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Tennis Elbow Part 2

April 1, 2017

As I mentioned before, there are two other reasons why players get tennis elbow (in my opinion). I'll go over the last two parts (see my second to last blog for the 1st part) now.

Your Grip

A lot of players have the wrong grip, indirectly causing a strain on their forearms. You probably have heard instructors tell you to "relax" when you grip your racquet to let the racquet swing for you rather than your arm. This is impossible to do if your grip is too big or too small.

I would suggest that players who use topspin and require a higher racquet speed need to ensure they have a smaller grip size than usual. This allows the player to have a soft tension with their grip to allow a whipping motion with their serve and ground strokes. Too big of a grip requires a higher tension to keep the racquet in your hand at such fast speeds. For example, Rafal Nadal uses a 4 1/4 grip size! To put it in perspective, 15 years ago with racquets that didn't offer such topspin, he would have a 4 1/2 or 4 5/8 grip size. I would suggest a grip size that you can almost touch your palm with your fingers as your wrap your hand around the grip.

If you have flatter ground strokes, than the angle of your racquet is exceptionally important as you have less margin of error on your ground strokes. This is why a larger grip size would benefit you. Remember a larger or smaller grip size is relative. The smallest you can get is 4 1/8 and the largest is 4 5/8. This is why you should consider a grip to be about the right size if you can fit your index finger of your other hand between your palm and fingers holding the racquet.

The Angle Of Contact

This is, to me, the most important and least taught aspect of a tennis ground stroke. When players consistently strike the ball to the side of them, their arm will be taking in most of that impact. This is equivalent of heel striking while running. The pros do not do this when they swing at a ball. Instead they hit the ball out front (see below). I have two visuals that I can give you on to help with this. First, when you are about to swing for the ball, pretend you are dragging your racquet head against the ground, which would mean you are leading with your handle. This allows you to swing out in front of you. Another way I describe this to players is that the butt of the racquet is never facing you during the swing. You literally drive the butt of the racquet forward to hit the ball in front of you!

How to Practice

I would suggest using a mirror or video yourself hitting. You may be surprised at how much further you can reach out to make contact with the ball. Watch your racquet as you shadow swing and get the feel of what it's like to do that. It will take time! When players do it right, they do not feel the contact in the arm. It's like they are swinging a racquet without strings.

Check out this video on hitting a jumping forehand. Just like moving your legs on a swing :)

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