How Your Body May Be Responsible For Low Elbow In The Tennis Serve

Tue Dec 11, 2018 by RacquetFit

Low Elbow

Low Elbow refers to the hitting elbow during the trophy position of a serve. Typically, the shoulder will extend from the side at a 90-degree angle. If the athlete’s shoulder extends less than the 90-degree angle, they will lose power in their serve. Low Elbow may also lead to overall stress to the shoulder, elbow, and wrist if not corrected.


Although Low Elbow can be the result of poor technique, it's commonly caused by the following physical limitations:  

Spine Mobility

One of the highest body and tennis correlations that we see is spine mobility. Players that have a limited side bend (spine mobility) will try to create that side bend on a serve by using primarily their arm. This overcompensation is what can cause Low Elbow during the serve.

Limited Back Side Spine Lateral Flexion

The ability to laterally flex the spine (back shoulder down) can impact an athlete’s ability to elevate the back elbow. Spine lateral flexion makes it easier to elevate the back elbow without as much shoulder mobility. Spine mobility can dramatically assist shoulder mobility, making it easy to not have a Low Elbow.

Limited Back Shoulder External Rotation Mobility

Athletes must have good external rotation mobility in the back shoulder. If their range of motion is poor, then lowering the elbow can improve the athlete’s ability to rotate the shoulder.


Along with the physical limitations, here are some technical limitations that can also cause low elbow: 

■ If the athlete does not load properly into the back hip, they tend to lower the back
elbow. So focusing on a good load during the release and loading phases is critical for
a proper back elbow position.

■ If an athlete has a poor throwing motion, you may see a Low Elbow in their serving

A player that has low elbow due to these physical or technical limitations may see some of the following occur during their tennis play:

■ If the arms move first, without a shoulder turn or any turning of the body it can cause a Low Elbow.

■ If the toss is too forward, the hips jut out and that can cause the elbow to tuck in.

How do you know if Low Elbow is a result of physical limitations or technical flaws?  You have to screen your body.  Find a RacquetFit Certified coach and get screened today.

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