View Full Version : Tame the racquet or the player?

11-13-2009, 12:49 PM
I'm coming back from a layoff after an injury. I'm a 3.5/4.0 player. Since my return I've used a more powerful racquet (stiffer, higher SW). Now that I'm 90% or better, I'm finding it difficult to control it. It seemed perfect when I was swinging a bit slower.

My question is should I continue to try this frame and swing a bit slower, with more spin, or go back toward a frame that I can swing out with often and keep more balls in the court? The main differences are increased stiffness (63 to 70) and length (27.25 to 27.5). I'm primarily a baseliner.

Some positives are that I can generate more ball speed with less effort, find it easier to maintain depth, and the racquet is generally more stable. The negatives are that I make more errors and lack feel, which isn't helping my confidence at the moment. I'm experimenting with different tensions now.


11-13-2009, 12:54 PM
Can't seem to find the EDIT button?

The swingweight also increased from ~300 to 330.

11-13-2009, 01:20 PM
A lot of different thoughts on this topic. Personally I always get equipment that suits my game, whether it is golf, tennis or whatever. There are enough variables to be juggling than to have to deal with additional doubts with my equipment.

11-13-2009, 01:30 PM
I say tame the player is first priority. Your equipment should allow you to express the technique you already have but ultimately your shots land where they land because of you not because of your racquet.

Vic Braden used to say this about "forgiving racquets". I'm sure he'd say the same about "powerful racquets"

I’ve seen the ads that state, “This racket is forgiving [powerful]”. I could never understand what the manufacturers meant, but I do know that many customers have misinterpreted what they think it will do for them. There are those who feel that the racket will actually make corrections when the ball is struck incorrectly.

If the ball is on the racket strings only four milliseconds, the racket, even if it has some amazing computer chip embedded, doesn't have an opportunity to make adjustments that will re-direct the ball. If a person could buy a racket that could cause the ball to lock itself inside tennis strings and then be shot out of the racket at a later time, that theory might hold some water.

The bottom line is that when one buys an expensive frame, strings the racket with patterns that will generate the greatest ball speed, and strikes the ball incorrectly, the ball will simply sail further out of court. My advice would not be to stare at your racket when making an error, but rather to look into the mirror and get a good look at the real culprit.

A couple obvious things to look at in terms of your strokes are:

When you're hitting a topspin stroke (whether it's a looper or a drive), is the racquet face actually perpendicular to the ground?
If you try swinging slower with a bigger low to high swing to get more spin, you are trying to hit a looper, which is a good rally stroke. But don't limit your options to just that.
Examine your drive strokes, which you should learn (or be able to hit) if you get a shot that lands short (say near the service line). Are you getting enough pace and topspin? Note driving a sharp angle shot <> driving a deep shot to the open court.

That's all for now.

11-13-2009, 02:27 PM
Right now, baseline half volleys and hard, low biting slices are sailing often and I can't hit hard, flat shots with much consistency like I used to. Maybe I just need to adjust/play more for a while? I have noticed I'm not moving forward as well as I used to. I mean with short, no pace balls in particular.

I may be limited to topspin on pretty much everything except volleys for some time I guess. I like having the extra gear, as far has hitting from a defensive position, volleying, and adding pace to my serve, but I'm not sure its worth the extra errors.

11-15-2009, 06:46 AM
One more advantage of this higher swingweight frame is that the sweetspot is bigger. I returned GREAT in a match this weekend. My older racquet would have produced a few sitters no doubt.

Stringing 5# higher has given me a little more control and just the right feedback. It also helps that its been cooler I'm sure. Hopefully I'll be fully adjusted to the frame by next summer.

11-15-2009, 11:41 AM
One more advantage of this higher swingweight frame is that the sweetspot is bigger. I returned GREAT in a match this weekend. My older racquet would have produced a few sitters no doubt.

Stringing 5# higher has given me a little more control and just the right feedback. It also helps that its been cooler I'm sure. Hopefully I'll be fully adjusted to the frame by next summer.

Back in the early 90's I switched from a PS 6.0 85 to a Dunlop Revelation 95... I started hitting everything about 12 inches longer than usual. I have long fast strokes... always have and alway will it is just the way I play, and it is what is natural to me. Anyway, my strokes were classic... nothing excessive in any way, what I would call simple stroke mechanics. In trying to adapted to the 95 in frame I started to develop a a wrist flick to generate more racket head rotation and more topspin... a bad habit that I have found difficult to break.

The moral of my story... I went back to my 85 sq/in frames that matched up better with my tennis game. Now I just play my tennis game... I don't have to worry about adapting to my equipment. Since my return to tennis I thought I would try a newer frame... so I purchased a PS Tour 90, an underpowered racket that I feel suits the way I play. I have always felt I had power on demand with my game... I am always looking for more control.

11-15-2009, 11:52 AM
Sir Shanks,

I consider this more of a personality issue than a racquet issue. What I mean is are you content not to swing out in points or under pressure to hit that passing shot or put away that short ball? Do you prefer to bang from the baseline or play/want to develop an all court game? Do you like to take a good crack at the ball with plenty of margin for error and hit full out? If you are a really aggressive player, you may like being able to swing harder and still keep it in (plus the comfort of knowing you can swing out and keep it in). Many aggressive players like to swing out it seems.

Answer that these questions for yourself and the answer should make the choice easy. Once you understand your personality and how you prefer to perform, you will know the right choice for you.

Good tennis


11-15-2009, 06:32 PM
Try using a different string setup - caution though - a stiffer string at high tension is pretty brutal when you are coming back from injury.

11-15-2009, 10:00 PM
The player can always tame the racket, but it won't allow him/her to play the most effective and natural game he/she posesses. I'd generally just want a racket that can do exactly what I want it to.

11-16-2009, 08:08 AM
I'm with everyone on this advice.
Comes down to YOU and how you want to play. You compromise your racketchoice with a balance of power, spin, control, quickness, and ease of use with some color and foo foo decorations added for consideration.
Don't go with the lowest power racket...wood 65's.
Don't go with the highest power racket.. graphite 130's.
Now watch some pro tennis and note their rackets and swing styles.

fuzz nation
11-16-2009, 03:13 PM
Wow... you went to a racquet that's significantly stiffer and a good chunk more hefty. As I see it, that probably dialed up your potential to really pop the ball in a big way. My recent gear switch actually took me in the other direction.

I had to switch away from a rather hefty, stiff racquet to get more control over my baseline game. Since I prefer some stability, I kept the heft, but a more flexible option gave me more freedom to use a full stroke and keep my shots down on the court. My stiff frames made me feel like I really needed to hold back to control those same strokes, but they also made it easy to block a return of serve or sting a volley with authority. Fortunately, I still get a good amount of that same performance in the softer racquets because of their weight.

It's been my experience that the transition into a rather different racquet can take a lot more than just a week or two. If a good chunk of time goes by - I'm thinking maybe a few months - and you have a nagging feeling that you can't take a natural swing at the ball without losing a lot of control, you might need a lesson... but your gear setup might be too hot. Considering the stiffness of your present racquet, I strongly recommend against your stringing it with a harsh poly just to get more control. I think that the healthier option would be a more flexible alternative with some weight on it.

You might also want to try some lead tape on your softer old racquet just to see how it feels for you with some more stability. The good news with that lead is that you can just peel it off if you don't like it. Hopefully you'll settle in with this new frame just fine, but if you have trouble down the road, you might consider something with similar heft and more flex. Change can be slow, so take your time and enjoy the process.