effect of racket weight in serves

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by giseppi, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. giseppi

    giseppi New User

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    I'm not sure if this belongs here or in the racket section, but here's the question.

    It seems to me that the heavier a racket is, the slower it is moving at contact. If i remember correctly, Sampras used a heavy racket and a ton of lead tape. However, he obviously had a huge serve with a ton of spin, which of course means he produced tons of racket head speed.

    So what effect would changing the weight of his racket have on his serve? Would a little less lead have produced more spin due to the increased head speed, or would the reduction in mass mean a less efficient transfer of energy and produce less spin?

    I'm tried to add some teeth to my serve (in terms of spin). I feel like i produce a fair amount of head speed, but i don't really get the bite on the ball i want. I can serve with pace, and i can serve with spin, but the spin just doesn't feel like its moving the ball as much as i want it to.

    Anyway, i'm currently using a stock racket (head prestige flexpoint). i thought of trying some tape, but it seems counter-intuitive if its going to slow my racket down and produce less spin.

    Can anyone shed some light on this?
     
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  2. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Spin on the ball is dictated by your swing path
    The more brush the more spin.

    Mass(racket weight) * Velocity(swing speed)= force
    Force or the energy transferred into the ball =Speed+spin

    If you swing a 1lb racket you have obviously lost swing speed-a vital part of the force equation
    If you swing a 5 oz kiddie racket you can only swing so fast to make up for the lost mass-the other vital part of the force equation
    Not to mention when you swing these extremely polar rackets you lose control on the motion itself

    The goal is to find a weight where you can swing at an optimal speed+control
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
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  3. giseppi

    giseppi New User

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    I agree, but i'm wondering if adding a small amount of weight will give me a heavier serve, or if the added mass will only slow down the head and reduce rpm.
     
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  4. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Depends if you can swing faster-with control obviously
     
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  5. Xizel

    Xizel Professional

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    Sampras' RHS was already so high with that heavy of a racquet, I'd think the RHS gain from removing weight would follow the concept of diminishing returns.
     
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  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Me me me....
    Skinny weak, old guy.
    By adding at 3-9, 12-16 grams, I hit some pretty heavy first flat serves coupled with slow short second spin serves. Next few days, first flat got slower, 2nd spin got stronger.
    So switched to stock 10 oz'er. First flats picked up speed, second spin was just fine.
    So switched to 12.9 oz Aero200. First flats moderately fast, seconds super slow.
    Summary.
    You get used to what you are using, and your serve goes back to the way it was, regardless of racket.
     
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  7. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    There is a large element of your particular body type / physio mechanics that must be considered.

    Compared to my peers growing up I was below average when it came to throwing a baseball. With a softball I was an average to slightly above average in throwing as compared to my peers. However, when throwing a football I was always well above average in my ability to throw. I never lost as much as my peers as the ball became heavier.

    I believe the same thing is true for me in tennis. Physically I think I get almost the same racket head speed whether I am swinging a toothpick (9 oz) or a sledgehammer (13 oz). I prefer the heavier racket since I do not lose as much in the RHS department and the extra heft gives my serves and volleys a crisper feel.

    I suspect that you simply need to experiment to find your optimal combination. That is why I bought Donnay rackets so that I could easily experiment with the weighting to find what I liked. Unfortunately ,once I found what I liked I decided to use lead tape instead since the removable weights were a pain in the arse.
     
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  8. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Net gain of serve mph. Spin is trickier to generate because you're generating pure pace. You'll have to adjust your swing to generate spin.


    RHS is a theory. It's not without flaws. Adding lead to a racket hoop adds tremendous spin and pace to a ball, even though it's slowing down the swing. You want to add serious spin to your shots? Add lead, not RHS.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I think those who answer with thoughts of player build and strength have it more together here.
    Answering just as it applies to yourself mean's your answer applies ONLY to yourself, but doesn't take into account, there's tons of DIFFERENT tennis players.
    The answer is, of course, find what works for you through practice, match play, and experience. NOBODY can tell you what weight and balance works the best for you. Every player is different, and has different needs.
    IF I were strong and young, I'd choose a higher 12oz racket similar to what the pros use, but I"m old, injured, and weak.
     
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  10. giseppi

    giseppi New User

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    Sounds like good advice all around. I think I'll experiment with some lead at 3 and 9 and see how it works out. My racket is 1 1/3 inches hl (unstrung) at 11.3 oz. With strings and an overgrip...I'll have to figure it out. Either way, I could use some stability on volleys and want some weight on my serve. If the tape doesn't do much, I suppose its time for some lessons.
     
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  11. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    The more you use your body, the easier it will be to use a heavier stick on serve. If you are just arming it, then be careful as you could hurt yourself.
     
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  12. Dreamcastin

    Dreamcastin Rookie

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    just as with any shot (IMO) you use the heaviest racquet you can COMFORTABLY. key word. I cant hit serves with near the pace or spin in the 11oz and lower category that i can with a 12oz racquet. If I go to high its the same effect as to low, reduced power and spin because of lack of racquet head speed.
     
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  13. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    I agree with the others as far as adding weight to the racket head. But I suspect that winding lead tape around the staff just above the grip will do a lot more for your serve, and it might even add spin on your forehand as well.

    Think of momentum. If you're moving the entire racket at a given speed and then suddenly your hand stops moving forward, the racket head will continue around in a smaller ark around your hand. (This gives you what Jeff Salzenstein calls "the dirty diaper" finish.)

    Now, imagine if most of the racket's weight were concentrated just above the grip. If the hand stopped moving forward but momentum caused the weight above the grip of the loosely held racket to continue moving forward at the same speed, well, the tip of the racket that was further away from the center of rotation would REALLY accelerate.

    To exaggerate this principle, imagine a cannonball with a steel rod through it, poking out six inches on one side and two feet on the other side. And tied to the end of the six inch rod you have an unbreakable string. Now you shoot this cannonball short-side forward at 200mph. When it gets to the end of the string, the tip on the short side suddenly stops with a jerk. Obviously, the cannonball is going to try to continue moving forward at 200mph as it rotates around that six inch rod. The tip of the two-foot rod on the other side is going to be moving WAY faster than 200mph!

    So if you don't need the lead tape to give you stability on off-center its or to stand up to your opponents' heavy serves, try adding the tape above the grip. By the way, you'll be able to add a LOT more weight in that position before the swing weight becomes too heavy. Who knows, maybe that's what Sampras did -- that he could load up his racket to sixteen ounces and still maintain (or even improve) his racket head speed.
     
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  14. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Volleys ought to feel a bit more solid with some 3/9 o'clock lead tape, but just be careful that you don't give away a lot of your HL balance. That could make the racquet less maneuverable for you and that can be no fun around the net.

    A couple of the kids I've coached in recent years have been able to serve with both ferocious heat and explosive spin using what I would consider to be no more than middle-weight frames. My serve is rather well developed, but I always feel limited if I'm serving with anything that's lighter than perhaps 12.3 oz. That's just me. Some shoulders can be aggravated if serving too much with a racquet that's too heavy, but if I'm serving with what I consider to be a light racquet, I overswing (also potentially rough on the shoulder).

    Lead tape can make for interesting experiments, but it's also not permanent. Try it, see what happens with your shots, and just peel the stuff off if it doesn't help your cause. I've recently gone to a heavier racquet with lots of flex (Yonex RD Ti 80) and the heft helps me make lots of pace on my serves, but the big surprise has been the bump in spin production. Compared with my Volkl C10's, these Ti 80's charge up the ball with ridiculous rpm's when I want them.

    You'll probably know your optimum serving setup once you feel it, but be careful that a great server is also decent for you in your other phases of the game, too.
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I switched from 12.4 to 10.2 oz rackets.
    Second serve has more spin, first serve more up and down than before. Second serve is my bread and butter, since first serves only go in about 30% of the time for me.
     
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  16. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    The more lead on your racket, the faster/more spin your serves will become.

    The more lead on your racket, the more uncontrollable and out your groundstrokes will become.
     
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  17. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Used a 15.5 oz PK 5G. 1st serve, flat serve to the body. Hit the guy in the jewels. Racquet weight the sh*t. Guy walks with a limp today. Don;t hate the playa, hate his stick.
     
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  18. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Yea, but you're old :)
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Sure I"m old.
    But none of you are much better off, or you'd be playing on TV, wouldn't you?
    All this crap talk about me the chest beater wielding a 13 oz racket, YOU GUYS ARE STILL 4.5's at best.
    Plenty of 5.0's using sub 11 oz sticks.
     
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  20. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    1. It's not just racquet speed that matters, it's the amount of transfer to the ball that survives the impact. You'll get much, much more loss when you use a lighter racquet, and more transfer (plowthrough!) with a heavier racquet.

    2. How heavy though? It varies for all of us with our body's abilities. At some point the increased weight will slow down the racquet speed so much that the resulting ball will be slower and/or have less spin. Trying different configurations is the most practical and affordable way for us recreational players to find this.

    3. Heavier racquets can help expose flawed strokes. One should be using bigger muscle groups in a kinetic chain on the serve. You cannot "arm the serve" with a heavy racquet, but you can get away with it using a lighter racquet.
     
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  21. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    True for sure. I hope I don't come off sounding like a chest-beater ("me Mongo!) because I've seem more than one or two local killers who put on smoke shows with racquets that are too light for me. I'm sure that my racquets would also be too heavy for them, but that doesn't make their results irrelevant in any way.

    There's certainly some strange voodoo at work with finding the "right" serving racquet and experiments are at least as important in this department as any other when trying to figure out a good fit.

    I really freak out when a racquet is too light for me to use around the net with authority - I just crave that extra stability (along with decent maneuverability) to feel "in charge" of my volleys, but service motions are curious critters. I take a longer, slower windup and like having good heft in my racquet, but I'm sure that if my move to the ball was quicker and more explosive, I'd feel better with maybe an 11.5-12 oz. alternative.

    Don't write off either heavier or lighter options before trying them out. It's hard to know what we need in terms of either racquet speed or racquet inertia to coax the development of a good serve.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    That's why I keep my 12.4 oz Mfills and heavier Aerogel200's around, and one in my bag at all times.
    Coupled with my Aero500's, I can switch in practice or matches.
    One huge reason you guys think a heavier racket is better for your volleys... you use small grips. I kept the same size grip thru 39 years of tennis, but now using an overgrip over my 5/8th rackets.
     
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  23. giseppi

    giseppi New User

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    Just an update...

    I added 10 grams at 9 and 3. Played some dubs tonight, and was surprised at the difference such a small amount of weight made.

    My serve had a substantial amount more kick, and i didn't feel the extra weight during the motion.

    I also had more power and spin on my groundstrokes, which allowed me to hit more relaxed and smoothly (thus more consistent). Returns were solid.

    Volleys felt solid, but i noticed the weight a small amount more there. Nothing too problematic, just need to adjust a little.

    Overall, i'm happy with the change and i'm looking forward to experimenting a little more. Hopefully i won't simply adjust as LeeD suggests can happen.
     
    #23

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