Deformation of a Tennis Ball and Racket Strings

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When a player hits a ball with a tennis racket, the ball, as well as the strings of the racket, are momentarily deformed, as can be seen with a high-speed camera. This is an example of an inelastic collision where some kinetic energy is lost precisely in the deformation process. The change in the momentum of the ball, called impulse, is the product of the mean force and the time that the force is applied.

Contributed by: Enrique Zeleny (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


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