One of the main components of the RAW Tennis Performance Training Program is injury prevention. Tennis players are especially susceptible to shoulder injuries. One component of the shoulder pre-hab program is scapular stabilization exercises.
The shoulder consists of three bones including the scapula, more commonly called the shoulder blade. As a ball-and-socket joint, the shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. However, with this range of motion, the shoulder can become very unstable. By strengthening the muscles and tendons surrounding the scapula we can prevent the scapula from riding up and causing tendonitis, rotator cuff injuries as well as elbow pain. This is especially important in tennis as all strokes originate from the ground and transfer energy up through the body and out the hand (and racquet) in a process known as the kinetic chain. In addition to causing injuries, an unstable scapula will also cause energy to be lost as the kinetic chain passes through the shoulder and out to the arm, thus weakening shots.
One of the exercises RAW Tennis Performance uses to stabilize the scapula is the scapular retraction push-up. Start in a push-up position and keeping your arms straight, lower your body a few inches down, allowing your shoulder blades (scapula) to pinch together. Pause and then roll the shoulders back up to the starting position. Repeat for 15 reps. This is a very small movement but is very effective at stabilizing the scapula.