The influence of sleep-wake behaviour and chronotype on the match-play and physical performance of tennis players

Author Identifier

Mitchell Turner

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Medical and Health Sciences

First Supervisor

Travis Cruickshank

Second Supervisor

Ian Dunican


Tennis is one of the world's most popular sports, with matches played at various times during the day and night. The match result is the ultimate indicator of successful performance; however, determining a player's performance may not be that straightforward. Chapter two of this thesis explores the many physical attributes and tennis skills that influence tennis performance. It is well established that tennis skills, such as serves and groundstrokes, are the most important factor for successful tennis performance. While discordant, superior physical attributes, such as strength, power or agility, have been shown to influence tennis performance positively. In addition to skill execution and physical attributes, several studies have shown relationships between match outcomes and various match analytics and activity, such as winners, unforced errors, distance covered and maximum speed. Chapters one and two of this thesis highlight the known influence sleep-wake behaviour (SWB), chronotype, and diurnal variation have on skill execution, physical attributes and match-play outcomes in other sports and how few studies have explored their impact on tennis players.

Chapter three of this thesis investigated the relationship between chronotype and SWB, as determined by the Consensus Sleep Diary, on the physical attributes of junior tennis players. It was found that feeling well-rested was related to faster reaction times in a tennis-specific agility test. Chapter four then explored the influence of chronotype and SWB, measured with actigraphy, on match-play outcomes, including analytics and activity, of junior state-grade tennis players. Restlessness during sleep, determined by the sleep fragmentation index, was the only SWB measure to influence match-play outcomes.

Chapter five of this thesis further explored the role of chronotype and SWB with the addition of diurnal variation on match-play outcomes in senior tennis players. As was found in junior tennis players, chronotype and SWB had minimal influence on match-play outcomes. However, Diurnal variation was present with an increase in unforced errors and decreased effort and distance covered observed in the evening (8:00 pm) compared to morning (8:00 am) and afternoon (2:00 pm) matches. Finally, chapter six investigated the role of chronotype, SWB and diurnal variation on skill execution, using a novel tennis groundstroke assessment, and physical attributes in senior tennis players. Here it was discovered that maximal serve speed and backhand consistency were lower in the evening compared to morning and afternoon. Additionally, delayed sleep onset times were correlated with slower backhand velocities.

Chapter seven highlights the main outcome of this thesis, the influence that diurnal variation had on tennis skill execution and match-play outcomes, with performance negatively affected in the evening. Additionally, SWBs had small influences on match-play outcomes in junior tennis players, likely due to skill execution rather than physical attributes. Chapter eight acknowledges the limitations in sample size and measures used and explains that future research should build upon this existing work and determine if SWB outside the recommended ranges influences tennis performance. The outcomes of this thesis are of practical relevance for players, coaches and tournament organisers when preparing training sessions, developing gameplans or scheduling matches.

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