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View Full Version : Power levels on rackets - what does it really mean?


Dgdavid
01-26-2012, 02:45 PM
Hi all,

I am not really understanding the power level relative to rackets and their user. For example, the Prestige is in theory a low power racket but I am assuming in the right hands, it is anything but.

When I want to attack balls, I get much more controllable power from "low powered" rackets and hit winners (which I don't seem to be able to do with a "power" racket - they fly). The flip side is when I can't get a full swing with the "low powered" ones, I am not getting them back deep at all. That said, my rackets are typically in the 300g unstrung weight.

So, my question are:

a) If you put a decent swing on it "low powered" racket that is heavier (e.g 320+ unstrung) with plow through, is the weight of the racket itself go to add a lot of usable power to hit bombs over a light "low powered" racket?
b) If you can't get much of a swing on it, will the heft/plow through of a heavier racket help take it deeper than a lighter control racket.
d) In what circumstances are heavier, low powered rackets actually low powered?

Sorry if the questions sound silly but I just don't get it. I think I want a heavier, low powered, head light racket, fast swinging racket (IG Prestige Pro or MP?) but part of me thinks just go back to Pure Drive style power rackets. Any views? (be gentle)

ps. 4.0-4.5 player currently using IG Speed 300 and testing IG Rad Pro and Exo3 Tour. Have previously used Bab APDGT.

Dgdavid
01-26-2012, 02:46 PM
I might need to learn my alphabet too!

gramdacious
01-26-2012, 03:10 PM
if you can generate your own power through your strokes then you probably don't need a "powerfull" racquet. If you are not as advanced with your strokes, can't time your swing with a long, flowing motion then you may want a more powerful racquet to do some of the work for you. You'll trade stability though, especially on heavy balls coming at you and also blocking back serves. In my experience, even without a good cut at it, a heavier, sturdier frame will get the ball deeper back into your opponent's court on average better then a lighter, more powerful frame in comparison.

infonoob
01-26-2012, 03:15 PM
"High Power" racquets mean "inherent power", which could be most simply put as the amount of power the racquet contributes. Sticks like the Prestige have high "potential power", meaning that one can hit the ball harder and still retain control and spin.

Dgdavid
01-26-2012, 03:37 PM
Thanks for the responses. infonoob, that two sentence response is precisely the clear answer I needed. Much appreciated.

LeeD
01-26-2012, 05:25 PM
You need to acclimate to your racket.
If you hit short while making stab desperation "gets", AIM HIGHER over the net.
If you swing really fast, with a long stroke, using a "high powered" big stiff stick, you will hit SLOWER and with less control!

fuzz nation
01-26-2012, 07:08 PM
The two strongest contributors to the power I perceive in my racquets are static weight and stiffness. Even if a racquet is soft, I can thump the ball with it just fine if it's also rather heavy and I take a full swing through the ball. Lighter racquets can have some inherent power if they're rather stiff because that extra backbone makes for extra pop. That sort of power or liveliness can be nice for snappy volleys and decent serves.

Yes, the heavier "low powered" racquet will have more potential to crush the ball given a similar full stroke, but that heavier frame needs to be not-so-heavy that you can actually use it.

As far as "b" and "d" go, a "low powered" racquet is usually more flexible, making it more of a control frame. When blocking a return of serve or hitting a volley with an especially soft racquet, there's little swinging motion involved and the heft of the racquet doesn't get to generate as much power. Those sorts of shots can make a "control frame" feel "low powered".

I recommend that you keep track of the static weight and flex ratings (along with the balance) among the racquets you own or sample. I find that these are the best indicators of any racquet's performance, not including the string layout. Getting familiar with your favorite combinations of those spec's in your racquets can make it much easier to track down frames that are a good fit or even help with dialing in the gear you already have.

KenC
01-26-2012, 11:36 PM
I think it is wise to find the most powerful racquet that you can easily control, strings aside. I often describe this as "dynamic range" in which you want to have a racquet that allows you to both pummel the ball and still keep it in while still being able to step off the gas and hit a wide variety of touch and placement shots when needed.

For example, I like playing with the Pure Storm Tour, but it seems to be a racquet meant to pummel the ball at the expense of a little directional control and touch. When I go to step off the gas and place the ball with more touch I find it much more difficult to control due to the higher inherent power level. So, for me the PST offers me less dynamic range than I need.

On the other hand, I really don't like the Pure Storm Limited, but it is the only racquet that lets me pummel the ball with a good bit of directional control and then lets me dial in a wide variety of different pace according to the shot I need to make. It offers the biggest dynamic range for me.

So, I think the lower powered players racquets are designed to offer more dynamic range for the more advanced players who already generate power from their technique. To say the PSLGT is a low powered racquet really doesn't mean anything when you see people like Ryan Harrison crushing tennis balls with it. The Prestige MP is a low powered racquet but I see people all over the place crushing tennis balls with it. I think what most advanced players don't like about the Pure Drive is the lack of dynamic range that racquet offers. It is meant to hit the ball hard and that's it. Trying to get touch out of a Pure Drive is like trying to get Congress to agree on anything.

spaceman_spiff
01-27-2012, 01:46 AM
Pay no attention to the power level listed on the specs tab. It's meaningless.

For example, the Boris Becker 11 Special Edition is listed as Low for the power level. But if you go to TWU and check the location rankings, the BB11 SE has the highest level of power at the center of the string bed (21" up) than any other racket they have ever tested.

It's a similar story for the Bio 200 Tour and the Ki5 PSE. Both are listed as low powered, but both are well within the top 20 in terms of power on the center of the string bed (well above a number of frames that are listed as high powerered in the specs.) They also have a large power zone overall, so mis-hits are not as weak as with other frames.

The best rule of thumb is to check the swingweight. Low swingweights deliver low power, and high swingweights deliver high power (regardless of the overall static weight). After that, you can check the head size, string pattern, and flex, as those will affect the power level as well (but not as much as the swingweight).

getsby
01-27-2012, 02:11 AM
power level, is composed of three elements. stroke mechanics, the static weight of the racquet, and the sweet spot.
complete, early swing gives you more power in the stroke. example, Harrison's is the exception rather that the pros. for the majority of even very high-level amateurs such strokes with PSGTLtd unattainable. but for example with Wilson K or BLX 6.1 ball speed will be much higher for players 4.5 ntrp and above.
for 3.0-4.5 players will be best results with pure drive or extreme pro. In general, all very relative, and individual

TimothyO
01-27-2012, 06:02 AM
The two strongest contributors to the power I perceive in my racquets are static weight and stiffness.

FuzzNation is absolutely correct on this. I enjoy soft frames (60 or less) modded to around 12 oz and head light. For me that's a nice combination of comfort, power, and mobility. Combined with gut mains I feel like if I hit soft I get a soft shot and if I hit hard I get a hard shot.

Pay no attention to the power level listed on the specs tab. It's meaningless.

Spiff is correct on this too. I don't know who writes TW's frame summaries but they're often wrong or at least disagree with TW's other data. The summary shows the Speed 300 as low-medium power but on the sweet spot/power graph it's in the bottom left quadrant. A friend who uses a really stiff and powerful frame hated it when she tried it. Way too little power for her and too heavy for her with my mods.

When I want to attack balls, I get much more controllable power from "low powered" rackets and hit winners (which I don't seem to be able to do with a "power" racket - they fly). The flip side is when I can't get a full swing with the "low powered" ones, I am not getting them back deep at all. That said, my rackets are typically in the 300g unstrung weight.

I had the same experience. You need to look at your mass and its distribution.

I believe it depends a lot on your opponent's skill too. If they're hitting hard shots 300g/significantly HL won't be sufficient. That's fine against weak floaters which are often seen in very low level play during patty-cake exchanges. Vs hard hitters your frame will be pushed around.

This week after seeing my frame bounce a bit against an A-Level ALTA player's first serves I brought it back up to a full 12 oz / 340g and shifted the lead in the hoop back to 2/10. It's still HL and zippy but the new distribution of mass has increased the plow through (spin has increased too, dramatically...don't know why...my kick serves have been amazing!). It's at my upper limit of what I can handle but I just hate any feeling of weakness returning big serves or hitting hard volleys. This configuration gives me confidence facing hard shots.

The challenge is to balance mass, its distribution, and your swing speed. Too much mass, or at least too much mass resulting in a too much SW, can make you late on fast shots. You can't get the frame back and swinging due to the inertia. You can also hurt your shoulder with a too heavy frame (too light can shock your elbow).

At some point it's just the laws of physics as inflicted upon you by opponents. If they're hitting really hard shots you need a certain SW/static weight and head speed to compete. And there's your physique...it drives how much SW/mass you can move.

This is why I fear old age! :)

thug the bunny
01-27-2012, 06:24 AM
Just wanted to add for question d), (what happened to c?) that low powered rackets will be noticeably so when hit off center, and will give you immediate feedback telling you. This is one of the things I love about player's sticks.

Also, for b), yes blockbacks and punches of heavy fast balls will go back with more authority than lighter sticks. I recall some of my earlier light sticks almost getting knocked out of my hand from blocking a fast serve. With my KPS88, though, just stick it out there, and the ball goes back no problem.

dParis
01-27-2012, 09:05 AM
Pay no attention to the power level listed on the specs tab. It's meaningless.

For example, the Boris Becker 11 Special Edition is listed as Low for the power level. But if you go to TWU and check the location rankings, the BB11 SE has the highest level of power at the center of the string bed (21" up) than any other racket they have ever tested.

It's a similar story for the Bio 200 Tour and the Ki5 PSE. Both are listed as low powered, but both are well within the top 20 in terms of power on the center of the string bed (well above a number of frames that are listed as high powerered in the specs.) They also have a large power zone overall, so mis-hits are not as weak as with other frames.

The best rule of thumb is to check the swingweight. Low swingweights deliver low power, and high swingweights deliver high power (regardless of the overall static weight). After that, you can check the head size, string pattern, and flex, as those will affect the power level as well (but not as much as the swingweight).
OP, read this post again. Summed up nicely.

Add the variables of string type and tension - and you have the potential for a wide range of power levels for the same racquet, or overlap of power levels between different racquets.

getsby
01-27-2012, 08:42 PM
that there would not say that in my mind is powerful stick-Babolat, APD and PD, Wilson 6.1, Head Extreme Pro, Prince O3 White, Yonex RQiS 2 Tour.... And low-powered-Dunlop 200, Yonex RDS 001 mp, Babolat LTD. list of those that I tried

Captain Tezuka
01-28-2012, 04:08 AM
FuzzNation is absolutely correct on this. I enjoy soft frames (60 or less) modded to around 12 oz and head light. For me that's a nice combination of comfort, power, and mobility. Combined with gut mains I feel like if I hit soft I get a soft shot and if I hit hard I get a hard shot.



Spiff is correct on this too. I don't know who writes TW's frame summaries but they're often wrong or at least disagree with TW's other data. The summary shows the Speed 300 as low-medium power but on the sweet spot/power graph it's in the bottom left quadrant. A friend who uses a really stiff and powerful frame hated it when she tried it. Way too little power for her and too heavy for her with my mods.



I had the same experience. You need to look at your mass and its distribution.

I believe it depends a lot on your opponent's skill too. If they're hitting hard shots 300g/significantly HL won't be sufficient. That's fine against weak floaters which are often seen in very low level play during patty-cake exchanges. Vs hard hitters your frame will be pushed around.

This week after seeing my frame bounce a bit against an A-Level ALTA player's first serves I brought it back up to a full 12 oz / 340g and shifted the lead in the hoop back to 2/10. It's still HL and zippy but the new distribution of mass has increased the plow through (spin has increased too, dramatically...don't know why...my kick serves have been amazing!). It's at my upper limit of what I can handle but I just hate any feeling of weakness returning big serves or hitting hard volleys. This configuration gives me confidence facing hard shots.

The challenge is to balance mass, its distribution, and your swing speed. Too much mass, or at least too much mass resulting in a too much SW, can make you late on fast shots. You can't get the frame back and swinging due to the inertia. You can also hurt your shoulder with a too heavy frame (too light can shock your elbow).

At some point it's just the laws of physics as inflicted upon you by opponents. If they're hitting really hard shots you need a certain SW/static weight and head speed to compete. And there's your physique...it drives how much SW/mass you can move.

This is why I fear old age! :)

Hi TO,

I am intrigued by your post. Can you explain further on how to distrubute the mass accordingly? I think this will help a lot of people. If possible maybe start a new thread on it.

Just my opinion btw.

-Tezuka

spaceman_spiff
01-30-2012, 04:48 AM
Hi TO,

I am intrigued by your post. Can you explain further on how to distrubute the mass accordingly? I think this will help a lot of people. If possible maybe start a new thread on it.

Just my opinion btw.

-Tezuka

Short answer: put the mass where you hit the ball, i.e., at the top and sides of the head.

Mass at the sides (3 and 9) prevents twisting and increases the width of the sweet spot. Mass at the top (12) prevents deflection and increases the height of the sweet spot. 10 and 2 is like a bit of both.

Go into TWU, pull up the Hittingweight window, and check out frames like the BB11 SE, KPS88, Ki5 PSE, and even some of the game improvement frames like the Kfour 112 or BB Delta Core 1. The thing they all have in common is that they have a lot of mass at the top and the sides of the frame; hence, the large power zones.

Now compare that to frames with very small power zones, like the K6.1 Team, Volkl PB9, and BLX Tidal Wave. They have very little weight at the sides and top; hence, the tiny power zones (and low swingweight).

Getting the distribution right depends on your frame and your preferences. For some frames, you might want to add more to the top than you do to the sides. For others, you might add more to the sides than you do to the top. And for some, you might add the same amount to both.

dParis
01-30-2012, 07:19 AM
Short answer: put the mass where you hit the ball, i.e., at the top and sides of the head.

Mass at the sides (3 and 9) prevents twisting and increases the width of the sweet spot. Mass at the top (12) prevents deflection and increases the height of the sweet spot. 10 and 2 is like a bit of both.

Go into TWU, pull up the Hittingweight window, and check out frames like the BB11 SE, KPS88, Ki5 PSE, and even some of the game improvement frames like the Kfour 112 or BB Delta Core 1. The thing they all have in common is that they have a lot of mass at the top and the sides of the frame; hence, the large power zones.

Now compare that to frames with very small power zones, like the K6.1 Team, Volkl PB9, and BLX Tidal Wave. They have very little weight at the sides and top; hence, the tiny power zones (and low swingweight).

Getting the distribution right depends on your frame and your preferences. For some frames, you might want to add more to the top than you do to the sides. For others, you might add more to the sides than you do to the top. And for some, you might add the same amount to both.
spaceman, how did you conclude where the weight is distributed among the frames you mention? Through feel, or through interpretation of TWU data, a combination, or through another avenue of information? I happen to agree with your statements. For instance, I found the Volkl PB9 almost unplayable in stock form due to the lack of mass in the hoop, but once some lead was added it played great.

spaceman_spiff
01-30-2012, 07:30 AM
spaceman, how did you conclude where the weight is distributed among the frames you mention? Through feel, or through interpretation of TWU data, a combination, or through another avenue of information? I happen to agree with your statements. For instance, I found the Volkl PB9 almost unplayable in stock form due to the lack of mass in the hoop, but once some lead was added it played great.

The easiest way is to use the Hittingweight tool in TWU (it's under the Racquet Comparisons menu). It lists the effective weight at different spots on the string bed, in addition to other specs on the side of the menu (mass, swingweight, twist weight, etc.). You can open up multiple windows and compare frames side by side.

I never paid much attention to it until I bought a frame that was so unstable I had to add a ton of weight to it. That's about the same time I noticed the power zone measurements in TWU, so I just started poking around to see what other info they had.

Now, anytime I'm considering a new frame, I can check the Hittingweight tool to get an idea of how much weight I'll need to add to the top and/or sides to get my preferred specs. The calculations usually come out very close to my final modifications.

http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/cgi-bin/hittingwtrac.cgi

getsby
01-31-2012, 02:52 PM
The easiest way is to use the Hittingweight tool in TWU (it's under the Racquet Comparisons menu). It lists the effective weight at different spots on the string bed, in addition to other specs on the side of the menu (mass, swingweight, twist weight, etc.). You can open up multiple windows and compare frames side by side.

I never paid much attention to it until I bought a frame that was so unstable I had to add a ton of weight to it. That's about the same time I noticed the power zone measurements in TWU, so I just started poking around to see what other info they had.

Now, anytime I'm considering a new frame, I can check the Hittingweight tool to get an idea of how much weight I'll need to add to the top and/or sides to get my preferred specs. The calculations usually come out very close to my final modifications.

http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/cgi-bin/hittingwtrac.cgithis is a regular power map, what showing the sweet spot area

spaceman_spiff
02-01-2012, 03:36 AM
this is a regular power map, what showing the sweet spot area

No, that's the hitting weight.

This (http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/cgi-bin/comparepower.cgi) is the power map. And this (http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/contours.php) is the power zone comparison.

In the zone comparison, if you click on Zone Rankings, you can put them in order from biggest to smallest. If you then look up the top and bottom ranked frames on the Hittingweight tool, you can see the relationship between mass distribution and power.

jedd
02-01-2012, 10:37 AM
hah try the new juice 100.
you will see the POWER.

getsby
02-01-2012, 11:05 AM
Wilson makes a good racket, but I have no confidence in the company, which produces a new line every year. This is just to pay us