Elbow Pain vs. Shoulder Pain - Help!

ashridge

Semi-Pro
For a couple years now I've been attempting to find what is apparently the unicorn racquet for me: one that doesn't hurt my shoulder or my elbow with strings that allow me to have the performance I want, in a racquet that has the feel that I want. I've demo'd a bunch of different racquets and owned half a dozen different ones in the last few years looking for nirvana. So far have yet to find it. My elbow was the problem for most of that time, until I got a Wilson RF97A. Now, my shoulder is the problem, and elbow seems to be doing good. Or, when I say shoulder, I mean my upper bicep muscle where it attaches into my shoulder. No pain whatsoever when hitting groundstrokes, either side, but if I serve over 90 mph with the RF97A I feel it pretty good. Feels like a strained muscle.

I owned an RF97A a few years ago and my shoulder would get tired, but I don't remember it hurting in this area like it is now. Not sure if I have pulled a muscle and it just won't heal, or if it's the combo of the racquet and string set-up. I'm inclined to believe the latter, because after playing with the RF for the first 45 minutes this morning and my bicep/shoulder twinging, I pulled my leaded up Prince Phantom Pro 100 w/ gut-poly hybrid out of the bag and was serving hard with little or no bicep/shoulder pain, though my elbow did start twinging a bit after a while. Have tried a number of different string set-ups in the RF97A, currently have Babolat VS Touch 16 mains @ 57 and Prince Tour XP poly crosses @ 50. I have tried lower on both and didn't have the control I need. I really, really want to keep the RF97A because I just love how solid it is, but only serving at 60% of what I'm capable of is affecting my game. I'm thinking about going back to trying a full bed of Forten Sweet 16 SG in the RF like I did a few years ago. I don't remember it hurting, and it performed a lot better than I thought it would. Only problem is durability, given that it would break on me in about 3-4 hours of play. Hate to be re-stringing my racquets that often.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
 

tennis347

Hall of Fame
I have been playing for almost 30 years and have had shoulder as well as elbow problems. If you have been playing a long time, you definitely have wear and tear on your elbow and shoulder. Once this has happened, it is definitely time to look at your racquet and string set up. I would highly recommend going to a lighter racquet that also has a flex rating below 64. With that being said, I would look at the Blade v7 98 16 x 19 or maybe the Clash 98 if you like Wilson. Both are very arm friendly and still have enough mass to protect your joints on off center hits. The Angell K7 Red is like playing with butter and has room for customization. I used to play with only player's racquets that were 12.5 ounces and up in my 30's. I am now 53 and it took me a while to figure that my sweet spot weight is around 330 grams with a SW in the high 320's. My shoulder and elbow have had no problems with my Blade v7 98 16 x 19 and the K7 Red with minimal customization. Unfortunately, father time catches up with all of us as we get older but I would definitely recommend going with a lighter set up with a low flex frame and of course no poly strings. Look at Gosen Micro 16, very arm friendly and good durability for inexpensive string. Just my 2 cents from a veteran player.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
I have demo'd some previous versions of the Blade, and also the Clash, but not this version of the Blade. I didn't fall in love with the Clash. How is the stability and the plow-through of the v7? Those are 2 things I absolutely love about the RF97A that I would hate to give up.

I have been playing for almost 30 years and have had shoulder as well as elbow problems. If you have been playing a long time, you definitely have wear and tear on your elbow and shoulder. Once this has happened, it is definitely time to look at your racquet and string set up. I would highly recommend going to a lighter racquet that also has a flex rating below 64. With that being said, I would look at the Blade v7 98 16 x 19 or maybe the Clash 98 if you like Wilson. Both are very arm friendly and still have enough mass to protect your joints on off center hits. The Angell K7 Red is like playing with butter and has room for customization. I used to play with only player's racquets that were 12.5 ounces and up in my 30's. I am now 53 and it took me a while to figure that my sweet spot weight is around 330 grams with a SW in the high 320's. My shoulder and elbow have had no problems with my Blade v7 98 16 x 19 and the K7 Red with minimal customization. Unfortunately, father time catches up with all of us as we get older but I would definitely recommend going with a lighter set up with a low flex frame and of course no poly strings. Look at Gosen Micro 16, very arm friendly and good durability for inexpensive string. Just my 2 cents from a veteran player.
 
D

Deleted member 768841

Guest
I have demo'd some previous versions of the Blade, and also the Clash, but not this version of the Blade. I didn't fall in love with the Clash. How is the stability and the plow-through of the v7? Those are 2 things I absolutely love about the RF97A that I would hate to give up.
The blade v7, especially the 18/20, is super stable and has great plow through. The swingweight is 334, and I consistently have good volleys. I love the blade v7, except the power is very low and feels very flexy, almost rubbery.
 

FIRETennis

Professional
I'll chime in and recommend what the others said above about the Blade v7.
It's a unique and completely different frame than the previous Blades!

I have a similar issue that stemmed from high tension poly and a stiff racquet (Pure Aero Tour)
I play mostly on quite rough clay with windy weather so there are a ton of bad bounces and mishits/off-center/framed shots.
I believe this is what started the shoulder issue for me in combination with playing 10h a week.

I experimented with gut/poly and went on a racquet changing quest.
My findings are that the most comfortable setup for the shoulder that I can still play a good game with is the Blade v7 with either gut/poly mid 50s or even full bed poly strung at low 50s / high 40s.
Swing weight 335-340. High swing weight (345+SW) racquets feel like they pull the arm out of the socket for me whereas low swing weight do not have enough plow for heavy balls.
Static weight around 330g-335g.
Flex around 62. Low than that felt too mushy and higher I could feel in my shoulder after playing.

I absolutely love the RF97 with Champion's Choice in it and play very well with it, however I feel it in my shoulder/levator/trapezius after 45' of hitting and serving with it.
The RF is not stiff at all feeling unless you hit the frame (like I do on windy days :) ).
You also need to play super relaxed to let those 360g+ swing through without affecting the rotator cuff. This is tough for me in matches and tournaments where nerves take a toll on my relaxation.
The only other frames that would have a hint of RF97 feeling in them would be the VCore Pro 97 330g and the Volkl C10 Pro.
I would try the Volkl as it's got more flex than the Vcore. Vcore does not play like a 65 flex, but more like a 67-68. The frame is not quite as stiff as the RF.
 
Last edited:

tennis347

Hall of Fame
I have demo'd some previous versions of the Blade, and also the Clash, but not this version of the Blade. I didn't fall in love with the Clash. How is the stability and the plow-through of the v7? Those are 2 things I absolutely love about the RF97A that I would hate to give up.
I was not a fan of the Clash 98 either as I didn't like the feel. As to the Blade v7 98 line, the feel is phenomenal and for about a 11.5 ounce racket the stability and plow are quite good. As other uses have mentioned, the 18 x 20 version has more stability and plow due to the higher SW. I personally like the 16 x 19 as there is better access to spin. If you are coming from the RF, you can always add a little bit of lead to the hoop and handle. I just added 1.5 grams at 2 and 10 to get a little more pop and 1.5 grams to the butt of the handle. I changed the stock to my usual Wilson Contour grip. With this set up, I get plenty of stability and enough plow at 330 grams. I can play for my usual 2 hours of singles with no arm pain the next day! Of course I use a synthetic string, Gosen Micro 16 at 54 to 55lbs. IMO the Blade v7 98 line is the best player's racket in that 11.5 ounce weight class. It really plays solid !!
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
Yep, I totally follow you there, that's my issue as well. I love the plow of the RF but previously when I've tried lighter racquets I have for the most part been disappointed in the plowthrough. But after playing Gut/Poly in the RF, I feel it in my upper bicep, back of my shoulder (delt's), and my trap's, like you mentioned.

Swing weight 335-340. High swing weight (345+SW) racquets feel like they pull the arm out of the socket for me whereas low swing weight do not have enough plow for heavy balls.

I absolutely love the RF97 with Champion's Choice in it and play very well with it, however I feel it in my shoulder/levator/trapezius after 45' of hitting and serving with it.
Sounds like I need to do another round of demo's. The previous blades I demo'd were from a few years ago. Sounds like this v7 offering is a totally different animal. I tried Gosen Micro 16 SG in the RF and liked it fine, though I liked Forten Sweet 16 SG a little better in terms of feel. Everything else about them was pretty similar. I don't recall feeling pain in my shoulder with this string set-up in the RF, but that was a few years ago, might need to re-visit and see what it feels like now.

I was not a fan of the Clash 98 either as I didn't like the feel. As to the Blade v7 98 line, the feel is phenomenal and for about a 11.5 ounce racket the stability and plow are quite good. As other uses have mentioned, the 18 x 20 version has more stability and plow due to the higher SW. I personally like the 16 x 19 as there is better access to spin. If you are coming from the RF, you can always add a little bit of lead to the hoop and handle. I just added 1.5 grams at 2 and 10 to get a little more pop and 1.5 grams to the butt of the handle. I changed the stock to my usual Wilson Contour grip. With this set up, I get plenty of stability and enough plow at 330 grams. I can play for my usual 2 hours of singles with no arm pain the next day! Of course I use a synthetic string, Gosen Micro 16 at 54 to 55lbs. IMO the Blade v7 98 line is the best player's racket in that 11.5 ounce weight class. It really plays solid !!
 
Last edited:

Hit 'em clean

Semi-Pro
If you like the RF97 you should definitely try the Head Gravity Pro. It's lighter... easier on your shoulder, but with enough swingweight/plow on your ground strokes. It's also a lot softer on the RA so should be easy on the elbow as well. I play with the GPro regularly so it gets my vote. Clash 98 is a possible one if you aren't too opposed to how it feels. Blade v7 is another one others have mentioned. Some of the Prince Phantoms get pretty good reviews as well, no personal experience myself, but I would certainly consider them.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
Are you talking about the Graphene 360+ Gravity Pro, 18x20? I don't have much familiarity with Head racquets. Not too much a fan of the tight string patterns, either. Have you tried any of the 16x20 variants of that racquet? I play with a lot of spin in my game and like the more open patterns.

I have demo'd all of the first generation Prince Phantom's and own one each of the Pro 100 and Pro 100p. They are both fine on my shoulder, but if I play with a gut/poly hybrid, they do bother my elbow a bit, despite their very low RA.

I have a Prince 03 Speedport Black and I can play full Prince Tour XP poly in it without *hurting* either my shoulder or my elbow, but my shoulder does feel *tired* after playing a match with that racquet with full poly. Also, there is a world of difference in stability and plowthrough between that racquet and the RF97A. The 03 Speedport Black isn't necessarily "unstable", I wouldn't say, it's just not super *solid* feeling like the RF is.

If you like the RF97 you should definitely try the Head Gravity Pro. It's lighter... easier on your shoulder, but with enough swingweight/plow on your ground strokes. It's also a lot softer on the RA so should be easy on the elbow as well. I play with the GPro regularly so it gets my vote. Clash 98 is a possible one if you aren't too opposed to how it feels. Blade v7 is another one others have mentioned. Some of the Prince Phantoms get pretty good reviews as well, no personal experience myself, but I would certainly consider them.
 

Zoolander

Hall of Fame
Would suggest trimming the bumper off the RF, which will reduce weight by 6-8g and 20 SW points. If thats still too much, try a normal PS97 with a little more flex and weight it up as far as your shoulder/elbow will manage?
 

JEDI MASTER

Semi-Pro
I play with the RF97A as well.. with Champions choice as well... I've strung it with Lux 4G at around 54-56.. easier on the arm and plays very well..
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
When I demo'd the RF97A from TW a few years ago, it came strung up with a full bed of Lux 4G. I absolutely loved the control it gave me and I absolutely hated what it did to both my elbow and my shoulder.

I play with the RF97A as well.. with Champions choice as well... I've strung it with Lux 4G at around 54-56.. easier on the arm and plays very well..
 

anarosevoli

Rookie
I switched to the Phantom Pro 100 recently, it plays feels like it's the perfect racquet for me, but I also feel it in the elbow slightly (on the outside, just like a very slight beginning tennis arm), probably because I have to work harder with the flexible and low-powered frame, even with a multi (Velocity). I ordered a 2nd one and really want to play with it forever but I'm the 3rd in this short thread with elbow problems from it... and I have absolutely no problems with stiff racquets (strung with soft poly).
 
Why not give the Pro Kennex Ki Q+ Tour 315 a try. It is $169, 16x19 pattern, has the kinetic material to help your elbow, is light enough for your shoulder and has a thin beam, RA of 64. Seems to check all your boxes. At least worth a demo.
 

FIRETennis

Professional
When I demo'd the RF97A from TW a few years ago, it came strung up with a full bed of Lux 4G. I absolutely loved the control it gave me and I absolutely hated what it did to both my elbow and my shoulder.
RF97 plays amazing with gut/poly. To really experience that frame you need to manage to get a demo with gut/poly in it. 4G Rough is quite plush and easy on the arm in a cross with gut.
Full bed poly doesn't work to great in that frame and if you lower its tension, control is gone.
 

junior74

Talk Tennis Guru
I find it especially important to have different set-ups for different situations.

I have been coaching young players for years, and when I feed/ push the ball - I always use a racquet with the smoothest multi string, something like Dunlop Silk/ Maxim Touch. I also use this set-up if I play someone who hits a very light ball. Polyester strings are tough on the joints if the incoming ball has no pace for them to absorb.

A hybrid that has that "both worlds" feeling to it, and also retains snap back, is soft poly with Monogut Zyex cross.

As a 40+ guy, excessive kick serving is painful. My shoulder is grateful when I slice more :)

RF97 is a heavy stick. I tried it, but fatigue was inevitable (for me).
 

Hit 'em clean

Semi-Pro
Are you talking about the Graphene 360+ Gravity Pro, 18x20? I don't have much familiarity with Head racquets. Not too much a fan of the tight string patterns, either. Have you tried any of the 16x20 variants of that racquet? I play with a lot of spin in my game and like the more open patterns.

I have demo'd all of the first generation Prince Phantom's and own one each of the Pro 100 and Pro 100p. They are both fine on my shoulder, but if I play with a gut/poly hybrid, they do bother my elbow a bit, despite their very low RA.

I have a Prince 03 Speedport Black and I can play full Prince Tour XP poly in it without *hurting* either my shoulder or my elbow, but my shoulder does feel *tired* after playing a match with that racquet with full poly. Also, there is a world of difference in stability and plowthrough between that racquet and the RF97A. The 03 Speedport Black isn't necessarily "unstable", I wouldn't say, it's just not super *solid* feeling like the RF is.
Yes, the Gravity Pro from Head. Don’t let the 18x20 pattern scare you off. I hit with plenty of spin as well and have no problems. With the 100sq in head the 18x20 is open enough for very good topspin. Sure you won’t get cheap easy topspin like with a Pure Aero but I can generate just as much with good technique and prep. I haven’t hit with the Prince racquets you mentioned so I can’t comment on that comparison other than the specs. Gravity is slightly heavier with a higher swing weight that is much closer to that of the rf97. If the Prince racquets are tiring you out the Gravity Pro will as well.

You’ll have to give up some stability as you go down in weight... those are just physics that are hard to get around.

Blade 98 or Clash 98 maybe are in your future
 

WilPro

Semi-Pro
People treat arm pain as if it is a gear issue when in fact it is a technique issue.

They change gear and especially, people over here are very much into gear and very little into technique.

Try to see what can you improve in technique, what are you doing wrong. Usually it is the serve when there are problems with the shoulder.
When it is the elbow it is forehand or backhand. Pretty simple. I've been through that and I am very sure of what it is because now I can pley the stiffest strin gin the market, no problem at all.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
Why not give the Pro Kennex Ki Q+ Tour 315 a try. It is $169, 16x19 pattern, has the kinetic material to help your elbow, is light enough for your shoulder and has a thin beam, RA of 64. Seems to check all your boxes. At least worth a demo.
I am not familiar with that model, though I did demo a few different PK's a couple years ago and thought they were "ok", but nothing particularly stood out. I'll add the model you mentioned to my list to demo, thanks.

RF97 plays amazing with gut/poly. To really experience that frame you need to manage to get a demo with gut/poly in it. 4G Rough is quite plush and easy on the arm in a cross with gut.
Full bed poly doesn't work to great in that frame and if you lower its tension, control is gone.
I've got Gut/Poly in mine right now, and that's the set-up that is giving me discomfort in several areas of my shoulder. I have not tried full bed poly in the RF97A.

I find it especially important to have different set-ups for different situations.

I have been coaching young players for years, and when I feed/ push the ball - I always use a racquet with the smoothest multi string, something like Dunlop Silk/ Maxim Touch. I also use this set-up if I play someone who hits a very light ball. Polyester strings are tough on the joints if the incoming ball has no pace for them to absorb.

A hybrid that has that "both worlds" feeling to it, and also retains snap back, is soft poly with Monogut Zyex cross.

As a 40+ guy, excessive kick serving is painful. My shoulder is grateful when I slice more :)

RF97 is a heavy stick. I tried it, but fatigue was inevitable (for me).
I've tried ZX/Poly as a hybrid, but not the reverse. ZX is too expensive for my tastes to be used as a cross in a set-up where it will likely eat the poly mains quickly (for high performance play with a lot of spin) and the whole set-up will have to be cut out. I have done a ton of experimenting with ZX, really wanted to fall in love with it because of it's good qualities, but eventually decided that the trouble and care of stringing it just isn't worth the benefits of playing with it.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
Yes, the Gravity Pro from Head. Don’t let the 18x20 pattern scare you off. I hit with plenty of spin as well and have no problems. With the 100sq in head the 18x20 is open enough for very good topspin. Sure you won’t get cheap easy topspin like with a Pure Aero but I can generate just as much with good technique and prep. I haven’t hit with the Prince racquets you mentioned so I can’t comment on that comparison other than the specs. Gravity is slightly heavier with a higher swing weight that is much closer to that of the rf97. If the Prince racquets are tiring you out the Gravity Pro will as well.

You’ll have to give up some stability as you go down in weight... those are just physics that are hard to get around.

Blade 98 or Clash 98 maybe are in your future
Good to hear about the spin capabilities.

My Prince Phantom Pro 100 and Pro 100p don't tire me out (even though they are quite heavy as I have them leaded up), but they're not as easy on my elbow as you'd think with their flexy RA, or at least that is the case with any poly strings, even just as crosses with Gut mains.

I will definitely add the Head Gravity Pro to my next demo list, sounds like I need to give it a try, thanks.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
People treat arm pain as if it is a gear issue when in fact it is a technique issue.

They change gear and especially, people over here are very much into gear and very little into technique.

Try to see what can you improve in technique, what are you doing wrong. Usually it is the serve when there are problems with the shoulder.
When it is the elbow it is forehand or backhand. Pretty simple. I've been through that and I am very sure of what it is because now I can pley the stiffest strin gin the market, no problem at all.
I actually have excellent technique, and I don't have arm problems with all racquets (just the ones I really like the best for performance), so in my case, I think it really is the gear that is the issue.
 
I actually have excellent technique, and I don't have arm problems with all racquets (just the ones I really like the best for performance), so in my case, I think it really is the gear that is the issue.
I too have experienced RF shoulder pain in the past while trying it out. It's not necessarily a technique issue, but could be a playing style one. I only know 1 player at my courts that uses one has their racquet of choice. While he's a very fit 50 something old player, he's a true all court, old school player always looking to end the point at the net at the earliest opportunity. He's a sublime volleyer... I HATE HIM! Sort of sounds like the player the racquet was designed for. I'm a baseliner... grinding from the back. The RF was probably never designed for this.. the thing starts to feel like a grill pan. Sore shoulder maybe? Wilson does recommend it for "attacking" players after-all. Don't think the OP mentioned his playing style... just my 2 cents.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
I too have experienced RF shoulder pain in the past while trying it out. It's not necessarily a technique issue, but could be a playing style one. I only know 1 player at my courts that uses one has their racquet of choice. While he's a very fit 50 something old player, he's a true all court, old school player always looking to end the point at the net at the earliest opportunity. He's a sublime volleyer... I HATE HIM! Sort of sounds like the player the racquet was designed for. I'm a baseliner... grinding from the back. The RF was probably never designed for this.. the thing starts to feel like a grill pan. Sore shoulder maybe? Wilson does recommend it for "attacking" players after-all. Don't think the OP mentioned his playing style... just my 2 cents.
I am definitely a baseliner, which is one of the reasons I really love the RF, because it is so solid and powerful that it allows me to hit winners from behind the baseline sometimes. I'm not that great at the net and so I don't venture in much unless it's a wide open court for me to hit my approach shot in. I don't feel like the RF really tires me out on groundstrokes, though, just serves.
 

Hit 'em clean

Semi-Pro
People treat arm pain as if it is a gear issue when in fact it is a technique issue.

They change gear and especially, people over here are very much into gear and very little into technique.

Try to see what can you improve in technique, what are you doing wrong. Usually it is the serve when there are problems with the shoulder.
When it is the elbow it is forehand or backhand. Pretty simple. I've been through that and I am very sure of what it is because now I can pley the stiffest strin gin the market, no problem at all.
I agree... I'm trusting that the person asking has solid technique. If your technique is good... it still might pay to have a pro look at your stroke to see if any changes can be made to lessen the stress on the elbow or shoulder. Sometimes we can get off the beaten path and develop bad habits. Sometimes it's just hitting too many bad ball tosses on serve or hitting too late on the ground strokes, etc.
 

1stVolley

Professional
Yes, the Gravity Pro from Head. Don’t let the 18x20 pattern scare you off. I hit with plenty of spin as well and have no problems. With the 100sq in head the 18x20 is open enough for very good topspin. ....
The string density of the Gravity Pro is almost as open as the RF97A. A closed or open string pattern does not necessarily translate into a closed or open string density.
 

1stVolley

Professional
Regarding that shoulder pain: because you said it occurs where the biceps inserts into the shoulder you might want to see an orthopedist and make sure that you aren't having impingement or bone spur issues. The fact that it happens only when you serve doesn't rule out some structural difficulty.

It would be far better to find out if this is the case earlier rather than later.
 

Raizu

Rookie
For a couple years now I've been attempting to find what is apparently the unicorn racquet for me: one that doesn't hurt my shoulder or my elbow with strings that allow me to have the performance I want, in a racquet that has the feel that I want. I've demo'd a bunch of different racquets and owned half a dozen different ones in the last few years looking for nirvana. So far have yet to find it. My elbow was the problem for most of that time, until I got a Wilson RF97A. Now, my shoulder is the problem, and elbow seems to be doing good. Or, when I say shoulder, I mean my upper bicep muscle where it attaches into my shoulder. No pain whatsoever when hitting groundstrokes, either side, but if I serve over 90 mph with the RF97A I feel it pretty good. Feels like a strained muscle.

I owned an RF97A a few years ago and my shoulder would get tired, but I don't remember it hurting in this area like it is now. Not sure if I have pulled a muscle and it just won't heal, or if it's the combo of the racquet and string set-up. I'm inclined to believe the latter, because after playing with the RF for the first 45 minutes this morning and my bicep/shoulder twinging, I pulled my leaded up Prince Phantom Pro 100 w/ gut-poly hybrid out of the bag and was serving hard with little or no bicep/shoulder pain, though my elbow did start twinging a bit after a while. Have tried a number of different string set-ups in the RF97A, currently have Babolat VS Touch 16 mains @ 57 and Prince Tour XP poly crosses @ 50. I have tried lower on both and didn't have the control I need. I really, really want to keep the RF97A because I just love how solid it is, but only serving at 60% of what I'm capable of is affecting my game. I'm thinking about going back to trying a full bed of Forten Sweet 16 SG in the RF like I did a few years ago. I don't remember it hurting, and it performed a lot better than I thought it would. Only problem is durability, given that it would break on me in about 3-4 hours of play. Hate to be re-stringing my racquets that often.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
A couple of questions. I may be able to solve this for you.

1. Elbow pain on the inside or outside? If outside the one or two handed backhand?

2. Your description of the shoulder pain/biceps tells me your chest is tight and pulling your bicep muscle upward which causes golfers elbow/Tommy John pain. How much do you lift back to chest in the gym?

3.How’s your shoulder mobility?

4. History of arm injury?

You are on the right track racquetwise with the RF97. I have a demo recommendation but first I need the answers to the above please
 

Raizu

Rookie
Yep, I totally follow you there, that's my issue as well. I love the plow of the RF but previously when I've tried lighter racquets I have for the most part been disappointed in the plowthrough. But after playing Gut/Poly in the RF, I feel it in my upper bicep, back of my shoulder (delt's), and my trap's, like you mentioned.



Sounds like I need to do another round of demo's. The previous blades I demo'd were from a few years ago. Sounds like this v7 offering is a totally different animal. I tried Gosen Micro 16 SG in the RF and liked it fine, though I liked Forten Sweet 16 SG a little better in terms of feel. Everything else about them was pretty similar. I don't recall feeling pain in my shoulder with this string set-up in the RF, but that was a few years ago, might need to re-visit and see what it feels like now.
Stay away from light racquets unless you want to worsen your arm. You want a racquet with a 350-355g SW. the less work your arm does the better but this requires strengthening your entire “Pillar” while balancing and strengthening your upper back.
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
Regarding that shoulder pain: because you said it occurs where the biceps inserts into the shoulder you might want to see an orthopedist and make sure that you aren't having impingement or bone spur issues. The fact that it happens only when you serve doesn't rule out some structural difficulty.

It would be far better to find out if this is the case earlier rather than later.
I would seek the opinion of a doctor as well. Maybe a Physical Therapist or Athletic Trainer type.
 

tennis347

Hall of Fame
Stay away from light racquets unless you want to worsen your arm. You want a racquet with a 350-355g SW. the less work your arm does the better but this requires strengthening your entire “Pillar” while balancing and strengthening your upper back.
IMO a 350 gram racquet is quite heavy if you have any shoulder issue. Once you have hurt your shoulder or have alot of wear on your joints, a racquet that is lighter is better alternative for putting less strain on the shoulder. This is going to be different with every player due playing ability, strength and conditioning. If you are going to play with hefty 350 gram frame it better be pretty HL otherwise you will really screw up your shoulder. I personally recommend the Blade v7 98 line as I mentioned before as not much if any customization is needed due to healthy SW. The Blade v7 98 line has a very plush feel and is definitely a good option for any players who have elbow issues. Possibly for the shoulder if you are strong player. Definitely a much lighter option than the RF which is very demanding frame to use.
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
The Wilson Clash tech is the best for protecting your joints. Its a shame you didnt like the Clash. I think the Clash is a good fit for heavy hitting because the sweet spot really opens up when you hit with pace and feels better than the Blade. It also has a really nice balance to it. That said. I didnt like the 100 size Clash, but the 98 is a special frame to me. Maybe you tried the wrong model, you didnt specify.

The Blade v7 with the Clash tech is also great but the higher SW and head heavy balance can potentially stress your shoulder. I love mine as well, been using the v7 for quite a while.

These two models are really fantastic for the body and you dont really get penalized in terms of power. The Blade has a lot of power and plow as long as you have the strength to swing out with it the length of the match.

Other slept on frames that can help your arm are Pro Kennex.
 

Raizu

Rookie
IMO a 350 gram racquet is quite heavy if you have any shoulder issue. Once you have hurt your shoulder or have alot of wear on your joints, a racquet that is lighter is better alternative for putting less strain on the shoulder. This is going to be different with every player due playing ability, strength and conditioning. If you are going to play with hefty 350 gram frame it better be pretty HL otherwise you will really screw up your shoulder. I personally recommend the Blade v7 98 line as I mentioned before as not much if any customization is needed due to healthy SW. The Blade v7 98 line has a very plush feel and is definitely a good option for any players who have elbow issues. Possibly for the shoulder if you are strong player. Definitely a much lighter option than the RF which is very demanding frame to use.
Well like I said to him above. Before I recommend a racquet I need him to answer the questions. He may not need to see anything more than a good sports chiro. Yes I would highly recommend a HL racquet for anyone with elbow pain. HH and remotely bad technique will worsen tennis elbow. He doesn’t sound like he has tennis elbow though.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
The string density of the Gravity Pro is almost as open as the RF97A. A closed or open string pattern does not necessarily translate into a closed or open string density.
I am glad to hear that and more interested to demo it now. I do not like a tight pattern for my topspin heavy game.

Regarding that shoulder pain: because you said it occurs where the biceps inserts into the shoulder you might want to see an orthopedist and make sure that you aren't having impingement or bone spur issues. The fact that it happens only when you serve doesn't rule out some structural difficulty.

It would be far better to find out if this is the case earlier rather than later.
I have had some "popping" off and on in the front of my shoulder that isn't especially painful, but I did some looking around on the web to see if I could figure out what it is. The best explanation I found for it is that the top of the bicep muscle turns into a tendon and sits in a groove where it attaches into the shoulder. The tendon can sometimes slip in and out of the groove, causing that "popping" feeling. Also seems like a tendon slipping in and out of where it's supposed to be under pressure of vigorous usage (like, say, when I'm doing a hard first serve) might be a logical explanation for the pain in my upper bicep. Though I can't explain why it would be painful when using the RF97A but not the Prince Phantom Pro 100 or 100p?
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
A couple of questions. I may be able to solve this for you.

1. Elbow pain on the inside or outside? If outside the one or two handed backhand?

2. Your description of the shoulder pain/biceps tells me your chest is tight and pulling your bicep muscle upward which causes golfers elbow/Tommy John pain. How much do you lift back to chest in the gym?

3.How’s your shoulder mobility?

4. History of arm injury?

You are on the right track racquetwise with the RF97. I have a demo recommendation but first I need the answers to the above please
Well I'm not having elbow pain with the RF97A, but when I have it with some other racquets, it's more on the inside of my elbow.

I don't do any lifting at the gym.

Shoulder *mobility* is fine/normal.

Only history of arm injury was a broken wrist when I was 13, which was 30 years ago.

I'm interested to hear your demo recommendation. One other very heavy racquet I demo'd was the Volkl C10 Pro, but I hated it. It felt like I was swinging Thor's hammer, but not in a good way. Felt very heavy and awkward. My RF97A feels light as a feather to me compared to the C10 Pro.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
The Wilson Clash tech is the best for protecting your joints. Its a shame you didnt like the Clash. I think the Clash is a good fit for heavy hitting because the sweet spot really opens up when you hit with pace and feels better than the Blade. It also has a really nice balance to it. That said. I didnt like the 100 size Clash, but the 98 is a special frame to me. Maybe you tried the wrong model, you didnt specify.

The Blade v7 with the Clash tech is also great but the higher SW and head heavy balance can potentially stress your shoulder. I love mine as well, been using the v7 for quite a while.

These two models are really fantastic for the body and you dont really get penalized in terms of power. The Blade has a lot of power and plow as long as you have the strength to swing out with it the length of the match.

Other slept on frames that can help your arm are Pro Kennex.
I can't remember 100% for sure but I think the Clash I demo'd was the 100. Is there really a lot of difference between that and the 98?
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
I can't remember 100% for sure but I think the Clash I demo'd was the 100. Is there really a lot of difference between that and the 98?
For me there is a big difference. The weight and stability is much better and the frame has a tighter pattern and more controllable launch angle. I also prefer the feel of it - it has an explosive sweet spot when you hit the ball hard.

Its a rare frame since it is truly a modern racquet with serious power, but it has classic, soft feel and is so nice on the joints.
 
Last edited:

Raizu

Rookie
Well I'm not having elbow pain with the RF97A, but when I have it with some other racquets, it's more on the inside of my elbow.

I don't do any lifting at the gym.

Shoulder *mobility* is fine/normal.

Only history of arm injury was a broken wrist when I was 13, which was 30 years ago.

I'm interested to hear your demo recommendation. One other very heavy racquet I demo'd was the Volkl C10 Pro, but I hated it. It felt like I was swinging Thor's hammer, but not in a good way. Felt very heavy and awkward. My RF97A feels light as a feather to me compared to the C10 Pro.
inside is TommyJohn. I just solved (after 8 years with shoulder and elbow pain from a complete year off, I retired. Big mistake lol) it by going old school and picking up the racquets I played with in juniors. A 6.1 Hyper Prostaff 27.5. Static Weight 353, Swing Weight 355. I played with the RF97 for 2 years and a custom PrestigeMP the last 2 and was never able to get rid of the pain when serving until I went long.
WhT worked for me regarding the elbow tendon is a chiropractor working on my chest/front delt and bicep to get it all loose enough to release the pressure on the tendon.
Give me a day or 2 and I’ll come back with racquet options that may work. What’s your level of play? What worked for me May not work for you racquetwise but I think the trick may be in the length.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jbm

1stVolley

Professional
I am glad to hear that and more interested to demo it now. I do not like a tight pattern for my topspin heavy game.



I have had some "popping" off and on in the front of my shoulder that isn't especially painful, but I did some looking around on the web to see if I could figure out what it is. The best explanation I found for it is that the top of the bicep muscle turns into a tendon and sits in a groove where it attaches into the shoulder. The tendon can sometimes slip in and out of the groove, causing that "popping" feeling. Also seems like a tendon slipping in and out of where it's supposed to be under pressure of vigorous usage (like, say, when I'm doing a hard first serve) might be a logical explanation for the pain in my upper bicep. Though I can't explain why it would be painful when using the RF97A but not the Prince Phantom Pro 100 or 100p?
It's possible your technique changes a bit between the two racquets, perhaps the trajectory of your groundstrokes' forward swings. I think it would be a good thing to check out the condition of that tendon since it may have gotten prematurely worn. One of my tennis mates had a similar issue, only with worse pain, and he needed surgery because his tendon had serious damage from wear.
 

Anton

Legend
For a couple years now I've been attempting to find what is apparently the unicorn racquet for me: one that doesn't hurt my shoulder or my elbow with strings that allow me to have the performance I want, in a racquet that has the feel that I want. I've demo'd a bunch of different racquets and owned half a dozen different ones in the last few years looking for nirvana. So far have yet to find it. My elbow was the problem for most of that time, until I got a Wilson RF97A. Now, my shoulder is the problem, and elbow seems to be doing good. Or, when I say shoulder, I mean my upper bicep muscle where it attaches into my shoulder. No pain whatsoever when hitting groundstrokes, either side, but if I serve over 90 mph with the RF97A I feel it pretty good. Feels like a strained muscle.

I owned an RF97A a few years ago and my shoulder would get tired, but I don't remember it hurting in this area like it is now. Not sure if I have pulled a muscle and it just won't heal, or if it's the combo of the racquet and string set-up. I'm inclined to believe the latter, because after playing with the RF for the first 45 minutes this morning and my bicep/shoulder twinging, I pulled my leaded up Prince Phantom Pro 100 w/ gut-poly hybrid out of the bag and was serving hard with little or no bicep/shoulder pain, though my elbow did start twinging a bit after a while. Have tried a number of different string set-ups in the RF97A, currently have Babolat VS Touch 16 mains @ 57 and Prince Tour XP poly crosses @ 50. I have tried lower on both and didn't have the control I need. I really, really want to keep the RF97A because I just love how solid it is, but only serving at 60% of what I'm capable of is affecting my game. I'm thinking about going back to trying a full bed of Forten Sweet 16 SG in the RF like I did a few years ago. I don't remember it hurting, and it performed a lot better than I thought it would. Only problem is durability, given that it would break on me in about 3-4 hours of play. Hate to be re-stringing my racquets that often.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
On the equipment side elbow pain usually has to do with torsional stability and stiffness of the racket (high on RF97), while shoulder issues are usually due to weight/balance.

If I was you I would take a careful look at how you are swinging that RF97 on your serve. Usually there are technical changes that can reduce strain on the shoulder.
 

phanamous

Rookie
High static weight and swing weight tend to really affect my shoulder and the RF97 is both.
You can try replacing the grip with much lighter one to see if it helps. Perhaps just use a double layer of OG to try out. Easy way to figure out if it's the static weight or SW that's bothering you.
It's also a very stiff frame and therefore very string sensitive. Gut/soft poly makes it manageable.
It's a frame that you can't be lazy with requiring good proper technique to let its weight work for you. It sounds like you're arming your swing too much putting alot of stress on your muscles, especially near the shoulder, more noticeable on serve and overheads.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
For me there is a big difference. The weight and stability is much better and the frame has a tighter pattern and more controllable launch angle. I also prefer the feel of it - it has an explosive sweet spot when you hit the ball hard.

Its a rare frame since it is truly a modern racquet with serious power, but it has classic, soft feel and is so nice on the joints.
Stability is a huge thing for me, one of the reasons I love the RF97A so much. Think I'll definitely have to give the Clash 98 a demo. Thanks for the tip.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
inside is TommyJohn. I just solved (after 8 years with shoulder and elbow pain from a complete year off, I retired. Big mistake lol) it by going old school and picking up the racquets I played with in juniors. A 6.1 Hyper Prostaff 27.5. Static Weight 353, Swing Weight 355. I played with the RF97 for 2 years and a custom PrestigeMP the last 2 and was never able to get rid of the pain when serving until I went long.
WhT worked for me regarding the elbow tendon is a chiropractor working on my chest/front delt and bicep to get it all loose enough to release the pressure on the tendon.
Give me a day or 2 and I’ll come back with racquet options that may work. What’s your level of play? What worked for me May not work for you racquetwise but I think the trick may be in the length.
Interesting that you mention a longer stick. I think I demo'd 3 sticks that were longer than 27". One was the Yonex DR 98 Plus. I also demo'd the regular length DR 98, and while both of them felt pretty comfortable, they also both felt a little "rubbery" to me on impact. The 2nd one was the PK 7G, which I found unremarkable and too heavy for my liking. The 3rd one was a Prince 03 Speedport Black Team version that a friend of mine owned. He had Prince Tour XP full bed poly string in it and the few times he let me test it out, I really loved it. So much so that I found and bought 2 03 Speedport Black sticks, though they were the regular 27" version, not 27.5". I still liked the 27" version, but even with the same string set-up, I will say I noticed a difference between the 27" and 27.5" sticks, with the 27.5" being my favorite. But I was unable to find any new ones or ones in very good condition of that model. I still have the 27" sticks, and I can play a full bed of Tour XP poly (strung in the 30's) without noticeable pain in either my elbow or shoulder, but my arm did get *tired* after playing a match with that set-up. Way lighter than the RF97A so not as much stability and with the lower powered poly, maybe my arm got tired because I had to swing out more.

My level of play is 4.5-5.0. range.
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
It's possible your technique changes a bit between the two racquets, perhaps the trajectory of your groundstrokes' forward swings. I think it would be a good thing to check out the condition of that tendon since it may have gotten prematurely worn. One of my tennis mates had a similar issue, only with worse pain, and he needed surgery because his tendon had serious damage from wear.
Would I see an Orthopedist to have that checked out?
 

ashridge

Semi-Pro
On the equipment side elbow pain usually has to do with torsional stability and stiffness of the racket (high on RF97), while shoulder issues are usually due to weight/balance.

If I was you I would take a careful look at how you are swinging that RF97 on your serve. Usually there are technical changes that can reduce strain on the shoulder.
When I demo'd the RF97A with Lux 4g in it, *that* hurt my elbow *and* my shoulder. But with my current Gut/Poly set-up, it really doesn't hurt my elbow, only my shoulder. The league I play in has Playsight on the courts and so I get a pretty good look at my serve technique when watching my matches afterwards. I can't really tell that I have a different serve technique with the RF than with any of my other racquets.
 

FIRETennis

Professional
When I demo'd the RF97A with Lux 4g in it, *that* hurt my elbow *and* my shoulder. But with my current Gut/Poly set-up, it really doesn't hurt my elbow, only my shoulder. The league I play in has Playsight on the courts and so I get a pretty good look at my serve technique when watching my matches afterwards. I can't really tell that I have a different serve technique with the RF than with any of my other racquets.
Your Prince 03 Speedport should be stiffer (on paper) than the RF.. do you experience shoulder issues when you play with it?
If not, stiffness itself might not be the issue. Then you need to narrow it down to high static or the high SW or the combo of both.
It could be that there is a lingering tendinitis or sensitivity in your shoulder that flares up when using a high static weight racquet / medium-high SW combo, like the RF97A.
Do you frame a lot or hit your serves high on the hoop?

Just re-read your posts, and noticed you have a couple Phantoms. Why don't you try playing with those exclusively for a few weeks, ideally with gut/poly. Then go back to the RF and see if it comes back.
Another way to isolate what is causing the issue would be to:
- add ~3g of lead tape to one of your Phantoms Pro 100P to bring it to 335-340SW like the RF97.
- add 20g lead tape to the handle and 10g lead tape to the throat around balance point of the Phantom Pro 100 to bring it up to 355g strung.
Use http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/customizationReverse.php to try to match the balance as close as you can.

This way you will be able to isolate which specification is causing the arm issues... the high swing weight / low static with the customized 100P, the high static / low swing weight with the Pro 100.
 
Last edited:

ashridge

Semi-Pro
Your Prince 03 Speedport should be stiffer (on paper) than the RF.. do you experience shoulder issues when you play with it?
If not, stiffness itself might not be the issue. Then you need to narrow it down to high static or the high SW or the combo of both.
It could be that there is a lingering tendinitis or sensitivity in your shoulder that flares up when using a high static weight racquet / medium-high SW combo, like the RF97A.
Do you frame a lot or hit your serves high on the hoop?

Just re-read your posts, and noticed you have a couple Phantoms. Why don't you try playing with those exclusively for a few weeks, ideally with gut/poly. Then go back to the RF and see if it comes back.
Another way to isolate what is causing the issue would be to:
- add ~3g of lead tape to one of your Phantoms Pro 100P to bring it to 335-340SW like the RF97.
- add 20g lead tape to the handle and 10g lead tape to the throat around balance point of the Phantom Pro 100 to bring it up to 355g strung.
Use http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/customizationReverse.php to try to match the balance as close as you can.

This way you will be able to isolate which specification is causing the arm issues... the high swing weight / low static with the customized 100P, the high static / low swing weight with the Pro 100.
Yes, on *paper*, you're correct, the Speedport should be stiffer than the RF97A. But I don't have the shoulder issues with the Speedport. Maybe it has to do with the ports being more forgiving?

I did play with the Phantom's exclusively for several months before I went back to the RF97A. Shoulder problems weren't the issue, the elbow was the issue with the Phantom's. Only on hard 1st serves. Gut/Poly.

I just weighed my RF97A on a scale. The static weight is 363g strung, with 1 Wilson Pro overgrip and a standard string dampener, stock (no lead added).

My 03 Speedport Black is 339g strung with same overgrip and dampener and a fair bit of lead in the hoop and some in the throat.

My Phantom Pro 100p is 335g strung with overgrip and dampener plus a little lead in the throat. This racquet has a very small sweet spot and a lot of instability when hitting outside that sweet spot. I had added a significant amount of lead in the hoop to hopefully improve that but I didn't feel it improved it enough to justify the extra heft and less maneuverability that resulted, so I removed all the lead in the hoop. If not for the lack of stability outside the sweet spot, I could probably live with the little bit of elbow pain playing with the 100p, because when hitting in the sweet spot it feels like a bolt of lightning, awesome. Ironically, even though it is lighter than the leaded up 03 Speedport Black, it feels much more solid and has noticeably more plow when hitting in the sweet spot. But outside the sweet spot is yuck.

My Phantom Pro 100 is 344g strung with overgrip and dampener plus a good bit of lead in the hoop and throat.

Just to throw another wrinkle into things, I also a few years ago had demo'd a Volkl VS V1 Pro and it had felt incredibly plush and comfortable, but lacked stability. Well, I ended up buying one last Summer because of remembering about that plush comfort, and I just figured I could really increase the stability and plow with application of some lead. Well, I guess I don't know what I'm doing because I didn't increase the plow and stability so much as I decreased the maneuverability of the stick. I still have it, but don't play with it now. Trying to decide whether to keep it or get rid of it. It currently weighs in at 350g strung, with overgrip and dampener plus a lot of lead in both the throat and the hoop.
 

Anton

Legend
When I demo'd the RF97A with Lux 4g in it, *that* hurt my elbow *and* my shoulder. But with my current Gut/Poly set-up, it really doesn't hurt my elbow, only my shoulder. The league I play in has Playsight on the courts and so I get a pretty good look at my serve technique when watching my matches afterwards. I can't really tell that I have a different serve technique with the RF than with any of my other racquets.
Do you have a video of your serve?

The technique may be the same, but abrupt motion may put more strain on your body with a heavier racket.

This is a great exercise to smooth out the service stroke:
 
Last edited:

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
For a couple years now I've been attempting to find what is apparently the unicorn racquet for me: one that doesn't hurt my shoulder or my elbow with strings that allow me to have the performance I want, in a racquet that has the feel that I want. I've demo'd a bunch of different racquets and owned half a dozen different ones in the last few years looking for nirvana. So far have yet to find it. My elbow was the problem for most of that time, until I got a Wilson RF97A. Now, my shoulder is the problem, and elbow seems to be doing good. Or, when I say shoulder, I mean my upper bicep muscle where it attaches into my shoulder. No pain whatsoever when hitting groundstrokes, either side, but if I serve over 90 mph with the RF97A I feel it pretty good. Feels like a strained muscle.

I owned an RF97A a few years ago and my shoulder would get tired, but I don't remember it hurting in this area like it is now. Not sure if I have pulled a muscle and it just won't heal, or if it's the combo of the racquet and string set-up. I'm inclined to believe the latter, because after playing with the RF for the first 45 minutes this morning and my bicep/shoulder twinging, I pulled my leaded up Prince Phantom Pro 100 w/ gut-poly hybrid out of the bag and was serving hard with little or no bicep/shoulder pain, though my elbow did start twinging a bit after a while. Have tried a number of different string set-ups in the RF97A, currently have Babolat VS Touch 16 mains @ 57 and Prince Tour XP poly crosses @ 50. I have tried lower on both and didn't have the control I need. I really, really want to keep the RF97A because I just love how solid it is, but only serving at 60% of what I'm capable of is affecting my game. I'm thinking about going back to trying a full bed of Forten Sweet 16 SG in the RF like I did a few years ago. I don't remember it hurting, and it performed a lot better than I thought it would. Only problem is durability, given that it would break on me in about 3-4 hours of play. Hate to be re-stringing my racquets that often.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
I've only been through about half the posts in the thread so far, but it occurred to me that Forten Sweet is rather soft string as syn. guts go. You might get enough of the softness from something else in the family - maybe Prince Original SG (not the version with Duraflex), Tecnifibre, etc. - but you might also consider a heavier gauge of multifiber. Prince Premier Control comes in 15L and it definitely holds up better than the 16 ga. version. I also like this multi because it doesn't seem to steadily soften and degrade as it's used compared with some others.

If you like the heft and stability of the RF97A, you may want to consider a try with a Volkl C10 if you get the chance. This Volkl can certainly work as a more flexible alternative to the somewhat stiff Wilson.
 
Top