Blog Archives

Why Get Tennis Elbow in the First Place?

As we know “tennis elbow” is a term for extreme pain in the elbow!  Sounds simple but what can we do to preclude a case of “Tennis Elbow”?  For one we could simply not use our arms because tennis elbow can be a result of any number of activities.

Enough!  We are tennis players so what can we do?  Generally speaking we need to understand that repetitive shock on the arm, wrist, and shoulder is, at some point, going to hurt.  So, shock is the problem!  Not high frequency vibration that can be damped by a 3 gram rubber vibration damper inserted into the string bed.

Shock is the initial impact that sends the force as far as it will go!  Eliminate shock!  That’s the answer but total elimination of shock in a tennis racquet, string, and ball unit is difficult.  When I prepare a racquet one of the characteristics I calculate is effective stiffness.  Effective Stiffness is the combination, and product of, racquet stiffness and string plane stiffness.

I have found that effective stiffness of 30 or below is highly unlikely to “cause” tennis elbow.  If you don’t know what your effective stiffness is simply consider using a string with low dynamic stiffness like natural gut or multi-filament synthetic.   Very simply low dynamic stiffness means the string continues to stretch while in contact with the ball whereas a high dynamic stiffness will get much stiffer at impact.  Please eliminate the use of very “stiff” polyester based string at high tensions.  If you need to use polyester, for any reason, consider staying below 50 pounds when requesting tension.

Please give me a call if you have any questions or need string recommendations.


Arm Friendly Racquets…is it really the racquet?

A hurting arm makes it no fun to play tennis! So we need to keep your arm from hurting. Typically players associate hurting with stiff, lightweight racquets which may be true. We know that weight is your friend when it comes to comfort. I have written about this many times and most players accept the concept but simply don’t think they can play with a heavier racquet.

Well, don’t worry too much because we can make the stiff racquet feel “softer” by focusing on “effective stiffness”. Effective Stiffness is a calculated number based on the racquet stiffness, that can not be changed, and the string bed stiffness that can be changed.

That means the lower the string bed stiffness the lower the “effective stiffness” will be. By knowing the “effective stiffness” of a racquet/string combination we can customize the string bed stiffness to create almost any feel you want. Our diagnostic equipment makes it easy for us to collect “effective stiffness” number for any racquet at any time. For example if your racquet is feeling particularly good right now we can capture the current “effective stiffness” and duplicate this number the next time we string the racquet.

This is a very simplified version of what can be a complex discussion so please accept it as such.