The recreational tennis world is full of players putting on “Tennis Elbow arm braces”. You may even be one of those players yourself. Although we appreciate your willingness to play tennis with obvious discomfort because you just love the game so much, it might just be possible to play without the discomfort and the arm brace. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
The following are three different mistakes often made on the Forehand side which may cause you pain:
– Hitting with a Straight Arm
When we first hit tennis balls there are sometimes motivating factors which encourage us to hit harder than necessary. This may stem from being a youngster and having parents and coaches shout words of encouragement because you hit the ball over the net, or if we were learning a little later on in life when we started learning it could be because we had this image in our heads that tennis was difficult and you needed to hit with all your might if there was any chance of you succeeding.
Either way, it led to us having a big swing and a locked arm in an effort to get the best chance of hitting the ball farther and harder. Repeatedly hitting the ball with a straight arm is the number one forehand issue for arm injuries.
-Making Contact with the Tennis Ball “Late”
Imagine you are going to push against a wall with your hands. The great majority of us will naturally put our hands far enough in front of ourselves so that our elbows are closer to the wall than our stomachs. This is because are bodies are stronger when our elbows are there instead of when they are beside us.
This is worth noting. Even though the tennis ball weighs less than 60 grams our bodies would far rather repeatedly strike the ball (or anything) in front of our bodies, than beside our bodies.
Making contact in front of ourselves will no always be possible and the degree with which we can do it on a regular basis also depends on the grip(s) you use for your forehands. However, consistently hitting the ball “late” is not good for our arms/elbows and injuries will occur over time.
– Gripping the Racket Too Tightly
Also connected to this image embedded in our minds that tennis is difficult and therefore a lot of strength and force are required to hit the ball to the other side of the net is the fact that recreational players often squeeze the racket far too tightly on their forehands. Locking your hand and wrist when hitting a forehand is a terribly inefficient way of hitting the ball, because it puts a whole lot of stress on the wrist and elbow area and makes you work far harder than necessary. Repeatedly doing this will injure your arm.
In recap, the best way for us to make contact on the forehand side to minimize the likelihood of injury is to a) hit the ball with our hands closer to the net than our bodies, b) hold the racket loosely before, during and after contact, and c) ensure our elbows are slightly bent.
Happy, pain-free, hitting.