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View Full Version : Game Improvement and Technology Bias


thomas martinez
04-14-2004, 01:34 PM
You know, I see PLENTY of drivel on this board about how various people wanting to try a game improvement or tweener stick if you will and how they sheould NOT try one of them and just move onto a full 340 gramme frame with a tiny head and dense string pattern because it will make them play better. Occasionally, you'll see mention of an oversize, but it is only one particular model, the Prince Graphite. Yes, once upon a time, many of the player style frames would have been considered game improvement frames, but that was in the days of wood, and a few aluminium standard head frames. These days are long gone. Many people these days just want to go out on court to have some fun. Does all this technology and the like make a racquet a piece of garbage? Nope not at all! Does it make it a poor choice for your game, perhaps so. Many here have to understand that the bulk of the market is taken up with sales from game improvement and tweener frames. This is where the companies make their bread and butter. It is just annoying after a while when someone who is a beginner or even a woman comes along and asks is for example a Wilson H4 good for my game? I am a 3.0 player, I play mostly from the back court and play lots of doubles, I have a relatively short backswing, and a slow swingspeed. I need something I can manuver easily, and something that will not make my arm tired. I've yet to really see someone say sure, that's a good idea for a frame to try, instead you see, no! Don't try that, it'll ruin your game, you'll get tennis elbow and you need to try player frame A, player frame B, and player frame D. Now this person might not be able to handle the weight of these frames being they are looking for something that will not make their arm tired, not to mention, they might not be able to move the frame around on the court, especially during thier weekly social doubles game. As for arm trouble, well, let's say the new Wilson Hammer/Triad line, are rather excellent when it comes to a nice dampened feel. This is the frist time in a long time I've no qualms about recommending one of them to a customer without worrying that it will aggrivate any sort of injury. Technologies such as in the past, Power Holes, Sweet Spot Suspension System, Catapult, Kinetic, Triad, ISIS, Woofer, Iso-Sorb, Iso-Grid, and the like have helped the recreational player quite a bit. Some of these technologies have even filtered into more advanced player frames, and have had a bit of a following, take a look at the Kinetic, Woofer, and even Catapult. The sheer ingorance of these facts, it's just saddening to someone who has been a professional in this business for years. Put aside your prejudices, and your ego and check out the brave new world out there. In the real world, that is what matters. People wanting to play and wanting to have fun. Not everyone can handle a 370 gramme frame with a 32 cm balance point strung tightly, some need a large head, light weight, a bit of length, lower tensions and a softer string to go out and make the sport fun for them. Sorry folks, but majority rules in this case, and for the marketing companies, this is what counts.

Tom Martinez
p.s. Please do NOT even get me started on people recommending discontinued models to try, especially when they are tough to source.

HeavyBall
04-14-2004, 02:14 PM
I agree with virtually everything you've said. My only problem is that the USRSA's website states that 5 of the worst 7 racquets for arm, wrist and shoulder safety are Wilson Hammer Triads.

But if someone wants to use one, they shouldn't be criticized for it.

AAAA
04-14-2004, 03:14 PM
People often recommend what they prefer rather than what is most appropriate for the person asking. I may have done it myself on these boards?

For people who never will have long/fast/powerful swings a tweener/game improvement racquet can be the more appropriate choice.

Shane Reynolds
04-14-2004, 03:37 PM
All I can say is Amen, Brother.

Dranguyengon
04-14-2004, 03:42 PM
I agree with that alot. If your a beginner, then you should use a tweener racquet. I wouldn't use a game improvement racquet though. I had used a Head Ti-S6. It weights like 8.5 OZ and is 27.75 in long, and has a 115 in head size. If ur a beginner, then you can wield it but not i can't control it. it is one of the more comfortable racquets i used but i just can't control it.

thejerk
04-14-2004, 04:31 PM
I started out using light crappy rackets and was never able to get consistancy. Heavy rackets are better all around. For men of a certain age who like to hit things hard heavier rackets are just better all around. My wife likes light and heavy rackets but she hits better with the heavy.

c10
04-14-2004, 05:08 PM
Years ago kids, women and men used to play with more heavy wooden sticks and nobody complained. Although we may use technology ofr weight reduction, we should not forget that if the weight of a racquet is too low or not distributed well (head heavy), the player, even more if its a recreational player, would have more chance of feeling disconfort. Look at racquetresearch.com to see what im talking about and look for novice sticks.

Brent Pederson
04-14-2004, 05:38 PM
I think it all depends on the goals of the user. Whether you're a beginner or not, if you really want to get good at the game I still think you're better off with more a control-oriented frame, so that you'll be rewarded for learning to swing correctly, although a larger headsize might reduce your frustration factor considerably.

For this reason, my vote for the best racquets for anyone serious, but still at a lower level, would be something like a Radical OS, or POG OS. Of course, this implies that you're also willing to invest some time and money into learning the proper strokes to go with it. I think the best way to go is to learn form and control first, then, once you've got the proper strokes, if you want to hit with a more powerful racket, go for it. Without them, the racket is really not going to buy you anything very helpful.

On the other hand, if you just want to go out on the courts once in a while and whack the ball around, hey, hit with whatever you want. Somehow, I doubt that person is the type who hits the boards here at TW very frequently, however.

BTW, I have two kids, a seven-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy, who I occasionally take out to the courts to toss some balls for them to hit (only when they ask me to, I never push them). I have a couple of kid rackets that I normally let them use. The other day, just for fun, I took out an old ProKennex Black Ace that tips the scales at 13 oz. which I was going to try myself for a few practice serves.

Well, when they saw that racket, they just loved it and wanted to hit with it! I told them I didn't think it was a very good idea, that it was too heavy for them, but they couldn't be dissuaded.

Anyway, first thing, my little girl grabs it, I toss her a ball, and she hits a screaming flat bomb that just about took my head off! She loved it and hit many more balls with it, showing no ill effects. My little boy also hit well with it, although, about halfway through the bucket, he decided he'd rather use the kid racket (prettier colors).

So, hey, to each his/her own, but it really taught me that the weight issue is probably overblown, a marketing feature that sells a lot of rackets in the store, but, a nice as a light racket feels to swing, there's something to be said for a little mass when it comes to actually making good contact with a tennis ball.

NoBadMojo
04-14-2004, 06:39 PM
i think what Thomas is referencing is that lighweight oversized bats do have a purpose for those that are too old or weak to swing anything heavier fast enough to be effective in any way. they do have a purpose in some instances, and i doubt that anyone needing a 8.5 oz bat is gonna hit the ball hard enough to develop physical problems anyway. having said that, i heard a sampras interview where he was asked if he will point his kid to play tennis..he said he didnt know yet, but that if he did, he would try and find a wooden frame for the kid to learn with. with the kids, i think part of the prob is that they can be started too soon..in that case it doesnt matter what racquet you put in their hand. I know I am getting older now, and I am not vain enough not to try something lighter so i can get more racquethead speed. ED

Steve Huff
04-14-2004, 07:41 PM
Thomas, did you see the article in RSI about the optimal racket weight being related to the weight of the player's arm. If this theory proves correct, most women (and others with smaller body frames) SHOULD be using tweener rackets.

As to the comment that women and kids all used to use wood rackets--well, maybe that's why tennis was considered a "rich man's sport". You had to shell out so much money on lessons to learn to hit with one of those, you'd have to be rich to be able to get good. A light, stiff racket rarely hurts a beginners arm. They don't take huge, long swings. My wife started with a Prince UltraLite OS and now uses a Prince Bandit OS, and has never had arm problems. Most of the women on her team use game improvement rackets. I've never heard of them having arm problems. On the other hand, I tried to start playing with an older ProKennex Golden Ace (13.8oz). I normally use a 5g weighted to 12.1oz strung. Within 3 sets, my shoulder was really hurting. So, it's just as easy to go too heavy as it is to go too light.

Ronaldo
04-14-2004, 08:04 PM
Thomas, I used your previous posts to try many older racquets. Agree that tweeners rule for players out for fun and do not want a heavy stick. But it seems every player I've met that uses them resemble the walking wounded. And so many older players just want more power and after playing, need more ice than anything else.

Deuce
04-14-2004, 09:13 PM
If 'Tweeners' don't hurt beginners' arms, I would suggest this is primarily because beginners simply do not hit enough balls to hurt their arm. 90% of their on-court time is spent either talking or retrieving their errant balls.

Of those 'Tweener' users who stick with the game and learn to hit the ball inside the court dimensions, the ball is rarely, if ever, struck with enough force to produce shock to the arm. For more advanced players who use a 'Tweener' racquet, arm injury is often a problem.

I agree with Ed, as this is essentially what he wrote. Also, I agree that light, large racquets can serve a purpose for the elderly and the infirm. I wouldn't exactly refer to light weight and large headedness(?) as 'technology', however. Has the increase in head size and the decrease in weight helped the elderly and infirm? Certainly. Have the so-called 'technologies' that Tom mentioned (Power Holes, Sweet Spot Suspension, Catapult, Kinetic, Triad, Woofer, etc.) helped anyone? Perhaps some of the Kinetics and Triads have helped to save a few elbows - but have they improved people's games? I don't see where they have. As for the other 'technologies' Tom mentioned (as well as several more that he didn't mention), I'd say that they are all gimmicks that have had no practical use for anyone, other than perhaps a temporary, purely psychological 'lift'.

I also agree with virtually everything that Brent wrote.

python
04-15-2004, 03:57 AM
Of those 'Tweener' users who stick with the game and learn to hit the ball inside the court dimensions, the ball is rarely, if ever, struck with enough force to produce shock to the arm. For more advanced players who use a 'Tweener' racquet, arm injury is often a problem.


I've yet to see any medical studies that back this up. Even the old racquetrearch site didn't provide any stats concerning arm injuries and their correlation to tennis players using light racquets. This is one of those oft-repeated truisms on the TW board that eventually become 'fact' as part of the board's conventional wisdom with enough repetition, much like how urban legends are born.

I've played with tweeners for years, currently using a Volkl Vl Classic. Before that, I used a Pro Kennex 20G and a Prince Stealth MP briefly, and I played with the Head Supreme Competition XL for 5 years. Never had any arm or elbow problems related to tennis. I have plenty of other anecdotal stories about other regular players, who yes are better than 3.0, that have the same experience.

Racquet choice is more a function of preference and performance that anything else. If you've got great strokes and movement, you'll probably like something like a Head Prestige. If you're slow with choppy form, a granny stick might be the best for your game. Most tennis players who form the legions of 3.0-4.0 players will either like one of the two extremes or maybe something in between, depending on their strength, fitness, and preferences in a racquet.

The arm safety diatribe against lighter frames is a red herring. It's bad form that promotes arm pain. Perhaps that's the connection. People with poor technique need game improvement sticks to power up their game. However, they develop arm pain because of their technique and not because of the racquet.

Is that the truth? Maybe, maybe not. But I've got as much "proof" as anyone else on the other side of the fence.

If you've (as in the hypothetical you) got tennis elbow, ice it down and let it heal first after seeing a doctor. When he clears you to return to tennis, go to a GOOD coach and clean up your game. Get fit, too, so you CAN make contact with the ball in a proper fashion. If you're constantly late hitting the ball, your form is bound to suffer, after all. Who knows after you become a better player, you can graduate to a player's racquet and then make the (often incorrect) claim that a player's racquet healed your tennis elbow.

Nice post, Tom.

David Pavlich
04-15-2004, 01:07 PM
Thomas...

I've been saying this all along and usually getting flamed for my sacrilege. There are those here that believe that no matter what level a player is, the Wilson PS 85 is the only stick.

Sure, recreational players used wooden cludgeons but I remember what the game looked like...slow motion.

Part of the reason for the mocking of lighter racquets is that some of the players that use the heavy player's frames that had a strength advantage over their opponents now have physically lesser opponents that can hit out because the new racquets allow players to hit with greater power and precision and they are getting whooped. They complain that the person that defeated them had inferior strokes but the racquet compensated for the lack of purity. Sounds like whining to me.

And for those that say the light racquet is for the infirmed or weakling player...I would invite you to my shop and talk to some of my "infirmed" players that use the light racquets. You wouldn't want to get one of these guys on your bad side unless you were carrying a really big stick or could run really fast. These guys don't like heavy racquets yet play at the 4.0/4.5 level.

If you don't like the new stuff, don't use it. That's the great thing about living here. As a shop owner, I wish everyone played with the same racquet...I'd have a much smaller shop and lower rent. Same with strings, shoes, bags, grips, overwraps, dampeners and apparel. Wouldn't it be great for me if EVERYONE used VS gut, wore nothing but Prince shoes, used only Wilson bags and Babolat overwraps?

Racquets, just like bowling balls and golf clubs, are a very personal thing. The racquet that gives you the most comfort and confidence is the racquet that a player should use, regardless of weight, size or shape.

David

netman
04-20-2004, 10:35 AM
To the point on recommending older frames, every once in awhile a manufacturer seems to find the right combination of tradeoffs and compromises and they create a great, all around frame. Unfortunately, the realities of planned obsolesence and inventory control dictate that most frames die after a short run. The fact the manufacturers kill it off shouldn't preclude someone from trying and potentially liking a discontinued frame. **** and the TW Classifieds have created a fairly liquid market for older racquets and with some patience you can usually find additional frames. I'm continually seeing listings for new, plastic still on the handle frames from all of the last 10 years. And there seem to be an abundance of barely used racquets out there. Its a risk to go this route, but doable and worth it if you find a frame that fits your game perfectly. Plus the thrill of the hunt makes it kind of fun.

Just my thoughts.

ma2t
04-21-2004, 04:24 AM
Just a few comments:

I've lost plenty of matches to players using "technology-enhanced" frames that are oversized and very powerful. Those frames obviously work for them!

On the other hand, I've also taken advantage of players who use such frames by forcing them to make volleys off hard-hit passing shots. They often stab at them and the ball sails long by several feet. But, you can't have everything! If a player wants the "free" power of a game-improvement frame, they have to give up some control.