The Scapula in Tennis Strokes

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
The scapula and rib cage form a joint, called the scapulothoracic joint. But this joint does not have a bony connection to the rib cage. The scapula moves around on the rib cage. The scapula repositions the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) which is located on the scapula. The scapula is probably used for more than just positioning, its motions may also contribute to racket head speed. ? To be determined............

High speed videos show that the scapula moves around rapidly during tennis strokes. Scapula in protraction during the forehand follow through.

Picture from a Fuzzy Yellow Balls video.


Scapula in protraction in one hand backhand turn back. The edge position of the scapula is visible.



"The Role of the Scapula." Read the function of the scapula and its joint motions especially for the joint motions of protraction and retraction.
Scapular motion during throwing is mentioned.

Do we have any information on the part played by the scapula during tennis strokes or pitching?
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
This Toly gif shows the scapular positions used by Gasquet on a heavy pace backhand, "103 MPH". Notice how to start forward his right shoulder appears shorter than his left shoulder when the scapula has moved forward around on the rib cage (protraction). You can see the scapular position through his shirt as with Kuerten in the OP. Retraction then pulls the scapula toward the back for the forward swing.



Anatoly Antipin (Toly video)
To single frame on Youtube use the period & comma keys.

Justine Henin backhand.

It appears that retraction can add to racket head speed when used like this. 'Chest press' can also play a part.
 
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Curiosity

Professional
The right scapula protraction happens automatically if we get the racquet back fully in the backswing. Scapular retraction, especially if well-timed, is a big contributor to RH speed out into contact. Whether looking at Guga or Justine, the final motion downward of the racquet just before/into rotation is ISR (why call it pronation?) and the final articulation just up into and through contact is ESR (not supination...why call it that?). Nonetheless, fun to watch a few clips of very good and interesting backhands.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
The right scapula protraction happens automatically if we get the racquet back fully in the backswing. Whether looking at Guga or Justine, the final motion downward of the racquet just before/into rotation is and the final articulation just up into and through contact is ESR (not supination...why call it that?). ......................................
I guess that protraction maybe "happens automatically" if you take the racket back fully and the upper arm is high. ?

The elbow can be bent at maximum take back and then straighten in the forward swing (Gasquet). I believe that Thiem has a straight arm take back. I don't know how protraction occurs whether with relaxed muscles or actively. ?

It looks as if Kuerten's scapula has been trained/stretched to protract farther than normal. ?

"Scapular retraction, especially if well-timed, is a big contributor to RH speed out into contact." Any references for the use of retraction for racket head speed?

I expect that racket head speed can be produced by retraction with the chest pressing on the upper arm. To be determined.

Do you have a quote for your comments "ISR (why call it pronation?)" and "ESR (not supination...why call it that?)" ? I find it easy to see the wrist rotate but difficult to observe separately the percents of ISR and pronation and the same with ESR and supination. In other words, how much is shoulder joint and how much is forearm motion. This is the same problem as for the serve, whenever the arm is near straight it is difficult to separately observe ISR from pronation and ESR from supination.
 
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Curiosity

Professional
I guess that protraction maybe "happens automatically" if you take the racket back fully and the upper arm is high. ?

The elbow can be bent at maximum take back and then straighten in the forward swing (Gasquet). I believe that Thiem has a straight arm take back. I don't know how protraction occurs whether with relaxed muscles or actively. ?

It looks as if Kuerten's scapula has been trained/stretched to protract farther than normal. ?

"Scapular retraction, especially if well-timed, is a big contributor to RH speed out into contact." Any references for the use of retraction for racket head speed?

I expect that racket head speed can be produced by retraction with the chest pressing on the upper arm. To be determined.

Do you have a quote for your comments "ISR (why call it pronation?)" and "ESR (not supination...why call it that?)" ? I find it easy to see the wrist rotate but difficult to observe separately the percents of ISR and pronation and the same with ESR and supination. In other words, how much is shoulder joint and how much is forearm motion. This is the same problem as for the serve, whenever the arm is near straight it is difficult to separately observe ISR from pronation and ESR from supination.
The retraction in the OHBH swing for power has this evidence: As you squeeze the shoulder-blades together, it accelerates both arms outward toward the side. It is that which causes essentially every OHBH player's off-side arm to automatically move out and up to the side in sync with what their hitting arm is doing. You can prove this to yourself by just standing in front of your computer, arms at your side: Squeeze your 'blades together with some force, then notice what your arms did.

You can also observe the scapular movements if you see a good OHBH player playing with a sweat-soaked shirt...
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
The retraction in the OHBH swing for power has this evidence: As you squeeze the shoulder-blades together, it accelerates both arms outward toward the side. It is that which causes essentially every OHBH player's off-side arm to automatically move out and up to the side in sync with what their hitting arm is doing. You can prove this to yourself by just standing in front of your computer, arms at your side: Squeeze your 'blades together with some force, then notice what your arms did.

You can also observe the scapular movements if you see a good OHBH player playing with a sweat-soaked shirt...
Any references from outside the forum?

Do as much protraction as you can and put your arm, high, across the upper chest. The upper arm should press on the chest. Now do retraction of the scapula. There is motion of the upper arm, horizontal abduction, if the upper arm is resting on the chest as a pivot. There are other features to be seen in high speed videos, such as the downward orientation of the upper arm. During the backhand, the uppermost body also accelerates rotationally. But scapular retraction - from a position of extreme protraction - can cause shoulder horizontal abduction and may add to racket head speed. One hand backhand players show extreme protraction. If there are any publications on this subject, please post the links.

This scapular retraction + shoulder joint motion has not been confirmed and there may be safety considerations for the one hand backhand.

It is too bad that there are not more overhead camera views of the current one hand backhand players.
 
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