Long hiatus from tennis, elbow pain during bigger serves

#1
It's been several years since I played tennis, and I just recently started playing again maybe 6 hours a week with a friend. We tried serving for the first time yesterday, and I discovered that my flat serves were giving me elbow pain within 10-15 tries. I'm sure my form was less than spectacular and probably trying to muscle the serve, but I am curious if anyone else has experienced this or if I need need to reexamine my setup. I just changed from a Prince O3 Tour to the RF97 which has a good bit heavier swing weight. As soon as I started practicing a second serve instead of a first serve, the elbow pain went away. My second serve is usually more of a slice serve or sometimes a kick.

I have my racquet strung 54 in the mains (MSV Focus Hex 18), and 58 in the crosses (OGSM). Strings are nearing dead and feel very muted.
 
#2
Switched from one of the worlds most arm friendly racquets to a heavy stiff frame with a Poly mains. After a long hiatus from tennis. Not a great recipe for arm health.

Probably need to build up your arm a bit more before wielding the RF97 for a bunch of serves. And then try to work on technique and easy serve motion, rather than trying to muscle first serves in.

My bout of TE came on after trying to practice serves with a bad setup (PD+ with gut/alu power). Took 2 years of fooling around with different racquets and setups and physio to get it better. So don't fool around with TE.
 
#3
It's been several years since I played tennis, and I just recently started playing again maybe 6 hours a week with a friend. We tried serving for the first time yesterday, and I discovered that my flat serves were giving me elbow pain within 10-15 tries. I'm sure my form was less than spectacular and probably trying to muscle the serve, but I am curious if anyone else has experienced this or if I need need to reexamine my setup. I just changed from a Prince O3 Tour to the RF97 which has a good bit heavier swing weight. As soon as I started practicing a second serve instead of a first serve, the elbow pain went away. My second serve is usually more of a slice serve or sometimes a kick.

I have my racquet strung 54 in the mains (MSV Focus Hex 18), and 58 in the crosses (OGSM). Strings are nearing dead and feel very muted.
RF97A plus poly is a pretty harsh setup for an aging arm...

Try a softer string?

I use full gut and a racket with less stiffness, and don't have pain on my serves...
 
#4
RF97A plus poly is a pretty harsh setup for an aging arm...

Try a softer string?

I use full gut and a racket with less stiffness, and don't have pain on my serves...
Haha, well not really an aging arm. I'm only 26. I just didn't really play much in my undergrad/grad school. I still lift weights regularly 4x a week.

I do have some natural gut I am planning to use in the mains combined with poly in the crosses. I have been hitting mostly just ground strokes with my friend to get my body used to swinging a racquet again, and I am slowly starting to adjust to the RF97. I just wanted to try and find some tensions with the new racquet before I string the natural gut. I am also planning on switching to Grapplesnake polys which are a supposed to be quite soft. I am not sure if lowering tension would be the right approach. My balls are flying long right now as I try to relearn how to hit topspin.

Switched from one of the worlds most arm friendly racquets to a heavy stiff frame with a Poly mains. After a long hiatus from tennis. Not a great recipe for arm health.

Probably need to build up your arm a bit more before wielding the RF97 for a bunch of serves. And then try to work on technique and easy serve motion, rather than trying to muscle first serves in.

My bout of TE came on after trying to practice serves with a bad setup (PD+ with gut/alu power). Took 2 years of fooling around with different racquets and setups and physio to get it better. So don't fool around with TE.
Sounds good. I'll just work on easy serves to relearn the timing. I'm honestly surprised it didn't deteriorate more considering how much more technical the serve is compared to ground strokes. I did play a few days with the O3 Tour while my RF97 was out for stringing, and I definitely felt better in terms of pain (mostly wrist, coming off of wrist sprains from snowboarding). I am slowly starting to use my whole body again, especially with my backhands. It doesn't help that I was tasked to teach badminton here for a few years which made me overuse my wrists. I've tried Babolat racquets before, but I could never get used to the feel.
 
#5
I just started again at 40 from a 10 year layoff. After month on the wall, I tried hitting some serves. No arm pain, and I use full poly. I was also surprised I could even make clean contact with a serve. Overall, though, I am not rushing anything. Not interested in injuries (I have a back that can strike me down even when I am feeling great), but more gradual long term gain, as I was quite sedentary between 2017 and 2018. With that, it has taken my shoulder about a month to really adapt to hitting, again.
 
#8
Served some more yesterday, seems to be just an issue of timing. I feel the shock when I am mistiming the serve and hitting outside of the sweet spot. Serving in 20+ mph winds is pretty difficult though, having to throw the ball 1-2' out in front of me for it to be placed where I normally toss the ball!

I'm still going to take it easy though and stay away from big flat serves for a few weeks.
 
#10
26? Teaching badminton a good bit? Lifting weights x 4? So you're fit. No problem there.
I'm 67. For perhaps 5 years I've used Wilson PS 97's strung with a full bed of ALU Power at 45 lbs. Contrary to all advice, I've found the string very arm friendly at that lower tension. For touch shots I can count on it being a board, utterly predictable. With a fast swing on serves and ground strokes it yields and rebounds well. I have one RF97 which I use occasionally as a warmup racquet, a sort of dumb bell for strength-building.
If you're just coming back to tennis, I have a question: Do you contact the ball on your first serve with a straight arm? It sometimes slips returning players' memories that even on the first serve there should still be slight bend in the arm, and perhaps 15º of angle between the racquet shaft and the forearm, so that ISR (aka "pronation") into contact has something to work with. These improve serve speed and, to some extent, elbow stress, it seems to me.
I've been playing reasonably competitive middle-aged doubles six hours, drills and hitting with pro for one hour, warm-up hitting for ca. 2 hours a week ...the last two weeks, and don't hurt anywhere. That just shows that full-bed poly at a reasonable tension can be OK...
 
#11
26? Teaching badminton a good bit? Lifting weights x 4? So you're fit. No problem there.
I'm 67. For perhaps 5 years I've used Wilson PS 97's strung with a full bed of ALU Power at 45 lbs. Contrary to all advice, I've found the string very arm friendly at that lower tension. For touch shots I can count on it being a board, utterly predictable. With a fast swing on serves and ground strokes it yields and rebounds well. I have one RF97 which I use occasionally as a warmup racquet, a sort of dumb bell for strength-building.
If you're just coming back to tennis, I have a question: Do you contact the ball on your first serve with a straight arm? It sometimes slips returning players' memories that even on the first serve there should still be slight bend in the arm, and perhaps 15º of angle between the racquet shaft and the forearm, so that ISR (aka "pronation") into contact has something to work with. These improve serve speed and, to some extent, elbow stress, it seems to me.
I've been playing reasonably competitive middle-aged doubles six hours, drills and hitting with pro for one hour, warm-up hitting for ca. 2 hours a week ...the last two weeks, and don't hurt anywhere. That just shows that full-bed poly at a reasonable tension can be OK...
You're spot on. I notice every time I feel the pain in the elbow it's a straight arm. That might be why I don't have pain with spin serves since my arm is more bent. I'll have to be more aware of that next time I head out.

Seeing everyone string their rackets so low is making me want to try my RF with low tension, but my balls are pretty consistently hitting 1 foot behind the baseline, and I have no issue generating power. I don't really find the racquet to be that heavy. I definitely notice it if I pick it up after I play with another racquet, but now that I've played with my RF97 a good bit, it feels very natural to me.
 
#12
You're spot on. I notice every time I feel the pain in the elbow it's a straight arm. That might be why I don't have pain with spin serves since my arm is more bent. I'll have to be more aware of that next time I head out.

Seeing everyone string their rackets so low is making me want to try my RF with low tension, but my balls are pretty consistently hitting 1 foot behind the baseline, and I have no issue generating power. I don't really find the racquet to be that heavy. I definitely notice it if I pick it up after I play with another racquet, but now that I've played with my RF97 a good bit, it feels very natural to me.
I'm no expert, but I didn't see much power change as I lowered tension. The difference was arm comfort, plus feel in the full-speed strokes. I'll also didn't find accuracy much diminished, probably because ALU Power is a stiff string to begin with.?.

Yep, good about the arm completely straight v. not.

This will make you laugh, but I weighted up my 97's when I bought them, half way to the RF97 weight. "I just want them a little bit lighter than the RF97." Makes me laugh. BTW, age makes a difference in how a (slightly) heavier racquet feels after two sets. I'm a little more than twice as old as you. I have an excuse. If I were your age I'd stay with the RF97. But still strung in the mid40's, which Fed himself does.....
 
#13
Oh so the fed numbers on the racquet are completely bogus? I was planning on switching to a natural gut poly hybrid but I'm still experimenting with tensions.

Good to know, thanks for the help.

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