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View Full Version : What is the lifespan of a racquet?


AndrewD
05-28-2005, 01:06 AM
Assuming that the frame is well cared for, what is the average life expectancy of a frame. By that I mean, how long does it last before its playability starts to fade.

The other day I was picking up my new LM Prestige mids and took in the Prestige Pro Id been using. The Head rep saw it and asked if he could have a hit. After doing so he said to me that the frame was dead or, at least, was no longer able to provide the same levels of feel and power that it should. It is a 15 year old frame that I bought from an op-shop so he may well have a point. I always thought it was a little dull but assumed it was just the 16 gauge strings. However, Ive been playing and winning at quite a high level with it so didn't give it much though. In hindsight Im wondering if that explains why I felt the LM Prestige had twice the power of my old Prestige Pro, why I have to string the LM 15lbs higher and why I had to work harder for spin and power with the Prestige Pro.

Im curious to know if that is something others have run across or have any idea about.

Prince_of_Tennis
05-28-2005, 01:17 AM
I have no idea bout the lifespan. But if you played with a racket that long you get used to it and know what to do with it. So I think it doesn't really matter that much.

AndrewD
05-28-2005, 01:28 AM
Well, it does matter. If the 'life' has gone from the frame there's little point in continuing to use it. It's exactly what they mean by the expression 'flogging a dead horse'.

Prince_of_Tennis
05-28-2005, 01:31 AM
Does it dpend on how many re strings it goes through rather than just playing with it. The amount of pressure that is applied to the racket when it is strung is a lot right?

montx
05-28-2005, 01:47 AM
I have heard this as a test. I hope this helps. Hold your racquet at the handle, and hit with your other hand the top of the racquet (12 o'clock). If the shock and vibrations seem harsh on the handle, It would appear that over long play usage, the material has become less dense and sturdy and susceptible to more vibration transmission.

If you use a hammer, which can last a very long time. The wooden arm may chip and become more brittle and eventually break.

I personally think you can use a racquet for quite a long period of time. But if you notice changes, less efficiency or more shock, or just think after say three years of using it, its time to make a change, then you might have set yourself some sort of guage as to what you should do.

I am sure there have been people who use the same racquet for over 2 years. My coach has used the same racquet for i think over 10 years. So, you set yourself your judgements. If you think the racquet is too beat up, you might know its time to retire it.

dozu
05-28-2005, 05:41 AM
if re-stringing affects the integrity of the frame structure, it is very minor comparing to the wear and tear the racket goes thru on the cement courts.

years ago I actually played a ceramic racket to it's death, it was so worn that it eventually broke in half.... I also played with a PS85 before and the wear has caused the structure to break down and there was a lot of vibration felt on the handle... in these situations you should get rid of the racket as it may cause injuries.

otherwise if the racket sees only minor paint scratch and expose small amount of graphite, it is fine.... at the rate I am playing, avg 10hrs/week, it should last at least 5 years.

AndrewD
05-28-2005, 06:53 AM
The racquet, when I bought it, was in good condition. However, I have no idea how many restrings it has had, how much play or what kind. Since I started using it, its been through 4 re-strings in the last 2 months. Given its age and condition when I bought it my guess would be 15-20

NoBadMojo
05-28-2005, 07:22 AM
Restringings are what stresses a frame the most. Racquets fatigue over time, mostly from frequent restringings. They become more flexible and become lifeless and lose alot of power. when racquet fatigue occurs depends upon a number of things: mostly the quality of the racquet and how many times the thing has been restrung. often it goes unnoticed i think because it isnt something that occurs like flipping on a switch..it is very gradual. Sometimes the fatigue is visible, and you can actually see if you look close enough that the head of the frame may be slightly warped (that is an obvious sign of racquet fatigue and very common with the Prestige). I used to get about 2 years out of a frame keeping 4 frames in rotation when i was playing alot of T (using prestige660's)..after that, they just didnt feel right to me. i got more life out of the Fischer VTPro98's (made with Vacuum Technic). i like my frames to play crisp and lively and not soggy..some of the new frames are made with better manufacturing techniques, and seem to last longer. also stiffer frames seem to be playable longer (this is just a guess and is subjective). i dont know how people can play with old stressed out frames that have lost their power, feel, and play soggy, but to each their own

AndrewD
05-28-2005, 07:50 AM
Thanks very much Ed.

As you know I was only using the Prestige Pro while finding something else suitable and as it seemed to help my wrist. Only bought it in the first place because I thought 'great a Prestige Pro for $40, I'll keep that as an antique lol'.

Just had a look and no warping but that soft, low power feel does kind of sum it up. Stupid me, never having used a Prestige I assumed it was the way the racquet played. I used to only get a couple of years out of the 200G's (if I was lucky) before they warped but for some reason it just never entered my head with this one.

Not to worry, it has been retired as of this week. I'll be cutting the strings out and it will go back to being a keepsake. I was just curious to know what people thought.

NoBadMojo
05-28-2005, 08:05 AM
Andrew if you could play an old Prestige along with a new one at the same time, I think the diff may be pretty obvious to you.

AndrewD
05-28-2005, 08:31 AM
Ed,
it wasn't a Prestige Pro but I had a hit with the LM Prestige mid and the difference was like night and day. Had to dial my shots in quite substantially and add more top. Was a really nice surprise on serve though LOL.

Definately won't be using it again and will remain embarrassed for quite some time LOL

Ronaldo
05-28-2005, 08:35 AM
Andrew, great post on this board especially when using 10+ yr old racquets with no easy replacement. Always wondered if my PC or Prestige Tour was soft or just played out? At least new grommet strips seem to help. Tried the LM Prestige, PK Type C, other new racquets and never found that soft, damped feel.

NoBadMojo
05-28-2005, 08:50 AM
no need to be embarassed Andrew...there are lots of players out there using really fatigued racquets. i think what people miss about the Prestige is the layup..particularly the Twaron in there..that's what gave the frame it's unique and special feel. to my knowledge, Head was the only manufacturer using that material, and i really dont think those frames stayed playable for very long <maybe thats why nobody else copied it?>. oh....power and spin are your friends.....

TennsDog
05-28-2005, 01:13 PM
I have heard that a typical lifespan for a racket is 2-5 years, depending on restringing, how hard you hit, and how often you play. As each of these factors goes up, the lifespan goes down. I have never had a racket that long, so I have yet to deal with it, but I plan on keeping these frames for a while. It also helps to have several in rotation to help keep each playing better longer.

Grimjack
05-28-2005, 01:29 PM
I generally get about three seasons out of a frame before I notice diminished playability. Then, I'm not a winter player, either.

AndrewD
05-28-2005, 06:37 PM
Power and spin are my friends and Im happy to welcome them back into the fold LOL. Still, if Ive been able to overpower people -especially on serve- using a 'dead' frame I'll be looking forward to trying it with a 'live' one. LOL

Yep, the frame has to have a life expectancy as pretty much everything else does. A camera is designed to take x number of shots before wearing out, a car can take x number of miles before it needs to be overhauled etc, etc. The racquet isn't any different

I like the sound of 2-5 years. Kind of meshes with something I remember hearing (now, I remember lol) Arantxa Sanchez say about using her frames for 8-12 months before they went soft. Stands to reason that a pro would only get a third the life from a frame that we will.

Deuce
05-29-2005, 01:52 AM
If I understand correctly, Andrew, you really liked the Prestige Pro until the Head sales rep told you that it was 'dead' - at that point, you became embarrassed.

I don't mean to offend, mate, but that's rather ridiculous.

Firstly, the Head sales rep obviously has the motivation to tell you that any and every old racquet is 'dead'. He wants you - and everyone else - to purchase a NEW Head racquet.

Secondly, a racquet's 'efficiency' cannot possibly be measured in time, or even in string jobs. There is only one way to accurately measure a racquet's efficiency - and that is to play with it. If it doesn't work for you - whether it did or did not work for you before - then the racquet is inefficient for you. The reason doesn't matter. A supposedly 'dead' frame could be exactly what a given player is looking for in terms of feel and power, for instance. Therefore, the 'dead' racquet is very much alive to that player. And so, there cannot possibly be any way of saying that a racquet is 'dead', or no longer useful. It's all relative. Just like strings. Personally, I like my strings more and more the longer they're in my racquet. Others say that the strings 'die' after 'X' amount of time. I say BS to that - as they liven up for me with age.

As for your examples of cameras and cars... if a camera is designed to take 10,000 photos, would you throw it in the garbage after taking the 10,000th photo? Or would you continue to use it for as long as it continued to function efficiently?

As for cars, there is preventive maintenance involved - so that is not a good comparison. Since tennis racquets cannot effectively be fixed once they supposedly break down with time, repeated stringings, etc., the only possibilities are that it will either perform efficiently, or it won't. It is no more complicated than that. And you are the only one capable of deciding whether it performs effectively or not. No other party (even if he's a Head sales rep) is qualified to tell you that a given racquet is no good for you because it is past its 'prime'.

Bottom line is - don't let anyone else tell you that your racquet is 'dead', or 'alive', or anything else. Only you can make that determination - and that assessment could well have absolutely nothing to do with time.

Nyl
05-29-2005, 02:18 AM
lifespan of a rac is not measured by time but how many times you restring your rac. each stringjob put tremedous stress on the rac and each time the rac structure is damaged slightly.

i heard it's about 20 string-job.

Prince_of_Tennis
05-29-2005, 02:20 AM
lifespan of a rac is not measured by time but how many times you restring your rac.
i heard it's about 20-30 string-job.

It what I heard too...Scary to thinking about I'm almost there and it hasn't been a year.

AndrewD
05-29-2005, 02:58 AM
Deuce,
no, it seems like you've completely misread what I was saying. I was switching over from the Prestige Pro to the LM Prestige prior to any mention of the racquet being 'dead'. What was embarrassing (and Im using the word in a very light hearted way) is that my complaint regarding the Prestige Pro were that it seemed quite soft, a bit underpowered and not particularly condusive to spin. Very comfortable but lacking a certain crispness. What I took to be the halmarks of the Prestige Pro were actually the result of an old racquet that has been well used and in need of replacement. Just a case of not considering a pretty obvious reason.

As to the Head rep, he was very kindly providing the LM Prestige frames and a few other bits and pieces as part of a package. It was an offer made as a result of the work I do with a few wheelchair tennis players and a small group of intellectually handicapped players. So, convincing me to buy a new frame didn't enter into the equation. If I didn't state that part it's only because I didn't want to mention it lest talk of sponsorship should sound like boasting.

The camera and car examples are valid but you're arguing semantics. You can argue around them all you like, but its just splitting hairs as Im quite sure you knew exactlly what I was driving at.

Bottom line, the racquet wasn't replaced because I was told it was 'dead'. The racquet was replaced and then I was told it was 'dead'. My original post explained that I picked up the new racquet then the Head rep hit with the old one and then he proclaimed it 'dead'. Not the other way around. No-one said it wasn't good for me, just that the life had gone from it.

Datacipher
05-29-2005, 03:36 AM
NoBadMojo is correct, restringing is the single most stressful ordinary event in a racquets life. So it all depends on frequency of stringing, frequency of play and type of play. Of course improper storage and handling go without saying.
Actually, every restring you do, even the very first restring has an effect on the racquet(though you shouldn't notice).

It's not unusual for high level players who restring a lot(could be as much as 3X a week or more) to wipe out a racquet in 1-2 years. But a more infrequent recreational player might get away just fine with 10+ years. Best way to judge, try a new one and compare. But, I've known good players who actually love their worn out frames! One guy I knew played with an old Wilson that was actually discolored for maybe 20 years, he used it all through the juniors. He couldn't even try a new one as it was discontinued! I tried it and it felt pretty bad to me. It still worked for him though, so sometimes if it ain't broke why change?

gotwheels
05-31-2005, 12:36 PM
Good comments by all. I had a shop owner tell me (adult rookie) that a racquet life was about 12 stringings! Somewhat of a techie with some manufacturing/polymer knowledge, I was suspicious of such a short frame life.

I had reason to contact Wilson and in some discussions with their tech group, I learned that a frame life of 50 to 60 stringings was more real for a common recreational player. Again there are many variables that have been mentioned earlier that contribute to frame life with stringing stress being the number one contributor to frame life, unless you are "Safin" like in your tennis behavior. This forum has lots of good advice as to stringing techique and best frame mountings that can give us extended frame life if we don't abuse our racquets on the court.

Also, the Wilson guys said they prepared 60 frames for Roger Federer last year!

monologuist
05-31-2005, 02:49 PM
guys...what do you think about storing frames that you are not currently using, strung versus unstrung? which is better for the racquet?

AndrewD
05-31-2005, 04:49 PM
monologuist,

I was always told to cut the strings out of racquets you aren't using (unless they're up for decorative purposes of course) as it could lead to them warping.