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View Full Version : The Player's Racquet, and Reasoning


Amone
11-29-2006, 05:50 PM
There is an old, well known little anecdote, "the pot roast story." It illustrates the point of understanding the reason for your traditions and methods. For instance, why did the players of old hit flat strokes? Not because they were inherently superior, but because it was hard to aim that tiny racquet head, and strike cleanly, with a whippy topspin stroke. Now we have player's racquets, built like their wooden counterparts with a new material. If we were to guess Ayn Rand's position on this, we wouldn't have to. There's already a passage in The Fountainhead regarding them-- except they used architecture: "the famous flutings on the famous columns - what are they there for? To hide the joints in wood - when columns were made of wood, only these aren't, they're marble. The triglyphs, what are they? Wood. Wooden beams, the way they had to be laid when people began to build wooden shacks. Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way."

So, let us think on this subject: What is a player's racquet? I'll tell you what, but I'll do it step by step.

-----

What are the 'stereotypical' parts of a player's racquet?
- Small Head Size

A small head size means shorter strings-- less power. It's generally considered that a lower amount of power is better for increased control.

- Heavy Static Weight

This serves to increase stability. Increased stability means less un-intended deflection in the racquet face. In other words, the place you're aiming stays aimed at.

- Low Balance Point

This is done for two reasons: The first is increased mobility, and is the more commonly cited result of a lowered balance point. The second is decreased stability. Citing the Physics and Technology of Tennis as my source, the racquet tends to recoil around the axis at the balance point, parallel to the string bed. As you might know if you've ever had a basic primer in physics, you know that the longer a lever is, the easier it is to push or pull to get the desired results. Hence, a ball striking further away from the balance point-- by hitting closer to the tip or by moving the balance point down results in greater recoil, and therefor lower stability.

- High Swing Weight

This, also, has two effects on the racquet, if not three: The first is that it increases the inherent power in the racquet. It's a fact, that a heavier mass causes greater rebound, to a point. Swingweight is something like the friction of rotating objects-- long story short, heavier object, higher swingweight. Radius also comes into play here, or concentration of mass. The second, is increased stability. Think about it-- you run into someone with your body, as compared to a car running into them. Extreme example, but it makes sense. The third is a decrease in swing speed-- somewhat negating the increased power, but not enough to make the net increase negligable.

- Low Flex Rating

This causes three things to happen: One, the flexier frame deflects more, actually decreasing the amount of control. Two, the flexier frame absorbs more of the incoming ball speed, hence decreasing power. Three, it causes more vibration in the frame-- not "shock," vibration. What we call 'feel.' This comforts people, lets them know how much control they have over the shot. It's not necessary, but for second-checking.

So, let's go over all that, shorter:

Headsize: Power
Mass: Stability
Balance point: Mobility, Stability
Swingweight: Power, Stability, Swing Speed
Flex: Control, Power, Feel

-----

That makes a list of 5 things that make up a player's racquet:
(low) Power, (high) Stability, (high) Control, (controlled) Swing Speed, and (accurate) Feel.

Power is generally considered a matter of control: a high-power racquet tends to get unweildy in the control department.

Stability is, as I've demonstrated, part of control, or the repeatability of a stroke regardless of the incoming shot.

Control is control.

Swing Speed is a factor in control. You can have a fast swing speed, but after a point you start to mishit, your frame starts to recoil more, and you tend to miss more.

Feel is an auxilary to control. It is something of a sensor, a light in your head that says "I hit that with control."

-----

We can, based on this argument, conclude that the only defining factor is control, and that in fact any way which would increase control should be applicable to a player's frame. We can conclude that feel is not truly required, as we seem to think. Assuming you have sound strokes, you shouldn't be using your arm to tell if you hit it right. You should assume it'll be where it was supposed to go, because your stroke was proper and your racquet is accurate. When your stroke is not proper, then the ball will go out, and feel won't fix that.

Based on this theory, a 'traditional' player's racquet is just that-- a tradition. However, there should be other ways of making a player's racquet, which help the modern game in the way that tweeners do, without all that lack of control and it's various offspring (such as stability and low-power). I'll be working on how that would happen over the next day or two, and we'll see how that is when you put it in your pipe and smoke it.

Thoughts?

bertrevert
11-29-2006, 06:30 PM
Hey hang on you didn't recount the story, this is what I googled:

The Pot Roast Story, as it is commonly known, tells the story of a young wife who cooks her husband a pot roast for dinner. He asks her why she cut both ends off the meat before cooking it, and she replies that her mother always did it. Her curiosity is piqued, however, and so the next time she speaks to her mother, she asks her why she did this. Her mother replied that it was because that's what her mother (i.e. the wife's grandmother) always used to do. Accordingly, the mother then asks the grandmother why she did this, and the grandmother replied that they didn't have a pot big enough to roast the joint in, so she used to cut off both ends to make it fit. Here endeth the story.

Amone
11-29-2006, 06:33 PM
Haha, I didn't think it was necessary, and it is easy enough to google. I gave what I wanted folks to get from it. I told them the part that mattered, therefor the story doesn't matter.

emerckx53
11-29-2006, 06:36 PM
There is an old, well known little anecdote, "the pot roast story." It illustrates the point of understanding the reason for your traditions and methods. For instance, why did the players of old hit flat strokes? Not because they were inherently superior, but because it was hard to aim that tiny racquet head, and strike cleanly, with a whippy topspin stroke. Now we have player's racquets, built like their wooden counterparts with a new material. If we were to guess Ayn Rand's position on this, we wouldn't have to. There's already a passage in The Fountainhead regarding them-- except they used architecture: "the famous flutings on the famous columns - what are they there for? To hide the joints in wood - when columns were made of wood, only these aren't, they're marble. The triglyphs, what are they? Wood. Wooden beams, the way they had to be laid when people began to build wooden shacks. Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way."

So, let us think on this subject: What is a player's racquet? I'll tell you what, but I'll do it step by step.

-----

What are the 'stereotypical' parts of a player's racquet?
- Small Head Size

A small head size means shorter strings-- less power. It's generally considered that a lower amount of power is better for increased control.

- Heavy Static Weight

This serves to increase stability. Increased stability means less un-intended deflection in the racquet face. In other words, the place you're aiming stays aimed at.

- Low Balance Point

This is done for two reasons: The first is increased mobility, and is the more commonly cited result of a lowered balance point. The second is decreased stability. Citing the Physics and Technology of Tennis as my source, the racquet tends to recoil around the axis at the balance point, parallel to the string bed. As you might know if you've ever had a basic primer in physics, you know that the longer a lever is, the easier it is to push or pull to get the desired results. Hence, a ball striking further away from the balance point-- by hitting closer to the tip or by moving the balance point down results in greater recoil, and therefor lower stability.

- High Swing Weight

This, also, has two effects on the racquet, if not three: The first is that it increases the inherent power in the racquet. It's a fact, that a heavier mass causes greater rebound, to a point. Swingweight is something like the friction of rotating objects-- long story short, heavier object, higher swingweight. Radius also comes into play here, or concentration of mass. The second, is increased stability. Think about it-- you run into someone with your body, as compared to a car running into them. Extreme example, but it makes sense. The third is a decrease in swing speed-- somewhat negating the increased power, but not enough to make the net increase negligable.

- Low Flex Rating

This causes three things to happen: One, the flexier frame deflects more, actually decreasing the amount of control. Two, the flexier frame absorbs more of the incoming ball speed, hence decreasing power. Three, it causes more vibration in the frame-- not "shock," vibration. What we call 'feel.' This comforts people, lets them know how much control they have over the shot. It's not necessary, but for second-checking.

So, let's go over all that, shorter:

Headsize: Power
Mass: Stability
Balance point: Mobility, Stability
Swingweight: Power, Stability, Swing Speed
Flex: Control, Power, Feel

-----

That makes a list of 5 things that make up a player's racquet:
(low) Power, (high) Stability, (high) Control, (controlled) Swing Speed, and (accurate) Feel.

Power is generally considered a matter of control: a high-power racquet tends to get unweildy in the control department.

Stability is, as I've demonstrated, part of control, or the repeatability of a stroke regardless of the incoming shot.

Control is control.

Swing Speed is a factor in control. You can have a fast swing speed, but after a point you start to mishit, your frame starts to recoil more, and you tend to miss more.

Feel is an auxilary to control. It is something of a sensor, a light in your head that says "I hit that with control."

-----

We can, based on this argument, conclude that the only defining factor is control, and that in fact any way which would increase control should be applicable to a player's frame. We can conclude that feel is not truly required, as we seem to think. Assuming you have sound strokes, you shouldn't be using your arm to tell if you hit it right. You should assume it'll be where it was supposed to go, because your stroke was proper and your racquet is accurate. When your stroke is not proper, then the ball will go out, and feel won't fix that.

Based on this theory, a 'traditional' player's racquet is just that-- a tradition. However, there should be other ways of making a player's racquet, which help the modern game in the way that tweeners do, without all that lack of control and it's various offspring (such as stability and low-power). I'll be working on how that would happen over the next day or two, and we'll see how that is when you put it in your pipe and smoke it.

Thoughts?

Put on some round glasses and a lab coat and call Wilson.....

Amone
11-29-2006, 06:37 PM
Put on some round glasses and a lab coat and call Wilson.....

The hell with Wilson. I'd call Babolat, if I were to do anything of the sort. They're the folks I think would do it right.

The Dampener
11-29-2006, 07:04 PM
I'd call Babolat,...They're the folks I think would do it right.

There's an old, well-known, little word called "credibility."...

Amone
11-29-2006, 07:09 PM
There's an old, well-known, little word called "credibility."...

Well, you see, they are trying to get them a good player's racquet. Their Tour series has just been a little confused. I figure, if I were to come up with the Modern player's racquet, the control-oriented racquet for the windshield-wiper age, they'd be the ones most interested in perfecting it.

WhiteSox05CA
11-29-2006, 07:14 PM
I'd says that's pretty good.
But here's a Q:
Does it really matter what a player's racquet is?
It's just a classification term.
________
ROLL A JOINT (http://howtorollajoint.net/)

Amone
11-29-2006, 07:20 PM
I'd says that's pretty good.
But here's a Q:
Does it really matter what a player's racquet is?
It's just a classification term.

Well, the reason I considered it was because we split up our racquets into three categories: Game Improvement, Tweener, and Player's.

A game improvement racquet is frequently also called a 'Noob Stick.'

A tweener is a wide definition, but usually it means "Power oriented, but controllable."

A player's racquet means "control-oriented." However, we consider player's racquets to be all those things I stated, and those things are like wood racquets: rarely as good for the modern game as a tweener. But I think that's because the conception of a player's racquet is too thin, and what a heavy-topspin players racquet would be, isn't made. If it was, what would people say about it? They would probably scoff at the idea that it's a player's racquet, because we have so carefully designated 'players' racquets as the graphite counterpart of wood.

You can argue it doesn't matter, but that's my reasoning.

VGP
11-29-2006, 07:20 PM
Player's rackets are more than a tradition.

In general (and in what you described) it's a good combination that actually works for a long period of time for the right player.

Check my avatar, the Fender Stratocaster is an example. Functionality that stands the test of time. In the right hands, a Strat can be used to make history. A player's racket in the right hands......you get Federer.

Amone
11-29-2006, 07:23 PM
Player's rackets are more than a tradition.

In general (and in what you described) it's a good combination that actually works for a long period of time for the right player.

Check my avatar, the Fender Stratocaster is an example. Functionality that stands the test of time. In the right hands, a Strat can be used to make history. A player's racket in the right hands......you get Federer.

I think Federer could very likely use a (albeit leaded) AeroPro Control with relative ease. It's been widely said he could use anything, but I think he could do some serious damage with a racquet like the APC, focused on spin, which he too tends to focus on. You'll notice he hits with pretty heavy spin, not on the level of Rafa, but DEFINITELY not a Blake or a Berdych.

EDIT:
I feel like I should expound on my answer, some more. Of course, there will always be classics. There will always be PS85s, and POGs, and planty of racquets that trump any theory I or anyone else might develop. What the point is, is that while there will always be PS85s, without those theories (PWS, anyone?) the PS85 wouldn't be a classic. There wouldn't be a new PS85, or POG. There would be no evolution. Of course, I think this is relatively simple logic, I tend to think better when I'm writing or explaining. There's something to this, because it hasn't been done properly yet that I know of. There's got to be a reason, or it needs to be thought. If there's a reason, thinking'll find it, and if not, then thinking'll give us what we didn't have before.

The idea that "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" would've negated that Stratocaster's existence-- Acoustics were not broke, either.

bertrevert
11-29-2006, 07:35 PM
In a nutshell: we do it this way because its always been done this way.

However I don't believe it is _only_ tradition or convention that has lead to the player's frame as it is today.

I think the player's racquet is like it is, such as best we can define it, because when you have an elite athelete, having spent a young lifetime on court, with superior strength and mobility, they just don't need the on-court aids, the smarts, we look for in a tweener racquet. Their game is just all down to them, and their talent, and what they can do. They don't need the racquet to add much and neither do they want it to get in the way.

However, one of the supreme players of the modern era, Andre Agassi did not use what is conventionally seen as a player's racquet.

sureshs
11-29-2006, 07:36 PM
Lower Flex gives more control, from what I have read.

What you are searching for is the Holy Grail of racquets - control without sacrificing power and maneovarability, power without sacrificing control and comfort, and such combinations.

The lower limit for weight is that below a certain weight, a racquet just cannot have any stability or power, however stiff it may be. And it cannot have comfort, no matter what kind of cushioned grip you use. The upper limit for weight is that the racquet becomes slow to swing.

There are marginal improvements - lightweight materials which are stable (but then they are also stiff), cushioned grips, filler material inside the racquet like nFoam, etc.

IMO, it is not a case where materials advances can help too much. Today we use plastic buckets instead of steel ones. But they have only to be strong enough to hold the water. We don't hit objects with it. However unique the material, the laws of physics will not allow the Holy Grail to be found.

bcsax123
11-29-2006, 07:50 PM
[QUOTE=Amone;1093710] But I think that's because the conception of a player's racquet is too thin, and what a heavy-topspin players racquet would be, isn't made.QUOTE]

The POG is a heavy topspin payers racquet... Seems to have more topspin than modern racquets.

Amone
11-29-2006, 07:50 PM
Lower Flex gives more control, from what I have read.

What you are searching for is the Holy Grail of racquets - control without sacrificing power and maneovarability, power without sacrificing control and comfort, and such combinations.

The lower limit for weight is that below a certain weight, a racquet just cannot have any stability or power, however stiff it may be. And it cannot have comfort, no matter what kind of cushioned grip you use. The upper limit for weight is that the racquet becomes slow to swing.

There are marginal improvements - lightweight materials which are stable (but then they are also stiff), cushioned grips, filler material inside the racquet like nFoam, etc.

IMO, it is not a case where materials advances can help too much. Today we use plastic buckets instead of steel ones. But they have only to be strong enough to hold the water. We don't hit objects with it. However unique the material, the laws of physics will not allow the Holy Grail to be found.

I'm not searching for what you seem to think I am. What I'm saying is, we have people with the power in their bodies-- Blake, Nadal, Federer, Henin even-- to produce huge groundstrokes out of nowhere, and we've got the technique to keep most of it in the court. The problem is, we don't have the racquet-- the low-power, control-oriented racquet-- to nurture this heavy topspin power game. Before, we used very low power, like polys, to keep the ball in. Babolat has so much power, the pros have to use those polyester strings to keep the ball in on a drive. Because it's a tweener. I figure, a little more power than a regular player's racquet, maybe, but not much.

Here's what I'm thinking I'll find:

Larger headsize, 100+ sq in. This tends to supports the extra spin, and slightly more power, by having longer strings. Supposedly, this should increase control, too, but I don't buy it.

Middling-weight. Probably running around 11.6-12 oz. This still has the weight to put behind a shot, but it's lower to help with the demanding swing speed controls.

High swingweight. I'd guess, probably around 350. I know what you're thinking, jeez that's high! Well, what you have with the windsheild-wiper stroke, that's almost pure swing. Using your larger muscles, like your pectoralis, bicep, core, legs... the muscles your basic windshield-wiper uses, you can handle that kind of swingweight, and it also means you get all that force at the point of contact, from using a very high swingweight frame.

Even-ish balance. We lowered the weight, and like I said, now we're paying for it. This helps with the stability of the racquet, recoiling less.

Low-middle flex rating. Here's where Babolat and I tend to disagree in our ideals. A low flex tends to engender spin, soften up the impact, remove power, and all the things a player's racquet needs to do. I'd guess probably around 56-62, in this case.

Amone
11-29-2006, 07:54 PM
The POG is a heavy topspin payers racquet... Seems to have more topspin than modern racquets.

Maybe you're right. I'll be honest, I haven't used it. But that's one frame. How many PS85s are there, in spirit? There's the Dunlop 200 series, the Prestiges, the other two POGs, the Volkl Tour10 VEngine mid, the 6-1 series... Realistically, the focus is somewhere other than heavy topspin, and I feel like the market is moving in that direction.

OrangeOne
11-29-2006, 07:55 PM
I think Federer could very likely use a (albeit leaded) AeroPro Control with relative ease. It's been widely said he could use anything, but I think he could do some serious damage with a racquet like the APC, focused on spin, which he too tends to focus on. You'll notice he hits with pretty heavy spin, not on the level of Rafa, but DEFINITELY not a Blake or a Berdych.


Because he doesn't do some serious damage now? ;)

Amone
11-29-2006, 07:59 PM
Because he doesn't do some serious damage now? ;)

Haha, now you're messing with my words. I was suggesting that he wouldn't do such serious damage with most other frames. A Pure Drive? I doubt he'd be as successful. Not because he's not a great player, but because it's just too light. Where the APC, or the Pure Control, maybe they could he useful, as opposed not to the Six-One series, but to most of the frames on the market.