Today I want to tackle a technical issue that’s caused some confusion for fellow tennis players. Shock and vibration in tennis are often mixed as the same problem, but the truth is, they’re really pretty different. In a nutshell, shock usually leads to the tennis player’s more aggravating version of the annoying paper cut: tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is an injury around the outside of the elbow where the tendons attach to the bony part. Tennis Express gave the stat that close to 50 percent of tennis players will suffer from tennis elbow at some point. Yikes! If you’ve already experienced it, I hate it to say it, but there’s not much you can do but rest. And don’t play the same way once it’s starting to feel better. It’s easy to start looking at equipment first, but really sometimes it comes down to technique. One of the riskiest moves that causes tennis elbow is over rotating your forearm on the one-handed backhand in order to try to get more topspin. So check out your technique first, but if you feel pretty confident about it, take a look at your equipment which could be the culprit for the soreness or tennis elbow that’s developed.
First, shock is an immediate force you feel when hitting the ball. It’s mostly connected with off-center hits which result in an extremely harsh torque. It can happen from the sweet spot, but usually the strings absorb and repulse most of the impact forces. Shock is what damages your hands, wrists, and elbows especially. Vibration on the other hand is what Tennis Express defines as “the residual waves of frequency that radiate down the frame and into the arm.” The main difference is that vibration will result in, if anything, a soreness off the court. Shock is what often ends in tennis elbow and even golfer’s elbow, which is very similar but affects the inner area of the elbow.
Okay, now for checking out new equipment, you need to look at several things for choosing the best gear. You want something low in flex, with comfortable balance, steady swing weight, proper length, best string pattern, proportional head size, and heavier weight. the Tennis Companion gives a pretty solid rule of thumb, “find the heaviest racquet weight that you can comfortably swing and make it through a three set match.” The risk is in overdoing it with the weight; it’s something that comes with trial and error.
Have you had to deal with tennis elbow? What steps did you take to alleviate the pain/get back on the court? What gear has helped you? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to check out a more detailed description of the effects of certain gear? Check out this article on Tennis Express:
Want some more info on taking care of yourself and investigating the real problem for your tennis elbow? Check out this article on Tennis Companion: