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View Full Version : form/racquet = arm hurting?


Nefarious_Ly
10-06-2011, 06:45 PM
yo. im currently using a Donnay X Blue. thats my new stick. its like 12somthin' oz.. pretty heavy.. but my question is would that affect my playing? i've had it for like a month and im just not as good with it as my Babolat AeroStom GT. but... i think that's due to the slightly smaller head frame and the strings. babolat-poly ~ donnay-synthetic. i like to add alot of topspin if i can. almost full western on my winning shots sometimes.

i was doing okay for awhile, trying to get used to my new racquet with the strings, but until last week. my arm started to hurt. it felt like i was going to pull my bicep muscle (dont even know thats possible???). so apparently... my new racquet is more demanding, cause its like a oz heavier, plus i cnt add all the topspin i want.

i only got this rest of the fall and winter to fix anything up before my last highschool season in the spring. my school plays a state level high school team in my conference, that has had some amazing players in the past. which they still do, and ive gottten to train with one of the trainers. time is of the essence, im at 2nd seed at my school, can be 1st if i can SIMPLY GET THE BALL IN.

so my question is: why was my arm hurting? is it the heavy racquet, maybe my form(which i doubt it is), or maybe should i lift some weights so i can play according to how fast im swinging?

and should i get some poly strings/or stings that offer me plenty topspin on my Donnay if i want more topspin?

Fuji
10-06-2011, 07:20 PM
Okay SO! Here's my take on it!

1) Stay away from poly. It's not worth it if your arm is already sore. Poly sends way too many vibrations on off center hits which can bother your arm.

2) That's quite a bit weight adjustment! I'm not surprised your arm is sore! It takes a bit of time to build up a tolerance to weight, and it's not the most wise decision to go out and start swinging a much heavier racket without taking it slow and building up some muscle tolerance! :) It's like my friend tried playing with my 14oz monster, and he nearly tore his rotators cuff trying to serve to hard with it, (and he also got the same bicep pain you mentioned!)

3) I do a bit of weight lifting myself, but nothing compares to just going out and slowly building muscle with your racket, rather then getting jacked in a gym!

4) Your form will suffer with a much heavier racket, just a fact of life! Something to work on for sure! :)

-Fuji

fuzz nation
10-07-2011, 06:18 AM
I've routinely found our pal Fuji's input here to reasonable and helpful. I certainly agree with the advice that you should try playing without any poly in your racquet, since you've already got some arm soreness going on. In terms of building strength and muscle to deal with a different frame though, I have a different point of view.

You're swinging a 12+ ounce racquet, not a 12 pound racquet. Yes, it's slightly heavier than your old Babolat, but using it effectively on the courts is about using good preparation and proper swing timing to make a smooth move on the ball without straining or rushing the racquet. Lifting weights is a good thing in terms of having more endurance on the courts and also avoiding injury when you generally push it and make more stretched, awkward efforts to hit tougher shots back over the net. Any avid player is smart to do some strength and fitness work away from the courts.

Take your Donnay out to a safe area and take several practice strokes without hitting a ball. Just listen to the "whoosh" of the racquet as you take those loose, full swings and make note of how un-rushed and un-strained that feels. You can take those same swings at an incoming tennis ball as long as you use the proper timing. Learning that swing timing requires logging the necessary hours of practice hitting to alter your ingrained habits.

I used some 13.4 oz. frames to help with my stroke overhaul a few years ago and my swing timing was awful at first. The key change in my mechanics was learning a quicker, more deliberate first move toward the ball after my split-step. Lots of players can get away with delaying that first move if they're handling a light racquet, but when they switch to heavier gear, preparation can't wait. Learn to rush that "first move" and you'll find better swing timing regardless of the heft of the racquet you're using.

Also curious to know whether you're using any of the stuff from the customizing kits that Donnay offers for their frames. As racquets get heavier, they typically also become more head-light to help with maneuverability. Those racquets I mentioned above balance at 11 points head-light (HL) after I tuned them with added lead on their handles. If this heavier frame doesn't have enough HL balance for you, that's a significant problem.

The 94 model lists as 6 pts. HL and the 99 at only 4 pts. HL. Regardless of which one you've got, I think you definitely need to consider making it a few pts. more HL to improve the handling. The customizing kit may do the trick, but you could also just add some lead tape under your grip. I'd expect you to be a lot better off with your frame balanced up at maybe 8-9 pts. HL.

Limpinhitter
10-07-2011, 06:27 AM
yo. im currently using a Donnay X Blue. thats my new stick. its like 12somthin' oz.. pretty heavy.. but my question is would that affect my playing? i've had it for like a month and im just not as good with it as my Babolat AeroStom GT. but... i think that's due to the slightly smaller head frame and the strings. babolat-poly ~ donnay-synthetic. i like to add alot of topspin if i can. almost full western on my winning shots sometimes.

i was doing okay for awhile, trying to get used to my new racquet with the strings, but until last week. my arm started to hurt. it felt like i was going to pull my bicep muscle (dont even know thats possible???). so apparently... my new racquet is more demanding, cause its like a oz heavier, plus i cnt add all the topspin i want.

i only got this rest of the fall and winter to fix anything up before my last highschool season in the spring. my school plays a state level high school team in my conference, that has had some amazing players in the past. which they still do, and ive gottten to train with one of the trainers. time is of the essence, im at 2nd seed at my school, can be 1st if i can SIMPLY GET THE BALL IN.

so my question is: why was my arm hurting? is it the heavy racquet, maybe my form(which i doubt it is), or maybe should i lift some weights so i can play according to how fast im swinging?

and should i get some poly strings/or stings that offer me plenty topspin on my Donnay if i want more topspin?

I second Fuji's advice to avoid Poly. Natural gut, or a high quality multifilament like Technifibre X One Biphase, plays great and is very arm friendly. You can control the power by adjusting the tension.

As for the racquet, IMO, as a general matter, a heavier stick is more protective of your arm because it smooths out your swing and prevents you from swinging it too fast and/or recklessly. More demanding doesn't mean more injurious. It means it takes time to adjust to the extra weight. Having said that, I don't know the exact nature of your arm problems, but, I'll guessing the string is a bigger factor than the racquet.

Fuji
10-07-2011, 10:57 AM
Right on Fuzz and Limpinhitter! :)

Both responses are very dead on!

-Fuji

Nefarious_Ly
10-07-2011, 07:31 PM
fuzz - YES! i did buy the kit. thank God i did too.. i played with my standard racquet for like two weeks, cause the kit was on back order, but when i got the kit i automatically put the heaviest butt cap on and i go everything over the net. and YES, i ccasionally do have to go the primary basics, and slow my down my swing to a point where i can see what i'm doing. i think my forehand is now my primary weapon. i had a surprisingly natural topspin backhand from what my trainer said.

fuji - does poly really do all that you say? i've used poly for like an entire year.. well Babolat PHT that is. i havent noticed anything i think. except is gives me the wanted topspin. i have some Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 17 on my Donnay... it doesnt play as well as i dreamed. hah.. it's okay. but then again i've only used two different stings in my one year of tennis. (i'm very progressive) so any recommendations on high topspin strings?


plus, the heavier weight wasnt a big deal for me. it just got to the point where my arm was hurting cause i was trying to topspin blast everything, and was continously serving that week. 400 balls served plus pushing my forehand to its highest ability in like 3-4days? yeah.. haha.

Fuji
10-07-2011, 09:24 PM
fuzz - YES! i did buy the kit. thank God i did too.. i played with my standard racquet for like two weeks, cause the kit was on back order, but when i got the kit i automatically put the heaviest butt cap on and i go everything over the net. and YES, i ccasionally do have to go the primary basics, and slow my down my swing to a point where i can see what i'm doing. i think my forehand is now my primary weapon. i had a surprisingly natural topspin backhand from what my trainer said.

fuji - does poly really do all that you say? i've used poly for like an entire year.. well Babolat PHT that is. i havent noticed anything i think. except is gives me the wanted topspin. i have some Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 17 on my Donnay... it doesnt play as well as i dreamed. hah.. it's okay. but then again i've only used two different stings in my one year of tennis. (i'm very progressive) so any recommendations on high topspin strings?


plus, the heavier weight wasnt a big deal for me. it just got to the point where my arm was hurting cause i was trying to topspin blast everything, and was continously serving that week. 400 balls served plus pushing my forehand to its highest ability in like 3-4days? yeah.. haha.

Yup! Poly strings are pretty harsh! If you are changing it weekly, I don't see it being a problem. If are leaving it in for any more then 2 weeks, you might as well be pounding your arm with a sledge hammer every time you play! Once poly dies it's AWFUL on the arm. I highly recommend against it unless you absolutely need it. Also, don't string it too high. The highest I safely can recommend is 55lbs. Any higher and poly really stiffens up like a board, especially in smaller frames. Poly preforms GREAT at around 30lbs. If you are looking for spin, and are still hellbent on poly, check out your favorite at 30lbs. It's more comfortable, and it's got just as much control. Plus umpteen times amount more spin!

If you want a bit more of an arm friendly option that still offers quite a bit of spin, check out Head RIP Control 16 or 17. It's one of my favorites! It has a bit more of an elastic property, a fair bit of spin, good control, and best of all: easy on the arm! It's basically the gateway between multifilament strings and polyester! I recommend it to a lot of people who want to avoid arm troubles, but still want the characteristics of a poly.

Plus you're over working yourself! ;) Take a break! It's not worth damaging your arm over. I only play and practice every 2nd day. I make sure to take a day off in between so that I don't bother my elbow and shoulder!

-Fuji

fuzz nation
10-08-2011, 08:08 AM
Wish I knew off the top of my head what typically causes that sort of arm pain you described, but I'm with Fuji in terms of advising that you back off the throttles a little bit. Without seeing video of your strokes, it sounds like you're really cracking the whip on that forehand and I'd expect that to include a real pull on the racquet with your bicep to try and make extra topspin. Remember that you probably want to be using between 70-80% of full power more often than not for your routine rally strokes. With a well timed, full swing on the ball, you'll be smokin' it just fine with plenty of racquet speed to make the spin you need, too.

As for your serving practice, you could certainly be overcooking it. I've got a hopper of maybe 65-70 balls and I know that my serve isn't properly grooved unless I hit one or occasionally two buckets of serves per week, but my practice is very deliberate. Quantity doesn't trump quality and I personally don't feel as though I can benefit from any more than 150-180 practice serves in a busy week. Overdoing it can kill my focus, let me repeat bad habits, and rack up some extra wear and tear. If you're taking lots of full swipes at your serves with this heavier racquet, your arm's extension may be a little extreme and putting some repetitive strain on that bicep, too.

I've helped a few students with their serving by encouraging them to try and delay their toss. That helps them get their windup further along where they're more loaded up and "ready to fire" before the ball goes up in the air. It can also foster a smoother, looser swing through contact which can reduce some stress on one body part or another. You might want to noodle around with that thought when you're hitting some serves in the near future. The last thing you want to feel is the sensation of "grunting" or muscling the racquet to the ball. If you can stay loose, you'll get your best racquet speed and that heftier racquet will take care of business big-time by churning out plenty of pace or really good spin.

Nefarious_Ly
10-08-2011, 09:10 AM
fuzz - yes. i see what you mean. it feels like im using more of my muscles to get the ball in in my serve cause im trying to get a strong first serve in. but there has been times where its felt like my racquet was doing all the work because my form was fluid. and yes also, i feel the pain in the bicep the most when my arm is mostly extended at times, or sometimes when my bicep is flexed. now, my highschool coach taught me that i should always slow down... i never understood that (cause partially of his french accent) but what he ment was to slow my approach of my serve instead of tossing and just whacking the ball. so i built my form after watching others/videos. question though: in my flat serve i notice that when i hit the ball like right half a second it hits its peak it's easier for me to get the ball in the service box. is that good? or is that like.. debate-able? and what if in some of my mis-hits of my serves i'm twisting my wrist left to down? the effect is like a left handed serve. (im right handed player btw)

fuji - i have learned my lesson bout maxing out the string tension with poly. haha. it was not fun loosening the stings to a comfy level. lets say i maxed it on my babolat at 63 one time.. that was the last.. so if i'm not noticing any trouble/pain with it now is it safe to use? or does that mean i might sufer some injuries later on? cause, my cousins and friends have suffered with (no lie) wrist injuries/tennis elbow/broken jaw alignments/back problems/ flat feet/and unheard of ridiculous excuses while i haven't suffered a single thing and i play tennis about three times as much as most of them. so would the poly strings make a tremendous difference if im not feeling anything?

Nefarious_Ly
10-08-2011, 09:14 AM
: in my flat serve i notice that when i hit the ball like right half a second it hits its peak it's easier for me to get the ball in the service box. is that good? or is that like.. debate-able? and what if in some of my mis-hits of my serves i'm twisting my wrist left to down? the effect is like a left handed serve. (im right handed player btw)

i meant that i wait like half a second after the ball has reached the peak and it starts to drop.

tennis-kid
10-08-2011, 04:28 PM
Okay SO! Here's my take on it!

1) Stay away from poly. It's not worth it if your arm is already sore. Poly sends way too many vibrations on off center hits which can bother your arm.

2) That's quite a bit weight adjustment! I'm not surprised your arm is sore! It takes a bit of time to build up a tolerance to weight, and it's not the most wise decision to go out and start swinging a much heavier racket without taking it slow and building up some muscle tolerance! :) It's like my friend tried playing with my 14oz monster, and he nearly tore his rotators cuff trying to serve to hard with it, (and he also got the same bicep pain you mentioned!)

3) I do a bit of weight lifting myself, but nothing compares to just going out and slowly building muscle with your racket, rather then getting jacked in a gym!

4) Your form will suffer with a much heavier racket, just a fact of life! Something to work on for sure! :)

-Fuji

Agreed.
I like his / her suggestion. He changes his sex so often I can;t track down which one is real ( just kidding:mrgreen:)

I think it is good idea to start weight lifting. That is the best way to deal with heavier racquet and prevent arm soreness. And of course, soft string like mantis or gut with arm friendly racquets such as volkl, pk, or prince exo3 tour will be best option

fuzz nation
10-08-2011, 07:52 PM
I'd say you're smart to hit your toss just after it tops out if that's what's happening now. When the ball is more still in the air, you're more likely to make better contact than when the toss is very high and has to fall into your hitting zone.

Fuji
10-08-2011, 10:23 PM
Agreed.
I like his / her suggestion. He changes his sex so often I can;t track down which one is real ( just kidding:mrgreen:)

I think it is good idea to start weight lifting. That is the best way to deal with heavier racquet and prevent arm soreness. And of course, soft string like mantis or gut with arm friendly racquets such as volkl, pk, or prince exo3 tour will be best option

LOL! I'm indeed a male! :)

As to Ly, If you are feeling any pain, switch away from poly RIGHT AWAY! It's not something to be messing with. I was foolish enough to "play through the pain" with poly the first time, and I messed up my arm for a LONG time! Now I'm playing very cautiously with poly because I've started to need the durability, but that's about it. As long as you are smart about poly, and you aren't feeling it, it's okay to use! Just make sure to change every 10ish hours of hitting, and to keep the tensions low. Hybrid if possible with a softer synthetic cross as well!

-Fuji

Ptrac
10-09-2011, 12:37 PM
you may need a different contact point. hitting the ball late consistently will cause arm problems. I had the same problem

Nefarious_Ly
10-09-2011, 06:54 PM
it's a work in progress, my serve. it doesnt dissapoint when i get my first serve in, but my serve percentages are low. i went playing yesterday. didnt use my donnay for doubles. im just so unconsistent with it. i have more to learn about that racquet. i need to find the full feel for it. plus footwork/timing, i'm set. thanks everyone for helping me out in my questions so far. i'm only in my second year of tennis, but i think i could play for a college by next fall, that's if i work my a off, and dont kill myself in overworking in tennis. =P

working on: CONSISTENCY.

Fuji
10-10-2011, 08:01 PM
it's a work in progress, my serve. it doesnt dissapoint when i get my first serve in, but my serve percentages are low. i went playing yesterday. didnt use my donnay for doubles. im just so unconsistent with it. i have more to learn about that racquet. i need to find the full feel for it. plus footwork/timing, i'm set. thanks everyone for helping me out in my questions so far. i'm only in my second year of tennis, but i think i could play for a college by next fall, that's if i work my a off, and dont kill myself in overworking in tennis. =P

working on: CONSISTENCY.

Good luck! :)

-Fuji