Many moons ago, players used heavy wooden rackets and played one-handed backhands but today ... and they are getting hurt on their arms now.

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
This! The game has changed to spin and endurance.
Without power even if you have best variety, you can't win and it's true in 70s as today. It's probably even more important these days. To counter the pace from opponent you need to build your own.
 

Purestriker

Legend
Without power even if you have best variety, you can't win and it's true in 70s as today. It's probably even more important these days. To counter the pace from opponent you need to build your own.
Actually, outside of the serve (his service game has improved by lightyears in last 5 years), your favorite player (just guessing by the avatar and username) uses their power against them. He redirects it and turns defense into offense by taking the ball early and creating amazing angles. He is a marathon man that takes your legs and your soul because he won't miss and you try to do more.
 

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
Actually, outside of the serve (his service game has improved by lightyears in last 5 years), your favorite player (just guessing by the avatar and username) uses their power against them. He redirects it and turns defense into offense by taking the ball early and creating amazing angles. He is a marathon man that takes your legs and your soul because he won't miss and you try to do more.
Definitely. But he was always hitting the ball very big. Now he is no del Potro or Cilic so he would definitely redirect the pace when possible. His timing is amazing for that.

But to hit through someone like Thiem who can hit even massive topspin or Ruud, he has to be the power player himself.
 

urban

Legend
With the old wooden sticks, many top players had problems with the so called tennis arm, a chronical injury to underarm and elbow. For instance, the career of Tony Roche, the most talented young guy of the early 1970s, was cut short by a nagging elbow damage. After years of pain, he was healed by a faith healer on the Philippines. The problem with the small sticks was, that they forgave nothing and you had to hit the ball in the middle of the racket face, on the so called sweet spot. Otherwise, outside this sweet spot, you felt the pain on the backhand up to your shoulder.
 

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
@Rosstour we discussed this briefly how the slowness was required in surfaces. This research article from 2009 shows the proof.



The serve speeds have continuously grown. But its not just that. The accuracy on serve has improved drastically. The legends of the past like McEnroe and Becker says they served better but did they really?

Conclusions by 2 articles
1. Serve is far more important today than in the past -
2. Serve speed are higher than in 70s and that is after slowing down the surfaces and balls
3. Serves are far more accurate. Aces increased while DF decreased drastically. This is echoed by Phillipousis from second link where he said Accuracy was really bad with wooden rackets even if speed was hampered. Accuracy is far bigger issue.

So players today are dealing with far better serves. And there is by common sense direct relation between height and serve speed. The short players are at huge disadvantage based on how serve reliant modern game is.

Now this is just data on serve. The same is true on groundstrokes. But then there is spin as well


Above article also says how tennis players nowadays have to finish points much quickly because they can't hang around like players from the past. The power, topspin and mobility have all taken a huge jump from wooden racket days.

Today's game is far more athletic than the past but it does have less quick reflexes at the net required. Apart from that, with players wanting to finish points in 1 stroke, it actually has become MORE aggressive not less.
 

jackson vile

G.O.A.T.
With the old wooden sticks, many top players had problems with the so called tennis arm, a chronical injury to underarm and elbow. For instance, the career of Tony Roche, the most talented young guy of the early 1970s, was cut short by a nagging elbow damage. After years of pain, he was healed by a faith healer on the Philippines. The problem with the small sticks was, that they forgave nothing and you had to hit the ball in the middle of the racket face, on the so called sweet spot. Otherwise, outside this sweet spot, you felt the pain on the backhand up to your shoulder.


Those rackets are also horribly balanced absurdly heavy and difficult to swing

I played with one for fun one time and that’s all I needed, never again…
 
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nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
A match between 2 great baseliners from 1978



A match between 2 modern great baseliners in 2023.



Now many will make excuses that 2023 match is boring. But then you watch 1978 style tennis.

The problem with modern tennis is there is less variety but in the past due to racket accuracy being low, players were ready to risk a whole lot more.

The players are fast in both cases but today's Djokovic is 6'2 and Medvedev 6'6 while Connors was 5'10 and Borg around the same. These guys serve 125+ on first serves with Meddy going 135+ sometimes.
 

ojo rojo

Legend
"Perhaps the higher rates of young tennis pros suffering wrist and elbow problems is not entirely to blame on the advanced technology providing us with an increased stiffness in modern frames and poly strings; it may also be attributed to other rapidly growing technologies; similarly providing increased stiffness, however in a rather more vascular sense of the word"

•INFRAWEB POARNOGRAPHY
& The Decline of Western Civilization•

-Oho Roho
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
A match between 2 great baseliners from 1978



A match between 2 modern great baseliners in 2023.



Now many will make excuses that 2023 match is boring. But then you watch 1978 style tennis.

The problem with modern tennis is there is less variety but in the past due to racket accuracy being low, players were ready to risk a whole lot more.

The players are fast in both cases but today's Djokovic is 6'2 and Medvedev 6'6 while Connors was 5'10 and Borg around the same. These guys serve 125+ on first serves with Meddy going 135+ sometimes.

It was harder to hit through people (and keep the ball in), accuracy, variety/surprise and placement were what created winners, not raw power. Hence the demise of tactics/strategy, and the rise of conditioning. Tennis players used to be less athletic, more regular guys, think bowling, darts, golf, ping-pong. Now tennis players (nearly all Euros) are basically indistinguishable from soccer players (nearly all Euros). Tall white jocks only need apply.

Thus is the post.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
Watching these old videos impress me and at the same time inflate my ego.
Impressed what they can do with a woody, but amazing how much slower the game is compared to today.

At times the old vids look like me hitting with my buddy--just much more consistent. I know we are not anywhere near that level, but the way TV warps the size of the court and the appearance of ball speed, shows you how far tennis has come in regards to speed, power and athleticism. You watch Lendl and your brain erroneously thinks, hmm, I hit that hard (not true at all), but then you watch Alcaraz and Sinner and feel like you've never played tennis.
 

big ted

Legend
Watching these old videos impress me and at the same time inflate my ego.
Impressed what they can do with a woody, but amazing how much slower the game is compared to today.

At times the old vids look like me hitting with my buddy--just much more consistent. I know we are not anywhere near that level, but the way TV warps the size of the court and the appearance of ball speed, shows you how far tennis has come in regards to speed, power and athleticism. You watch Lendl and your brain erroneously thinks, hmm, I hit that hard (not true at all), but then you watch Alcaraz and Sinner and feel like you've never played tennis.

i do think tennis was more relatable to the masses when they played with wood :)
 

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
The modern player is far better athelete than the past ones.

Yes the athletes today are not that much faster than their predecessors in 70s. But they have to change directions more violently. Hit the ball which is much lighter with enough acceelation to end the pts quickly. Stretch even on hard courts for the younger players which is very tough on joints.

While the athletes in the past are no joke, the only thing they had to worry about was hitting with a heavier racket. But they didn't have to worry about getting their Elbow surgically repaired at 21 so often.
 

Curtennis

Hall of Fame
The average point played today has a longer rally than entire matches from the 90s and earlier. Players are also hitting the ball far harder (spin is a function of hitting harder too).

Little to do with the equipment.
 

Bambooman

Hall of Fame
More shots and harder shots.

Not to say that back in the day they didn't politely moonball to each other for 80 plus shots.
 

travlerajm

Talk Tennis Guru
With the old wooden sticks, many top players had problems with the so called tennis arm, a chronical injury to underarm and elbow. For instance, the career of Tony Roche, the most talented young guy of the early 1970s, was cut short by a nagging elbow damage. After years of pain, he was healed by a faith healer on the Philippines. The problem with the small sticks was, that they forgave nothing and you had to hit the ball in the middle of the racket face, on the so called sweet spot. Otherwise, outside this sweet spot, you felt the pain on the backhand up to your shoulder.
The

tennis arm has evolved.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
The average point played today has a longer rally than entire matches from the 90s and earlier. Players are also hitting the ball far harder (spin is a function of hitting harder too).

Little to do with the equipment.
I know we can get some long points.
But do we have any current data to compare?
Looking at recent, but now aged data Craig O'Shannessy has talked about the average length of a point is 4 shots or less. So a serve, retrun and 2 ground strokes at most. I think about 70% of balls played. Whereas rallies over 9 balls are less than 10%. I think this comes from the late 2010's or 2020. I believe he looked at numerous pro tournaments and even amateur data too.

I guess it is also possible that the average in the 1990's was 2 shots or less?
 
You still need variety such as touch and the ability to switch the rally, approach, etc. Even in todays game you cannot just bash and try to hit through the opponent. You need a strategy and the tactics to implement it.
I think a lot of the injury come from the extreme, explosive movement elite tennis requires. So much of todays game is focused on maximum rpm production and that is not easy on the arm. These are young developing bodies under a lifetime of playing hard and now these injuries are creeping up with them.
 

SonnyT

Legend
Players had to retire because of elbow injuries, similar to what Djokovic had. Even 'fragile' players, like Nadal, last 20 years.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
You still need variety such as touch and the ability to switch the rally, approach, etc. Even in todays game you cannot just bash and try to hit through the opponent. You need a strategy and the tactics to implement it.
I think a lot of the injury come from the extreme, explosive movement elite tennis requires. So much of todays game is focused on maximum rpm production and that is not easy on the arm. These are young developing bodies under a lifetime of playing hard and now these injuries are creeping up with them.
Well said.
Many of today's players forehands are more rotation based than linear based. This puts more stress on the hips, shoulder and elbow. They get lots of spin, but in order to make it penetrate they really need to whip and be explosive.
Bringing back some more traditional linear drive might reduce some of that torque that can wear down joints. I always felt Fed had a good blend of modern and linear drive.
 

Tshooter

G.O.A.T.
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nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
All due to an inability to finish a point with confidence of strategy, in part brought on by the hard-selling of the mindless, one-dimensional, baseline-obsessed game which took root early in this century.
False.

In fact today's players try to end points more quickly. A pro would be idiot if he played like McEnore. Serve me volley is dead.
 

Jonesy

Legend
Hear me.

Everyone here is wrong. There are China chips everywhere in the air and they obstruct the running body, the rackets and the balls travelling around which then cause more strain on the players corpus.

I'll tell ya, those China chips are destroying the enviroment and causing world disasters!
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
With the old wooden sticks, many top players had problems with the so called tennis arm, a chronical injury to underarm and elbow. For instance, the career of Tony Roche, the most talented young guy of the early 1970s, was cut short by a nagging elbow damage. After years of pain, he was healed by a faith healer on the Philippines. The problem with the small sticks was, that they forgave nothing and you had to hit the ball in the middle of the racket face, on the so called sweet spot. Otherwise, outside this sweet spot, you felt the pain on the backhand up to your shoulder.
yeah there were problems then too. but the lighter rackets and emphasis on spin has led to an incredible increase in swing speed, which puts more strain on the joints, more torque etc.
 

CHillTennis

Hall of Fame
A match between 2 great baseliners from 1978



A match between 2 modern great baseliners in 2023.



Now many will make excuses that 2023 match is boring. But then you watch 1978 style tennis.

The problem with modern tennis is there is less variety but in the past due to racket accuracy being low, players were ready to risk a whole lot more.

The players are fast in both cases but today's Djokovic is 6'2 and Medvedev 6'6 while Connors was 5'10 and Borg around the same. These guys serve 125+ on first serves with Meddy going 135+ sometimes.
Bog vs Connors is awesome! Djkokovic vs Medvedev is pretty dull.
 

robyrolfo

Hall of Fame
Ridiculous notion.
Watch Lendl vs McEnroe Roland Garros final and see how many softballs BOTH played. The game is far too physical today. Light racket is for staying ahead and generating massive pace.
Um, you completely missed the point. Yes, the game is different now, as a result of the racquet tech evolving. So he's asking if this evolution (which we all know about, no need for you to keep harping on about it) is causing more injuries, specifically in regard to arm injuries from modern racquets.

The serve speeds have continuously grown. But its not just that. The accuracy on serve has improved drastically. The legends of the past like McEnroe and Becker says they served better but did they really?
Thanks to the racquets. You can't compare like for like, shots from the 2020's to shots from the 1970's.

The problem with modern tennis is there is less variety but in the past due to racket accuracy being low, players were ready to risk a whole lot more.

The players are fast in both cases but today's Djokovic is 6'2 and Medvedev 6'6 while Connors was 5'10 and Borg around the same. These guys serve 125+ on first serves with Meddy going 135+ sometimes.
See, you said it yourself.

And you don't think Becker would be throwing down absolute monster serves with a 2020's racquet?

Maybe the injuries are more in the groin / thigh / hip area as all players do way more (maybe excessive) sliding nowadays, even on hardcourt.
This too. Some ridiculously unnecessary sliding going on on hardcourts (like after a point is over and guys are still sliding to a stop).

It was harder to hit through people (and keep the ball in), accuracy, variety/surprise and placement were what created winners, not raw power. Hence the demise of tactics/strategy, and the rise of conditioning. Tennis players used to be less athletic, more regular guys, think bowling, darts, golf, ping-pong. Now tennis players (nearly all Euros) are basically indistinguishable from soccer players (nearly all Euros). Tall white jocks only need apply.
Wait, what? First off, players of the past weren't less athletic. The game was just different. Or do you think Dan Evans is some sort of paragon of athleticism?

Second, you clearly have no clue about soccer players. Tall white jocks only? What, you couldn't even be bothered to google pictures of Messi, Mbape, Neymar, Modric, Vini Jr, Ronaldo (the first, original), Ronaldo (the second), Luis Alberto, Felipe Anderson, Zaccagni, Lazzari...

False.
In fact today's players try to end points more quickly. A pro would be idiot if he played like McEnore. Serve me volley is dead.
And here you are completely contradicting yourself (or being clueless). There is no strategy in the game to end points more quickly than serve and volley (other than transforming yourself into John Isner).
 

CHillTennis

Hall of Fame
i do think tennis was more relatable to the masses when they played with wood :)
Sadly, I think that most people just don't understand how good the wood racquet players actually were.

McEnroe was able to beat Andre Agassi on multiple occasions, back when Agassi was a young player.

And Agassi, for his part, did the same thing to Roger Federer.

We're only just a few generations removed from the wood racquets.
 

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
Um, you completely missed the point. Yes, the game is different now, as a result of the racquet tech evolving. So he's asking if this evolution (which we all know about, no need for you to keep harping on about it) is causing more injuries, specifically in regard to arm injuries from modern racquets.


Thanks to the racquets. You can't compare like for like, shots from the 2020's to shots from the 1970's.


See, you said it yourself.

And you don't think Becker would be throwing down absolute monster serves with a 2020's racquet?


This too. Some ridiculously unnecessary sliding going on on hardcourts (like after a point is over and guys are still sliding to a stop).


Wait, what? First off, players of the past weren't less athletic. The game was just different. Or do you think Dan Evans is some sort of paragon of athleticism?

Second, you clearly have no clue about soccer players. Tall white jocks only? What, you couldn't even be bothered to google pictures of Messi, Mbape, Neymar, Modric, Vini Jr, Ronaldo (the first, original), Ronaldo (the second), Luis Alberto, Felipe Anderson, Zaccagni, Lazzari...


And here you are completely contradicting yourself (or being clueless). There is no strategy in the game to end points more quickly than serve and volley (other than transforming yourself into John Isner).
We completely differ in all things. You know it as well as others defending players of the past that the rackets made the game much more swifter. So why are you caring about what Becker would do with modern rackets. The fact is everyone is trying to push to the limit and even then playing serve and volley with modern equipment is suicide. And YOU know it. Why are you debating on that one.

While knowing that, players are still trying to end points quickly even on clay courts so they are trying to get an edge. Players of the past were very athletic but they didn't have to do this.

Even if running speed is the same today as in the past or barely faster, it's because of much lighter balls and with topspin the players NEED to run more, play behind baseline many a times, hit much harder, chance directions far more swiftly and hit serves with far more on the line.
 

CHillTennis

Hall of Fame
We completely differ in all things. You know it as well as others defending players of the past that the rackets made the game much more swifter. So why are you caring about what Becker would do with modern rackets. The fact is everyone is trying to push to the limit and even then playing serve and volley with modern equipment is suicide. And YOU know it. Why are you debating on that one.

While knowing that, players are still trying to end points quickly even on clay courts so they are trying to get an edge. Players of the past were very athletic but they didn't have to do this.

Even if running speed is the same today as in the past or barely faster, it's because of much lighter balls and with topspin the players NEED to run more, play behind baseline many a times, hit much harder, chance directions far more swiftly and hit serves with far more on the line.
Are you sure about that? Jan Lennard Struff was serving and volleying very effectively against Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid final last year.

That match went to 3 sets.

Maybe it's not just an outdated tactic, but something that most coaches don't want to teach.
 
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