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The Tennis Business Discussion Forum Archive

[tennisbiz] Re: Tennis Elbow

From: Jim Leupold <>
Date: Sun 5 May 2002 18:05:11 EDT

I am not a physician nor am I an expert on tennis elbow. I am, however, a
teaching professional suffering from its effects for the past 8 months or so.
 Being right in the height of season in the desert southwest, I have not been
able to rest the elbow much at all and despite much improvement through
occasional rest, Vioxx, weights and a lot of ice, I'm still struggling with
it. I can tell you that it certainly is no fun, and this is my second bout
with it in the past 7 years.

If any teaching professionals (who can't really just stop playing like our
guests and members often can) have tips for relieving the pain, I'd love to
hear them.

Tennis elbow, as I understand it, is simply when the tendons are
overworked...either too much stress, constant stress, incorrect technique,

I have helped thousands of students over the years who have had elbow pain by
looking at these areas:

1. Are players using their opposite hand on the throat of the racquet to
rest their hitting hand between shots? Without this, players will often keep
gripping their racquets tightly the entire time they are on the court. The
only time a squeeze is needed is just before, through and after contact and
then only enough squeeze to keep the racquet from twisting in their hand.
Maybe 20% of the time on the court should we be squeezing the racquet. If
we're not hitting the ball, our hitting hand should be on vacation.

2. Anytime a players' arm is straight AND that player is squeezing tightly,
the elbow takes the brunt of the stress. Straight arm forehands, therefore,
are a real no-no. A forehand should be hit with a bent arm. This allows the
bicep muscles to keep working and allows the stress to travel up into the
shoulder, a joint which absorbs stress much more efficiently.

On the serve, where the players' arms are normally straight, it's very
important to make sure that the players' grip is as loose as possible. This,
of course, allows for the most efficient way to hit for direction, depth,
spin and power on the serve and simultaneously keeps the orthopaedist away.

3. The player with the "thumber" backhand is asking for elbow problems.
Those who stick the thumb up the back side of the racquet think they feel
stability there when actually the racquet is much less stable. Besides being
unable to use the wrist in an emergency, this player's thumb causes the elbow
to be the point of rotation. You'll normally see this player stick his/her
elbow out in front of them in preparation for this shot. The hand and
shoulder are taken out of the shot, and the elbow, again, has to try and
absorb all the stress.

It becomes particularly painful when this player tries to hit spin,
especially underspin. The thumb has forced them into a closed and locked
racquet face, and incredible gyrations are now needed to hit underspin,
wreaking more havoc on that poor elbow.

4. Incorrect grips (ones that produce a racquet angle incongruent with the
result they're looking for) are causes of all kinds of injuries. On
groundstrokes, the use of the opposite hand to adjust the racquet face to the
correct angle for whatever shot they might be hitting allows players to hit
those shots without having to put their bodies in compromising positions to
compensate for the incorrect initial setup.

All for now. I look forward to hearing about ways to alleviate the pain of
tennis elbow once it's foud a foothold.


Jim Leupold

Received on Mon May 06 2002 - 09:57:27 CDT

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