Marketing: Power vs. Control

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by ChadW, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. ChadW

    ChadW Rookie

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    As someone who is shopping for a new racquet, I'm so frustrated by the commitment of each brand's marketing department to insist that EVERY racquet is the 'perfect combination of power and control.'

    How does this help the consumer find a racquet that will actually affect their game?

    I want a control-oriented stick, so I search for heavier racquets, but all of them talk about the great power generated from it in the summary blurbs.

    Can anyone decipher the summaries, or are they intentionally trying to attract every buyer to every racquet?

    **Sorry for the rant!**
     
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  2. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Truth be told, it ain't the wand, it's the magician. You can buy racquets all you want, but it's the player who gets the results.

    Folks on these boards want Roger Federer's racquets. They think there's something mystical about them. What they fail to consider is that once upon a time, Roger beat all his contemporaries playing with racquets that were off the shelf. As he progressed and made more money, he eliminated variables; one of which was his equipment.

    Roger Federer could still beat 99% of the players in this world with sticks off the shelf.

    It's the player.
     
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  3. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    well the thing is, if you play right, every racket has great power and control. if you swing the small heavy racket right then you will get great power. if you swing the big stiff light racket right then youre going to get great control. its about finding the specs that suit your game.
     
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  4. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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    The goal of marketing is to get you to buy a new racket, not the racket you want. They actually prefer you buy as many wrong ones as possible so you keep buying. If everyone knew the best racket for them, they could simply buy a couple and be good for 10+ years. Industry requires you to be constantly consuming new products.

    Looking at the actual specs and understanding them is really the only way to get an accurate picture of how a stick plays. Even then, factors such as feel can only be figured out by demoing.
     
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  5. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Best comment I've ever read on tennis.

    I wish there were more folks like you around where I live. There's a shortage of tennis common sense here....
     
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  6. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    What do you expect? No racket maker is going to come out and say, our racket has enough power to put a hole in the court, but you couldn't hit the broad side of the barn with it. All marketing is BS on some level.

    So, if you need a starting point, you can check out this TW article on selecting a racket here: http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/lc/selectingracquet/selectingracquet.html

    They also have a racket selectors here: http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/racfinder.html?ccode=RACFINDER

    and here: http://www.racquetfinder.com/

    The TW staff also does review of most of the rackets on the site with reviewers with different levels and tastes, so it may give you a better feel for how they may play or what you may like.

    Also, demo, demo, demo and demo some more once you have a small list.

    I'd recommend to try to get a feel for what you want in terms of weight, headsize, stiffness, string pattern, balance, and swing weight - do a little online research, then demo, demo, demo.
     
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  7. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    My recommendation is to pay attention to the static weight, flex rating, and balance in every racquet you either sample (demo) or use for a longer stretch. I believe that these three spec's can predict any racquet's personality rather well once you develop an idea of what you prefer.

    The weight will give a feeling of relative "oomph" and stability, but I find that the racquet's balance MUST be right for that weight to be manageable (or at least familiar). When we refer to maneuverability in any frame, that usually results from the combo of weight and balance. You're trying heavier racquets, but some of those may feel too sluggish without enough head-light balance to feel good for you - yes, this is a rather subjective issue.

    I usually think of the degree of control in a racquet as being directly related to the racquet's flex. For me, a stiff racquet with a flex rating up near 70 or more will usually have a rather hot response, but my go-to frames are more mellow with a rating of 63. They let me take a full swing with much more control over my shots compared with some stiffer alternatives.

    String type and tension can also affect the response you get with any racquet, so that's something to keep in mind. I do fine with simple synthetic gut, but there are softer string options with more liveliness as well as less resilient strings that can seem more spin-friendly. Some of these strings (poly or kevlar) can be harder on the arm for some, but a number of players enjoy them.

    Keep in mind with your racquet choices that weight and flex are sort of co-dependent. A frame with a lot of flex will seem rather dead unless it's also "heavy enough" to thump the ball, but a racquet with extra heft (maybe above 12 oz. or so) may seem too powerful unless it has significant flex to bring that degree of contol.

    I've enjoyed mids with 90" hoops as well as 100" mid-plus frames, and these racquets have had both dense and open string patterns. Regardless of these other features, it's easy for me to spot a racquet I might like now that I know the combo of static weight, balance, and flex that work for me. Some of our pals also like to use swing-weights for reference, but I don't, just because I've found that spec to be misleading on too many occasions.
     
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  8. corners

    corners Legend

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    This article by TW's own professor pretty much says it all regarding "power": http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/specsandspeed.php

    Basically, if two racquets have the same swingweight...

    ...the stiffer one will produce a little faster shots when the ball rebounds off the strings near the tip and a tiny amount faster when rebounding left or right of center, but will not produce a significantly faster shot if struck in center of the strings.

    ...and one has an open string pattern and the other a closed string pattern, but the former has been strung a bit tighter so that both have equivalent stringbed stiffness, both will have the same power.

    ...ditto for a large headsize and small headsize

    ...but one is substantially lighter and/or more headlight than the other, then that racquet could be swung faster. Swingspeed is the most important thing to producing fast shots, so if this raquet can be swung faster it will be more powerful.

    Control?

    Racquets with high swingweight make it easier to change The direction of the ball.

    Racquets with high swingweight are more stable at low swingspeeds, enhancing control on volleys and 1st serve returns.

    Racquets with high swingweight pack more punch, so can be swung a little slower for the same result as a lighter frame. Most people find slower swings easier to control.

    Racquets that have low swingweight and/or static weight can be swung a little faster, if the player is trying to swing all out. Faster swings generate more spin, granting control over depth and net clearance.

    Racquets with a lot of weight in the handle are more stable, which seems to improve control on some shots, particularly volleys and OHBH. Weight in the handle also seems to improve feel on touch shots. In addition, weight in the handle gives some players more comtrol over their swing. These people find racquets that have light handles to feel too whippy and wild.

    Racquets with open string patterns tend to generate more spin, giving the same benefits as mentioned above.

    Racquets with closed string patterns make hitting flat with control easier.

    Racquets with large headsizes give a player greater control in avoiding accidental mishits, especially when swinging fast to produce topspin. They also tend to twist less on off -center hits, and those hits therefore travel a little faster than they would with a smaller frame.

    Racquets with small headsizes offer better directional accuracy, according to many players.

    Racquets with smaller headsizes are regarded by some as offering better 'feel' for the ball, which improves a player's ability to control the ball.

    Flexible racquets offer longer dwell time, helping some players generate spin and giving them more 'feel'. Others find flexible racquets difficult to control because the ball, staying on the strings longer, is pointing in a different direction when it leaves the strings than it was when it arrived at the strings.

    With stiff racquets, the ball is pointing closer to its original direction as it leaves the strings because a stiff racquet 'carries' the ball for a shorter time and distance. Some people like this kind of control.


    Rabbit's right though, a good player can play with anything and there are good players in the world right now playing with everything.
     
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  9. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Very informative post Corners. I wish I had read that when I got back into tennis a few years ago. Shopping for racquets was a nightmare of marketing mumbo-jumbo.

    And as others have said, learn to read and understand specs.
     
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  10. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    It's more about the strings than the racquets. Stiff strings provide killer control, while lively strings give super pop. You adjust the string combo/tension to get the power vs control you want.
     
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  11. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    They're all similar, so just get one and stick with it. Go with the major frames:

    Head Prestige Pro/MP
    Head Speed MP
    Wilson 6.1 95
    Wilson Blade Tour
    Dunlop 200
    Prince Rebel 98
    Yonex VCore 95
    And if you want to side with the devil, Babolat Pure Control

    These are the major players in control frames. They're all fairly similar, so just ask the magic 8 ball and get something.
     
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  12. mctennis

    mctennis Hall of Fame

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    EXCELLENT post. All statements true.
    I see guys obsessing about what this player and that player uses. Demo some racquets, find a racquet that feels good to you and practice, practice, practice.
     
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  13. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Go out serving with the 6.1 95 and the BLX90. You'll learn that it's also the wand.
     
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  14. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    I've been trying to get this across for years here. But that doesn't stop people from buying the APDGT just because Rafa uses it, meaning it must be the best racquet out there, the most spinniest, etc.

    I think the other posters who say strings are more important are on the right track. You can get any racquet that gets you in the ballpark and then dial it in with the right strings and tension. A powerful racquet with a stiff poly at high tensions is going to be much less powerful. A control racquet with gut at low tensions is going to be a rocket launcher.
     
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  15. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Strings are very important, but I have to disagree with anyone who says that you can make a high power tweener stick equivalent to a player's stick just with string.

    My Prestige strung with gut or a multi on the low end is still not as rocket-launchy as my PDR was. It also says a lot that I had to string my PDR in the 60's with poly to get the sort of control that I could get with my prestige strung with a multi in the mid 50's.

    That's not even mentioning the possibility that the need to string a stiff racket with a stiff string at high tensions could be detrimental for someone with a sensitive elbow.

    The is no single magic stick, but there will be rackets that are better suited for each player depending on skill level, the type of game they play and preferences.
     
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  16. tennisnut09

    tennisnut09 Rookie

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    Totally agreed! try to find one with the spec that you can play with effectively. That is the key in my opinion.
     
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  17. corners

    corners Legend

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    I wonder why Roddick was able to make a players' stick out of the PDR and you were not.
     
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  18. corners

    corners Legend

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    I agree with this. Just look at the pro game. Nadal, Tsonga, Jerzy, tons of players using stiff, "powerful" tweeners toned down with stiff, spinny, lower-powered copoly strings.

    So to sum up this thread: The player is most important; good players can play with anything. Strings are a distant second, but can provide extra power, spin and control if a player needs those things. Racquets are last. Differences in actual "power" are minor - Sampras only serves 3 mph slower with a wooden racquet! Pick a frame that complements your game and feels good in the hand, during the swing, and on impact.
     
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  19. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    I wonder why Fed and Pete were able to win more grand slams with a real player's sticks?
     
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  20. netguy

    netguy Semi-Pro

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    This sounds right to me...in the end, it's up to your skill level
     
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  21. corners

    corners Legend

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    Um, because they are/were better players.
     
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  22. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Yes. BTW - I never said there was a magic stick.

    Look, I liked the PD enough that I bought several of them and played with them for several years. I just prefer how my current sticks feel. The PD are perfectly good sticks.

    IMHO, it's easier to start with a stick that plays closer to what you like and fine tune with the string rather than starting with a stick that's not quite what you like and trying to find a string combo to make a large change that makes it play like a stick with completely different characteristics.
     
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  23. corners

    corners Legend

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    I agree. It's not the stick doesn't matter, my point was just that the "power" element of sticks is mostly marketing and that players shouldn't get sucked into trying to find the racquet with the ideal power level for their game. There really isn't that much difference between racquets in terms of power, until you get into the difference between traditional players' sticks and so-called granny sticks - 115 square-inches with 350 swingweight and super-low static weight. For myself, like you, my favorite racquets fit my game and swing style and, maybe most importantly, feel good. From there, one can fiddle with strings and tensions to try to reach some personal optimum, but there are still always tradeoffs.
     
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  24. ChadW

    ChadW Rookie

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    Great input!

    Thanks to all for the input and comments. I have been playing with my Head Youtek Speed MP 16x19s for the last couple years, and have enjoyed them. I've started to think that I'd like to go to a smaller head though, so I'm looking at something in the 95 range.

    As luck would have it, I found a Wilson BLX 6.1 95 16x18 (red and black version) at the local used sports equipment store and got it for only $25! It has good heft, and a good feel for my game. I don't see a huge difference in the 95 sq. inches vs my 100 on the Speed MPs, so it could just be that I'm a sucker for the marketing too.

    For what it's worth, the BLX 6.1 95 is actually a touch lighter than the Speed MPs that I've added a good bit of lead to. I've got them coming in around 365g but still about 10pts head light.

    So, I feel like I can almost play with both and have a similar feel. The open string patterns certainly contribute to that.

    All told, I'm thinking it's time to move to the smaller head size (though I'm not exactly sure of the benefits), so I'll be on the lookout for any used BLX 6.1 95s around here on the cheap... (my local tennis shop wanted $130 for a demo that was trashed to h3ll!!)
     
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  25. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    IMO there's no such thing as a "low powered" racquet. I can hit plenty of shots just as deep with my Prestige as I can with a Babo PD. I also hit plenty of shots way long with "low powered" players sticks.

    IMO, the more important things, as already described, are technique and string choice.

    I would also add that the string pattern perhaps has more to do with the equation than the stick itself. More open string patterns have a higher trajectory off the stringbed than dense patterns. therefore, it may be a tad easier to hit shots out of bounds with open string patterns, if one still has trouble with producing enough spin to compensate.
     
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  26. MikeHitsHard93

    MikeHitsHard93 Hall of Fame

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    I disagree that there's not much difference in power levels. My old XForce DEFINITELY had less power than my PDR
     
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  27. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    I can agree with that.
     
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  28. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    Well, i guess what I'm trying to say is, for my game (3.0) I don't have to make any adjustments in my strokes when I play with powerful tweeners nor low-powered players sticks. Both sticks have the same probability of hitting long, hitting wide, and hitting out.

    I judge power to be "depth", not speed. I've never measured how "fast" I can hit a ball with either stick. I'm sure there's a possibility that powerful "tweeners" can potentially hit the ball with greater speed than a low-powered player's stick. But that's not my concern, not at the level that I play at.

    I personally use "player's" sticks because they are easier on my arm. Sure the babo PD is fun, but it shreds my wrist after a 1 hour hitting session. My Prestige MP doesn't hurt at all, but I find it to be just as powerful, not not more.
     
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  29. MikeHitsHard93

    MikeHitsHard93 Hall of Fame

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    Really good points here. But once you start to get better you will start to notice how much some frames and strings impact your game. Trust me, there's huge differences depending on the situation.
     
    #29
  30. corners

    corners Legend

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    Yeah, I'm leaning toward rebound trajectory differences explaining most of players' perceptions of power. And then, regarding string pattern, the topspin player likes the open pattern and its high rebound angle because he's bringing the ball down with spin anyway, while the flat ball guy likes the closed pattern because the low rebound trajectory doesn't require him to apply any extra spin.
     
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  31. corners

    corners Legend

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    I think you're right about "power" being more about depth than speed. Lab evidence shows that the most "powerful" tweeners only offer about 2 extra mph, at that's only on impacts toward the tip of the stringbed. Those tweeners, having open patterns and relatively low swingweights, will launch the ball on a higher trajectory than a higher-swingweight players' racquet, so they will naturally produce more depth. Players grabbing one of these for a quick hit find their shots going long and conclude the thing is a "rocket launcher", but had they stuck it out for an hour they would naturally adjust to the trajectory either by hitting with more spin or flattening their swing a little to lower the launch angle. I would actually prefer if this were not the case. I want a rocket launcher because I know that with enough spin I can harness any extra mph I'm getting out of the racquet. But I haven't found any, except for the granny sticks, which really are more powerful but lack control.
     
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  32. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    Thanks. So, what would you say a Babolat PD or APD can "impact" a game, for a more advanced player, more so than a soft players stick such as a Prestige?
     
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  33. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    ^its all about what you like. i myself find it easier to harness the power of the PDlike rackets than to hit out with the prestige.
     
    #33
  34. MikeHitsHard93

    MikeHitsHard93 Hall of Fame

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    Since these rackets have a slightly larger head and more open pattern than most players frames, they are going to hit a much more loopy ball in contrast to a more penetrating shot that a prestige pro produces. Flex also has a huge impact on how a racket feels and performs. Nothing is better than anything else, just different, which has been reiterated by many people that have tested numerous rackets, myself being one of them.

    Not knocking any 3.0 players or your skill level, but many people at that level don't hit hard enough to tell a difference. It's the same as being able to make a serve kick because you hit enough slice or top on it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
    #34
  35. RackofSlamb

    RackofSlamb New User

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    I hold the belief that the racquet can ultimately have a difference in the game if you are comparing extremely outdated racquets to modern ones. For instance, I don't think it would matter to a pro which brand of racquet they were to play right now, they would still play amazing, but I think using a wooden racquet might affect their game, not by much, but definitely tell a difference. I don't think that I, personally, am good enough to be able to tell whether one racquet plays differently from another. I think the most important things affecting my game, equipment-wise, are probably my shoes and my string tension. Doens't even really matter to me what string I am using, as long as it is strung at a good tension. but that's just my opinion
     
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  36. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    Agreed. I think the fact that he is a 3.0 contributes to racket inexperience.... Just sayin'...

    Edit: I should've scrolled all the way down and seen that you said something similar.
     
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  37. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    To be honest, I've never seen a racquet commercial in TV. Occasionally, I'd youtube an advertisement just for kicks, mostly to see Djokovic mock Sharapova. But I don't know, but I don't think there's much marketing going on in reality. Most of it's you guys rambling on about racquet specs and how "plush" a certain frame is.

    Personally, I think it's you guys that do the real marketing.
     
    #37
  38. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    I've seen my fair share of Wilson Nishikori ads on Tennis Channel.
     
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  39. JRstriker12

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    Plenty of Head ads with Djoker and Shriek-pova. But tennis is a sort of a niche sport in comparison to other sports in the US so you won't see a tennis ad in the superbowl right now, but they do target ads to magazines, websites, etc that are very likely to appeal to tennis fans who play.
     
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  40. ChadW

    ChadW Rookie

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    There's plenty of marketing going on directed specifically at the tennis-playing community (during aired tournaments, or constantly on the Tennis Channel).

    But the real marketing that I was initially referring to is the blurb that exists about every racquet on it's purchase page on TW, or any other tennis equipment site. The manufacturers all brag about their newest technology (which we're supposed to believe makes a 12 month old racquet obsolete), string set up, etc. And nearly all of those (marketing) blurbs include something to this effect: this racquet is the perfect blend of power and control.

    Well, that blend is such a wide spectrum that it can't be true for every racquet, for every player.

    My wish is that they'd be more clear about which racquets are control-oriented and which are power sticks. But then they'd be denying their life-blood; which, as stated earlier, is to get me to think I need to buy a new racquet all the time in order to solve problems in my game.

    *rant complete*
     
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  41. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    That's exactly why I encourage so many of our pals here to pay attention to the things that, at least in my opinion, most clearly predict a racquet's swing behavior and response at contact. Regardless or what funky materials are used to reinvent the wheel in a new model, the weight, balance, and flex have a big effect on how that frame handles and brings its energy to the collision with the ball.

    As for strings, yes, they're a big deal, but I mostly agree with our pal corners above. I string my racquets for the right feel. When I have proper feedback, I can tell the difference between good and bad contact. Without that decent feel, I can't make the right adjustments nearly as well.

    Racquet companies are in business to sell us their gear, so their wordsmiths will do their best to promote them. While feel is a very personal, subjective issue that we all need to sort out on our own, racquet specs are empirical measurements. For me, they bring a lot of sanity to the process of sorting through the gear, regardless of how old or new it may be.
     
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  42. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    They already do that. You have the powerlevel: low, low/med, med, etc

    Player and strings provide the control, not the racket.
     
    #42
  43. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Simply put, as others have said:

    Have a pre set demo period...say a month or 2. Hit with everything you can.

    Pick you favorite.

    Buy one or 2 more of those as backups or for different string tensions.

    If one breaks, buy another.

    Pledge to buy no other type of frame for at least 5 years.

    That's what's best for your game. Trust me. I've been down this road before.
     
    #43
  44. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Truth.

    Basically, if you think racquet technology has changed much in the last 20 years, you're being tricked. You can pick any racquet out of a brands lineup from 1995 (that hasn't been played for thousands of hours) and it will perform just as well as anything put out this year, if not better. I use Prince NXG OS which are about 8 year old frames, I believe. I once had 3 and have 2 left. I have tons of other frames as the result of going through phases where I was blaming my racquet for the fact that my backhand sucks..I look at all of them as mistakes and money wasted..even the NXG midplus which is a completely different frame from the OS.

    I should have spent every penny on additional NXG OS's, as they are still going for good $$'s on the auction site, and show up less and less often. I've hit the most with them, played the most matches, and I know when I put something into a stroke, what will come out.

    You're better off buying older models and saving the cash.
     
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