A Racquet Geek's New Years Resolution

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by TimothyO, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,600
    Location:
    Baseline
    Fellow Rackaholics,

    Inspired by another TT member's thread on quitting string experiments, after Turkey Day I decided to finalize my setup for the coming year by Dec 31. Today, I acheived that objective.

    :D

    Other than adjusting tension for the Hotlanta summer months I vow to not dork around with my string choice, experiment with different strings, demo new frames, or change any of my customization work (lead under the butt, heavy replacement grip, and some lead around 10/2...need to update my signature specs as I haven't measured them since finalizing the setup).

    I did something like this last year and it was a tremendous help in skill development. Being able to focus on stroke mechanics rather than gear was helpful. That process also allowed me to refine my racquet and string choice.

    Over the last few weeks I've hit with higher and lower level friends, hit the wall, and hit plenty of practice serves to develop my current setup. It seems to work really well in a variety of situations whether having to generate all of my own pace against weaker players or absorbing the pace of stronger players (receiving serve againt one 6' 5" fellow was an eye opener!). This was a challenge because some setups were really stable against heavy hitters but could prove tougher for me to control when generating my own pace given my own skill level.

    OTOH, tweaking the configuration to its current state has given me a huge boost in stroke confidence. As my dad, a tool and die maker, used to say, "let the tool do the work". In our tennis context that means a tool that fits our unqiue physiques and movement. It feels great to step up to the baseline and know I can deliver a solid serve without feeling the frame is too sluggish or heavy to heave over my shoulder. And it's reassuring to be able to casually generate precise pace off weak shots without having to feel like I'm fighting the frame to keep shots in bounds. Just take a natural, full swing and the ball dives inbounds just inside the baseline.

    And having three matched frames was a HUGE help. I highly recommend having multiple matched frames for experiments. It reveals just how significant even seemingly small changes in mass and its placement can be on playability. Since they're matched I was able to do these tests "blind" picking up frames and ranking them for things like spin, power, and control by placing them against the fence (just had to avoid looking at any differences in lead placement).

    The details of those experiments are a topic for another thread (eg how subtle shifts in lead tape from 9/3 towards 10/2 yielded very different levels of spin, power, and control...we're talking shifts up or down a couple of crosses). For now, let's just say I feel the time was very well spent, very educational, and that I'm really looking forward to the coming year.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
    #1
  2. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    14,119
    Location:
    Roswell GA
    good stuff Tim. What level are you playing at these days?
    I still would like to hit with you some day if you ever have the time.
     
    #2
  3. Seth

    Seth Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    2,419
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    Very cool idea. I may try this as a personal challenge.
     
    #3
  4. jonestim

    jonestim Professional

    Joined:
    May 30, 2011
    Messages:
    894
    Location:
    Bend, OR
    I know this is what I should do, but choosing WHICH of my pairs of frames to stick with is the challenge for me. When I just about get it figured out the season and temps change, or I start playing indoors doubles vs outdoors singles, or I find some great vintage one at Goodwill that I need to try and end up liking.

    Yours is a better way.
     
    #4
  5. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,597
    I'm in the same boat as you! I wish you well!

    -Fuji
     
    #5
  6. pshulam

    pshulam Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,398
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Mine is to stay with my current racquet and ignore all the noises about new racquet technologies with claims about bringing your game to a new level.
     
    #6
  7. maxpotapov

    maxpotapov Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,523
    Location:
    Ukraine
    Looking at your final setup,
    3x Pure Storm GTs @ 330g / 6 pts HL / 336 SW VS Touch / 4G 125 @ 55 / 51
    there is really no reason not to stop experimenting. I might come to the same conclusion with Prestige Mid and natural gut/poly setup. It really helps me to polish my stroke mechanics, and it is demanding in a sense that I must let it do its job, no forcing allowed.
     
    #7
  8. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,600
    Location:
    Baseline
    The specs in my signature when you posted we're pretty darn close to final. I've updated them just now.

    I shifted a tiny bit of weight from the hoop to the but and tweaked the hoop lead a tiny bit. It's amazing how small adjustments can feel so different.

    re: experimenting, I really enjoy it and it's dangerous for me. I might find something I like even more! :) My new policy is to limit experiments to late fall/winter and then stick to whatever I come up with from late winter through the following fall.

    It has been fun to look at these final specs in the TW racquet finder to see what stock frames come close. The problem is that my favorite grip is heavy (Shock Shield from Wilson) so that needs to be factored in when looking at stock frames. A project for Fall 2013!
     
    #8
  9. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,600
    Location:
    Baseline
    I'll post some details later but the most interesting result from this test period was the effect of lead relative to sweet spot.

    Briefly, I mapped TW's power map on a frame's string bed after having tried several configurations of lead tape. I noticed a consistent relationship between the power map and where I enjoy placing lead whether a Pure Storm or Dunlop 200 Tour. But there were distinct if subtle differences.

    On the PSGT I preferred the lead just a little bit higher in the bed starting at the 8th cross and going up. For the 200 tour I started at the 9th cross.

    Also, the tour got by with less tape while the PSGT needed a little more. The most interesting bit: place lead too low towards the geometric 3/9 position on either frame or too high towards 12 and it felt like the defection angle got weird and I launched balls. There was an ideal location for both frames which resulted in great accuracy and plow.

    In the case of the PSGT I ended up applying a couple of layers of tape at the final locations rather than extending the tape beyond a given cross.

    On serve even my wife noticed the difference when I made that particular tweak. My first serves were suddenly cannon balls. I guess too high towards 12 and I lost RHS while too low towards 3/9 I lost oomph. Probably different for each person.

    Another result confirmed an earlier observation: use specs as a reference point and point of departure when looking at frames. Saves lots of time and effort later. But when modding don't worry about specs and focus on feel while testing on the court under a variety of conditions against different opponents.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
    #9
  10. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    14,119
    Location:
    Roswell GA
    My own personal resolution, which I've realized over the past year, is too stay away from "players frames" and be realistic about my own ability level when it comes to matching it to a racquet. There are many guys on my doubles teams that are 4.0 and 4.5...really good players with great strokes and many of them use oversize and lighter racquets that most of us here would put even below "tweeners", and they play great with them. I think we are all better "in our head" than we actually are on the court and there's nothing wrong with getting a little extra "help" from the racquet. If I know my racquet is appropriate for my ability, then I can focus on the important things like footwork, technique and strategy. If my equipment is "over my head" then it gives me one more thing to question when my game isn't going so well.
    Just what works for me...
     
    #10
  11. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,110
    Yes, having multiple matched frames really helps with experimental changes whether they be strings or tension or lead placement or balance etc. Time saver and real eye opener. Yes as little as 2-grams can feel different.
     
    #11
  12. acura9927

    acura9927 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Messages:
    507

    What stick do you use?
     
    #12
  13. maxpotapov

    maxpotapov Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,523
    Location:
    Ukraine
    Well, you could guess from the signature ;)
     
    #13
  14. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Messages:
    2,268
    Hi Timothy,

    Wilson Shocksheild is awesome, but if you want to experiment with lead placement, it can really paint you into a corner. It's lighter, squishier cousin, Wilson Comfort Hybrid is now my grip of choice having tried quite a few comfort grips. I only weighs 11 grams Vs 24 grams for Shocksheild. I realize after much experimentaion I prefer to add mass right at the buttcap rather than spread out evenly along the entire length of the palette. Using a lower weight comfort grip gives me a lot more room for choices like that on both ends of the racquet. Below is quoted from my comfort grips thread.

    [..]

    Anybody looking for a slightly squishier, and much lower weight alternative to Wilson ShockShield might give Wilson Comfort Hybrid a demo. It has the same base layer of polyeurethane, but instead of the gel strip, it has an air foam layer.

    I've been playing with Wilson SS for several months and really dig it, but I don't think the gel strip actually does anything. I developed this hunch a few weeks ago when I got into level 9 mad scientist mode, and carefully peeled the gel strip completely away from the base layer, (took almost a hour). The MacGyver project was to install two layers of the gel strip, since I'd noticed that stuff is way thinner that the little sample on the box would indicate. I started wrapping the gel strip on pallet, and stopped about 10 minutes into that process. That gel strip is hard as a rock! Once you have the two materials separated it becomes clear where where the comfort comes from, and it ain't the gel strip that's for sure.

    So I went looking at the other offerings in the line up and saw that comfort hybrid has the same base layer. Comfort Hybrid is a little thicker at 22 mm but is less than half the weight. I guess the lower weight can be a good thing or a bad thing. I have the Donnay weight kits, so I was able to just pop on my +10 gram butt caps and I was right back in business with my preferred balance and mass. I can't sense any difference in vibration dampening, and as far as grip squeeze softness goes, it's for sure a bit squishier.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=445331

    [..]

    -Jack
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
    #14
  15. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,600
    Location:
    Baseline
    Hey Jack!

    I used the Hybrid on my 200 Tours to save weight and they are great! Less room to maneuver with the Tours which is why I bought the PSGTs.

    On the PSGTs I tried lead + Hybrid versus Shield and prefered the Shield sans lead under the grip. But like you I added lead under the butt cap and prefer it there. More whippy and less boardy for some reason. So the PSGTs have extra weight from the Shield and the butt cap lead.

    I too have done some McGyver projects looking for the ultimate gel comfort grip. One day I'll find the perfect material... :)
     
    #15
  16. wperry42

    wperry42 New User

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    South Paris, Maine
    Several matches this summer, I lost the first set with an Prince Exo3 Graphite, Pro Kennex kinetic 5g and Dunlop 200tour, only to crush the second set with more powerful Prince O3 Red 105 inch. I know what I need to do, but players racquets are like a failed relationship, remember that crushing serve we had together? Give me one more chance!
     
    #16
  17. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,600
    Location:
    Baseline
    LOL!!!

    As long as you don't put lipstick on your frame and give it a name! :D
     
    #17

Share This Page