View Full Version : Small (wood) rackets make you play better?!

08-13-2004, 06:51 AM
I just got a mint Chris Evert autograph on **** this week. I had owned one when I first started playing (along with every other girl) and wondered how they would play again. I took it out a couple of days ago. What I found is that once I located the sweet spot (which took about 1 rally), I could generate plenty of pace and spin. On off-center hits, you could feel the racket flex and vibrate, but as long as you hit in the sweet spot you were fine. I've started wondering about this in relation to modern rackets, which let you get away with off-center hits more. I think that maybe starting with a small racket would force you to learn to be a consistent hitter so that you could avoid the vibration caused by off-center hits. I think that modern rackets let you play sloppier, since they are so stiff that you can still get the ball over the net. I think that for me, starting back with a wood racket in the old days (for me, 1980 was when I started) was a boon. I can remember we all looked down on the Prince Classic and Prince Graphite as rackets for players who couldn't hit. Now everything has gone to that size, but I don't think the level of play has increased. Has anyone else thought about this? The smaller frame forces you to get your feet in position and swing properly if you want to be successful. Once you have your strokes down, you can move up to a stiffer, larger racket, which lets you generate more force on your serves, but I think that starting with a smaller racket would let you build a better base for your strokes.

08-13-2004, 07:36 AM
arafel i agree w. you. i bring out the woodies about once a month as a check to make sure my stroke production hasnt gotten sloppy from using far more forgiving racquets. it makes me a better player to do this and i have a willing fellow teaching pro to do this with. i think the level of play has increased though and larger lighter frames have changed the game to a large degree. ed

joe sch
08-13-2004, 07:37 AM
Your observations are right on. It would benefit any player to play a standard head woodie because of the stroking, strength required and the touch/feel benefits that will result. It does take some adaptation especially for a player that has never played such a racket or is now reliant on an OS sweetspot.

08-13-2004, 08:36 AM
as a followup, i dont think this would work so well for someone who didnt start playing w. a woodie. when i have given a wooden axe to younger players (especially western grippers) they can barely make contact. it also doesnt work very well if you have one player hitting wood and the other a modern frame. ed

Hit 'em clean
08-13-2004, 10:16 AM
Playing with a wooden frame definitely will expose any flaws in your swing. It really teaches you the difference between hitting the sweetspot and not. You can hit with just as much pace, spin, and control with a wooden frame... the caveat is that to get it... you MUST hit the sweetspot. Todays frames benefit players with huge sweetspots and still allow mishits to have much more pace, spin, and control than their wooden counterparts.

If you have a good swing the transition to a wood racquet shouldn't be difficult at all. If you have bad fundamentals you'll hate it. The question is do you want to be naive about it or do you truly want to improve. Woodies are a great way to check yourself and instill solid ball striking mechanics... it shouldn't matter if you hit with a western grip, etc.

08-13-2004, 10:22 AM
I guess it depends on the person. Because about a year ago i got 7 wood racquets from my grandpa and at the time i was playing on a highschool team. I was one of the top couple players on my team and always goofed around with other racquets. Anyway i decided to play with the wood sticks for about a week untill my new racquets came in, to my suprise it didn't take much ajustment at all. I could probably play just as well with a wood racquet as i can with any modern stick out today(granted the sweetspot is small but all that means is you need to watch the ball through your stroke which we should be doing anyway) Also volley's were really nice with the wood racquets. BTW my 1st racquet was a dunlop mcenroe boron/graphite, i guess it is a bit more than most kids start out with now a days which may be why it wasn't a huge adjustment.

To support that new racquets have changed the game, about a month ago i gave my chemold for my friend to try and he hated it. His current racquet is a PD+ which explians it i'm sure. He felt there was too much loss in power(he's a gstroker mostly). Where i found addiquet power but the racquet forced to to come to net more to finish my points off.

08-13-2004, 10:58 AM
sure it matters if you have a western grip. with an angle of attack steeper from that grip and a small headed frame, you have very little stringbed area in which to make good contact. try it ometime since you dont believe me. one of our fellow pros around here (western forehand) was laughed off the court because he couldnt make anywhere close to good contact. why do you think even borg hit so many frame balls w. his forehand? and i dont think anyone can play as effective w. a wooden axe if your oppnent is using a modern frame. again, try it yourelf if you dont believe me..the modern racquet player can get the wooden guy player out of position in one shot and w. wood, you just cant get any work on the ball when out of position.

08-13-2004, 01:27 PM
I would like to start looking around for a wooden racquet to purchase to hit with on occasion. I would like one that I can restring myself. What are some brands/names that I should look for and what should I expect to pay? I'm an upper 3.5 all courter.

I remember hitting with my "John Newcombe" white Spaldings as a kid in the mid-70's with nylon strings.

Great topic!

08-13-2004, 01:41 PM
For my money, I don't think you couldn't go wrong with either a Wilson Jack Kramer or a Dunlop Maxply Fort. Those are probably the two most classic wood frames out there. You can get used ones on **** relatively cheaply. You might also be able to get new frames through www.woodtennis.com. I know that guy still has some of the old Maxply McEnroes and Donnay Borgs. My favorite wood frame though is still the Kramer Pro Staff. It was the racquet I competed with until I was 16.

Just as an aside, when I was hitting with my Chris Evert the other day I was hitting with women using modern frames and I was generating as much pace as they were. I am probably a 4.5, and they were 4.0.