How much of a difference does a racket honestly make?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by Fumoffu, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. Fumoffu

    Fumoffu Rookie

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    I've seen people go on and on about how certain rackets just "can't" do something and how they do certain things "well" and such, and I agree to some extent, but to label a racket as "uncontrollable" or just flat out "bad" seems a bit.. false (??). Recently read a thread where it labeled a racket as
    "-The racquet lacked pop
    -This racquet is for amuetures
    -no control
    -unable to acess spin "
    and yet I really doubt that. I mean, even the 20 dollar rackets from Wal-mart are playable. Sure you aren't going to get 100% of what you're used to, but its definately not unplayable. I've been switching rackets around lately (popped strings, curiosity, lots of reasons) and its made little to no difference on my shots, the biggest would be using a LM Instinct Tour + which made my forehand easier to hit (I normally use a n6.1 95).

    Getting back on topic, IMO a racket can't make or break a player. Am I wrong to think this? Is it really just impossible for a 3.0 to use say, the 6.0 Classic?
     
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  2. LowProfile

    LowProfile Professional

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    Well the nPro Open probably isn't a very good racquet to begin with.

    Much of the difference that you see comes in the angle that the ball leaves the strings at. A higher angle will give the illusion of more power because the ball will go deeper with less effort. The size of the area on the racquet that will produce a consistent ball response (often erroneously referred to as the sweet spot) also varies from racquet to racquet. The 6.0 Classic has a very small sweet area but it is a very good feeling and consistent sweet area. Sure a 3.0 could use it, but not to its full extent because that person's technique is probably not good enough to be able to nail that sweet area consistently.
     
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  3. c_zimma

    c_zimma Semi-Pro

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    Any racquet can get the ball over the net. Thats the important thing. But there are tons of little things that can make a big difference in a match. Headsize is a huge factor for a racquet. Alot of players cannot hit the sweet spot, and create solid shots, with an 85 sq. in. frame. Not everyone can swing a 12 ounce+ stick. Some people just need that pop sound. They hear it different, and therefore, it "feels" different. This is why most beginners start with a Wilson Power Guard racquet ($20 @ Wally World), some nylon, and a Wilson stencil. Most people realize that any racquet is "playable". Sometimes, that isn't enough. I know my racquet has to be "enjoyable". As players become more advanced, they start to notice the little things. But thats a give in, and I am sure you understand that. Specs get into peoples' heads. Anyway, there are so many sticks on the market right now, why not search around until you find that one thats . . . .oh . . "just right". Once you get that part down, then you can start working on your game. Thats just my opinions though.
     
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  4. donnyz89

    donnyz89 Hall of Fame

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    This has been talked about a lot...

    from my personal experience.
    Racquets make a difference, however not so much in the lower levels. A 20$ racquet will not cut it, I would not be able to play at my level and hit the ball as hard with a 20$ racquet, it just doesnt happen. However, would I play significantly better with a Pure Drive than I would with a say... prince shark? probably not, both are quality racquets and can do what I have to do. I believe its a matter of preference... to play your BEST tennis, you cant be changing frames every day and expect consistancy. But you cant buy a frame and expect to instantly generate topspin or hit that 120 mph serve. I dont know, your racquet is important, thats why its so important to demo all the racquets and decide what you like best. However, to say "I can hit topspin with this racquet" is non-sense. I'm sure a pro can hit topspin with any racquet nor an amature cant hit topspin with any racquet,
     
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  5. hifi heretic

    hifi heretic Rookie

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    none of the top players at my club are "racquet tweaks"

    I think most people grossly overstate the difference that racquet choice makes. ..In my experience, I honestly can't remember any of the hundred or so players I know bumping up a level (eg., 3.5 to 4.0, or 4.0 to 4.5) or gaining the upper hand on a rival simply because of a racquet change.

    On the contrary, I know of quite a few players for whom constant racquet swapping and tweaking has become such a huge distraction that it truly impedes their progress. ..If one day they consistently hit the ball long, they suddenly start obsessing over their racquet or string choice rather than focus on what it is that they're doing wrong with the racquet.

    Funny, none of the top players at my club are what I'd call "racquet tweaks". ..They've been playing with the same frames for eons, and most of them are more or less indifferent to the strings they use or whether or not they've lost tension. ..They just pick up the racquet, play, and win.

    One of the factors that contributes to "racquet swapping & tweaking" is that quite often when a person uses a new/ different racquet, they are somewhat more focused on what they are doing when they beginning hitting/ playing. ..Then, the new racquet get the credit for the improved performance rather than the increased focus. In time, the person starts making the same old mistakes/ errors, and then it's on to yet another racquet.
     
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  6. AngeloDS

    AngeloDS Hall of Fame

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    Racquets don't make that much of a difference for most; it's just cool to have the latest & greatest or feel like you're using the same stick as a pro player uses. They start making a difference when you play in high competitive competition stuff due to that "feel" factor.

    To be honest I notice the differences just holding them but when I start hitting. The differences really don't make that much of a problem. But it's better to stick with one stick that feels comfortable and get better at playing with it instead of switching left and right and going with all different types of gear.

    And a lot of the technology that's put out there obviously doesn't work like FlexPoint or whatever it's called. A lot of it is just mumbo-jumbo.

    The difference maker is the person really. Their strokes, their experience, their time spent on the court, their level of play and such. But a lot of people are recreational players or local tournament players and it doesn't make that much of a difference.
     
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  7. jonolau

    jonolau Legend

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    Racquets DO and DON'T make a difference. Let me elaborate.

    PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS. The reason why each racquet has a set of specifications is because each factor has a specific prupose for playability. For example, a wider beam (eg. 26mm) is going to be stiffer compared to a thinner beam (19mm). This translates to more power at 26mm with the exact same stroke, all else being equal. A lighter swingweight racquet would mean that you do not have to swing as hard to achieve the same ball distance travel as compared to one with a higher swingweight. Therefore, swing style (long or short) would be catered for.

    PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS. Self-explanatory. A huge proportion of anyone's game is psychological. If you feel good about your equipment, chances are you will feel good about yourself, and with a higher confidence level, you will approach your game more positively with a spring in your step. On the flipside, you can end up dragging your feet across the court, lower concentration levels, and consequently you're not going to make as many shots as you're supposed to.

    The price of the racquet is immaterial. Get what is suitable to your style of play, the size of your wallet, and the volume of your ego.
     
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  8. fishuuuuu

    fishuuuuu Hall of Fame

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    Yes, yes, don't let the size of your head get to the size of your head. :grin:
     
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  9. Alley Cat

    Alley Cat Rookie

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    I completely agree! The best players that I hit with (5.0-5.5...even a 6.0) absolutely do not get caught up in switching frames or exact specs. They have been using the racquet that they like for a long time, have no idea exactly the weight of the stick, might think that "its a bit headlight maybe", usually say.."I like this Gamma string, it seems to work for me", and NEVER blame the racquet for "lack of pop on volleys" or "doesn't provide enough spin on my second serve", etc. TW is making a killing on the constant switching of frames going on because of this board. I have used about 5 frames of varying weight and specs during the past 6-8 years and my game has only improved or gone sour because of my fitness or amount of practice. The results have been pretty consistent, no matter the stick. I am about a 4.5 and during the summer when I play about 5-6 times a week I can hit the 5.0 level. It ain't the racquet.
     
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  10. Joker_of_tennis

    Joker_of_tennis New User

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    I agree with JONOLAU
    I have a uncle who is 5.0 player and played many tournaments and said to me the racquets mean very little...its the skill of the player. He showed me what he meant when he played with and changed from his wilson hammer to a $20 racquet. Apart from slight reduction of the speed and pace of shot, his shots were still hard and heavy. And could easily whip a 3.5 player like me. From that day i learnt the racquet is just a tool to. Of course you shouln't choose any old racquet. My uncle had choosen that particular racquet because it suits his game because of the right combination of physical specs. But i guess racquet choice is very 'subjective' either ego, look, but mostly feel.
     
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  11. Bora

    Bora Semi-Pro

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    Let's see, racquets and strings don't make a difference, eh?

    Match this morning against a good player, first set with one racquet lost in the tie-break. Switched racquets and won the next set without dropping a game.

    Listen up guys, I have been playing tennis for about 20 years now. some shots are just automatic. Players like me win matches by CONSISTANTLY being able to hit these shots. If your racquet or strings get in the way, which one is smarter? Change strings/racquet and keep hitting consistenly or trying to adjust your swings which have been grooved over the years to the degrading strings and the racquet they are attached to?

    Here is another one for you guys. My holly grail Wilson PS is a great racquet, but using it I can hit a 2 handed backhand about 80-85 percent of the time in to the ideal deep court spots. If I change over to a similar weight stick that's slighty longer, I can hit that BH 90-95 percent to the same spots without sacrificing my FH or Serves. You think its wise to switch? Or does the racquets make no difference as you guys say?
     
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  12. lucky leprechaun

    lucky leprechaun Semi-Pro

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    I think of course it makes a difference. Would you throw any two random people together and think that relationship can work? Of course you can make it work, but it won't work as well if you selectively put the right pair together. Racquets and people are the same way. Matter of fact its very similar. There's folks who always wants the "supermodel" racquets that sampras plays with or so and so plays with, when that unassuming tweener sitting in the corner is your match made in heaven.
     
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  13. DURICA533

    DURICA533 Guest

    Goofy question.

    Let's put stock Good-Years on a Formula 1 car and see what happens.
    Let's have any Olympic runner do the 400m in a pair or Rockports... and let's see what happens.
     
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  14. Micky

    Micky Semi-Pro

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    Hola Bora,

    You are correct in all accounts. Let me put your points in different words:

    If you play with a higher level player it doesn't matter what racquet or what string you use...you will loose.

    If you play with a lower level player it doesn't matter what racquet or what string you use...you will win.

    If you play with a similar level player...then you are in trouble if you are not with the perfect set up.

    It is amazing the differences you can feel (and how it affects your game) having the same racquet but just changing the hundreds strings and tensions setups.

    Would Federer win the US Open with a Prince O3 Silver? Not even with the commercial nSix-One Tour 90 nCode will he ever win.

    Micky
     
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  15. jonolau

    jonolau Legend

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    LOL!!!
     
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  16. jonolau

    jonolau Legend

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    Hi Bora, don't get me wrong, I totally agree with you on your points and I may have been a bit too broad in my post. Thanks for pointing out the hole in my statements. I'm also at the level where I've played for 15 years and specs do make a difference.

    For players who have reached a level where their strokes are extremely consistent, and are honest about their strengths and weaknesses, specs can make a difference especially in a tournament. They can get the best out of a tweak in specs.

    But there are also many people who refuse to admit that there is something wrong with their style and constantly search for the Holy Racquet Grail in a hope of "improving" their game. I would suggest that these people get some professional coaching first.

    I was in this similar situation 5 years ago when I took up golf. I started without any professional coaching and swung with all the wrong strokes. I constantly changed clubs in a hope that a different spec/brand could correct the slice/hook/groundies etc (not cheap as a set of clubs could cost as much as US$800). In the end, I forked out a small sum for 10 sessions with a teaching pro, and I've improved my golf game playing with the same set.
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    To me, racquets have helped me learn. I started with light racquets, got TE, switched to a heavy one, made it too heavy with shrunk grips and lead, then got the stock 6.1 95. At each point, my game has improved and I have better understanding of arm problems, grip sizes, etc.

    And truth of the matter is, a new racquet makes me more motivated to try new things and improve. Others may be better off with the same racquet for several years.
     
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  18. cozmo5050

    cozmo5050 Rookie

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    comparing tennis racquets is not like comparing coca cola to pepsi.

    although i agree with your statement about saying a racquet being unplayable is ridiculous, when u reach a certain level/love of the game... the differences are more noticeable in each racquet.

    I think it's important to realize a lot of the comments posted about gear is very subjective.
     
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  19. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    While I would never suggest that a racquet can elevate you from, for example, a 3.5 to a 4.0 or higher, an appropriate choice of frame can help you to eliminate a few errors. Cut back on those errors and you should find yourself winning more matches which, in all likelihood, will translate to more matches won.

    Of course, that won't make you 'technically' a more advanced player but it will make you a better one and, almost certainly, increase your enjoyment of the game.

    That being said, I can play well with pretty much any racquet but I know from experience that I will play my best with certain ones.
     
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  20. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    AD,

    You have said it all.. The proper selection of equipment can help you maximize your tennis skills, allow you to win more matches and increase your enjoyment. It can also help you say injury free. Ask Marius about that!

    Regards,
    Steve
     
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  21. joe1987

    joe1987 Semi-Pro

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    Ahh.. Just hit the ball and enjoy the game. If your feeling a little loaded then buy a nice racket as well. But if you wanna scrimp save your $ then.

    But generally, rackets affect people more at higher levels of the game where they are more sensitive to equipment.
     
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  22. hifi heretic

    hifi heretic Rookie

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    progress more often impeded by racquet "neurosis" than helped.

    OK, to say racquet choice makes NO difference would be an obvious over-statement. But I still maintain that progress in this sport is more often impeded by constant racquet switching than helped. We've all known those players who's quest for the perfect stick is an all-consuming obsession that distracts to the point of being very counter-productive. I don't know of any player who has jumped a level due to racquet, yet I know several who have stagnated because they refuse to simply settle on a stick, and direct their attention to what is REALLY holding them back (form, conditioning, strategy, etc..)

    And yes, TW - and the racquet manufactures in general - are all too happy to feed this neurosis for they are in this business to make a profit and neurotic racquet "tweaks" account for significant percentage of their sales. I have no problem with this...

    But the wary, experienced player knows better than to get too caught up in equipment obsession. As I said earlier, the best players at our club (and indeed the strong high-school and college players I've known) are NOT equipment "tweaks". ..In fact, quite a few of them use racquets that would elicit snickering from many of the posters here.
     
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  23. jonolau

    jonolau Legend

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    Actually, it's funny in retrospect.

    The group I play with is quite conservative, and they don't usually change sticks often. Some of them play with racquets that are suspected to be as old of themselves ... some of these guys are in their 50s and 60s. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

    But then comes crazy season ... all it takes is for one player to buy a new racquet, and the next thing you know, 80% of the group is wielding a new racquet the following month! It's a bit of the herd-mentality, domino-effect!
     
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  24. Ripper

    Ripper Hall of Fame

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    I agree. You just have to have a high level of confidence in whatever raquet you're using. If you don't, it'll affect your game, negatively.
     
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  25. Ripper

    Ripper Hall of Fame

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    I like to think raquets account for 25% of how you play, the other 75% being technique. Maybe raquets account for much less; something like 5%. I don't know, but I know they make a difference, even if small. The reason some people, constantly, change raquets is because they can. It's as simple as that. Changing your technique, making it better, it not as easy ;)
     
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  26. Ripper

    Ripper Hall of Fame

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    It's funny that you say that, because, the other day, I played with this guy I had never played. He pulls out an O3 Silver and, right there, I thought it was going to be an easy win. He beat me, fair and square. The accuracy he had with that raquet was just unbelievable. Must have missed something like two "to the lines" shots the whole match; incredible. So, you see, the raquet is important, but not in the way many of us tend to think. You have to select a raquet that works for you, whatever that is. And you have to have confidence in it.
     
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  27. hifi heretic

    hifi heretic Rookie

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    Um,.. you've never played this guy before yet you're going to attribuite his victory to his racquet choice? What's to say he would have played any differently with one your spare racquets?
     
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  28. BLiND

    BLiND Hall of Fame

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    I've not read all the posts, but for me, its like the difference of writting with a pencil, biro & fountain pen... they all do the same thing, but are very different.

    If you were asked to write a sentence with each, I'm sure you'd not really note that much of a difference.... however if you were asked to write a whole book, and as fast as possible, you'd SOON realise which you thought was the best.

    Those little difference get bigger!
     
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  29. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    It depends on your level of play and how sensitive you are to equipment. I think <basically> until you reach the 4.5's or so as long as you've chosen reasonable gear for your skillset, you've bigger fish to fry..those being grooving strokes, getting footwork consstently good, tougher mentally, etc etc. changing racquets isnt going to help that unless you've made a poor choice to begin with and could actually impeded your progress. Until 4.0-4.5's players strokes are pretty dynamic in that they arent consistent, so players seem to have varying ablilites on a day to day and moment to moment basis. ....so which racquet and setup do you buy? one that suits when everything is clicking or one which suits when your strokes are all over the place?
    When you reach a higher level of play, i think that is the time to start tweaking gear as a little more work on the ball, a hair more spin, hitting slightly deeper can be more important as your opponent isnt giving you many cheap points as an opponent at the 3.5's would do and every litle edge helps
     
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  30. Bora

    Bora Semi-Pro

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    So, I guess racquet selection matters more as the player becomes more advanced.

    Than there is the medical case, where players need to switch racquets in order to avoid injury. I know this has been my case a few times where I moved to a much more flexible stick to take care of TE or shoulder problems.
     
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  31. ask1ed

    ask1ed Semi-Pro

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    Lower level players can buy a cost co stick. Upper level players have to have each stick the same wt., the same grip, the same over grip, the same string, the same tension, and have played with the same set up for years before they are confident under big time pressure. Forgot to mention the same shoes, and so on.

    Strings/tension are more important to the higher levels than the stick. Anyone under 4.5 isn't going to notice much, but even they can benefit from a high control set up: control frame with control string at a good tension.
     
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  32. Ripper

    Ripper Hall of Fame

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    Obviously I didn't explain myself well enough. I'm just saying that the guy had superb control with a raquet that's not considered a control raquet. Therefore, he must feel very confident with it. If you give him a control oriented raquet, maybe, he'll play equally well, or better, or worse; I don't know. My guess is he's happy with what he's got. In conclusion, you could see this in two different extremes. 1st, that raquet choice is unimportant. 2nd, that raquet choice is, indeed, important. That's up to you.

    PS: 3rd, that he's a better player than I am... which he is :)
     
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  33. 10nisNe1?

    10nisNe1? Rookie

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    well...i just know a certain someone in tips/instrunction forum that changed to a babolat pure control from a volkl tour 10 mid 1st gen. granted that the tour 10 is harder to find now, the specs of the PC is so different from the tour 10. and he basically said its not the racquet, its the technique...hmm?
     
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  34. egitserp

    egitserp Rookie

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    This is also known as the Honeymooner phase :mrgreen: , this happened to me alot back then whenever I would continuously switch rackets. I don't think racquets nor string would matter at the beginning level, but in order to compete at the higher level, you need a racket that would suit you and your needs. For instance if you can produce your own power you may want more of a control racquet and control strings, but if you have no power whatsoever then you might want a tweener or even a power racquet. String to me affects the play of the racquet greatly. I play with a cheap string Gosen micro 17 g but I am comfortable with it, I once tried alpha liberty or something like that and it felt like crap, which led me to being uncomfortable and losing confidence in my shots.
     
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  35. Django

    Django Rookie

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    The player who believes the racquet does not make much of a difference, and the player who insists that it does, are both right. For me, I gain confidence from giving myself every edge on the court that I can -- racquet choice, string, tension, overgrip, shoes, shirt/shoes, sunglasses, ... nearly everything.
     
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  36. Insane90DegreeSpin

    Insane90DegreeSpin Rookie

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    It just depends against who you play.
     
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  37. dalekim24

    dalekim24 Guest

    It starts with skill... But someone with a n6.1 has no right to say rackets dont matter.
     
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  38. SCSI

    SCSI Rookie

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    ...........
     
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  39. SCSI

    SCSI Rookie

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    Funny... When I switched to Pure Drive+, I started beating players that I had never beaten before overnight and got bumped up a level easily. It had a lot to do with the racket. For me at that time, it was the right equipment, so it just clicked in. In fact, I used the demo PD+ from TW to make to the club doubles final. Unfortunately, during the final the string broke and I couldn't play as well as my racket at the time.

    I have moved on to other rackets but when I try a racket that is not right for me, I start hitting short or my serves don't have quite as much pop or kick, suddenly my opponents have more time to do their thing.

    I often wished that I had more knowledge about the tennis equipment when I started playing tennis. I feel that years of using wrong stuff hindered my development. I feel that I would have benefited from using quality rackets like POG, Prestige, or some classic Yonex. Instead, I messed with the likes of Prince Thunderstick (this thing rivaled Wilson Profile in thickness and power). Like many, I didn't know that difference between the fad and quality tools.

    I think it is counter productive to obsess about the equipment, but if you get deep into nearly anything - fishing, photography, golf, and other hobbies., you learn that while there are many wannabes and equipment obsessed people, expert fisherman and pros know intimately about their fishing gears and many of them have many custom rods for different situations. I am sure it is the same for those who are into skating (I thought I heard Ono tunes his own equipment) or even curling.

    It is that kind of attention to detail and passion for the hobby that they love that makes them good.

    What I have learned in pursuing different hobbies over the years is:

    No matter what the sport, there are only so many good equipments to have/use, if you are really serious. For instance, in tennis, IMHO, there are only about dozen quality rackets on the market today that serious players should use. Knowing what to use for your game will help you play your best tennis. But, not using the right equipment hinders your development. The racket won’t help you do the things that you don’t already have, but it is very important to have the right stuff, if you are serious about tennis, as it will allow you to perform and progress best.

    If you are not serious, as many of my friends are, you will never comprehend why one would have more than one racket of the same kind and grip size, among other details. As expensive as you think tennis equipments are, it isn't as bad many other hobbies.

    The best thing I think is to find a quality racket and tune it the way you like and call it good.
     
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  40. Micky

    Micky Semi-Pro

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    Hola SCSI,

    Excellent post.

    Micky
     
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  41. FuZz_Da_AcE

    FuZz_Da_AcE Rookie

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    I think in the higher-end scale, racquets don't make that much of a difference. However, if you buy a $20 Target (or Wal-Mart for the Americans here) racquet with an Aluminium frame, you are most likely going to notice that it requires immense power simply to get it over the net, and is near impossible to hit a clean baseline winner with, unless your opponent screws his ankle.
     
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  42. vinky

    vinky Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2005
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    340
    regardless whether or not the effects are psychological or if the racket specs really do improve your game, any racket switching that increases your confidence in the sport should at least be considered or explored.
     
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  43. hifi heretic

    hifi heretic Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    Messages:
    231
    As I said earlier, I truly believe that chronic racquet-switching is more likely to slow a person's improvement than accelerate it. ...I simply can't see the "psychological" effects always working in one's favor. ..If today the new racquet increased one's confidence, then it's just as likely that tomorrow - after hitting 3 straight forehands long (something that lurks around the corner for EVERY player) - it will be blamed.

    Before switching racquets for the 3rd or 4th time in two years, a better investment would be to hire a pro.
     
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  44. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Messages:
    478
    Totally agree. I too am amazed at how much significance is placed on racquet choice - or "proper equipment". I've lost to 5.0's using different sticks during the same match. Yes, there were slight differences, but with minor adjustments, the results were almost identical. Of course racquets make a difference, but I think the point being made here is that there are other ways to improve which will be much more rewarding.

    I've said this before - no matter how much time you spend finding the right frame, the gains from improved technique, better fitness, and better mental toughness will outweigh any advantage given to you by your racket. Tennis is hard enough on it's own. Equipment is a very small part of a much bigger and more complicated equation.
     
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  45. bc-05

    bc-05 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Messages:
    648
    Whell i gotta agree with everyone that it will not improve your game significantly that u'll be 10x better than ur now.. but really ud be surprised at how much a racquet can improve or even deprove someone.. when i was growing up i've always used an oversize frame (prince precision the blue one 110sq in) then about 7 yrs ago i switched to a 95 frame and finally switched to a 90 frame about 4 yrs ago.. and from experience i can say during these 2 transition... it did affect my game a lot... especially going from 110 to 95.. from being able to hit everyshot in the sweetspot i kept framing the ball.. on the other hand.. the other day i tried an n3 for fun (my friends) and the ball went a lot and i mean ALOT deeper than when using ncode tour 90.. u have to swing differently and u have to play differently.. heres the part where i gotta agree with everyone.. yes i can still play and yes i probably didnt go down 1 level.. but id say if i play with an oversize frame right now against someone thats in my level (close) i probably wouldve lost the match due to the fact that maybe im shanking something when im not supposed to.. and this kinda happened to my dad also.. normally when i play my dad he sometimes are able to get 2-4 games off me.. he recently switched from prince pro to the prince o3 blue, i can tell you that i was able to beat him 0 and 0.. he kept netting the ball and hitting balls out.. and he's been playing tennis for 20 yrs.. he was an ex-pennant player.. maybe if he was to play someone lower than him than he'd still beat em but to say that it doesnt affect ur game.. im not so sure but then again u never know /me shrugs
     
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  46. Micky

    Micky Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Messages:
    683
    Here is my little story,

    I started tennis four months ago. I bought Prince 03 Red. Forty hours of lessons and at least six sets of strings did not help my game. One month later sold the Red.

    Then bought a Prince 03 Tour MS. My game improved but the string movement and crazy power kept me from improving more. One month later sold the Tour.

    Then bought a Babolat Pure Drive Plus. My game got worse. I hated that stick. My semiwestern FH was not good enough and my BH was uncontrollable. Two weeks later sold the PD+.

    Then I bought a Prince Diablo Tour MS. Now we are talking. I finally found a stick that will let me concentrate on technique and forget about equipment. I have been having six hours a week of tennis lessons and my level is easy a 4.0

    So, four sticks in four months...but I finally have what I need.

    Micky

    PS... I had the same drama in table tennis. But once I found my perfect blade with the perfect rubbers...
     
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  47. RiosTheGenius

    RiosTheGenius Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    1,818
    I'll just wrap it up in a few words. the more advanced you are, the more specific you racquet needs to be. very simple
     
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  48. monologuist

    monologuist Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    2,024
    assuming you are a good enough player that you are sensitive to equipment tweaks (I don't think this is the same level for everyone; some people are just more sensitive than others - personally, I'd say I started being sensitive to how racquets affected my game around 4.0 level), I think there are a few things as far as rackets go that can make a "big difference" :

    1.Weight/swingweight : these 2 specs to me make the biggest difference in your ability to play your best, b/c they are the most crucial in terms of your timing and ball-striking precision. There is a happy medium for every player where the weight/SW of the racquet is light enough for the player to swing fast enough to generate enough power to keep the ball deep enough, consistently, to stay in points...likewise, the weight/SW should be light enough that the player can maneuver the racquet fast enough to accomodate his/her level of footwork. But if the weight/SW is too light, the player can find it difficult to time his/her swing correctly, and end up hitting early or swing too fast and generate too much power. When I hit about the 4.0 level was when I realized that anything in the 11-11.5 oz. range, with a swingweight of 300-320, was going to swing too light and fast for me...a switch to a 11.7-12 oz. racquet with a swingweight of 320-330 immediately made me a much more consistent ballstriker from the backcourt...while it was more difficult to put balls "away", the improvement in my timing, my footwork, and consistency was very noticeable, and I was able to advance to 4.5 level very quickly thereafter.

    2.Flex - Obviously flex has a lot to do with power level and comfort...I started getting elbow pains from using a 67 RA + racquet...thing is, it is compounded by the fact that you usually have to use a stiff string to temper the power of a racquet that stiff. So I went to something around the neighborhood of 60-63RA, and it made a big difference in my arm health, and the fact that I was able to use a softer string (gut hybrid) since the frame itself was lower-powered, made it even better...so I would say that flex makes a big difference not jut in feel and power, but in terms of what kind of strings you can use, which themselves make a big difference.

    3. String Pattern : This one I did not appreciate until I was about 4.5 level...at this level of play, I became most concerned with directional control and spin control (depth and trajectory control), whereas before I was trying to just keep in points as long as I could. Up til this point I had been using open patterned racquets (16x19 usually), and I made the leap to try an 18x20 frame. I was really surprised how different it was. The first thing I noticed was that it just seemed that the natural trajectory of the ball was lower with this pattern and that the directional control seemed much easier...with the open patterned frames, I always felt that the ball would naturally defelct at a pretty high trajectory, so I would have to keep the ball down by coming over the top of it either through my grip or swing...personally I found it much more natural to hit with an 18x20 pattern, b/c the trajectory of the ball coming off was already close to where I wanted it to be using my natural stroke...I could add extra topspin if I wanted to get the shot extra loopy or high-kicking, but in general, every 18x20 frame I've tried I find it much easier to control the direction of the ball, and maintain my preferred trajectory of the ball, including controlling the amount of spin...that is not to say that it is easier to spin the ball; most people maintain that open paterns have more spin potential, and that may be true, but I find it easier to control how much exact spin I want to put on the ball with a tight pattern. Anyway, suffice to say that I think string pattern makes a big difference in your game when you get to the level where you can control the direction of your shots well as well as the depth and spin...I will also add that tight string patterns tend to be lower powered and improve string life, so much like going to a lower flex, there is a wider range of strings and tensions avaiable to you if you go this route.

    4.Headsize - At my current level of play (4.5), I feel that I can effectively use anything that is 95" or larger. However having used racquets in the 100"-110" range, I can say that around 4.0 level, I figured out that there were some shots that I felt much more comfortable hitting with a smaller (98" and smaller) head...one of them is the serve...I just feel that I can get more racquet head speed going with anything 98" and smaller, and that makes the difference in terms of getting pace on your serve, and in terms of generating enough topspin or slice on your serve...I was acutally surprised after experimenting with headsize how specific my ideal range was : at 95", I suddenly start to get a noticeably higher number of mishits/short balls...anything smaller like 93" and below, I can not keep the ball deep unless I have plenty of time to set up my feet. But at 100", I still feel like the head is too bulky : it feels sluggish on serves, and also on my 1-handed backhand. AT this point, for whatever reasons, 98" seems to the perfect size for my game, right between the two.; big enough sweetspot that I rarely mishit, and small enough that I feel that the maneuverability and control are spot on.

    now, I could go on and on about all the other factors that I think make a difference and all of them make a bigger difference than I ever thought a few years ago, but the above are the obvious ones. Some of the unobvious ones are grip shape, string type and tension, beam width, racquet length, and balance. But suffice to say that once I was around 4.0 level, I started to notice how much difference a racquet could make, after going on a long demo saga. That said, what you don't know sometimes doesn't hurt you, so if you don't go on a demo binge, you may never even realize what the other possibilites are, and you may just get used to what you are using and learn to deal with all its pros and cons....but everyone is different; I know 5.0 players that are not sensitive to any of the above, and I know 3.5players that are. I would say I'm in the "sensitive" group, in most things in life, not just tennis, so I probably started to be sensitive to how my gear affected my game earlier on in my tennis development than most, plus I live in sunny southern california and have lots of free time on my hands, so I was able to "experiement" to the point that I really learned how these factors all played into things...lol.
     
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  49. nCode 90

    nCode 90 Guest

    Uh-huh.....................I see.................the equipment doesn't matter in tennis.

    Hummmmmmmmmmmm..................

    So that's why virtually all pro players have each and every one of their frames customized for weight, balance, swingweight, string type/tension, grip size/shape, overgrip, etc. Many even have custom made handles!!

    Because it doesn't matter..........................

    Uh-huh..............................................

    Seriously, I DO agree that 5.0 players will consistently kick the collective bootie of their 3.0-4.5 brethren with a Dunlop Maxply, Kramer Autograph, dust-mop, O'Cedar wisk broom, etc. Ability is the key factor, NOT the equipment under these circumstances.

    BUT, when you go out to play a fellow 5.0, that my friends is a very different story. The frame and set up DO matter. In fact, they matter alot. I even change set ups based on the season and surface (not too crazy, just winter indoor and summer outdoor specs).

    If you doubt this, read Brad Gilbert's 'Winning Ugly'. I took Brad's tip to buy four frames, stringing two in 'mid' or ideal tension and the other two 2 pounds over and under the midpoint. The flexibility this offers is remarkable! ;)

    ;)
     
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  50. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2004
    Messages:
    6,581
    I disagree with the suggestion that racquet choice is less important for people in the 'average' range than it is for upper level players (not talking about professionals). On the contrary, the 'average' player needs to be as fussy, if not more so, than the better one.

    A high level player will, as I said before, play their absolute best with a certain type of racquet and set-up. However, they can play well with anything. Their technique is rock-solid, their shots are grooved and they know how to make the ball do what they want it to do and go where they want it to go. They can achieve excellent results with a cheap aluminium frame or a more tailored top-end one. Applying more spin to control a powerful racquet is easy for them and, if using a low-powered one, they can generate their own power while still controlling their shots. They only need to fine-tune a racquet to suit their needs, however, they can pretty much fine-tune any racquet to suit them. What they are looking for, more than anything else is feel.

    Your average club level player can't do those things to that degree of efficiency and they never will. Sure, some people will move through the ranks from beginner to upper level player but they don't constitute the norm. The average player lacks technique and, while they can play with any racquet, their technique, or lack thereof, limits them far more than the upper-level player. Unlike the genuinely good player they can't fall back on skill/technique to make any racquet play well for them. They need to ask more of the racquet so they should be as fussy, if not more so, than the genuinly good player.

    For a genuinely good player there is no such thing as a racquet that will not do what they want it to do because they have the skill to use anything. The 'average' player is the one who complains that they can't generate topspin with one racquet, get control, hit a volley, serve well or generate power with another. The truth is, they don't have the skill level to do any of those things with the racquet they're complaining about. The genuinely good player won't say those things because he or she knows they've got the skill. While they might dismiss a racquet as unsuitable they don't dismiss it as unplayable.
     
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