Increase power: why lead if you can lower the tension?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by floide, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. floide

    floide Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    I'm a 4.0-4.5 player which recently returned to the courts after a 8-year absence. Got my IG Prestiges some weeks ago, as I played almost my whole life with the PC600s (sold :cry:). Always liked the Prestiges, despite the not-so-low power, which I used to fix with a little lead.

    Ok, so we all know that some grams in the hoop leads to power boost. But now that I string around 40 lbs - instead of the 60 lbs which I've always been used to -, the power increase was good enough for me! No lead necessary. (And I bought 4 packages of it!)

    So, here's my question: If the goal is to increase power, and assuming you're happy with the frame's weight and stability, is there any actual difference between lowering the tension or adding lead? Issues about different levels of control, maybe?
     
  2. KenC

    KenC Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    Messages:
    1,428
    Location:
    The Cliffs of Insanity
    Lowering tension too much leads to less control. I think it best way to approach it is to get the tension to its minimum while still having enough precision, and then if you need more power add some lead to the hoop. Note that if you have to add more than 5-10g of lead to the hoop you probably would be better off with another racquet that has more inherent power, likewise if you have to go down to 40lbs to get enough power.
     
  3. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,594
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    Personally, I think old adage "string low for power, tight for control" is not entirely accurate, and I think it should be tweaked to be something more like:

    "string low for depth, and string tighter if you're shots are frequently flying long."

    I'm not 100% sure, but I do believe there have been some studies that suggest a lower tension doesn't increase power (at least not very much) but what it does do is change the trajectory at which the ball leaves the string bed. This can help you gain depth on your shots, if that's something you're lacking, and depth is very naturally one way that we might perceive we're getting more power.

    Adding mass to the racquet however, can indeed increase power. It's simply the physics of it. If you increase the mass of the racquet and swing at the same speed, you will indeed impart more speed to the ball. If you add weight and swing FASTER, you'll get even MORE power, and if you add weight but swing slower, you might not be gaining any power at all.
     
  4. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Messages:
    5,269
    Lead at 3/9 o'c will also improve twist weight (torsional stability) as well as improved power. It will also add power to the side areas of the stringbed if you hit off center.

    You can also add lead at noon or above the mid-point of the head to move the sweet spot higher. This helps with serves which a lot of people hit higher in the string bed. And, some people hit their groundstrokes higher.

    So, you can do different things with lead and tension.
     
  5. floide

    floide Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    That's a good approach, although I'm not uncomfortable at all @ 40 lbs.
     
  6. floide

    floide Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    That's a good point. In other words, low tension gives you free power, while lead gives more power at effort. Wouldn't have thought of that.
     
  7. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,923
    You're already familiar with lead. Why tha hell are you asking a question you already know the answer to? Are you bored?
     
  8. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,923
    ...theories and unreal situations. Are you going to add lead and swing faster?...only if you were swingly slowly in the first place and are capable of swinging faster.

    Physics from a lay person, not someone who's actually studied physics. You know there's a problem with their "physics" explanation just because it contradicts with what you find experimentally.
     
  9. floide

    floide Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    I think he meant to swing faster than a normal swing with the leaded frame, not faster than your "fast" swing with the non-leaded one.
     
  10. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,594
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    F = ma (force = mass x acceleration)

    That's not complicated physics. It's taught in any high school physics class. If you increase the mass of the racquet, and the a (acceleration) remains constant (that is, if you are capable of accelerating the racquet just as much after adding lead as you were before adding lead), then the F will be greater.

    You said "you know there's a problem with their 'physics' explanation just because it contradicts with what you find experimentally."

    If you are finding experimentally that after increasing the mass of the racquet, you are getting less power, then you are either not swinging as quickly as you were before, or your perception is off (not to mention is pretty high degree of error in one's ability to perceive a general increase or decrease in power, since they are so many variables at play in any given shot).
     
  11. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Messages:
    1,224
    Most adults are capable of swinging the racquet faster than we can reasonably control. One aspect that is great about a heavier frame is that it slows down the swing which can make it easier to have a more controlled shot, yet the ball will still be heavy.

    That's my experience anyway.
     
  12. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,923
    This is exactly what I'm talking about. Physics from the lay person who doesn't truly understand physics. Throwing around magic formulas in the wrong context doesn't say anything. All you idiots ever do is use buzz words and equations like F=ma to make you sound smarter.

    This is a tennis ball hitting a racket. This is a COLLISION. You treat it as a collision by using impulse, I, not force, F. What's the difference? ....time. Impulse takes into account time. Specifically, the amount of time the ball sits on the string, not just the amount of force you place on the ball. When you lower the tension on a string, you increase the dwell time the ball sits on the stringbed. When you add lead, you're also changing the dwell time.

    You're also dealing with efficiency. Moreso, how much of the racket energy you're imparting onto the ball. This is the most complicated topic, and you can't really calculate it. You have to measure it.

    The whole problem is HUGE, and you idiots use the only formula you remember from high school physics, F=ma. And you demonstrate that you don't even know how to apply it.
     
  13. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,923
    In simplified terms, F=ma applies to the racket swing. How much force are you applying to the racket to get it swinging? The more mass the racket, the slower acceleration of the racket, given that you're exerting about the same.

    It doesn't apply to the ball contacting the strings. It's the wrong principle.
     
  14. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,923
    Here's a physics problem for ya:


    The Wilson 6.1 95...high mass (12.2oz) , swings fast, ....low power.

    The Wilson BLX Tour...low mass (10.7oz) , swings slow (head heavy)....high power

    ....seems to defy Newton's law of F=MA, right?
     
  15. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Messages:
    8,069
    I played around with tensions in the mid-40s when I had my K90s and have played around more with lead more recently. I think that I prefer lead as it can be used for more different effects - adding stability or increasing the sweetspot.

    Too much lead can be a problem though. Today I played two sets with one of my high-SW frames (384) and while the power on the serve and forehand were nice, I had a lot of problems executing some backhand shots as it was harder to generate RHS. So I played the third set with my usual frame and it felt like a feather - lots of RHS available.
     
  16. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,594
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    Anyway...

    floide, I think you should experiment a bit for yourself and see.

    Your original question was essentially asking "what's the difference?" And I'd guess there is a good chance you will perceive a difference.

    You might find (as I do) that it's preferable to add a bit of weight, but still keep the racquet strung fairly tight. The added mass seems to help increase power and stability, but I don't feel that control is sacrificed.

    I've strung rather low before as well, and while it can feel comfortable, and after a time, I'm able to adjust, it doesn't feel equivalent (to me) to adding weight to the racquet. I feel like shots "spray" a bit more with the lower tensions.

    It's worth experimenting for yourself and seeing what setup is comfortable for you.
     
  17. Praetorian

    Praetorian Professional

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    1,173
    well is his a 4.5 after a 8 year absence... so he must have been a touring pro in his former life... so yeah, he's bored
     
  18. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Messages:
    1,504
    Hey kid, you of all people should not be calling others idiots (see posts below). You think studying physics or going to school for any particular, narrow field somehow gives you knowledge in all aspects of life and makes you smart? Well it doesn't work that way. You study physics, you learn about physics. It doesn't elevate you to some status where you would be calling people idiots.



    I'd suggest calling up TW and asking if their Juice (100) frame is filled with foam. I'm pretty sure TW doesn't get their frames from e bay.



     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  19. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Messages:
    1,504
    -------------------
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  20. floide

    floide Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    My question is if there is any DIFFERENCE between those 2 ways of getting more power. I know what to do with the lead, just not sure if that's any better/worse then lowering the tension. That's it.
     
  21. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Messages:
    2,259
    Hi Floide,

    I'll do my best to provide a simple answer to a question that could fill many chapters in a book.

    1. Add more mass to the hoop = swing the same speed, get more ball velocity, and get more stability on off center hits. Less maneuverability.

    2. Lower tension = swing the same speed, get more ball velocity, (although you'd be surprised by how exceedingly small the increase is) No stability increase. Less directional control on off center hits. No changes in maneuverability.

    Longer answer: When you hit the ball off center, we all know what happens, the ball wobbles over the net like a wounded duck with out much pace or spin. Adding mass to the hoop will help counteract this event we are all familiar with. Lowering tension does nothing to increase stability on off center shots. In fact, looser tensions create a wider range of possible deflection angles, which translates into less directional control when struck outside center. In addition, the ball stays on the string bed slightly longer during the 3-5ms contact, which tends to exacerbate slight timing errors, as the racquet (and with it the ball) change elevation from low to to high, on a typical topspin groundie for example.

    Something in the way you have phrased the question kinda makes me think you are overlooking perhaps the most important bennies of adding lead? If you take stability off the table, then the choice btwn lower tension and adding more mass seems pretty equivalent. But that benefit is never off the table, and when you factor that in instead of factoring it out the issue gets a whole lot simpler! Hope this helps.

    -Jack
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  22. floide

    floide Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    I just took stability off the table because I don't feel that as a problem in my Prestiges strung @ 40 lbs, but got your point. Really clear answer, clarified things to me a bit. Thank you!
     
  23. CrispyFritters

    CrispyFritters Rookie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    312
    Location:
    Sunny California
    Is this really true?....because I've got about 5-6 grams on the head of my racket right now...and I need an excuse to buy a new racket.
     
  24. Circa 1762

    Circa 1762 New User

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2012
    Messages:
    85
    I would guess not. Isn't the point of pro stock rackets to provide a very light base frame to which large amounts of weight can then be added should the player want to?
     
  25. Circa 1762

    Circa 1762 New User

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2012
    Messages:
    85
    (Point being - if it's ok for a pro, it's probably ok for everyone else.)
     
  26. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Messages:
    2,259
    Cool man, glad to help. Btw, I've played with a lot of Prestiges over the years, and the IG MP is a real effing sweetheart. It was the only serious contender to my P1's when I was demoing the new stuff. You got yerself a real gem of a stick.

    Jack
     
  27. floide

    floide Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    I got the Prestige Pro, which is more fit to my game style, but liked the MPs almost as much. Really loved this IG line. I was used to the old PC600, so the bar was set high concerning the Prestiges. :twisted:
     
  28. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Messages:
    2,259
    ^^^ Cool, I missed that, and it's even in your signature (duh) Yeah, the PC600 were sweet. See you round the ranch, happy hitting!
     
  29. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Messages:
    1,504
    The answer the OP, with lead you can change the weight distribution: polarized, non polarized, headlight, etc., tweak the swingweight, increase stability, change the feel, and so on. There is probably not much room for this with a heavy frame like a prestige pro, but with a lighter frame such as a tweener there is room for adding a significant amount of lead in various configurations and the differences can be quite noticeable.

    I don't notice much of a power difference between say poly at 52lbs and 36lbs for groundies and volleys, although I do feel like I get more pop on serve at lower tensions. At very high tensions it does feel like power drops off. The lower tension changes some playing characteristics which would be my reason for using it. I feel more of power difference between different string and string types, for example kevlar vs poly vs syn gut/multi vs gut.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
  30. KenC

    KenC Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    Messages:
    1,428
    Location:
    The Cliffs of Insanity
    Absolutely not. 5-6 grams is fine, but when I see/hear that people are putting 15g or more on the hoop or anywhere else I have to wonder why they don't just find a better match that doesn't need so much alteration.
     
  31. Gee

    Gee Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    1,253
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    So all ATP pro players that are playing with a pt57a mould should rather chose another heavier frame in stock condition according to you? They used to add a lot of weight (silicone and lead). Much more than 15 grams.
    I think you should look for a frame with the feel/touch that you like. Then you can customize the weight, swingweight, power potential and balance of your racquet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
  32. TennisManiac

    TennisManiac Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    472
    Very well said. Simple, short and accurate answer.
     
  33. smirker

    smirker Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Messages:
    1,622
    Location:
    Cambridge UK
    For me it's not about increasing power, more of a feel thing. Lead tape on a racquet just makes it feel so much more solid and can help to reduce the feeling of harshness. I add lead to all my frames and they play much better for it.
     
  34. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,496
    Location:
    The crappest town in Britain
    Because sometimes there isn't anything out there that is a better match.

    For example, I've found that my ideal frame is something with a roundish 100" head and 18x20 string pattern (Speed MP 18x20, EXO Tour 18x20, 200 Plus). But, I play best with a very high swingweight that allows me to generate power with smooth swings rather than fast swings. So, my only option is to buy one of the frames listed above and add a bunch of lead.

    If someone were to make a frame that was closer to my liking in stock form, then I would switch to it. But, no one does at the moment, so I don't have that option.
     
  35. corbind

    corbind Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,308
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    As usual you words provide a simple way to understand a complex subject.
     
  36. corners

    corners Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    5,441
    Lowering tension by 20 pounds, assuming you are still using the same string type (nylon, poly or gut), will give you an extra 1 mile per hour on your shots, max. The "power" you are experiencing is actually greater depth that is a result of the higher launch angle off of your strings. A higher launch angle is a known result of dropping string tension and results in a higher trajectory, so your ball lands deeper in the court. Your launch angle will also vary to a greater degree, shot to shot, depending on your opponent's shot speed and spin. In other words your control will suffer.

    Adding 3 grams of lead at 12 o'clock will also give you about 1 mile per hour on your shots, if you swing at the same speed as before. However, you will still have the same control as without lead. Additionally, volleys and blocked returns will be significantly more powerful, as on shots with short strokes the inherent power of the racquet is more significant to generating pace. (On groundstrokes and serves your swingspeed is much more important to pace than your racquet.) Conversely, volleys and blocked returns with loose strings can be somewhat unpredictable.

    A better idea than dropping tension by 20 pounds is to switch to natural gut. It will give you about 3 mph extra compared to copoly strings and you can string it tight for control with no loss of power.
     
  37. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,923
    I havn't visited this thread in a long while, do you have your answer yet?

    Lead around the hoop changes the moment of inertia of the racket. The ball just behaves differently leaving the stringbed. With lead, the sweetspot is more focused. With lower tension, the sweetspot is broad and unfocused. Lots of misc differences, but they may not matter to you.

    I can cut sharper angles with lead. With lower tension, I get increased power. With lead, I get increased power, but for some reason I can make wide serves spin wider, and backhand angles have sharper angles. I don't understand the precise physics behind this, but I've noticed these subtle differences.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  38. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,923
    Too many random things to respond to....

    My stance remains teh same. Pro women tennis players do not use lead, by far. Are there exceptions? Yup. Petko and Kirilenko visibly use lead. But the truth still remains, the vast majority of pro women do not use lead. This is in stark contrast to the mens, where a seemingly significant percentage of players use lead.

    I'm going to continue calling them idiots if they continue to misuse high school physics to incorrectly describe "tennis physics." If you don't know what F=ma means, don't use it. Not once has it been used correctly on TT. Too often, it has been used to justify false claims.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012

Share This Page