In a previous article, I described the kinetic chain and how understanding it and making a conscious effort to implement it into your stroke production can improve your game and lessen possible injuries.
While researching some tennis videos, I came across one titled “Do these old farts have better strokes than you?” As it turned out, the “old farts” did have better strokes, due to their using energy transfer via the kinetic chain.
OK, so what exactly is kinetic energy? By definition, it is “energy associated with motion.” Virtually every physical act performed is a result of kinetic energy; tennis players at any level, beginner to the most advanced, all share this thread in common.
Regarding tennis, there’s really no one technique to hit any tennis shot since the body is capable of putting arm, hand and racquet in position to contact the ball at some velocity.
But, due to the timing and flow of energy, body movements determine the coordination and timing that contribute to injury or make for a good shot.
So, by using less energy derived from only the arm, and using more from your whole body, you stand a greater chance to make better shots with less risk of injury.
This is where the kinetic chain comes into play. Think of your body as a system of chain links, starting with energy pushing up from your feet (link No.1), traveling through your calves (2), knees (3), and thighs (4).
Next it goes through your hips (5), core (6), on to the shoulder (7), elbow (8), wrist (9), and hand (10), finally getting to the racquet.
Think about it! There are at least 10 successive energy links responsible for moving your energy to the end of your racquet.
As the energy is transferred up the chain, the best results are determined by how well each link moves energy and power to the next, building on the one before it, to ultimately propel the racquet.
So, how can we achieve the best results, now that the kinetic chain is identified and understood? The answer: Learning proper timing of all the links to maximize the energy transfer, generate racquet speed and prevent injury.
If your strokes aren’t quite the level you’d like them to be, or you’re experiencing pain or discomfort while hitting, it’s likely due to a “break” in the chain, causing timing to be off.
The best all-round, efficient way to fix the “break” is to take a lesson with a qualified teaching pro. He or she can look at and analyze your current stroke technique and see what needs to be fixed, adjusted or improved upon.
Two very big benefits with improving technique are less risk for injury and better performance.
Here’s to hoping your kinetic chain of energy has no weak link!
Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. firstname.lastname@example.org