls for 5 guineas. One of those hardest hit by the sudden popularity of the new sport was the All-England Croquet Club at Wimbledon. To keep from financial ruin, the club added facilities for [lawn tennis] in 1876. http://www.trivia-library.com/b/world-history-1874-part-1.htm )
"In 1877, the All England Club held the first Wimbledon tournament, and its tournament committee came up with a rectangular court and a set of rules that are essentially the game we know today. The net was still five feet high at the sides, a carryover from the game's indoor ancestor, and the service boxes were 26 feet deep, but by 1882, the specifications had evolved to their current form."

Just conjecture, but the height of the net and the dimensions of the tennis court evolved as the new rubber tennis ball (made possible by the vulcanization of rubber in 1850), the commercial production of gut strings (sold by Piere Babolat in 1875), and better wood racquets all made the current standard court dimensions and tennis net heights a good test of skills of the best club members of that era.

It is quite remarkable how many of the rules and court/field dimension of our standard sports that evolved so long ago still provide a good backdrop for testing of modern skills.

mtommer
05-25-2009, 08:11 PM
I do wonder sometimes if the tennis authorities will change the court or other aspects of the game. I could see the height of the net getting higher a bit. This would slow down the game yet keep today's modern techniques. I wouldn't even be hard for most courts to adapt as all they need are new nets and posts.

Commando Tennis Shorts
05-25-2009, 10:36 PM
Why are basketball courts 94 feet long?

DarthMaul
05-25-2009, 10:49 PM
Anyone ever thought that the main reason is to help serving?

Josherer
05-25-2009, 11:02 PM
to promote crosscourt and consistent rallying and to make going down the line harder.

Commando Tennis Shorts
05-25-2009, 11:18 PM
Anyone ever thought that the main reason is to help serving?

Sorry, I couldn't concentrate at all while reading your post. Your avatar is absolutely frightening. I literally thought that if I took my eyes off of it, it would attack me. I think I would rather come across the Joker from the Dark Knight in an alley than Darth Maul

15_ounce
05-26-2009, 01:51 AM
I agree with the historical reason and the gravity reason too. Type in "jeu de paume" in wikipedia....

http://njoman.googlepages.com/jeu_de_paume.jpg

DarthMaul
05-26-2009, 02:03 AM
Sorry, I couldn't concentrate at all while reading your post. Your avatar is absolutely frightening. I literally thought that if I took my eyes off of it, it would attack me. I think I would rather come across the Joker from the Dark Knight in an alley than Darth Maul

LOL! The character is Darth Maul from Star Wars and he's indeed the most frightening character in the movie.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A4fN7FEzjc

If you want to read the post without being scared, try to copy/paste my post in Notepad ;)

kuhdlie
05-26-2009, 03:14 AM
this must be one of the only sports where something is not straight on purpose. e.g. you don't have bent nets in table tennis, volleyball, badminton, or bent soccer goal posts, etc...

jimbo333
05-26-2009, 05:55 AM
Actually I think it varies by location... in Wimbledon the net is basically draped over the court, letting netcords bounce short and low, whereas at the US Open it's tight, and causes netcords to bounce high and long.

I now realise that you havn't got a clue what you are talking about!

And I was right, the reason is historical, no more needs to be said on the matter:)

Nanshiki
05-26-2009, 12:00 PM
I now realise that you havn't got a clue what you are talking about!

And I was right, the reason is historical, no more needs to be said on the matter:)

Prove me wrong.

And the reason is not historical. Period.

Nanshiki
05-26-2009, 12:02 PM
Well, I don't really think that the OP was comparing the grand slams. As a guideline, as it is quoted in the rulebook, the way I posted it is the way to get the proper tension on a net.

Comment 1.1: How do you tighten the net to the proper tension?
First, loosen the center strap. Next, tighten the net cord until the center of the
net is approximately 40 inches above the ground. Finally, tighten the center
strap until the center of the net is 36 inches above the ground. These
measurements should always bemade before the day’s firstmatch and when
possible before each match.


A guideline is a guideline is a guideline.

Note that it says "approximately" 40 inches. A difference of two inches in either direction could make the net very tight or very loose. The same thing goes for net cords that have different levels of elasticity.

sureshs
05-26-2009, 12:04 PM
It's physics. The net cord wants to sag in the middle (a parabolic shape). To make it perfectly level across the complete span, the cord would have to be impossibly tight.

Actually, the shape is a catenary.

woodrow1029
05-26-2009, 12:26 PM
A guideline is a guideline is a guideline.

Note that it says "approximately" 40 inches. A difference of two inches in either direction could make the net very tight or very loose. The same thing goes for net cords that have different levels of elasticity.
Approximately 40 inches does not mean 38 or 42. It says approximately so that if you feel that the net cord is going to snap, stop before getting it to that point.

Nanshiki
05-26-2009, 02:59 PM
Approximately means to estimate, as opposed to measure. No person would be able to get it to within two inches or so without measuring. Hell, I can't even tell if a net is off unless it's off by more than a full inch or two... unless I'm having problem with a lot of cord hits.

Also keep in mind that all the slams are run by different organizations, so the guidelines and training being used are all going to be a little different.

woodrow1029
05-26-2009, 03:10 PM
You have just clarified Jimbo333's statement a few posts ago.

Nanshiki
05-26-2009, 04:38 PM
And I think you're way off base, so which one of us is actually right?

jms007
05-27-2009, 05:22 PM
I don't think it's because of physics. Maybe it WAS and it stuck around as a standard, but surely they can make a straight net out of other materials. Our asphalt court had a net made out of fence wire, and it was totally straight.

martini1
05-27-2009, 10:50 PM
Remember tennis is a very old game without a lot of science back then. I think it's just the weight of the net itself naturally the middle is going to be dropped a little. Over time when they make the "official" rule they just measured the net again in the #1 country club of the time and decided this was how it is measured.

I could be wrong but purposely designing a v shape net for no material reason back in the days seems a bit odd.