Tennis Elbow – The Gear Guide by zdepth


As a social tennis player, everywhere I go, I get enquiries from people regarding arm injuries especially on the tennis elbow. I am a golfer’s elbow sufferer which is the same like tennis elbow except that it is on the inside of the elbow. I’ve came out with this helpful guide for all of you who has some form of arm problem, be it elbow, wrist or shoulder. This guide will help you in choosing the proper gear in order for you to have safer tennis activities.

One important note that I would like to put out is that you should always rest, rehabilitate & strengthen your injured arm before you continue tennis. Never play when you have injuries & dont listen to advice that says you can get better by playing through your injury especially on the tennis elbow. It can only get worse if you play on. I’m not going to elaborate further on tennis elbow as you can find tons of information about it on the internet.

To start off, when we talk about gear & it’s effect on your arm, we’re mainly talking about ‘Shock transmission’. Tennis elbow are caused by shock transmission from the ball to your gear & then to your arm. So let me get this straight, there are no gear in this world that can save you from the pain of tennis elbow. When you have tennis elbow especially at the serious stage, hitting the ball with a pillow would leave you squirming in pain. So stop playing when you’re injured & follow this guide if you want some safer gear in order to reduce the chances of reinjuries.

Racquet Guide

When opting for a racquet that can reduce the chances of tennis elbow, these few things below are important:

1. Do not use a headheavy balanced racquet – A racquet that is head heavy has more leverage at it’s end which could add some force of motion like an arm dragging/pounding effect to hurt your arm more. A headlight balance racquet would be the right choice for tennis elbow sufferers.

2. Do not use a light weight racquet – This is where most people make the mistake in choosing a racquet for tennis elbow. You should never use a light racquet when you have tennis elbow, reason is simple: let me take it to the extreme, a car hitting a mountain wall & a car hitting a human being. When you have something as solid & heavy as a mountain wall, all the shock & damage will be reflected back to the car where as in the case of the human being, all the force & shock will be transmitted onto the human. So get the heaviest racquet that you can handle without it hampering your swing speed. My racquet weights are usually between 330 to 345 grams.

3. Never use a racquet longer than the standard length which is 27 inch – Again, same as number 1, a longer racquet would cause a further pull to your arm. Try blocking the ball with a short ping-pong bat & you will notice that you will have a shorter arm recoil thus lesser shock.

4. Use racquet stiffness that are below 60RA – Back in the days when racquets are made of wood, tennis elbow is not as common. That is because wood racquets are a lot less stiffer than graphite which are used nowadays. Stiffness is the biggest factor in shock transmission. To explain, its really easy… get someone to throw a baseball to you & block it with a frying pan & then try to block it again with a pillow. With a pillow, the shock is greatly cushioned & reduced thus saving your arm. So the smaller the flex number, the more flexible the racquet will be thus absorbing more shock with the extra flex.

A lot of racquets in the market doesnt have the stiffness rating written on the frame. In order for you to find the right specs for a racquet, you can go to You can also put in the specs that you want & find the closest matching results there. The specifications of the racquets there are more accurate as they have been processed through a Babolat RDC machine which is a world standard machine for acquiring complete racquet specs.

To help with some racquet recommendation for tennis elbow sufferers, below are of my picks:

1. ProKennex Heritage Type C Redondo
2. ProKennex Kinetic Pro 5G Classic
3. ProKennex Ionic Ki 5
4. Head MicroGEL Radical Midplus
5. Pacific X Force Pro
6. Wilson K Factor Kobra Tour

String Guide

Below are a few of the important spec guide to string selection if you have tennis elbow:

1. String material – There are 3 major string material on the market nowadays: Polyester, Synthetic & Natural gut. If you have tennis elbow, you shouldnt use poly at all as it is the stiffest material. If you can afford it, go with natural gut or 2nd choice would be some soft multi synthetics. To know the stiffness of strings, the next time you go to a tennis shop, go to their reel choices & try to bend a few string selection & check out their flexibility. On polys, if you try to bend them, they will be bent to a permanent ‘L’ shape, that is how stiff most polys are … just like metal wires. You want to stay away from Kevlar (ex: Crossfire) as well.

2. String gauge – This is simple to explain, thick string = stiffer feel, thin string = softer feel. If you have tennis elbow, try to use 17 gauge & below if you’re not a chronic string breaker.

3. String tension – To me, string tension is personal preference but it’s definitely safer to use low tension for tennis elbow (like 55lbs & below). Low tension = more shock absorption done by the string. If you cant play with low tension or you dont want to change your stroke & game to match a lower tension then I suggest you follow number 1 & 2 above to minimize the risk of reinjury.

String & racquet goes hand in hand in absorbing the shock from the ball. The string is the first shock absorber as the ball would touch the stringbed first. The string will then absorb the shock amount until it’s tension restriction & then it will pass on to the racquet. The flex of the racquet would then take the rest of the shock before it transfer the shock to your arm. So by making a change to your racquet, string & tension, a lot of shock can be lessen thus minimizing the damaging effects to your arm.

You can try out some of my picks below. These are soft & good strings for people with tennis elbow:

1. Any type of natural gut
2. Tecnifibre X-One Biphase
3. Forten Sweet
4. Prince Synthetic Gut Original
5. Gosen OG Micro Sheep
6. Wilson K Gut

Other supporting gear

Vibration dampener – I’ve been to a lot tennis forums on the internet & came across many discussions on the effect of vibration dampeners. Some high end test were supposedly conducted & the results showed that most vibration dampeners are just sound dampening gadgets which doesnt effect shock transmission to your arm at all. I would agree to the results myself because if you hit with or without a vibe dampener, the stringbed & racquet would still compress & flex & shock would still travel & transmit into your arm. You can try to be really honest with yourself & take out the vibe dampener & hit with it & tell yourself whether the shock has reduced or not. If you’re happy with the vibe dampener, I suggest you stick with it as it doesnt do any bad either…. just a couple of grams more to your swingweight & a more muted sound 😛

Elbow support – When I first had my golfer’s elbow, I bought a tennis elbow band with is not so comfortable & is very restrictive. Then I found the Nike tennis elbow band below which looks similar to it’s patella band. I swear by this band until today as it is the most comfortable, unrestrictive & cool looking tennis elbow band out there. The key to this successful design is it’s bow shape. The smaller curved-in center in the bow shape helps in giving the wearer a restriction free movement unlike other tennis elbow band design. It has a cushion like pad where you can rotate outwards for tennis elbow & inwards for golfer’s elbow… this is really a very smart design. This product has my personal endorsement, go for it if you have tennis elbow guys!

Well, I’ve summed up all the gear that is relevant & you need apart from the other aspects that goes along with gear like rehabilitation, cure, strengthening & proper strokes which I will be writing about in the near future to help you all evade & cure tennis elbow. Have a injury free tennis life!