Application of Upper Extremity Plyometrics for Rehabilitation and Performance Enhancement in Elite Tennis Players
by Todd Ellenbecker, DPT, MS, CSCS, OCS, CSCS
High level tennis play requires repetitive activation of the rotator cuff and scapular musculature to stabilize, accelerate, and decelerate the glenohumeral joint to prevent injury and allow for optimal performance. The modern game of tennis is highly dominated by serves and forehands. Some estimates report that 75% of all shots by elite level players are forehands and serves. Serves and forehands are characterized by powerful concentric internal rotation of the shoulder. Research performed on elite level tennis players with isokinetic testing has shown muscular imbalances due to selective development of the internal rotator muscles without concomitant development of the external rotators on the dominant “tennis playing” extremity. Additionally, research has not shown increases in posterior rotator cuff or scapular muscle strength following tennis play alone in elite players indicating the need for supplemental strengthening of the posterior rotator cuff and scapular musculature to improve muscle balance in the dominant shoulder of the elite tennis player. Exercises to improve muscle balance and local muscular endurance have been advocated to both prevent injury and enhance performance in tennis players.