Shoulder Pain Serving? Try the SLICE serve

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by DaveInBradenton, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    My Friends,

    I'm 10.5 months into a comeback after 15 years off. Unfortunately, the 15 years were prior to my 68th birthday so progress is slower than the typical comeback. The good news is that I've overcome Tennis Elbow, my strokes are fine, and my conditioning & mobiity improve every month.

    The one residual stumbling block has been some shoulder pain that I associate primarily with serving. I used to be a good club player. I served both flat and overspin, primarily the latter. I tossed the ball to the left a bit, arched the back, hit the ball lower with an upward motion. All basic stuff. My serve was always a weapon.

    I have not been able to regain my service motion with comfort. It aggravates my shoulder. When that happens, I find myself serving slower and limit my practice time. My flat serve is still comfortable, but as you know, flat is the hardest to control.

    Two practice sessions ago, for some reason, I tried tossing the ball more to the right to try the slice serve. (I've never used it before: I've played since I was 13 years old) I hit a few slice serves, it was going in, so I upped the pace. It still went in AND no discomfort.

    Long story short, it turns out I'm sort of a "natural" slice server and I'm able to hit with good pace and accuracy.

    It's easier on my body: I don't have to arch my back, tilt my head back, and swing over my left shoulder.

    I'm not saying it's the panacea for shoulder pain (the shoulder is very complicated with a marvelous range of motion) but it's certainly worth giving it a try.

    Good luck,
    Dave
     
    #1
  2. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2005
    Messages:
    9,195
    I'm sorry but this is bad advice. Because you're merely hiding the source of the problem that is, an injured shoulder/rotator cuff.

    The slice may be easier on the shoulder, but it's still an overhead motion that involves the supraspinatus, which is the source of majority of shoulder problems for a tennis player.

    I assure you, if you hit your serve enough without addressing the underlying problem of a jeopardized shoulder joint, the slice serve will start hurting eventually.

    Also, assuming you're a righty, what happens when you play opponents with superb forehand returns? Or backhand for lefties.
     
    #2
  3. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,797
    Interesting. Slice serves are the type most likely to injure my shoulder. I don't know why that is?
     
    #3
  4. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,013
    Hey, at 68 kudos to you for getting back out there. For younger guys, I wouldn't recommend a change like this for shoulder pain, but get the problem fixed.
     
    #4
  5. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Chi Sin, thanks for your comments. The chance of me playing "opponents with superb forehand returns" at 69 years old is not likely. I will cross the bridge when it occurs.

    As to bad advice: about the second month in my comeback I hurt my elbow hitting one-hand topspin backhand drives. One day I came home from the courts and could not even pick up the TV remote without considerable pain. I had discovered Tennis Elbow! After some Internet research, I found the most frequent advice was to STOP playing for several months. Complete rest was the only cure, according to many.

    Being full of enthusiasm for tennis and having plenty of time to practice the game (I retired at 68), I just could not face 3 or 4 months off. Heck, I'd been off tennis since the mid 90s!

    Because I hurt my elbow hitting the OHBH, I decided to convert to the 2HBH. I did this and most of TE pain subsided. However, now I had some pain on my forehand because my elbow was injured. SO, I decided to convert to the 2HFH. I did just that. The two hand shots reduced the strain on my elbow so I could continue to practice. I bought a ball machine and practiced, usually 3 times a week. After several months my TE subsided and eventually I took my brace off. I have gradually converted back to one hand on both sides.

    Back the serve: my tennis elbow has gone but I have a lingering shoulder issue. I hope that changing from topspin to slice will solve my problem. It may or may not, but I am giving it a try. So far, so good.

    At 69 years old, "What works, works." I try to listen to my body.

    BTW, I hate to play the age card. I do not act my age! I own and aggressively ride three motorcycles: SV1000, Ninja 1000, and HD XR1200 Sportster. I only mention age as it does effect one's ability to recover physical skills and endurance.

    Good luck to all,
    Dave
     
    #5
  6. Thepowerofchoice

    Thepowerofchoice Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    760
    Hi Dave, how is the tennis life in Bradenton. I am thinking about relocating back there. I used to live there in the 80's :)
     
    #6
  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,414
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Slice is easier on the shoulder for us old folkes. I'm 64.
    Notice TomT also serves with slice.
    The body doesn't like to arch back and hit twist serves, not that any body ever did.
    As said, flats are fine, but low percentage for second serves, so slice is the default second or safe serve.
    Oh well, we may not be able to run and jump like 50 years ago, but we're still trying to run and jump....and the views from up here are better than the views from the alternative.
     
    #7
  8. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2005
    Messages:
    9,195
    I hope you didn't take my comments the wrong way, I was simply saying one shouldn't adjust his/her game in order to mask an underlying problem. Have it corrected one way or another, because if you start compensating, other parts will start breaking down.

    Maybe I'm biased because I'm young and I have made a full recovery from two shoulder surgeries. The surgeries and subsequent rehabs gave me one thing no compensation strategy will: confidence.

    I'm confident that my shoulder is in good shape and can sustain the output.
     
    #8
  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,414
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Kinda hard for youngsters to understand the problems us 60+ year olds have, you think?
    Our bodies don't recover quickly, we can't jump or run ...compared to 40 years prior, and our eyes don't see clearly, nor can we arch our backs into an effective replicable twist serve over and over again.
    And when we train or practice, we just TIRE out our bodies, without any gain, so we can't PLAY the days we want.
    Life's tough, so find some hotties, drink some brews, and smoke 'um if you got's 'um.
     
    #9
  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    Tossing too far to the left can cause shoulder problems, right? So if hitting slice, which requires a toss more to the right, helps OP avoid shoulder trouble, what is so bad about that?
     
    #10
  11. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    Messages:
    792
    #11
  12. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    The Sphinx has spoken!

    All hail the Sphinx!

    Dave
     
    #12
  13. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Rogue, that is way more radical than switching to 2 hands on both sides. Good on ya!

    Personally, if I ever can't serve overhand, I would try to develop the underhand slice serve and/or the forehand topspin kicker serve. Lots of potential there!

    Best wishes,
    Dave
     
    #13
  14. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Lee, good insight. Well stated.

    In fact,...........I'll drink to that!

    Dave
     
    #14
  15. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Many highly skilled players have been trained here in Bradenton.

    Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

    Please don't move to Florida.

    We already have too many people here. Too much traffic in the winter.

    Best wishes,
    Dave
     
    #15
  16. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,280
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    First, you should be very careful serving with any pain in your shoulder. Maybe you are making impingement or any number of other injuries worse. With impingement some tissue (tendon, bursa, etc ?) rubs. If there is pain there is probably also some swelling of the tissue - you can see what swelling might be doing to the pressure where the tissue is rubbing.......

    Thread with some shoulder injury discussion.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=459571

    Watch the Todd Ellenbecker video in the above link, especially the serve advice at minute 8. There are biomechanically sound ways to serve that the pros use for performance and to minimize injury risk.

    https://vimeo.com/27528701

    [​IMG]

    Notice the line between his two shoulder and how it lines up with his upper arm bone. They tend to be aligned much more than would be done on one's own.

    But most players have developed their service motions on their own. Who knows what they are doing? Nobody............ Why does a slice serve work better with your injury?

    One question resulting from the Ellenbecker video is: Are your shoulders too level? When you are medically cleared to serve, take some videos of your serve from behind, viewing in the direction that the struck ball travels (as in the above video). Always shoot in direct sunlight so that the shutter can be fast to reduce motion blur. If your camera has a burst mode for stills, that might catch your shoulder-arm angle as well. Use a very fast shutter to minimize motion blur.

    Get frames clearly showing the angle between:
    1) your upper arm AND
    2) a line joining both your shoulders

    Follow the guidelines advocated by Ellenbecker for serving to minimize impingement risk.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
    #16
  17. Thepowerofchoice

    Thepowerofchoice Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    760
    This works for me too. Too many kick serve jacked up my shoulder.
     
    #17
  18. Thepowerofchoice

    Thepowerofchoice Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    760
    Lol...I'm looking at East Bradenton way out of all the traffic. I know there are many skilled players have been trained there in Bradenton@ IMG Academy Bollettieri
    I had a job offer there @Bollettieri in early 90's but turned it down. I was not into tennis then. :(
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
    #18
  19. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    6,531
    Location:
    France
    #19
  20. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,280
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Clarifications for the Jim McClellan

    There are two descriptions in that very useful video that could be clarified:

    1) Purpose of the Rotator Cuff. While the rotator cuff muscles can produce a little rotation of the arm, their main purpose, as I understand it, is to hold the ball of the upper arm (humerus) securely in the very shallow socket of the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). They originate on the scapula and attach to the humerus. That is, they hold the humerus and scapula firmly together throughout the motion.

    2) Muscles that Rotate the Arm. The important rotation of the upper arm that contributes the most to racket head speed on the serve is internal shoulder rotation. With the arm-scapula system held high the main muscles stretched for the serve are the lat muscle and pec muscle, the internal shoulder rotator muscles. These large muscles provide very rapid rotation as in this video.

    Watch the elbow bones rotate extremely rapidly, over only 7 frames, 0.03 second. This motion is the heart of the speed of the serve. https://vimeo.com/27528701

    Reference: The Manual of Structural Kinesiology (2004), 15 th ed. C. Thomson, R. Floyd

    The 15th edition is currently available, used, for a very low price $0.81 + $4 shipping ! Newer editions are used as college textbooks and cost about 100X as much. I like the illustrations in the earlier editions better.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
    #20
  21. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Wow, this thread is escalating fast.

    Just to keep things simple (and as others have stated), the slice serve (for me) is less demanding on the body than the topspin, so if you have minor shoulder issues it might behoove you to to give it a try.

    Let us know if it helps you.

    Good luck,
    Dave
     
    #21
  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,414
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    The reason I use a twist serve about 50% of my second serves....
    Being lefty, a top/slice goes to the right, towards opponent's backhand. Bounces maybe shoulder high, often only upper chest, so a good player can step in a T off on it.
    A twist serve, bouncing much higher and off to the RIGHT, me lefty, gives me the option to place my opponent well past his duece court doubles alley as he hits the ball, opening his backhand side of the court for me to volley into.
    On ad court, predominant top/slice, or flat go for ace up the middle. However, a smart opponent takes a step into his alley to cover the wide serves, and flats up the middle don't always go IN. But twists up the middle, me lefty, forces the long 3 steps beyond center hash mark to return my twists, opening his backhand side again for my next volley.
    The more weapons you have, the more you can draw upon when the normal shots aren't doing the job.
     
    #22

Share This Page