In defense of Babolat and the "Modern Game"....

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by El Zed, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Good points. I think this is market driven. Let's consider two broad types of frames:

    REC FRAME
    Light, stiff, head heavy, and larger head. Advantages include more forgiveness on timing and swing path since those are easier to "cheat" if you're off. This broadens the market by making it easier to pick up tennis since you can easily knock the ball over the net, at least in the short term.

    PLAYERS FRAME
    Heavy, soft, head light, and smaller head. These demand better timing and a more consistent swing path which shrinks the market since it's harder to pick up tennis, at least in the short term.

    So the rec frame is better business. More people can "play tennis" in that they can more easily knock the ball over the net at the very least with little effort and skill.

    Over the long term these frames swap position when it comes to developing one's game.

    Those rec frame specs (light, large head) make the frame harder to control. Taking a big swing will send the ball who-knows-where. Players pick up bad habits and, whether the stiffer frame causes the TE, they will probably get it anyway since their attempts to develop their strokes are PUNISHED by the frame and they do stuff like break their swing.

    Meanwhile, the player frame rewards good form. Take a full, proper, clean swing with a control oriented frame and you'll be rewarded with a precise, powerful shot. Your timing and form will need to be better, but your developments efforts are rewarded rather than punished.

    Note that both frames can develop similar levels of power. For example, the soft and very heavy AG 4D 200 Tour is darn powerful. But its power is very precise with good form. There are rec frames just as powerful but their lack of precision makes them harder to wield with a full swing. You sort of need to make short, slow, tapping strokes, much like backyard badminton. Very bad for the arm.

    To be honest, I think I fall between these two extremes.

    I love heavier, softer, control oriented frames. But I also know that on my backhand my timing isn't quite right yet with high SW frames (350s). So I dialed back to the 330s and high 11oz range. Sort of a high-middle weight by modern standards. I tried the Rec Frame approach and hated it. When I tried to play like I'm "supposed to", the ball was uncontrollable and I was frustrated...and I had terrible TE from breaking my swing since a full swing sprayed balls all over the place.

    A SAD TREND, BUT GOOD BUSINESS
    So Babolat (and Wilson) figured this stuff out first and now Head and Dunlop and even Volkl to some degree are jumping on the bandwagon. Why sell a consumer good that addresses a smaller bit of the market? Sell stuff that lets more people buy your stuff even if that stuff inhibits their development. From what I've observed on the courts most people DON'T CARE. They're happy to be out there Sunday afternoon tapping/lobbing the ball over the net. And the middle aged male Nadal wannabes are happy to slam 10-20% of their shots in since it feels really good and looks impressive...and we humans are wired to ignore the 80% of the shots that miss!

    We TT members are a tiny, tiny minority. The VAAAST majority of rec players couldn't tell you what string they use or when they had their frame last strung. Even many (most?) higher level rec players don't care that much. Companies are wasting R&D money on players frames that such a tiny segment can appreciate.

    Think about this: even "tennis cities" such as Atlanta have trouble filling their top most rec league levels with players. The higher you go, the smaller the population, to the point that even in a place like ATL at upper REC levels you're traveling all across the metro area even for division level matches.

    But at the lower levels (eg 3.0-3.5) you can play your entire singles season in your neighborhood. And the vast majority of 3.0s/3.5s are simply NOT that into their frames and strings like we TT members. THAT'S the market these companies want.

    PREDICTION:
    All of these companies will converge on similar large, broad, rec-player oriented product lines while maintaining a small selection of player oriented frames. Over time, as the differences between these companies fade, you'll see consolidation since the market won't support so many undifferentiated companies and products. In 5-10 years you'll be down to about 2-3 really big companies offering very similar rec lines and a smaller pro line. Even the smaller, boutique operations such as Pacific will close or get absorbed since they won't have the market muscle to compete.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  2. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Ok, with respect to your points and those quoted, I respectfully don't believe you have tried the APDgt. To this end, I am very confident that you haven't tried it leaded to a weight comparable to a traditional player's racquet. I can assure you, that once you've done so it's a very precise stick permitting use of a full stroke. Presuming of course that you're style of play isn't mired in 1980s or earlier...
     
  3. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Yup tried it (didn't play tennis in the 80s). Didn't like. Sort of liked the new PD Roddick 2012. Felt solid.

    And there's a fellow at our club who played college tennis in the 80s and he's really, really good and he loves the APDGT.

    I'm NOT saying it's impossible. But to achieve that precision, you have to admit that most such users are stringing with full poly or high tensions which raises another arm health issue (like my friend).

    It's just physics and there are no free lunches. Decrease static weight, maintain SW by shifting mass to the head, stiffen the frame, enlarge the head, and you need to do SOMETHING to maintain reasonable deflection angles. That something is usually a very stiff stringbed, either through tension and/or string stiffness. With that stiffer frame, stiffer SB, and low mass you're putting more shock on the arm.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  4. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Call me crazy, but this newest generation of poly is not as problematic as some might lead you to believe (as least from personal experience). I'm between the Black Widow, BHB7 and Black M, and feel that each is a comfortable string if strung at a tension below 50 (not that it isn't over this point, just that I don't have any personal experience). But yes, all else being equal stiffer is generally more problematic than less stiff - but that's a question of degree and individual susceptibility.
     
  5. Rock Strongo

    Rock Strongo Legend

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    Any racquet can cause problems to the arm. I myself managed to wreck my shoulder while exclusively using a Max 200G which is basically wilted spinach turned into carbon, and it took a few weeks for it to get better.
     
  6. mrc

    mrc Rookie

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    I use a Donnay Gold 99. 15MM beam and love the stick. Great product and man can you knife a slice!! However, I know a lot of people that play a hard hitting baseline game and can absolutely crack the ball and they like Babolat's. Some of the time..they beat me and sometimes my more all court game wins. I come to the net, mix speeds, hit deep, and rely on my lefty serve. I think my racquet fits my game style better than newer basher sticks. Seems simple to me. As far as the injuries, I would love to see real data showing that more HH racquets, stiffer beams, and more of those modern spin ball racquets can hurt your arm.

    I had a friend give me Blade 98 to hit a year ago and I used it for a few weeks. I liked the "pop" on serve and other shots but man I was sore. it was more HH and I could feel that stress on my arm.
     
  7. canny

    canny Rookie

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    I prefer Head just because of the feel. Babolat's just feel icky to me. I want a racquet I enjoy hitting with. Of course performance matters because of the nature in which I play but the Bab's dont give me the control, touch and feel I like. Sure you get that easy spin but I produce heavier balls with my extreme. Also one of my coaches told me the Babs are the worse racquets to learn with they just promote bad form. But hey if some people like them sure go for it. They're not my thing though.
     
  8. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I owned a Bab for about two weeks. That was all I could stand.

    It felt like dead plastic. Control, touch, feel--none.

    Power and spin--plenty. No thanks.
     
  9. RackofSlamb

    RackofSlamb New User

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    I love Babolat
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  10. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    You're confusing changes in technology and how those changes are applied. Don't feel bad, it's a common amateur mistake.

    Yes, there is a difference between leather and modern football helmets which improved comfort and protection.

    And yes, there is a difference between wood and graphite frames. The issue is what do you do with the opportunities created by new technology.

    Wilson and, more recently, Babolat, decided to exploit those changes by creating lighter, stiffer, and more head light heavy frames. These frames appeal to a wider market. Other companies chose to make heavier, softer, more head light frames such as those used by pros but which are more demanding in the long term.

    Same tech changes but different directions. The Darwinian forces of economics are driving companies towards the lighter, stiffer frames. That doesn't make them better for you. After all, mass produced fast food is cheaper and appeals to a very broad population but is bad for you.

    There's a lot more here than just stiffer vs softer and heavier vs lighter. You might want to leave the deep thinking to we gray hairs and go back to flipping burgers. ;)
     
  11. pshulam

    pshulam Hall of Fame

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    Just image if you play with a much stiffer racquet.
     
  12. pshulam

    pshulam Hall of Fame

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    My normal racquet is Head PT280. I demoed an APD GT 2013 for a couple of sessions. The first session was great. The racquet provided crisp/solid feel, large sweat spot, spin access and power. It was very easy to hit the ball. The second session (or day) was not good. I was having difficulty of controlling ball placement and depth because of excessive racquet power. I suppose that I could make the adjustment over time to harness the power of the racquet.
     
  13. netguy

    netguy Semi-Pro

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    I hit with the Babolat Pure Drive 2013 for a whole match....compare to my Dunlop 4D 100... the only thing I can say: "permission to be lazy"... and that plastic feeling, I hated it...and on top of that, 20 minutes after the match , wrist pain.... I'll never play with a Babolat again. (It was strung with VS mains and poly crosses)
     
  14. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    That's an interesting observation. I've noticed that I never hit better with the APDgt than after immediately coming off of the PT280 - whether it be during the same session or the very next session. It's like the PT280 gets you dialed in, and allows you exploit the APDgt's benefits. That being said, I've noticed the same issue as you in that persistent use of the APD generally leads to less accurate shots. I'd venture to say that this probably results from an implicit belief/practice of shortening my swing with the APDgt after time (laziness?) - perhaps the answer is to continue to take full cuts (as with the PT280) but to be more cognizant of keeping the racquet closed on contact....
     
  15. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    The big difference is that the newer football helmets and running shoes help to prevent injuries, whereas, the newer tennis racquets and tennis strings CAUSE more injuries.
     
  16. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    No response, Jack?
     
  17. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Okay El Zed, shoot me straight on this.

    Are you really interested in an honest debate, one in which we might both end up learning something new out of the process? Racquet Power/ Rebound Velocity / ACOR (apparent coefficient of restitution) are effing awesome topics of conversation. That I would enjoy. I share what I know, you share what you know. Good times.

    OR

    Have you got yourself in Bruce Lee's yellow track suit, positioned yourself way up on the temple walls and are just getting your jollies out of slaying all comers with your awesome PT280 VS APDGT Kung Fu? Consider that any thread that begins with the phrase " In defense of..... something " might be combative and defensive by it's very nature. It's quite possible the whole point of your thread is just to invite combat. If that's the case, I'm sure you will find plenty of folks to here quibble with, just not me.

    Peace my brother

    Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  18. jaydog23

    jaydog23 Rookie

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    this thread has gotten aggressive
     
  19. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Let me put it you this way - I own stock in neither Babolat nor Head (are they even publicly traded) and have reduced my collection almost entirely to a stable of Pro Tours and a few French Open APDgts (the latter, largely for the benefit of my fiancee). One has a modern feel (almost the uber "modern" stick") and the other - to me - is just the uber stick.

    So, in terms of the motive of my OP - made months ago - I stand by the premise in that the APDgt (and Babolats) are unnecessarily derided on this forum. There are many sticks that are much worse. I stand by the points that I made, although appreciate the importance of feel a bit more now that I did then (where performance was the end-all/be-all). So long story short - I would love to legitimately learn more. I don't, however, want to be deluged by BS perspective that is not borne out of actual scientific fact or actual, notable experience with any of the sticks discussed - not saying that you are doing this at all (on the contrary, you seem rather informed or at least make reasonable deductions).

    So, yes, let's learn. Would greatly appreciate your thoughts on my question though - would love to gain that extra bit of oomph from the PT280/630...
     
  20. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    ^^ Hi ElZed,

    Whew, (wasn't quite sure where this was going there for a minute) That sounds super awesome! I look forward to it. I will be back for sure within next couple of days.

    -Jack
     
  21. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Well I hope I didn't sound THAT heavy-handed. :)
     
  22. pshulam

    pshulam Hall of Fame

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    There are tons of fans for the APD in this forum. The APD definitely performs well for today's games, providing plenty of power, spin access, and sweat spot. In terms of comfort and precision, my preference is the PT280.
     
  23. rst

    rst Rookie

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    i developed elbow issues way back in the early 1990s with an old prince racket...various lifting jobs complicated it.

    i expectother people were having elbow problems back then too without babolat.

    i think some people are just more prone to elbow issues than others.

    i dont think that a modern game needs defending in any way.

    i have hit witha dunlop2004dtour...heavy and powerful. my forehands were faster and i could swing form corner to corner pretty well but my backhand lagged.
    with my donnay xdual silver lite at a looser at 50 lbs i hit with a slower pace but i have found better overall spot hitting and a little better defense.

    if babolats work for many at whatever weight or stifnes sthey happen to be at why keep making threads for a racket you cant or dont like??
     
  24. Rock Strongo

    Rock Strongo Legend

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    I did that too, and it didn't feel that bad.

    May sound oxymoronic, but that's how it is. But then it was heavied up to the ears so the weight absorbed the shock.
     
  25. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Yeah cool man, awesome. :) Racquet power seems to be at the heart of the conversation and that's of my favorite things to ponder. I hope we might trade some ideas in a gracious way, and have a little fun, with nothing to prove or disprove. There wont be anything to defend, because I wont be attacking anything. Just two guys talking about racquets, no big whups. A few posts back you said something I very much agree with. Maybe we could start right there.

    The Central Issue, Risk Vs Reward : Yes, I agree 100 percent! I also see this as a risk/reward scenario. For you, however, it appears to boil down Racquet Power Vs Feel, but for many of us I think it boils down to Racquet Power Vs Arm Safety. If the reward is very large, say a 5-10 MPH bump in ball speed, and the risk is very low, then you'd be foolish to ignore the free boost in performance if it is there for the taking. However, if the rewards are simply an increase of a few MPH's at the most, fractional on average, and the risk to arm safety is very high, then that would be a whole nuther bag of chips. I think there is a similar thought process here in the following quote:

    And that's just it. Most players are guessing about the additional benefit a powerful racquet will provide. Is it 10 MPH? or is it .1 MPH? If we are going to choose sides on the Power Vs Feel issue, it would be a very good idea to get a handle on that first. I'd like to put aside the subject of feel or arm safety for now, and focus on the first half of the risk/reward choice. Again, I wont be attacking anything, just laying the basics out on the table for conversation.

    -Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  26. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Racquet Power: Anybody who has decided to dig down even a few inches into this pretty deep topic has probably come up with a shovel full of some widely accepted concepts pretty quickly. I'm not saying anything original here, not attacking, defending or presenting any unique insights. I'm just putting the basics out on the table for consideration and conversation. Feel free to point out any points of agreement or disagreement.

    1. Ball velocity is the measurable indicator of racquet power. On the court, ball velocity is typically measured with a radar gun and expressed as MPH or KPH. In laboratory conditions we might also measure film frames or measure bounce heights.

    2. All things being equal : A higher swingweight frame has more power. This assumes the swingspeed does not drop, which is easier said than done. [1][2][3][5][6]

    3. Racquet power is almost directly related to swingweight. It is the single most predictable indicator of racquet power when attempting to distinguish inherent power levels between different types of racquets. [2][6]

    4. In general : a stiffer frame is more powerful than a flexible one. However, a flexible frame is just as powerful as a stiff frame when you hit the center of the strings. Stiffer frames have slightly more power when the ball is struck hit near the tip of the racquet. [1][2][5][6]

    5. All things being equal : A racquet with a bigger head has more power. If the string tension remains constant, the longer strings creates a softer string bed overall. A softer string bed creates a more powerful racquet. There are limits to this however, as you cannot play tennis with a butterfly net. [1][6]

    6. All things being equal: A racquet with a wider head will have more twistweight. This creates more power on balls that miss the sweet spot near the sides of the frame.[5][6] For additional insight on wide heads and spin, see link [4]

    7. If you add length to an existing frame, swingweight increases dramatically, and with it so does power. However, since added length dramatically reduces manuververability, racquet companies typically factor that into the equation by lowering the balance point, which creates fewer units of swingweight per overall weight, in mass produced extended length frames.[1][2][6]

    Awesome Quote #1: " Why would anyone care how well a ball bounces off a racquet that is not being swung at the ball? The answer is that the power built into the racquet needs to be carefully distinguished from the power that a player can get out of it. When a player talks about racquet power, he usually has in mind the power that is built into the racquet by the manufacturer using whatever technical tricks it can come up with, such as an improved string suspension system or some clever way of constructing the frame. When a manufacturer designs a new racquet, it might take an existing frame, modify it in some way, and end up with a racquet that it hope will be a better, perhaps more powerful version of the original. How would one test the racquet to see if it is more powerful or not? The obvious way would be to serve a ball at a fixed racquet speed and use a radar gun to see if the ball is served any faster with the modified racquet. If it is, then the modified racquet is indeed more powerful. A simpler test is to fire a ball at a stationary, freely-suspended or hand-held racquet and see if the ball bounces off the racquet any faster. This test is simpler because it is easier to measure the speed of a ball than to measure the speed of a racquet. A problem with measuring racquet speed is that different parts of the racquet travel at different speeds. Another problem is ensuring that the racquet is swung at the same speed each time. In fact, both tests are entirely equivalent and yield the same answer. In a stationary racquet test, one measures the speed of the incoming ball and the speed of the outgoing ball. The ratio of these two speeds (speed out/speed in) is rebound power (RP). It is a number that doesn’t involve the player or his ability to swing the racquet. The RP is a measure of the power built into the racquet. In general, heavy racquets have a bigger RP than light racquets, so an increase in RP without an increase in racquet weight is an indication that the manufacturer has come up with an improved, more powerful design. -- Rod Cross, Raw Racquet Power, Link [2] Similar lab test results can also be found here at TW. See link [5]

    Quote 2: " Figure 2 shows RP (Rebound Power) vs. swingweight for all racquets. The result is simply amazing. Instead of having the 268 dots scattered all over the place, the dots line up perfectly along four different curved lines. The four curves correspond to different racquet lengths. All racquets of the same length lie on the same curve, with short racquets having a bigger RP than long racquets. The result in Figure 2 shows that any two racquets of the same length and the same swingweight will have exactly the same RP, regardless of their weights and regardless of their balance points. The inbuilt power of a racquet in the middle of the strings therefore depends only on the length and swingweight of the racquet, and on nothing else."
    -- Rod Cross, Raw Racquet Power, Link [2]

    Quote 3: "Racquet stiffness has no effect on power when the ball is struck in the middle of the strings, but stiff racquets are more powerful when the ball is struck nearer the tip of the racquet"
    -- Rod Cross, Chapter 14, Racquet Power, The Physics And Technology Of Tennis. Link [6]

    References:

    Link [1] Basic Facts about Frames and Strings, The United States Racquet Stringers Association
    http://www.racquettech.com/top/basic_facts.html
    http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/lc/basicfacts.html

    Link [2] Raw Racquet Power, By Rod Cross
    http://www.racquetsportsindustry.com/articles/2006/02/raw_racquet_power.html

    Link [3] Racquet Handle Weighting And Maneuverablility, by Rod Cross
    http://www.racquetsportsindustry.com/articles/2006/04/racquet_handle_weighting_and_m.html

    Link [4] The Inch That Changed Tennis Forever, By Rod Cross
    http://www.racquetsportsindustry.com/articles/2006/01/the_inch_that_changed_tennis_f.html

    Link [5] Racquet Power Comparison Tool
    http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/cgi-bin/comparepower.cgi

    Link [6] The Physics And Technology Of Tennis
    http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/The_Physics_and_Technology_of_Tennis/descpage-PHYSICS.html

    - Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  27. marosmith

    marosmith Professional

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    First off- I have PT57a's. These are super soft "feel" oriented rackets.

    They have tons of power the way I have distributed the weight, further they are extremely whippy and polarized and generate loads of spin. Much more spin than my friends who use modern rackets could generate for me (I test hit nearly every racket I get my hands on which is in the range of 30-40 I suspect).

    As to power, I string a low/mid tension gut mains and poly hybrid. This not only encourages loads of spin but also a ton of power. Yes the sweet spot is still smaller than an APD but in terms of feel, response, comfort, precision it is 100% superior than any off the shelf Bab and further spin and power are very comparable.

    Of course people can get a Bab to work just fine, but the number of old dudes with torn up elbows and shoulders is anecdotal proof they are over-used or used improperly and that's why they have developed a negative reputation and I believe it's well deserved.

    Tennis coaches and the folks at tennis shops I believe should educate people on the negatives and positives of rackets but most don't and people end up with rackets and strings that don't fit their playing style and that do physical damage to their hitting arm / shoulder and I believe Babolat should only be recommended to many rec players with that understanding and with a surgeon general warning posted on the retail packaging.
     
  28. marosmith

    marosmith Professional

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    That's the most ignorant opinion in this thread and exhibits something beyond stupidity, fueled by anger, maybe hatred for your your parents, authority, god?

    :twisted:
     
  29. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Hey, man, sorry for the delayed response - worked throughout the weekend prep'ing for a trial....

    In regards to your first point, you are absolutely right - I don't and haven't factored in "arm safety" into my consideration. Frankly, I am under the assumption (through personal observations during play and viewing some of the youtube postings of forum members) that a fair number of people have a more traditional stroke and apply it constantly - whether using a pro staff, a pure drive or an apd gt (etc., etc.). This is fine as a general matter, but for me, the APD gt comes into it's own only when utilizing a western grip and windshield wiper stroke (while taking a full stroke). Any alteration, from my experience, has resulted in either a decrease in power, spin, accuracy or even all of the aforementioned. I may be mistaken, but I do attribute these claims of arm issues with those types of players who insist upon using a more standard grip with a more "classical" stroke. Could be mistaken on this, but I'm secure in this position to where I've largely disregarded talk of arm issues with this racquet as it hasn't manifested for me despite substantial time with it.

    As to your second point, I have to again make mention that my position is based purely on observation - not hard science. For all of the positives on the size of the PT280/630s (also, to me they are the same) I still feel that the APD gt gives you added pace - noticeable pace at that. Is it closer to a .1 mph increase or 10 mph, I don't know for sure - but it is a palpable difference. To be certain, the PTs provide better sound and feel at impact - the impression that you're really thumping the ball. So, if you take the position that the aesthetic qualities of the racquet may shroud perception, then surely this would cut in favour of the PTs - but it doesn't. Love the APD gts for the pace of shots, and the PTs for EVERYTHING else.

    I asked this previously in a separate thread (where LeeD offered some interesting insight) - to me, the PTs offer a much, much heavier ball with greater spin. This perspective is borne not only from observing the post-bounce angles taken, but by also simply taking shots into the air and allowing the balls to drop into the hand. Remember, I weight both my racquets to almost 13 oz. with comparable balance points. I want to say that its due to the difference in flex, but that would totally throw off the modern perspective that stiffness aids spin...
     
  30. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    See your observations largely mirror mine. I have played with PT57As previously, and feel that the Pro Tours are close (enough proxy) when both are similarly weighted. These racquets simply provide easy access to spin, and resulting produce a very, very heavy ball. Further, these racquets indeed have a great amount of pop with a sweet spot that is generous before application of lead and then ridiculously afterwards. But are you sincerely saying that you are getting as much pop from the PT57A (in 18x20 presumptively) as a Pure Drive or APD gt? I know you said comparable, which to me indicates that it's not quite at that level, but more than makes up for it in other ways (which I don't necessarily disagree with).

    That being said, I have to disagree with a few of your points. First, while your spot on that a lot of people employ their traditional "style" to the Babs, therefore giving rise to arm issues, I don't undertand why the Bab's resulting negative reputation is well deserved. A racquet is but a tool, and it's up to the user how that tool will be used. If you hit flat, I can't think of too many racquets worse that the Bab; and if you hit with a WW stroke and western grip, I can't think of many better. Improper use of a tool is user error, as it would be to use an old wooden racquet and to expect to be effective in a "modern" topspin game (I know, Sampras used a woodie at an exhibition.... yada, yada... I'm sure he could've also used a ping pong paddle; we're not at that level so this is a non-sequitor).
     
  31. eliza

    eliza Rookie

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    Never understood those negative feelings towards Babolat. I just tell my friends: "try one".
     
  32. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Honestly, the "feel" does leave much to be desired for - unless you attempt to lead up and/or implement silicone/putty. Even then it still doesn't feel quite there relative to the classics. But, nonetheless, they do appear to have an extra-gear (the extent of which we are attempting to debate). But you're right, they should be tried.
     
  33. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Hi All,

    No worries about delayed replies El Zed, I'm squeezing this bit of fun stuff into the pressures of my everyday life as well. Interesting that both camps appear to be making use of the TW racquet power comparison utility to illustrate opposing view points! Lies, damn lies, and statistics! (giggle). ;)

    Whenever the topic of racquet power comes up, inevitably somebody will mention one of the hefty old classics for comparison sake. OHBH mentioned the Wilson PS 6.0 85 a few pages back. The racquets of yesteryear make for interesting comparison. Yup, heavier rackets are more powerful. Not terribly surprising. We all know that heavy stuff packs more of a punch if you can swing it fast. We've known this intuitively for centuries. The ancient Norsemen were likely having this same debate about weight vs maneuverability, vs power over a campfire, a turkey leg, and a goblet of home brew in 800 AD. It's absolutely no accident the Vikings wielded broadswords that were 28-39 inches in length, averaged 2.5 pounds, and were heavily tail weighted.

    What you will notice with the comparison show below is the power digits, collected at various points on the racquet face (using real racquets and real balls, not theoretical equations) are pretty consistent with all the points I listed on post #126.

    1. The stiffness of the AeroPro gives it 1 percent more power right at the tip, compared to the PS 6.0 85 Wilson.

    2. However, in every other location, the more flexible, higher SW frames have more power. If you add enough swing weight, as in the case of the 377 SW Boris Becker11 Special Edition, even a super flexy frame can have more power at the tip than a stiff frame.

    3. This comparison is a great place to start, because it hints at the contribution both flex and SW to racquet power. SW makes a huge difference, and flex makes a little difference, but only right at the tip.

    4. However, most of us will look at those four choices, and opt for the Aeropro. The others, while effective at proving a point on a debate podium, are not likely going to be the weapons of choice. The smaller heads of the two Wilson's are are just as intimidating as the super high SW of the Boris Becker 11 SE.

    [​IMG]

    Direct Link for those of you on mobile devices or small screens:
    http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/cgi... Becker|Becker:11:Special:Edition:98|RCVOLKL|

    - Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  34. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    The good news? It is not 1987. It is the year 2013. There are quite a few racquet companies who are at least attempting to make racquets that are both powerful and comfortable. A comparison of modern frames of similar swingweights shows a whole nuther can of worms althogether. Full disclosure here. No accident I chose the Radical Pro, and Donnay Pro One to illustrate this point. This is not a random sampling. These are frames I know pretty well, and from my experience at least, are above average examples of comfort and power, while sacrificing neither.

    1. The HEAD Radical Pro has 1% less power at the very tip, compared to the Aeropro, because it is more flexible. But it's basically a wash everywhere else.

    2. The Donnay Pro actually has more power at the tip, pretty even if not a bit higher everywhere else, even though it is both more flexible, and lower swingweight. It has no business pulling these numbers, but it does. Perhaps it has something to do with the solid core construction.

    3. And the massive 377 SW Boris Becker 11 Special Edition is listed there just in case anybody had any doubts about SW making the largest contribution to racquet power.

    4. Unlike the first comparison I showed, this is actually quite surprising. Bit of history here. Before we started firing real balls at real racquets, the brightest minds in all of tennis physics came up with a formula to estimate racquet power. They assigned a value to stiffness, swing weight, flex, and length, assigned a power number, then these digits were published at the United States Racquet Stringers Association database. From looking at that list, you'd conclude that stiffness is a very big deal. For a very long time, that educated guess was the best we had. In the link below you can see how (in 2005) I answered questions about racquet power using some of those estimates.http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=79904

    5. However, when we started firing real balls at real racquets and measuring rebound velocity, the results were shocking, and the old estimate formulas were thrown out the window pretty quickly. Here is a quote from Rod Cross speaking directly of that moment of astonishment I'm describing: Quote: " Figure 2 shows RP (Rebound Power) vs. swingweight for all racquets. The result is simply amazing. Instead of having the 268 dots scattered all over the place, the dots line up perfectly along four different curved lines. The four curves correspond to different racquet lengths. All racquets of the same length lie on the same curve, with short racquets having a bigger RP than long racquets. The result in Figure 2 shows that any two racquets of the same length and the same swingweight will have exactly the same RP, regardless of their weights and regardless of their balance points. The inbuilt power of a racquet in the middle of the strings therefore depends only on the length and swingweight of the racquet, and on nothing else." -- Rod Cross, Raw Racquet Power, Link [2]

    Translation : What Mr. Cross is saying there, is that if stiffness played a huge factor in racquet power, what you would see is a gradual rise in power as SW increases, but that the gradual rise would look more like a stock market chart, with peaks and valleys punctuating the power levels btwn stiff frames, and flexible frames. But the results don't look anything like that. The results show a nearly perfect relationship, a perfectly smooth arc because nothing else really matters near the center of the frame.

    Link [2] Raw Racquet Power, By Rod Cross
    http://www.racquetsportsindustry.com/articles/2006/02/raw_racquet_power.html

    Nutshell: From this perspective, it's not so much a matter of making a gut wrenchingly difficult choice between Power vs Comfort, with a huge sacrifice at either end. It is more a matter of finding a racquet that feels good to hit with, within a specific swingweight/power range that suits your game.

    [..]

    [​IMG]

    Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  35. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Every racquet that has ever been made has a dead spot right near the tip. You don't need to believe me, or the comparison digits I posted. Try this test at home.

    1. Place your racquet over the edge of a table, pressing firmly on the grip, with the remainder of the length beyond the grip floating freely. Drop a tennis ball onto various locations on the string bed and notice the bounce heights.

    2. In the center of the strings, the ball bounces pretty well.

    3. Just below center, the ball bounces a little bit higher.

    4. There is a spot right near the tip, on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd cross strings down, where the ball just does not want to bounce at all. Complete dudsville. Stiffer frames flex less, so they offer incrementally more power at the very top of the hoop.

    The dead spot is one of the key distinctions to get clear about. Without it, nothing about racquet power makes much sense.

    We still have not yet looked at the question of whether this all implies a .1 MPH differences in ball velocity, or 10 MPH difs in ball velocity. But we at least have things in percentages, and have clear distinctions about swingweights and impact locations. That's enough to chew on for now.

    -Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  36. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Jack, very interesting points indeed. Your effort deserves a more thoughtful response, so apologies if the following appears to be little more than ramble. Will review and consider your posts further.

    First, it appears as though we are in agreement that there is indeed a difference in power between various frames. Apologies if mistaken, but I thought you took the contrary position that different racquets do not make much of a difference. I guess we can both agree, that (some) differences do quantitatively exist.

    This leads me back to my original post in comparing Babolats to the classics, not to other modern competitors. It's interesting that the Tom's Machine (a relative proxy for the PT280) has peak number of 39.7% whereas the APD gt has a 39.3% I guess it's fairly safe to say that once the APD gt is weighted up to the Pro Tours, it should have a higher peak power number (particular given its stiffness)?


    Alas, it doesn't really matter much anymore as I sold my last Babolat recently! :twisted:
     
  37. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    this thread is entertaining to say the least! A few questions. How much does it really matter in the xequipment=performance equation? I'm reading about powerzone maps, spin windows, nanotubes, etc... but isn't the main ingredient mostly come down to the users skill/technique? How much does one less main string or a few points of stiffness really matter? I see a ton of junior players in my area whipping APDGT's around with pinpoint accuracy. I see older 4.5/5.0 players pounding winners with Pro Staff 85's with the same results. So why is one any better than the other?
     
  38. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Hi RollTrakTake

    "Entertaining", Yeah man... that's code for I'm not sure if this is a bunch or BS or not! (giggle) Your inference is a familiar one. It's the age old "It's not the sword it's the swordsman" "It's not the bow, it's the archer." Yes I get it. One of my doubles partners played #3 Singles for U of Illinois, and went on to play Futures and Challengers. We still practice together, and although I've had set points, I've never once even taken a set from him in 10 years. He beats me even after teaching for 5 hours straight no matter what racquet he plays with. He has no idea what the SW of his racquet is, and really doesn't care. While anecdotal stories like that hint at the level of the incremental advantage any racquet can provide, they have got nothing to do with the inherent racquet power that is separate and distinct from the skill level that the player brings to it. I will re-post a quote that speaks to this directly:

    Awesome Quote #1: " Why would anyone care how well a ball bounces off a racquet that is not being swung at the ball? The answer is that the power built into the racquet needs to be carefully distinguished from the power that a player can get out of it. When a player talks about racquet power, he usually has in mind the power that is built into the racquet by the manufacturer using whatever technical tricks it can come up with, such as an improved string suspension system or some clever way of constructing the frame. When a manufacturer designs a new racquet, it might take an existing frame, modify it in some way, and end up with a racquet that it hope will be a better, perhaps more powerful version of the original. How would one test the racquet to see if it is more powerful or not? The obvious way would be to serve a ball at a fixed racquet speed and use a radar gun to see if the ball is served any faster with the modified racquet. If it is, then the modified racquet is indeed more powerful. A simpler test is to fire a ball at a stationary, freely-suspended or hand-held racquet and see if the ball bounces off the racquet any faster. This test is simpler because it is easier to measure the speed of a ball than to measure the speed of a racquet. A problem with measuring racquet speed is that different parts of the racquet travel at different speeds. Another problem is ensuring that the racquet is swung at the same speed each time. In fact, both tests are entirely equivalent and yield the same answer. In a stationary racquet test, one measures the speed of the incoming ball and the speed of the outgoing ball. The ratio of these two speeds (speed out/speed in) is rebound power (RP). It is a number that doesn’t involve the player or his ability to swing the racquet. The RP is a measure of the power built into the racquet. In general, heavy racquets have a bigger RP than light racquets, so an increase in RP without an increase in racquet weight is an indication that the manufacturer has come up with an improved, more powerful design. -- Rod Cross, Raw Racquet Power, Link [2] Similar lab test results can also be found here at TW. See link [5]

    What Mr. Cross is talking about there is ball on racquet impacts that are separate and distinct from the player. Tennis players are a feisty lot however, and we get pretty snippy when you start talking about racquet power and toss out a bunch of digits and lab tests that have got nothing to do with them. However, If you really want to understand racquet power it requires looking only at the racquet-ball impacts first. This provides a deeper understanding of what happens when the player picks up the stick and starts swinging it.

    You want to know how much it all matters. You want to know how much more powerful one frame is compared to another. Great question. The short answer is for serves, 2-3 MPH at most, with a bit more room for room for some free juice on groundies. The long answer is that depends. It depends on A. The speed of the incoming ball B. How fast the racquet is moving, and C. Where the impact takes place on the string bed. I have not yet posted the whole enchilada. I've a few more to come. But I'm squeezing this fun stuff into the pressures of work and family life and posting might be sporadic.

    -Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  39. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    I believe what you are hinting at is the familiarity one develops with a certain stick. Beyond that, sheer proficiency. Of course, with enough practice and dedication one can develop significant topspin with a PS85 and develop notable accuracy with the APDgt. For that matter, I'd venture to say that almost all racquets could be used effectively to some degree by a proficient player - whether it is a Pure Drive, TI.6 or an old Prestige Pro.

    Thus, it bears remembering that what is being discussed is not a drastic difference in performance, but a marginal one that nonetheless may matter for those competing at a higher level. I am not speaking in equivocal terms because I'm not secure in this position, but because I realize that for some "comfort" and "safety" are paramount considerations, that may nonetheless affect their actual performance.

    Finally, as a side point, I think this entire indians/arrows thing needs to be considered in two contexts. One where you are in a utopian setting playing perfect tennis with metronome-like timing, the other where you are hurried and more than occasionally a step behind. Perhaps it's not the game optimizing aspect of modern sticks but the fact that they provide a greater margin for error - therefore providing a greater average level of performance. To this end, while I'm sure maximum RPMs would be comparable on a PS85 to a APD gt, I'd venture to say the latter would provide a greater average over the course of many matches. Surely from a competitive standpoint this is a positive.
     
  40. Broly4

    Broly4 Rookie

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    The power tool is only useful, if you are comparing racquets with the same head size.
     
  41. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Hi Broly

    Yeah cool, I think I understand what you are hinting at. I think you are suggesting that since larger heads create much more power, you need to keep that important factor a constant to keep a level playing field. Apologies if I have mis-interpreted. But large heads don't create significantly more power, and The Power Comparison Tool, actually validates this. That is why I've intentionally pitted large heads against small heads, and stiff against flexible so that one might observe that all these factors matters only slightly, in comparison to swingweight, which is a much bigger deal. Swingweight is almost the whole deal. If you were looking to level the playing field and make this a fair fight, keeping swingweight a constant would be the way to do it. Keeping swingweight a constant is what I have illustrated in post # 134

    While the differences to ACOR are slight... If you would like more clarity on how, why, and where large heads add a bit more power you could take a look at my post #126, points 3, 5, and 6.

    Hope this helps :)

    Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  42. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Hi, Jack -

    I don't quite understand one thing and hope you can point us to a resource for clarification. First, it appears as though the TW power figures pertain purely to rebounding potential. Not sure if this is a static figure, or something reflecting the racquet being placed into motion.

    Moreover, while the ranges appear de minimis as a relative difference in percentages, are there any other objective figures in terms of what these measure out to from a mph/kmh perspective? Apologies if I missed this in your post. Thanks much.
     
  43. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Hi Zed -

    1. Sounds like you are asking if this is just about rebounding potential or is it about real racquet power? Rebounding potential is Racquet power. It is the study of noting how high, or how fast a ball rebounds after impact. From Post 126, Point #1: Ball velocity is the measurable indicator of racquet power. On the court, ball velocity is typically measured with a radar gun and expressed as MPH or KPH. In laboratory conditions we might also measure film frames or measure bounce heights.

    2. The testing procedures used to generate the TW power comparison digits involves firing real balls at real stationary racquets. Stationary racquets really isn't a contentious issue. While it's possible to fire balls at moving racquets, it's much more difficult to do this in a way which is consistent. Since the results would be the same in either case... (see Quote #1, post 126, references 2 and 5) it's more practical to do it that way.

     
    No worries, if it is not making sense yet, it's only because I've not yet put all the pieces on the table. I've kinda left you hanging. My apologies. So far we only have expressed racquet power as percentages that are related to each other, such as x racquet has 16% at the tip and Y racquet has 18% in the center. Understanding the nature, the very essence of ball and racquet impacts, (that are completely separate and distinct from what ever skill level the player brings to the party) is the first essential step. If you dont get that first part, whatever I have to say next will not make sense. But it is far from a complete picture, and gives no real final understanding.

    If you want to skip ahead and get a glimpse into real players on the court, and put it into a frame work of MPHs I can give you the short answer, in the same way I gave RollTrackTake the short answer: You want to know how much it all matters. You want to know how much more powerful one frame is compared to another. Great question. The short answer is for serves, 2-3 MPH at most, with a bit more room for some free juice on groundies. The long answer is that depends. It depends on A. The speed of the incoming ball B. How fast the racquet is moving, and C. Where the impact takes place on the string bed. I have a bit more to say about A B C. But that will most likely be a post that will drop in over the weekend or late friday nite.

    Thanks for hanging in there with me. Love this topic. Fun stuff.

    Jack
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  44. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    Actually, Jack, I believe it wouldn't be overly problematic to utilize effectively the same swinging mechanism employed by TW to determine swing weight here. To me at least, it would provide a truer number as sheer rebounding potential appears somewhat of a hollow number on its own.

    Also, those percentages are all well and good, but again they fail to reflect a few other significant variables and therefore really shouldn't be posited on their own. For instance, how does the APD gt change when you tack on an extra .5 oz to the racquet? What's the percentage then? I also appreciate your response to Broly, but again, if we are seeking to compare ex ante variables they should be derived from comparable entities (which is admittedly impossible given differences in composition, dimensions, weight, etc.) - instead, we should therefore look at the final product. Funny enough, I believe it was Drakulie who positive actual mphs from his test with the 99S - those numbers to me are more indicative of a racquets power than mere rebounding figures that consist of a ball being dropped onto a stationary frame.

    Finally, I'm happy to see that you acknowledge that different frames do indeed impact MPHs, and therefore a variance in power "exists." Apologies, but I though that's the point we were discussing. Again 2-3 mphs might not be much to you and I, but I'm sure Tsonga would have appreciated them again Federer...
     
  45. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Sorry, not following. Are you talking about about the stopwatch, swinging method for calculating swingweight? isn't that a separate issue? And... it's going to cause kind of a speed bump here if we cannot agree on a definition of racquet power. If racquet power isn't measured by taking note of the velocity of a rebounding ball in MPH or taking note of a bounce height or by studying frame rates in high speed film, what else do you have in mind?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  46. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    No, sorry, I was wrong. I was actually speaking about a video concerning the Babolat RDC machine, and it's method to determine swing-weight. Also, I don't necessarily disagree with a determination of power on the basis of a MPH/KPH readout. What I do find a bit disingenuous is a measurement of "power" that is predicated upon bouncing a ball upon a stationary racquet. This means absolutely nothing in a real-world setting. Drakulie, in contrast, provided real MPH figures - which again evidence the disparity in racquet power (admittedly, with the APD gt trailing both the 99steam and the Head Speed).

    Frankly, not sure what we are even debating at this point. I thought we are in agreement that racquets do indeed differ in inherent levels of power, a point which I though you initially disagreed with (but apparently you don't). I thought your last post even attested to the fact that a difference in power exists between different frames, manifested in *only* a 2 or 3 mph. difference. To reiterate my point wasn't that the APD gt is the most powerful racquet ever made, which appears to be a newly introduced straw-man, but that it indeed has some increase in power relative to the classics. I thought my this point was rendered evident in the power figures you cited, and the fact that despite being about 1.0 to 1.5 oz. lighter than the Kneissl Tom's Machine (again, a racquet many found to be comparable to the PT280/630 during its heyday) the APD gt has a "power" reading only .4% less than the Kneissl.

    Would appreciate it if you could succinctly state the point you're trying to support. I think I stated and reiterated mine a few times over.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  47. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    The head size and pattern affects the trajectory of the ball flight, so even though all these over done lab tests may say that this racket is only 1 or 2 mph faster than another that does not figure in the higher trajectory that the larger head racket will add. Which to a player means more power because the ball lands deeper with the same swing.

    When i went to a 90 sq. inch racket the first thing I noticed was the trajectory went lower just like a 100 sq. inch racket with a 18x20 string pattern does compared to a 16x19. So even though with the 90 I could still get good power with time to set up and if the ball was hit just right, but if off just a little the shots could be pretty weak.

    So even though the MPH may be real close the actual power that the player feels is quite large. When I started using a 90 the first thing I noticed was that I could swing away all I wanted and rarely hit long. I definitely had to swing harder than I did when I was using a 100. So if they are so close then why did I notice such a big difference?
     
  48. El Zed

    El Zed Banned

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    You hit upon a point that I made a page or two back and bears repeating; in that some modern racquets appear to provide an upgrade in terms of general performance (relative to the classics) due to the additional margin of error that they provide. As a simple illustration, while I'm sure that the maximum RPMs attainable by a PS85 is comparable to a APD gt, I feel rather confident in saying that the latter will generally return a higher average (presuming of course, that the person in question is not intimately familiar with the PS85) in RPMs over the course of a match or multiple matches - particularly if one is hurried frequently during play.
     
  49. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    Hi El Zed, You might wanna check your blood pressure dude. Nothing disingenuous in anything I've said, I'm going to let that one slide. This is just two guys talking about racquets, no biggie. This is fun stuff. What happened to that guy who said he might enjoy a fun conversation in which we both might learn something? I've said three times there is more information on the way, likely this weekend or late Friday. If this time line unsettles you, I apologize. I'm in and out of here just killing time pleasantly while my models render. I could just as easily be watching lolz cat videos on youtube. This conversation aint the end of the world.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  50. Lilguy1456

    Lilguy1456 Semi-Pro

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    El Zed,

    I've read this whole thread. I'm unsure about which side of the fence I fall on, but I must say, you're an excellent writer lol. That's a pretty rare thing considering some of the winners that are in these forums.
     

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