Tennis Fit Series: Tennis Technique and Injury

Tennis Fit Series: Tennis Technique and Injury

From a biomechanics point of view, there is no one correct technique to hit a tennis ball.  Believe it or not, the body is capable of putting the racquet in the correct position with the correct velocity using a number of different movement sequences.  These unique movement sequences (generated by the kinetic chain) determine how much stress a tennis player will put on his or her body.








So what is the kinetic chain?

The kinetic chain, as it relates to tennis, is best defined by the USTA Sports Science Committee:

“All body segments are linked to the rest of the body, meaning what happens in one part of the body impacts the forces and loads experienced by the rest of the body because the joints and muscles provide a mechanism to transfer energy throughout the body. Optimal use of the kinetic chain in tennis requires less muscle activation, less load on the body structures, and less energy expenditure to achieve the desired result.

The optimal coordination of kinetic chains in high speed movement activities like tennis uses coordinated sequential movements of the segments of the body to build force from the ground through the hips and trunk to the shoulder and into the arm, hand and racquet. For example, approximately 50% of the energy needed to hit a forehand is generated from the legs and trunk and transferred through the kinetic chain to the racket. “Good” use of kinetic chains have common characteristics that allow them to be efficient, even though they may vary in overall appearance due to individual stylistic variations.

When these characteristics are not present, or the sequential timing is altered, the transfer of energy in the kinetic chain is said to be “broken”. In a broken kinetic chain the energy that must normally be developed within many segments is altered and other body parts must make up for these changes when attempting to create the same performance. When the chain is broken, there is either a greater load placed on other body segments to achieve the desired result, or the athlete must accept a lower level of performance.”

There are many examples of kinetic chain breakage in tennis players.  One of the most common occurs at the trunk.  If the trunk does not rotate to provide force to the shoulder, then the shoulder, elbow, and wrist need to make up the force, which often leads to injury or poor performance.

This week, I would like to focus on medicine ball drills for tennis to develop the key muscles of the kinetic chain (legs, hips, trunk) to reduce injury and improve power on the court.  All you need is a 4-8 lb. medicine ball.  If a 4 lb. medicine ball is too heavy for you, you can always use a basketball to get started.

Watch the video demonstration below:

Perform 10 repetitions for each exercise 2-3 days/week.

These exercises are easy to do at home, at the gym, or at the courts. Try incorporating these medicine ball exercises into your weekly tennis routine. These exercises not only minimize the risk of injury, but can improve mechanics and performance so you can play better, healthier tennis in in 2015.

View the entire USTA article quoted above HERE

Stay tuned for next week’s blog to learn about racquets, injury, and performance!