Heart Rates in Lawn Bowling, Hot Hands in Pro Tennis, etc.

I’ve been reading some fascinating proceedings from the 8th Australasian Conference on Mathematics and Computers in Sport. (Don’t ask why.) I have learned some fascinating stuff, including:

  • The average heart rate for lawn bowlers is 57; the peak heart rate is 78 (1)
  • There is a hot hand phenomenon in pro tennis, with top players tending to do better in adversity than an assumption of probability independence would suggest (2)
  • You can eliminate tennis’s first-service effect — the psychological advantage obtained by the first server in any set — by allowing the other service to serve two games in a row at some point (3)
  • There are exploitable inefficiencies in the betting market for international one-day cricket matches (4)


  1. I like reading your stuff.
    Just a question the heart rate statistics. From reading abstract of the lawn bowling heart rate study, the HR(mean) and HR(max) values are expressed as a percentage of Predicted-HR(max) using commonly accepted age-prediction max heart rate formulas. The resulting absolute heart rates are substantially different than 57 and 78.
    Assuming the average age of the lawn bowler is 25. The mean and max values would be:
    220 – Age = Predicted-HR(max) Beats Per Minute
    220 – 25 = 195 BPM
    So, the BPM are
    HR(average) = 195 * .57 = 111 BPM
    HR(max) = 195 * .78 = 152 BPM
    I am a fairly serious marathon runner. My weekly mileage is in the 60-100 mile range and my PR is 2:48, and I do quite a bit of heart-rate guided training. While I am a much worse golfer than I am a runner, I seriously doubt my heart rate ever gets anywhere near 78% of max on the links which is a pretty brisk-paced run, probably about a 6:30-6:45 minute/mile pace for me.

  2. Thanks Chris. You’re right, the number is not absolutely but relative. My error.
    More broadly, however, there must be something wrong with the math in that the authors go on to say that lawn bowling aerobic activity is up there with golf, which elevates no-one’s heart rate over 100 — unless it’s purely from irritation.