My girlfriend and I started playing tennis recently. She has an extensive throwing background due to pitching at Oklahoma. Partially due to this, she has to be careful about her throwing arm sometimes. (Lot of mileage on that arm.) Playing tennis is one of those times.
We were playing for almost two hours and things were going well. Then her arm started bothering her. Primarily during the downward motion of a bigger swing, like when serving. We decided to call it a day. We’re still new to playing. No need to push things too far.
I’ve gone over some exercises with her before. I decide to show her a new one before we head out, to see if we can make the arm feel better before moving on to the rest of the weekend.
This is what I see:
Let’s slow it down and watch the most pronounced segment a few times:
Notice when that winging is occurring: Not when lifting the arm, but when lowering. Exactly when she was having a problem in tennis!
I show her the video; tell her about 15 words. They were, in effect, to “don’t let that happen.” I give her a little push on her shoulder for where I’m referencing, and where I want her to think about. I reiterate it’s when coming down during the motion. If a minute went by, that was the max. Then she does this:
Not only does it look way better, but she felt way better too. The last few minutes we played she was grimacing some, trying to “loosen up” her arm. We left the court with her rubbing it a decent amount. By the time we got in the car, it was forgotten about.
Sometimes it’s this simple. That’s not to say it’s easy though. This is someone with a very high level athletic background. These types pick up different ways of moving much easier than the everyday person.
Plus, with the shoulder blade, it can be much harder to make a change as you can’t always precisely feel the change, and you’re not able to see the thing in real time, compared to something like your knee. Initially, she had no clue she was doing this during that motion, until I pointed it out.
Furthermore, integrating this with a tennis swing can take a lot more practice. Once a tennis swing occurs, the velocity increases a great deal. Subsequently, old habits take over. Same thing with fatigue. As it increases, old ways creep back in. It’s not a coincidence she started feeling things after we’d been playing nearly two hours. For us, we just stopped playing. For someone else, they may need to build up their fatigue tolerance, or build up their ability to not wing as velocity of the arm increases. That’s going to be harder.
Lastly, she had winging during one motion- lowering the arm. Others have winging during much more than this. For some, it might be even while only standing. Having to think about correcting how you move during one motion can be a lot easier than thinking about it every time you do anything.
However, difficulty does not connote complexity.
“Don’t let that happen.”
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