One of the most common injuries in tennis is tennis elbow and it can be caused by a number of things: poor conditioning, bad technique, wrong equipment. Let’s start by looking at more arm-friendly racquets.
Most tennis racquets that are released today are relatively stiff. The reason for this is to help out with power and stability on your shots. The downside is that more vibrations from the racquet will reach your arm.
Back in the old days tennis was played with racquets made of wood. Wood is a flexible material that absorbs the shock from the ball, but doesn’t give you much power. As the game of tennis got faster and faster and more physical, new racquets were developed to give the players more power yet retain control. Babolat is one of the companies that have been leading this transformation thanks to their hugely popular Babolat Pure Drive and Babolat Aero Pro Drive (Pure Aero these days) and ambassadors such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Carlos Moya, and more recently Dominic Thiem.
Most Babolat racquets offer you really good power and a solid feel despite its light-weight package and Wilson have gone them same way with their Wilson Burn and Blade series. A light-weight and powerful racquet coupled with a spin-friendly polyester string will allow you to swing like a maniac and the ball will still land in thanks to the top spin.
Power is a thing most players crave because there aren’t many better feelings than smacking a forehand down the line for a winner, but it does come at a cost with the above-mentioned vibrations. So if you’re suffering from arm problems, I suggest you do three things:
- Consider your physique and if you could improve it.
- Ask a coach to have a look at your technique.
- Check if you’re using the right gear.
Physique and technique are the cornerstones of a good tennis game, but gear also play an important role. The ATP Pros are extremely picky about their tennis racquets and strings and there is a reason for that.
When you buy a racquet it should feel right in your hand and when you’re hitting, but you should also look at more technical factors such as the RA number. The RA is a way to measure stiffness. A rating from mid-fifties to lower sixties is a pretty flexible racquet, a rating from the mid-sixties to mid-seventies is a rather stiff racquet. A flexible racquet is usually better for your arm. (When you look at RA remember that if the rating is unstrung that a strung racquet will usually drop the RA by a few points.)
Strings and string tension also play into this. If use a stiff string with a high tension, then also a flexible racquet will play harsh, but a stiff racquet with a soft string such as a hybrid setup with natural gut, a full bed of multifilament string or a softer polyester strung with a lower tension can make it far more comfortable. So those factors need to be taken into account.
Choosing your tennis racquet is also up to personal taste, technique and needs for your game but if you have arm issues I would suggest you looking into a racquet with an RA rating lower than 65.
Here are some arm-friendly racquets for you who just like a more flexible feel or who are trying to reduce the shock and vibration to your arm:
Yonex DR 98 – Remarkably comfortable for a modern racquet and still manages to pack a punch.
Prokennex racquets use a special kinetic technology that is supposed to be very good for your arm.
Pacific X Force Pro 1 is a rather flexible and versatile racquet that a lot of players enjoy.
If you can find a Tecnifibre Tfight 315 Ltd it is a wonderful racquet with brilliant flex.
I haven’t tried it myself but the Volkl V1 series is supposed to be both versatile and comfortable.
If you want a Babolat racquet, I would suggest checking out the Babolat Pure Control – a nice precision stick.
Will move onto strings in another post. Good luck finding a racquet that suits you. And from a racquetholic – there’s no shame in switching racquets from time to time…;)