I use pure Kevlar strings (on both mains and crosses, to minimize string breakage) and hit with a 5.0 level game. I have not had tennis elbow in years. Let me show you why:
The scourge of many tennis players the world over – Tennis Elbow. Tennis elbow, known medically as Epitrochlear bursitis, Lateral Epicondylitis, or Epicondrylitis – lateral, affects as many as 50% of tennis players throughout their careers. Did you know that Modern Tennis Methodology can take your chances of having tennis elbow down to 0? Let me give you a rundown of my experience first.
My name is Sean Patterson and I am a 5.0 NTRP player. I have been playing since I was 16 and am 24 at the time of this article. I used to have tennis elbow. Now a 16 year old having tennis elbow should tell you that this is not just something that happens as you get older. It can affect anybody (though it happens most to people ages 30 to 50). Back then I was using synthetic gut strings so it wasn’t like they were rough on the arm. The next softest string I could have used was natural gut but at $30 a pack it didn’t seem like a great idea.
I had tennis elbow before I picked up MTM. I was introduced to MTM and actually worked with Oscar at some clinics in St. Louis later that year. Oscar and our MTM coach at the time, John Carpenter, told us to stop holding the racquets so tight. At the time I was holding it at about a 7 on the scale of 1-10. Being young and hitting for the fences on every shot meant that racquet had to be held tight, right? Wrong. Even the old adage of “Hold the racquet like a small bird, you don’t want it to get away but you don’t want to crush it” is an overstatement. John taught us this by holding the racquet with 2 fingers and rocketing a forehand. It is all about the pendulum motion. Oscar covers this in this ESPN tip. If you hold the racquet loosely it will snap like a whip at the ball and give you even more momentum.
Back to how this helps tennis elbow though – see I hold the racquet with a ball-in-socket type of grip. The butt of the racquet fits loosely into the palm of my closed hand with this grip. I still hold a proper grip, but the tightness of the grip is extremely loose. In fact I hold the racquet as loose as I can without letting go. This allows all those vibrations to travel down the racquet and into – well – nothing. They don’t go into my arm because my arm is no longer attached to the racquet. Like I said earlier, I use pure Kevlar strings on the crosses and mains. People ask me all the time “How the heck do you use those strings? Doesn’t that destroy your arm?” Well, the grip is your answer.
Long story short – hold the racquet loosely and not only will you hit the ball better and with more momentum, but you will also avoid vibrations and tennis elbow. The biggest problem vibrations cause for me now is the ping sound the strings make. But that’s nothing that a cheap rubber band on the strings can’t fix.