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View Full Version : Adding weight vs. Heavy racquets


TonyB
09-10-2006, 05:44 AM
Here's a general question:

Let's say I have a racquet that I like playing with, but it's light -- say, under 10 oz. If I were to add weight to the frame in specific locations to bring it up to, say, 12 oz. and retain the same balance, would it be "the same" as trying to find a new racquet that has similar swingweight and balance?

Or is there something special about a racquet that has a heavier "stock" weight distribution that would make it superior to a lighter racquet that was leaded-up?

Obviously, I know that the different frames will play differently, but is there any specific reason why a lighter racquet that's got weight added to it wouldn't be as "good" as a racquet that was heavier to start with?

dozu
09-10-2006, 06:05 AM
adding too much weight usually doesn't work well, as the light racket was designed to be light. i.e. it is made stiff with big head to provide power with less mass, so there is a threshold at which you can add weight while still have reasonable control..... over the threshold, the racket becomes useless as you are just gonna spray balls all over the place.

the heavy stock ones on the other hand are designed to be heavy.... thinner beams, tighter string patters, less stiffness, small head (usually).

it's like if you put a V8 in a honda civic, it's not gonna perform well as the Chasis was designed for a 4-banger.

TonyB
09-10-2006, 06:27 AM
i.e. it is made stiff with big head to provide power with less mass, so there is a threshold at which you can add weight while still have reasonable control..... over the threshold, the racket becomes useless as you are just gonna spray balls all over the place.



I guess I don't understand quite understand this. Why would a more flexible racquet that's heavier have more control?? Wouldn't the flexibility hurt the control? Adding weight just seems like it would add momentum (i.e., power). I don't see loss of control as an issue.

Frame stiffness and string tension seem to be the biggest players in terms of control. Adding more weight to the frame doesn't seem like it would hurt control at all, as long as you can swing the extra weight comfortably without throwing off your technique.

I can see your point about the differences in racquet DESIGN, but I guess I don't quite understand why a weighted, stiffer frame would play worse than a correspondingly-weighted flexible frame, all other things being equal (head size, balance, string tension, etc.).

neo
09-10-2006, 07:12 AM
Interesting question, I was wondering about that too. Can manufacturers achieve additional beam characteristics when producing heavier frame which they can not achieve with a lighter frame (flex, resilience, ...)? Or do they produce a lighter frame anyway and then simply add weight to specific places like we could ourselves?

TonyB
09-10-2006, 07:21 AM
My initial thought is that, in theory, what the ideal case would be is to have ALL of the weight concentrated in the head, since that's where the true advantage of weight lies.

Theoretically, if you could hit the ball directly on the sweet spot every single time, then the ONLY place to have weight is right at the sweet spot. If you could have a virtually "massless" racquet during the swing to achieve maximum head speed, then magically apply 100% of the racquet's ideal mass to the point of contact with the ball, then that would be best.

Adding weight in the handle does nothing to help, except to balance out the added weight in the head. So, in this respect, it seems that having as light of a racquet as possible, with added weight in strategic points around the head area, would be closest to the ideal case.

Now, maybe that's what racquet manufacturers ARE doing already. Maybe the thinner beams and more elaborate materials allow them to focus the weight concentration where it's needed. I'm not sure. But the main point to my question was whether or not you could take a very light racquet and add weight to it in the necessary areas to bring it up to the same performance level as a newer-style player's racquet. Clearly, the added frame stiffness that's typically required for lighter racquets (to compensate for the reduced swingweight and loss of power) would make a difference in some way, but assuming you can handle the extra stiffness (which SHOULD improve control), then I don't really see a drawback offhand.

neo
09-10-2006, 07:57 AM
I thought stiffer frames have less dwell time and as a result generally have less control then flexible frames?

TonyB
09-10-2006, 08:21 AM
Control via dwell time is 99.9% a function of the string bed. If anything, a flexible frame allows it to bend backwards, resulting in shots that would come off the racquet at an angle towards the top of the frame.

ollinger
09-10-2006, 08:35 AM
A racquet company executive told me not long ago that a new model of theirs soon to be released had been undergoing TESTING for just over a year. An engineered product like a racquet is not merely the sum of its specs; the complexities of mass distribution and harmonic and sub-harmonic flexing and other factors make it work or not work, and a good company sweats the details to find out how to make it work. Adding two ounces to a racquet you say you currently like changes many things about it (everything, really) and probably leaves it as a less-than-ideal solution to the problem (as compared with going out and getting a racquet designed to be 12 ounces).
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TonyB
09-10-2006, 08:43 AM
That's an interesting thought, but then why do they sell lead tape?

I'm thinking that the racquet manufacturers are trying to achieve a blend of performance factors that the MAJORITY of people (or at least their playtesters) will like, specific to that particular design. They also have dozens of different styles, weights, shapes, lengths, head sizes, and technological gimmicks to incorporate into a frame design. I seriously doubt they would ever exhaust ALL of the different variations just to bring a particular frame to market.

While I agree that changing the balance or swingweight of a racquet will change its performance from that originally designed by the manufacturer, I don't think that a light racquet would be "ruined" by adding small amounts of weight in certain areas. And obviously, non-stock racquets have been used by touring pros for decades. Clearly, there are many advantages to be had by modifying a racquet beyond what the original manufacturer had in mind.

For example, when they designed the "light and stiff" racquet to begin with, they were trying to achieve a different variation in design from what they had in their current lineup. To make it "heavy and stiff" probably wasn't what their playtesters wanted at the time. In all likelihood, a 7.0+ rated touring professional can handle a higher swingweight and smaller sweet spot than, say, a 3.0 rated intermediate club player. So, the design goals for a racquet manufacturer that sells to the general public can have very different goals in mind when they produce designs.

But then again, I really don't know for sure. That's why I started this thread -- to get other people's opinions.

Richie Rich
09-10-2006, 09:11 AM
While I agree that changing the balance or swingweight of a racquet will change its performance from that originally designed by the manufacturer, I don't think that a light racquet would be "ruined" by adding small amounts of weight in certain areas. And obviously, non-stock racquets have been used by touring pros for decades. Clearly, there are many advantages to be had by modifying a racquet beyond what the original manufacturer had in mind.
i think your point about adding only small amounts of lead is a good one. i think if you are going to try and make a 14 oz version of a sub 10 oz racquet you might as well buy a new racquet with the weight you want. on the other hand, adding a couple grams or ounces to tweak a frame can be worthwhile. how many times have you hit with a frame, liked it, but something didn't feel quite right? maybe some lead would have made the racquet feel better.

i've had varying success with adding lead to my frames. I added some lead to my PS Classic 6.1's and they were a beast. became a little unweildly and tired out too quickly and i was very fit back then. i added lead to my i.radical MP's to make them just over 12 oz strung and it made a huge difference. much better playing characteristics and made the racquet feel more solid. i currently use the TF 325 and found i enjoy it stock.