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The Tennis Business Discussion Forum Archive

[tennisbiz] Re: Common Tennis injuries and prevention

From: Philippe Azar <>
Date: Fri 7 Apr 2006 14:18:48 +0100 (BST)

Dear Eric
  I commend you on wanting to focus your forthcoming program on
 injury prevention. We, as tennis pros, have a responsibility to our
students to not only provide Fun, Fitness and Knowledge but also
to advise them on common tennis injuries and measures to prevent

  I categorize tennis injuries as one of two sorts: "one off accidents"
(i.e.: sprained ankle, ball in the eye, slipped disc, idiots who blast
100mph serves on their first balls) and "RSI" (Repetitive Strain
Injuries which get more acute over time, are chronic and very often
due to an inflammation of a tendon).

  Whilst we can only have limited control over one-off accidents (by
such easy measures as being conscientious about not having any
stray balls laying about on the court surface for our pupils to slip on,
proper warm-ups), it is the RSI's which are far more common and
require more skill to identify and remedy.

  Below is a list of the most common RSI's I have come across in
older players. The remedies I suggest are from a tennis coaching
perspective and should not substitute conventional medical attention
(physiotherapists and chiropractors are of particular relevance)
  SHOULDER INJURY. Most common cause: service actions where
the player is using the arm rather than the wrist to accelerate the
racket-head. Encourage the student to loosen the wrist and let that
be the pivot of the racket-head.
  INSIDE-ELBOW INJURY: Most common cause: 'thumber' backhand
(i.e.: a one-handed backhand played with a thumb up the back) which
causes the elbow - rather than the shoulder - to be the center of rotation.
This will lead inflammation of the tendon, as the elbow was never
designed for this kind of action. The reason players use the thumb is
that it lends them support for the weight of the racket head. Solution is
to encourage them to use the opposite hand instead to support the
racket right up to the point where they are ready to swing.
  OUTSIDE-ELBOW INJURY: Most common cause: straight-arm on
forehand. Have the student play with a tennis ball under the armpit for
them to get an initial feeling of bending the arm as they swing.
  WRIST INJURY: due to violent rotations of the wrist such as when
trying to produce excessive amounts of topspin. Encourage the player
to hit more 'through' the ball, that is less brushing action and more of
getting the racket head going towards the oncoming ball.
  BACK INJURY: in tennis, most commonly lower back. Can be a whole
number of reasons but I have found the double-handed backhand to be
a common culprit due to its violent rotations of the hips and lower back,
especially amongst older players. That is why I very rarely teach double
handed backhands to over-30's: it is restrictive in its reach (which
becomes a bigger issue the older and slower one gets) and can cause
  KNEE INJURY: can happen as one-off events or get progressively
worst. Two specific things can conspire to worsening sore knees: a.
lifting the toe of the leading (front) foot on the serve (a-la-Safin) -
which puts excessive strain on the cruciate ligaments as one starts
the action or b. bad balance whereby the knee becomes the center
of gravity.
  RSI's are far less common amongst youngsters as they often have
not yet had time to accumulate bad habits, so I would suggest fostering
good habits such as loose wrist on the serves, clearing balls whenever
they might be a danger, racket-head up when at the net (most common
reason why people get a ball in the eye is that the racket is hanging
down), proper warm-up.
  Eric, good luck in your initiative and please feel free to contact me if
anything was unclear or you need additional information.
  PBI Tennis
  Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club

Received on Fri Apr 07 2006 - 08:52:38 CDT

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