INTRODUCTION Finding the racquet that works best for you is important. Using equipment that is designed for your skill level and playing style will maximize your enjoyment of the game. You will play with more consistency and confidence. Most of all, you'll have more fun on thecourt using equipment that was built to suit your preferences.
Rackets are not only better than ever, they're also more sophisticated and complex than ever. Today's tennis rackets are a showcase of high tech materials and engineering. Some of it is rocket science ? Literally!
Read on to get a break down of the underlying fundamentals of racket technology for you.
At a very fundamental level, every racket design tries to find an ideal balance of playing characteristics for its target market. Every design team consciously makes compromises in: (1) power vs. control, (2) comfort vs. feel,(3) light weight/maneuverability vs. solid shot response and stability.
They do this by altering the design of the racket in many ways. This includes changing the size and shape of the racket head,weight, balance, length, thickness, and frame materials. Here's how some of these factors affect overall racket performance.
Head Size: Larger head sizes increase power, spin, and the ideal hitting area of the racket known as the "sweet spot". Smaller head sizes allow players to swing more freely and aggressively without hitting balls out of the court.
Length: The "standard" length of a tennis racket is 27 inches. Over the last decade, advances in racket technology have allowed manufacturers to offer longer racket designs. Most current rackets are between 27 & 28 inches long. Long racket have been a great equalizer for smaller or less agile players, providing more reach as well as more spin capability and power. The additional reach and power boost also works well for beginners and many recreational players.
Control oriented players favor rackets near the shorter end of the range. Shorter rackets provide better shot placement for intermediate and advanced players.Longer is better for the power-hungry, beginners, and casual players. Short, small or less mobile players at all skill levels will benefit from extra length. Minimize length to maximize control.
Weight: Weight affects the power, maneuverability, and stability of the racket. Heavy rackets have greater power potential and are very stable when hitting back an opponents powerful shots. Touring pros love heavy racquets, but they are fit enough and quick enough to use them effectively. In the amateur ranks, the more advanced skill levels generally prefer a racket that is heavier than average.
Lighter than average rackets are usually easier for beginners and recreational players to handle. Light rackets also work well for competitive senior players that like to conserve energy in match play. Many intermediate doubles players also prefer a lighter than average racket because it is quicker around the net.
Super light rackets are usually found in the largest head sizes where other design characteristics are used to compensate for loss of power and stability. I'm so excited about the closing line up in this year's french open. It's nailbiting !
Competitive baseliners and advanced players usually prefer a racket that weighs 11 ounces or more unstrung. Many control rackets built for advanced players are heavier than average. 9.6 - 11 ounce middleweight designs work well for a broad range of players. Super light rackets weighing less than 9.5 ounces must lack power and stability. Designers frequently try to offset this with a very large head size. They can be good for beginners and recreational players that need a very easy handling racket.
Swing Weight: Swing weight is a much better real world measure of a racket's quickness than it's actual weight! As the name suggests, swing weight describes how heavy the racket feels when you swing it. It also goes by the more scientific name of "moment of inertia". It can be measured with a precision instrument like The Tennis Company's Babolat RDC machine. Equalizing swing weight is a critical part of the racket matching service we perform for our customers who want all of their frames to play the same.
Length, balance and weight all factor into swing weight. All other things begin equal, longer rackets swing heavier; rackets with a head-heavy balance swing heavier. Baseliners and advanced players are usually less sensitive to a high swing weight. Shorter rackets and rackets with a head-light balance swing lighter. Players who want a racket that is quick at net should look for something with a swing weight around 310 or lower.
Head Shape: The head shape can define the shape and location of the "sweet spot". The sweet spot is the most powerful part of the string bed. It also generates the least amount of shock and vibration. It's where every tennis player wants to hit every ball. Advances in technology have expanded the size and potency of the sweet spot on modern rackets. In some super oversize models, the entire racket face feels like the sweet spot. In smaller head sizes, the location and shape of the sweet spot is more noticeable.
Round head shapes typically have a round sweet spot located more closely to the bottom half of the racket face. Teardrop shaped heads usually have an oblong sweet spot. Often, this kind of design lets the sweet spot extend higher up into the string bed. Teardrop shaped heads are often seen in "game improvement" rackets which are targeted at beginners and casual players. They are generally more common in power-oriented rackets.