View Full Version : Power to control relationship: Stiff frame vs. flexible: Oversize vs. smaller frame

05-03-2007, 08:01 PM
Would someone who knows the facts about which generates more power, stiffer frames or larger head size, enlighten me. Does the combo of both cause even more power?

Why do you lose some control as head size get larger? What do you lose with a more flexible frame - power as well as FEEL? And is FEEL the same thing as control? Confusing. I won't even ask about strings' contribution to this power/control equation.

05-03-2007, 08:20 PM
Haha lots of questions in there...first of all a stiff wide beam is going to be more powerful than a thinner more flexible beam. Larger head size generally = more power. OS-lots of power, MP-in the middle, Mid-all about control. Feel is the amount of feedback you get from the racquet upon ball/string impact. Some racquets have built in dampeners and suffer from LESS feel of the ball upon impact. Hope this helps.

fuzz nation
05-04-2007, 09:31 PM
The other power factor is a racquet's weight - more weight in a frame that you swing at the same tempo has more inertia, but this is sort of funky. A heavy frame is like a freight train hitting the ball, but a lighter racquet can be whupped through the air faster, so racquet head speed can make up for less mass. Good weight is about whatever you're comfortable with.

This stuff is worth understanding because as your game evolves, you will be able to figure out what aspects in a frame will compliment your style of hitting.

Bottle Rocket
05-04-2007, 10:14 PM
The idea of control comes from consistency of the string bed. If the string deflects different amounts in different areas of the stringbed, you lose consistency. You lose "control". Ideally, the most consistant response possible would be from a string bed that can't deflect, something like a board. The worst case is something like a net.

A good way to think about it is with trampolines. Imagine jumping on a giant one and one of those small ones. Think about jumping in the middle as well as the edge of each one. The difference between the height you'll get from the jump will be much larger on the big trampoline versus the small trampoline. The consistancy of the jump on the small one will be higher.

When you jump towards the edge of the trampoline the bounce sends you back towards the middle. This is a loss of control. A jump right in the center sends you straight back up. You want to go straight up no matter where you jump, so you want uniform deflection and uniform response.

That is where the idea of loss of control with an OS frames comes from. This is where the idea that higher string tensions provide more control stems from. This is also why tighter string patterns are thought to provide more control. Also along those lines is the control gained from poly's, because of a stiffer string bed. The closer your strings come to acting rigid, the more control you will have. Now you can see why larger frames are almost always strung tighter, to compensate for the loss in control.

In my opininon the idea of control for most people is directly related to the power of a racket. Your accuracy or innacuracy is magnified depending on if a racket is powerful or not. You can get away with more with a low powered racket, so people tend to think they have more control.

Powerful rackets are rarely considered control frames. Poeple start hitting the ball long or hitting a little wide and think the racket has no control. These are common thoughts about rackets like the Pure Drive and Pure Control.

The reality is that ball control on these frames is the same as that of lower powered frames. In fact, they are usually better because they are stiffer. People's inability to control a frame does not mean the frame lacks control.

With that said, the players perception is really what matters. So, in general, lower power is equal to more control. Smaller headsize generally provide lower power. This, along with the physical size of the string bed, usually means smaller frames have more control.

Stiffness? Ball speed comes from energy transfer. Energy lost in the ball/racket collision steals power. Flexy frames absorb energy, usually taking away power. Stiffer frames are almost always inherently more powerful. Thick beams have the same effect of added stiffness. Think about bending a 2x4.

Flexible frames are usually considered less accurate. Imagine hitting with a frame with a hinge at the throat of the racket. To compensate for this, flexible frames either have a high static weight or high swingweight. Imagine a crane with a wrecking ball. The line the ball is hanging on can be incredibly flexible, but the ball is so heavy, nothing is going to stop it. The idea is to plow through the ball and not for the head to flex upon impact.

Is feel better with more flexible frames? That is subjective. That is purely an issue of personal preference, just like most of these other characteristcs are. People on this board definitely learn towards more flexible frames, such as the Fischer M Speed Pro #1. Most people that spend a lot of time at the net and claim to need ball feel prefer more flexible rackets.

I think that covers just about everything, but while I'm at it...

The issue of string tension and power can be debated forever. I don't want to trigger the debate again, but try and give you my take on it. The data I have seen shows a very small correlation, if any. The difference is in the initial trajectory of the ball off the string bed, not the initial ball speed. Looser tensions increase the trajectory, giving the impression of higher power. Tighter strings give more ball deflection. Looser strings give more string bed deflection. These two effects mostly cancel out, so the pace of the ball of the strings does not change. The location that you hit the ball on the string bed will heavily influence your preferences on string tension, due to the issues discussed above.

05-04-2007, 10:54 PM
^^^^ i think this qualifies for a sticky, wow Bottle Rocket. GREAT EXPLANATION

Bottle Rocket
05-05-2007, 12:45 PM
Thanks... :)

05-05-2007, 02:24 PM
Thanks... :)

Thanks for you Doc. Bottle, very good answer :D

I have a little question for you:

I used the Prince O3 Tour Oversize strung with Prince Synthetic Gut 16 at 26 Kg. of tension with no problems. One day I have the idea of play with a Top-Spin String. I used my second Prince O3 Tour Oversize strung with Prince Top-Spin Plus 16 at 25 Kg. of tension and I experienced elbow pain. The Prince Top-Spin Plus 16 string has a thinner gauge. What caused the pain? the less string tension, the thinner gauge? or both?...Thanks in advance ;)

Bottle Rocket
05-05-2007, 10:10 PM
I suspect the Top Spin string is stiffer? Most of those type of strings are stiffer to increase durability and sometimes decrease movement. I think I've had that Prince string in one of my rackets before and it is fairly stiff.

The added stiffness, if the strings are to blame, is surely the reason...

With that said, even with a poly, I always though the 03 was a very comfortable frame and 55 lbs (25kg) is not a high tension. In fact, for an OS frame, that is a very low tension. Shouldn't be too rough on an elbow...

Did you notice a difference in performance?

05-06-2007, 12:30 PM
Yes, The Prince Top Spin feels stiffer and thinner than other strings, I think these two things combined caused the pain on my elbow, It wasn't the tension. Thanks for your help, what string tension do you recommend for my sensitive elbow and my Oversize racquet? 25 or 26? (I played with 27 and it was very painful for my elbow) :D

Serve 'em hard
05-07-2007, 10:24 AM
Great explanation, Bottle Rocket! Very interesting and informative.

Question: Would those who like flexible frames at the net for increased "feel" also like low tension for net play (not neccessarily in the same racket)? Would it be analagous to say that a frame strung with low tension offers a similar feel that a flexible frame might offer at net, in that it the strings "absorb" the ball the same way a flexible frame might?

Hope my question makes sense. I'm basically asking if there are two ways to skin this cat of "feel" at the net, either by using a flexible frame or by stringing a not so flexible frame at a lower tension....

Bottle Rocket
08-06-2007, 04:05 PM
I don't think you can compensate for frame stiffness with string stiffness, especially when we're talking about feel.

Playing a Pure Drive Roddick with a soft string at low tension really doesn't feel that great. It is still obvious how stiff the frame is and I don't think the feedback or control is improved. Flexible frames seem to play best with a flexible string, just as stiffer frames tend to play better with stiffer strings. This is to tame certain characteristics of the frame.

The other issue is control. A frame considered "flexible", in reality, is still a very stiff frame. Players found the needed control to hit a flat ball with a wooden racket, so I don't think any significant amount of control is lost with a flexible frame. I think the loss of control with looser strings is a more important factor, but still exaggerated.

Because of the above, I don't think extremely low tensions (on a standard string) suits a net player, unless it is a small-headed racket.

I know this is an old thread, but I just came across it again during a search...

08-06-2007, 05:15 PM
Good explanation Rocket,
Question: At what tension would you suggest I string up my Radical LE OS (with poly)? The pattern is pretty tight, 18x19, but the head size is 107 sq in.... I usually string my 95sq in 18x20 racquet at 60 with full poly.

Question2: Does overally static weight increase or decrease power?
Example: Racquet A is 12 oz evenly balanced.
Racquet B is 8 oz evenly balanced.
I know Racquet A will be more stable, but if both racquets were swung by the same person at the same speed, which would have more power?


Bottle Rocket
08-06-2007, 08:35 PM
If one racket weighs more than the other and everything else is exactly the same, including swing speed, the heavier racket will produce a ball with more pace.

Think of hitting a baseball bat with a massive steel bad or a plastic bat that is swung at the same speed. Mass and velocity, in general, determine the energy that can be transferred to the ball. Increase one or the other makes a significant difference in pace.

I am not sure about string tension for you... I think 60 lbs on a 95 inch frame with a poly is incredibly tight, so I doubt I'd have a useful recommendation.