Shoulder pain because of level shoulder angle in trophy position?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by stephan_58, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. stephan_58

    stephan_58 Rookie

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    After playing several days in a row this weekend, I'm experiencing some pain in my right shoulder. I'm worried it's coming from my flawed serve motion, namely the level shoulder angle in my trophy position. I understand it's a rather unhealthy position for the shoulder, but I just can't seem to fix it. Since I've been having some pretty decent results with my serve, I haven't bothered much.

    Could this be what causes the pain or could it be something else? I'd say my technique in my groundstrokes doesn't have huge flaws, so I don't think that's where the problem lies. Or is it just overplaying, having played for 5 hours in 3 days?

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    When I've hurt myself, it has often been after playing more than normal. Not saying that is what happened, but I'd say it's definitely possible that's all it was.
     
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  3. Tonyr1967

    Tonyr1967 Rookie

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    Probably best to see a Physio or a Doctor.

    If it is rotator cuff damage (and you decide to keep playing) they key to eliminating pain is to keep your arm as close to parallel (90 degrees from body) as possible when serving. The more you raise your arm from parallel, the more it hurts.

    A Physio friend helped me get past this problem, the secret for me was to consciously drop the shoulder of my tossing arm during my serve - it allowed me to keep my arm at a sensible angle to my body.

    It may hurt your serve effectiveness and consistency but at least you will be able to play.
     
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  4. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Todd Ellenbecker Video on Shoulder Anatomy, Injury Risk on the Serve

    See especially the Todd Ellenbecker video on the shoulder (link not working this morning but it usually does)

    If you decide to invent your own stroke technique then there may be injury risks.

    I would rather imitate sound techniques as demonstrated by the pros. There is still enough risk because I can't do them correctly.
     
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  5. stephan_58

    stephan_58 Rookie

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    I'm hoping that's the reason in my case as well. I just think pain from the body should always be taken seriously, as it's always a sign that something's wrong. So I'm cautious about these things.


    I get what you're saying. But can't you get the same effect if you just drop your hitting arm more in trophy position? That way you shoulders are aligned as well and the technique should be better too.

    Thanks for the links (second one still not working). While I know that my service motion is flawed in many ways, I don't think this is one of them.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Tonyr1967

    Tonyr1967 Rookie

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    I tried that, but found that my arm was still accelerating up faster than my left shoulder dropped.

    All I do now is have a serve thought (drop shoulder) and serve as I normally would; it seems to work very well.

    I'm not the tallest of people (5’7”) but have always had a pretty big serve, based on sound technique and good weight transferal. I was at the ATP finals last year and had my serve clocked – even with a torn rotator cuff (and an unbalanced prestige) I was still clocking 109 mph with my normal first serve action and able to hit 121 mph all out – ‘all out’ was really stupid as I ended up injuring my shoulder even more and wasn’t able to serve/hit overheads for over a month.

    Since then I have only able to play by hitting second or slice serves and avoiding OH’s like the plague – until a couple of weeks ago when I got the ‘drop shoulder’ tip.

    The problem is now that the UK is so cold; I can only play indoors and can’t really afford to pay for the court hire just to practice my first serve. So I’m still playing games with second serves with the occasional first serve attempt thrown in…great when they go in! :)
     
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  7. stephan_58

    stephan_58 Rookie

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    Wow, 109 mph is impressive. I've never had a chance to have my serve clocked but I don't think I would get over 70. As I said, still way too many flaws, but the difficulty to improve is what makes this sport so interesting and challenging to me. :)

    Trust me, the situation weatherwise isn't better here in Switzerland. This time last year we were already playing outside... :( It's something I really hate about tennis in cold regions, in summer you can go out on the courts whenever you like, work on whatever needs improving. Then winter comes and and no matter how much you play, you kinda get "stuck" on your current form. But oh well, it is as it is. The good thing is, I like playing indoors on carpet, suits my style... :)

    Anyway, I'll try out your tip about dropping the tossing shoulder, who knows, maybe that will relieve some stress from my other shoulder. Is there any footage of your serve? I'd love to see what that looks like!
     
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  8. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    As best I understand it your shoulder - upper arm angle around impact looks very good. The line connecting your two shoulders and the upper arm (humerus bone) seems within reasonable alignment as described in the Ellenbecker video. (I guess that your frame is OK to show how you are oriented near impact. ?)

    Other parts of the Ellenbecker video discuss the role of the rotator cuff muscles and the external rotators especially in slowing down the motion in the follow through. These muscles need to be in condition to minimize injury risk. Light, targeted exercises are used. Also the shoulder blade( scapula) must have good alignment (posture). Several recent threads have discussed those issues and impingement injury (Pacific Lefty threads, etc).

    This forum has also had many discussions on service technique especially regarding internal shoulder rotation and the differences between the types of serves.

    There might be some differences between this video of a kick serve and your frame. Your elbow has a bend but the arms are straight for the serves at impact in the Vimeo videos. (?) Best if impacts are compared when the arm is straight and there is an angle between the arm and racket...... See similar serve videos also.
    https://vimeo.com/27528701

    Abstract - the British Medical Journal offers free trial limited subscriptions so you can view this journal article. See "Free Sample".
    Rehabilitation of shoulder impingement syndrome and rotator cuff injuries: an evidence-based review
    http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/44/5/319.abstract
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
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  9. stephan_58

    stephan_58 Rookie

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    Just realized that I forgot to reply to this excellent posting, sorry about that.

    Thanks for all of your suggestions, they helped a lot. After resting for 9 days, my shoulder seems to have recovered to a point where I can only feel the pain when I move my arm somewhat awkwardly. So it seems it was indeed just overplaying, so I'm relieved. I'll try some light hitting tomorrow and see what happens. No serves yet though.

    About my service motion: You're right that there should be an angle between my arm and the racket. As it is, the racket is in line with it which prevents proper pronation (at least that's what I've been told before by some users in this forum). I've been trying to correct this mistake, but I haven't figured it out yet. When I only do a half motion, it feels better and I'm almost positive that there's some proper pronation. But I have no clue why I can only do it in a half motion...

    Thanks again for taking the time to give some really helpful advice! :)
     
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  10. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    At impact there is an angle between the arm and racket. A very short time after impact that angle decreases maybe to almost a straight line (0 d.). ? Video cameras with frame rates of 30 or 60 fps are not suitable for analyzing a motion as fast as the serve even if they have a fast shutter and produce small motion blur.

    Internal shoulder rotation should start after there has been considerable external shoulder rotation. If you only have half motion it may be that you are not getting enough external shoulder rotation (to stretch the ISR muscles).
     
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  11. stephan_58

    stephan_58 Rookie

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    I have a compact camera that is able to capture 240p slow motion videos. Even though the video quality is very bad, it's great for tennis stroke analysis:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhyomW1tCh4 (this video is a few months old but the service motion is pretty much the same)

    I've edited the video so there's normal speed followed by the slow motion-version. I think you can see that there's some pronation happening, but it is clearly hindered by the missing angle between the racket and the forearm. I'm also starting to believe that this is what is responsible for the shoulder pain (it came back after hitting some balls yesterday). It just looks like a very unnatural position. What do you think?
     
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  12. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    reply edited out
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
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  13. stephan_58

    stephan_58 Rookie

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    Oops, should be available now.

    This is another one I just made showing me side by side with a certain Mr. Federer, so he can finally learn how to serve properly. ;)

    Just kidding, but I think this shows the problem with the pronation even more clearly.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO5tCXOtPXA&feature=youtu.be
     
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  14. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Stephan_58, that shows you clearly that there are differences. The arm-racket angle is clearly not the same on your serve. You are all set to analyze your serve.

    Almost all available and affordable cameras that have high speed video use AUTO exposure control. Usually the shutter speed depends on the available light level - the higher the light level, the faster the shutter speed is set by the AUTO. Outdoors in direct sunlight the lighting level is roughly 100X that of an indoor tennis court. The shutter speed will be faster outdoors in direct sunlight. Get a similar video of your serve in direct sunlight and the motion blur will be reduced. (I believe that several models of Canon Powershot go as fast as 1/2000 sec in high speed video mode.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
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  15. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Chas Tennis has been giving you great advice, but perhaps his response above is not graphic enough.

    You are leaving your racquet drop too close to the center of your back - taking the "back scratch" position too literally.

    In order to pronate properly, the racquet drop has to be well out to your right side - and even better if you can can get some external rotation at maximal racquet drop as well.

    Look at pic 8 below where Fed gets his racquet drop well over to the right side with external rotation:

    [​IMG]

    I don't have pics of Fed from the side, but pic 5 of Sampras below emphasizes how far to the right the racquet should be before coming up out of the racquet drop (although of course this is very slightly after the maximum racquet drop of pic 4).

    [​IMG]



    Although this following serve sequence from Toly is of a kick serve, I don't know of a better representation that shows how getting the racquet drop well out to the right side set (pic 1) and extending the arm/straightening the elbow well off to the right side (pics 2-9) until the arm is essentially straight (pic 10) before the main part of the "right to left" pronation movement pics 11-20 occurs.
    [I say "main part" of the pronation movement, because it begins out of racquet drop, but mainly occurs after the arm is straightened - you don't consciously have to separate this out -
    if you practice a swing by starting the racquet from this out to the right side/external rotation position and just push the butt handle straight up, the racquet will whip around in pronation as you finish the arm straightening.)

    [​IMG]

    It may help to play close attention to the back view of Coach McCraw as he uses uncoiling to let the racquet drop swing further to the right before starting the upward swing:
    McCraw Serve Fundamentals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuIgTyh4aDs

    (Some find it helpful to try and emphasize getting the elbow pointed more forward, rather than as much of a side slant as you are currently doing, before starting the upward swing - trying to do do "more internal shoulder rotation" is just something that as players we have a tough time making sense of, even though that is the "correct" anatomic positioning term.)


    I would recommend practicing this swing pattern without tossing a ball until you really feel it.
    (There is just too great a tendency to revert to your old swing once the ball is in the air.)

    It is even helpful when starting to practice this serve at the courts to take 2 or 3 "practice swings" without a ball toss before each actual serve to really develop the "muscle memory" that will later make this motion automatic.

    I hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
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  16. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Awesome post CFed. I think that the backscratch position I'm trying to achieve may be tweaking my shoulder at times. Now that I see where the racket should be, I think that will take care of the issue.
     
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  17. stephan_58

    stephan_58 Rookie

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    Wow, Charlie Federer, that is some excellent post as usual from you. You've helped me so many times before with your advice, thanks so much for always taking the time!

    I thought that I'd seen every Tennis teaching video there is on youtube, but I've never seen any coach talk about this issue before. I think this is exactly what's the problem with my service motion. It has always been clear to me that there's something wrong with my swing path, but I couldn't put my finger on the actual problem. The fact that the difference starts with my racket drop is a real eye opener to me, thanks for illustrating it so perfectly. I think that the angle of the racket to the forearm will be better once I correct this issue.

    As soon as the outdoor season starts and my shoulder is better, I'll work on this first.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Also, shoulder injuries are different for different players.
    Ever notice Navritilova's high hitting hand and somewhat level shouder's at trophy position? She had shoulder problems when she imigrated to the US, and had to develop a different trophy position to alleviate the problems.
    Some players, like DJ, straighten their arms, then quickly bend their elbow as they go from trophy position into their loop swing. That can help also.
    Then the JayBergers start out bent elbow, to alleviate shoulder problems.
    Not all shoulder problems are the same.
     
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  19. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Some Service Videos, What goes on Before Internal Shoulder Rotation

    Some videos of the service motion.
    Shown well in the videos is the motion before the arm is up & straight (often called the "L" position, I believe, because of the angle between the straight arm and racket . For the 'L" position see frame #13 of the Stosur serve in CharlieFedererer Reply #15 above.) I'm not very clear on what goes on regarding joints, muscles, stretch shortening cycle, etc.

    While the part played by internal shoulder rotation is very clear, along with the part played by the arm-racket angle at impact, the descriptions of the earlier service motions are not as well described in my opinion. There may also be more variations between servers.

    Stosur has exaggerated motions and may not be the best server to study when trying to understand what is going on.
    https://vimeo.com/40449544

    The service motion stretches the internal shoulder rotator muscles by external shoulder rotation that is produced by leg thrust and trunk motion, etc. The external shoulder rotation is forced more if the elbow is bent at 90° so that the forearm and racket are in a straight line and at 90° from the upper arm. With a right angle the moment of inertia of the arm-racket is highest. You can see this approximate right angle in the Raonic serve videos above and in the CF reply #15 showing Federer's serve, frames #2-7, Frame #2 of the Sampras serve, the Stosur serve frame sequence is starts later.

    At some point as that motion proceeds, the wrist bends to let the racket form an angle with the forearm. CF Reply #15 -- Federer frame #8, Sampras frame #4. Less with Raonic than with most other servers. ? Which muscles that motion is stretching and for what purpose I have not seen described so that I understand it. Saying that the motion has to reach a 'back scratch' position does not describe what muscles might be stretched and why. Maybe the 'back scratch' simply allows the wrist to extend more for added forward motion later and stretching muscles is not so important. ??? Maybe that extra wrist travel angle is driven by ISR above the "L" position (when arm racket angle goes from ~90° to β at impact). The racket head spirals up to impact from the 'L' position.
    See Frames #13 to 19(impact) of the Stosur serve in CF Reply #15.

    Unlike the internal shoulder rotation contribution to racket head speed, (that anybody can easily understand after they read about it) I don't understand the Raonic wrist flexion angle starting after he bounces the ball, any supination, the function of the 'back scratch', etc and lots of other interesting stuff about the tennis serve..............

    (CF are you still leading the group using 'pronation' to describe ISR on the serve?)
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    "understand"...
    Instead of purely academic study, why don't you try to play some tennis?
    TRY it. Bend your wrist forwards with a conti grip on your service prep. Then swing at the ball. Whether you "understand" or not is a moot point. What isn't moot is your RHS is faster.
     
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  21. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    So I tried out CFed's tip last night and barely had any shoulder issues. So thanks again to our resident TTW Doc.
     
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