Why do racquets with a small head size have such high prestige among some people?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by davo81, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. davo81

    davo81 New User

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    The title states my question: Why do racquets with a small head size have such high prestige among some people?

    Out of the current ATP top 10, 6 use a 100 sq in racquet and only 1 uses a racquet with less than 95 sq in. Yet there are so many recreational players who swear by 85 and 90 sq in racquets and who won't touch anything with more than 95 sq in. So why is that the case? Is it mainly an old guys' thing? Is it an attempt to prove something ("Yes, with your Babolat you can win, but only when you can win with an ancient underpowered 85 sq in racquet are you a real tennis player")? Or can there be a genuine benefit of a small head size for recreational players that doesn't matter for tour pros?

    I'd be curious to read your answers!
     
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  2. T.P3D0R

    T.P3D0R Rookie

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    Well, I'm a young guy - and the smaller headsize frames feel awesome. However, I don't actually play with them, nor own any, I just enjoy hitting with them when the opportunity arises.

    The ATP trend appears to be moving towards the 98-100 sqi frame size, and then customizing to get some serious swingweight. Just my perspective.
     
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  3. NickJ

    NickJ Rookie

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    Ove the years I have owned & played with a PS85, A Donnay Pro One Oversize and currently use a Pure Storm 95. I am equally bad with all of them so head size makes no difference. Scientific fact!
     
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  4. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I've played with 90", 95", and 100" frames.

    I believe smaller heads are probably better for rec players, especially low level rec players for the following reasons:

    1. Our shots tend to be lower velocity so any "sweet spot" advantage of larger frames doesn't matter much

    2. Our games are won with consistency and placement rather than power and smaller heads support that objective better

    3. Depth control is difficult for noobs made even more difficult for powerful, larger head frames...small, lower power frames make it easier to comtrol depth.

    To control the power of larger heads you need to have great timing and precision in your strokes since any error gets amplified. Pros have that, we rec players don't.

    The problem? Nadal and his likes hit amazing spinny shots with their 100" heads and the industry wants to market similar frames to adoring fans eager to buy "Nadal's" frame.

    Recently I did a demo for my boys to teach them the importance of placement vs power as a new player. Using an AG 4D 100 and 4D 200 I played with them with my arms and hands down at my sides. We hit balls back and forth in a rally with my hands essentially tied to my sides. Even with these low powered frames I could hit the ball to the opposite baseline with ease. Even low powered modern frames provide enough power that with a flick of the wrist and a little spin of the body "no armed man" can knock a shot to the opposite fence.

    Meanwhile, at low-mid level men's rec tennis, you have guys trying to smash the ball with their Nadal-wannabe-frames far beyond their skill resulting in tons of UEs.

    Imo smaller heads is not about being elite. Quite the opposite. It's a recognition that I can't consistently hit amazingly hard top spin shots off any ball like Nadal et al. I can do so off a floater but otherwise I need to focus on placement rather than power and smaller heads are far superior to larger heads in that department.
     
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  5. Nikae

    Nikae Rookie

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    I am one of those 3.5-4.0 who plays with 95 inch head size racket, and the reason is because when I play with, say, 100 head size racket I lose SO MUCH control.
    With 95 head size I can swing pretty hard and ball still doesn't go out, BUT, there's a chance that there's something wrong with my swing mechanics.

    I hope you understand my not-so-good english :)
     
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  6. shaneno

    shaneno Semi-Pro

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    hello! :D

    i play with the wilson BLX prostaff 90, and i try other head size from other brands and hated them. the reason i play with 90 is not because federer play with it. it because i love the feel and maneuverability of this racket and bigger headsize lack that to me. personally opinion here! SO!

    Yes! Federer the only one who play with 90 head size but if you look t the other top 9 there sponsored by babolat,prince,head and yonex basically. Those brands don't have under 95 but for the head prestige mid 93 and the yonex tour 89. So player who get sponsored by those brands have to chose a racket that suitting to there game, but if there isn't one the company will customize it. plus most players today play with semi-western or western bigger head size for them is better. 100 head best for western i find.

     
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  7. Nikae

    Nikae Rookie

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    Great post!! Very interesting!!
     
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  8. PrincessAdam

    PrincessAdam Rookie

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    There's your answer.
     
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  9. mlnsdj

    mlnsdj New User

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    I think that the right string, and more specifically tension, affects control more than head size. Also, the bigger the head size (apart from Rad OS), generally the stiffer the racquet. Smaller head sizes result in smaller sweet spots. If someone is having control problems with a "bigger" head size it's more than likely a string and tension issue. You can't string a larger racquet exactly like you string a smaller one and get the same results.

    Even with an increase in head size, the increase is generally a very small percentage, though. At the end of the day, it's about what you personally like to hit with.

    Trying to figure out what pros hit with is pointless for a couple of reasons:

    1. They're usually playing with a highly modified version of whatever the claim is.

    2. They play so much more tennis than anyone you know, and they are so much stronger than most people you know, that they can weild much heavier swingweights effectively. They also need the mass to absorb the massive pace that's being sent their way. (there are, of course, exceptions to this and every rule).

    I think sometimes people do like to claim to love smaller and heavier racquets because it makes them feel like they are a better player. I've played with the PS 85 all the way to a 100 inch Babolat, and many in between. I currently play a BLX Blade 98...a happy marriage between the old school feel and new technology helping me generate pace with some control. It's what I like. My opinion.

    Stick with your opinion...and more importantly what makes you play great, and you'll be just fine.
     
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  10. shogun90

    shogun90 Rookie

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    I'm only a 3.0 bordering on 3.5 and have played with racquets from 90 sq in to 107 sq in. I predominantly play doubles and have come to find that I like using the PSBLX90. I enjoy the stability and maneuverability that the racquet has. I play a 1HBH and it just feels better with a smaller head racquet. I have long loppy swings so a heavier racquet feels better. When I play with 100 sq in racquets, I feel like I have to play with much more topspin which causes me to mis-hit my shots more because of the extreme brushing up on the ball. Also, as someone said above, at my level I've come to realize that control is much more important than power, but the heavy smaller head racquet still gives plenty of power on regular rallying due to it's weight.
     
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  11. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    The head size designation on frames is really more of a number than an actual measurement. If you hold a 90 up to a 95, there is very little difference. If you hold a 95 up to a 98, there is very little difference. And, if you hold a 95 up to a 100, you won't see much difference.

    The real focus then shouldn't be on head size, rather what you play best with. Generally, there is the pro-90 square inch camp and the anti-90 square inch camp. The pro-90 camp generally feels they can only play with a 90 and the anti-90 camp generally think the pro-90 camp are all wannabes. :)

    Historically speaking, the first OS racquet was the Prince. Before it was the Prince Classic (the introduction of the Pro gave it a name), it was just the Prince. It was 110 sq inches and everyone laughed at it.

    Then folks started buying it. Prince had a patent on 110 sq inch frames so the other guys started making smaller head sizes. At first, they made wood mid sizes which ran 80 square inches.

    The first iteration of non-standard tennis racquets were 80 square inches. The 85's came into play around '84. Since then, there has been a gradual progression to a larger "standard" size. Today, the 95 is becoming rarer and rarer and the market is dominated by 100 sq inch frames. The reason for this is two fold. First, manufacturers have learned to tame the power on a frame and build a modern frame which bears no resemblance in weight and balance to its wood ancestor. They are easier to swing, easier to play with, and can be tailored for virtually any level player. Second, the younger set of players typically play with a bigger racquet as kids. They may change a little, but not a lot as they get older and get used to larger head sizes.

    Personally, I've fought the urge to play a 90. Most of it is nostalgia on my part (I think). I will say this, when last I played a 90, the Dunlop 100, it was a blast to play with, but truth be told, you had to be playing a lot to play well with it. I developed Achilles tendinitis and had to get off court for a couple of months. When I came back, I found I needed more room for error and I broke out the C10s.

    For the last couple of years, I've been playing with a 100. Upside is it's easier to hit with, down side for me is just the serve.
     
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  12. jorel

    jorel Hall of Fame

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    feel for me
    string up a 6.0 85 with 18g gut and you will feel nirvana
     
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  13. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    They also use ultra stiff strings like ALU Power and lots of lead. In a small racket, this would lead to arm destruction. In a large racket, it's not so bad. (Fed avoids this problem by stringing ALU at 44lbs.)

    Most of us poly users use soft strings, and very few of us use ALU (due to cost, mostly). This facilitates the use of smaller rackets.
     
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  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Head size is more than just about the extra square inches which one may or may not be able to see with the naked eye. The few extra square inches have a lot of impact on string bed vibrations and transfer more energy to the ball (which may or may not be good for you). Also, for modern closed-face topspin with a Western grip, the ball is often hit close to the lowest part of the (horizontally-aligned) frame and those extra square inches make a huge difference. It would be impossible for Nadal to hit his topspin with a 90 sq inch head.
     
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  15. jonestim

    jonestim Professional

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    That also depends on the width of the racquet face and the beam width. Not all racquets are shaped the same - some are wide and short while others are narrow and long. Thinner beamed racquets allow the ball to get closer to the edge of the stringbed while not clipping it. The TWU Professor has a comparison called "Spin Window" to look at these things. http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/cgi-bin/trajectory_maker.cgi. Nadal's racquet is a thick beamed racquet. While not a 90, take a look at the spin window of the 93" Prince Diablo Mid. Depending on the angle of swing it may have a bigger spin window than the 100" APDGT
     
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  16. Jakesteroni

    Jakesteroni Rookie

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    Smaller head size have a smaller sweet spot, but if you can hit that spot consistently the feeling is better than that of the larger head sizes for some. Same with golf sticks. Blades are less forgiving and have a small sweet spot, but if you can consistently hit the sweet spot it's a much better feel overall. I use to play with 95 and less in 18x20only and now play with a 98 pure storm tour which is a 16x20. I find the smaller sqin gave more feel and moves through the air quicker. Some may use it cause it looks cool to be able to hit with such a small head size and some like it because the sweet spot feels so good. Smaller is less power in some cases and big swings and hitters are more drawn to that IMO.
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yes, the width is very important for topspin. The length is more important for power as it is the length of the mains.
     
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  18. SixBladeKnife

    SixBladeKnife New User

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    I find the smaller head size forces me to pay more attention to correct technique, foot work, and timing which helps me improve my game. It's unforgiving at times if you get lazy but also rewarding when you are on it. I feel in control and if you can swing big there is more then enough power. If I miss hit it's my error and not because I have 15sq inches less.
     
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  19. floydcouncil

    floydcouncil Semi-Pro

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    You are right... if the pros play better with a MP head size, then who are we weekend hackers think we are trying to play with a small/heavy midsize frames. There are LOTS of folks who are only fooling themselves. It can also be an ego thing too!!!!!!!!!!

    I love it when a 4.5 rated poser shows up on the court with a N/K/BLX90, PS85, AG100, Prestige Mid, etc... They can't fully play with these frames.
     
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  20. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Play the 90 without a vibration dampener and a 100 with a dampener. See how much more lively the 90 is....
     
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  21. keithfival

    keithfival Professional

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    I don't use a small head frame but I certainly know what people like about them- there is just a certain feel when you drive the ball, and also on volleys/half volleys/slice approach shots that is so solid and sweet. Maybe that's why old people like them, because they tend to use those shots more and not just hit topspin groundstrokes.
     
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  22. lawrencejin

    lawrencejin Rookie

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    Let me first clarify an important distinction between folks who simply enjoy playing with a small head size, and folks who are obnoxious proponents of small head sizes who think they're superior. I can explain the former (you may ignore the latter as they are just.. jerks).

    For a rational pro (i.e. who tries to maximize one's ranking), the only factor influencing her racket decision is her performance with the racket. On the other hand, for a rational hobbyist (i.e. who tries to maximize one's happiness), there are many factors other than performance that influence one's racket decision: feel, price, appearance, nostalgic elements, what the racket symbolizes, ability to help you improve, etc.

    And a small head size racket tends to score more favorably in these external factors. Hence, it makes perfect sense that more recreational players have fun with smaller frames than the pros.

    Of course, the above does not imply that smaller frames lack performance compared to larger frames. Federer is a great counter-example. My argument simply explains why there are more recreational players than pros who play with smaller frames, and why this rationally makes sense.
     
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  23. floide

    floide Rookie

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    Well, everyone I know who plays with 85~90's does it for sentimental/nostalgic reasons. They used to play with smaller heads in the 90's (when those kind of frames were much popular than today), so they still wield 'em nowadays without much thinking.
     
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  24. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    To me, the simple reason why these small-headed frames are well regarded and have such high prestige is because they are amongst the finest rackets ever made.
    Just pick up any Wilson Prostaff 90 or 85, Head Prestige Mid, Prince Original Graphite 93, and the like, hit with it, and compare that to a more modern frame like the Babolat Pure Drive.
    If you are able to consistently hit within the sweet spot, you will experience a very "sweet" hit with the former frames. Granted that one may not consistently play well with them, and admittedly the modern frames are easier to play with, that still doesn't take away the fact these frames exude quality and are appreciated by people who follow the game ardently.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  25. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    yea theres 2 groups

    the ones who really use it, and the ones who think its cool because it makes them feel like they are good. which just makes them look worse.
     
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  26. MikeHitsHard93

    MikeHitsHard93 Hall of Fame

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    Played against a guy in doubles in highschool who used a k90...needless to say he rarely got the ball in play. The racket had so many blemishes from him throwing it at the ground!!! Poor racket lol.

    However, when he DID get it in, it was pretty hard to return because he aimed for the lines.
     
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  27. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    90s are awesome for control but they are harder to use once you start playing 4.5s who hit with heavy spin and push you deep. Add clay to that equation and it is just a more difficult thing unless you have played with mids all your life, and then there would be no reason to change.

    I cant just place balls and win because the guys I play can get to anything that is not hit with authority on clay.
     
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  28. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    yea its a joke. i have people come in and saying oh i want to buy the federer racket, etc etc. and when you ask them about tennis they know nothing lol. but they are like 'yea i am intermediate advanced player'
     
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  29. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    There are way more recreational players using babolat pure drives (highest selling racquet in the world), and last time I checked there are zero top 10 players using one.
     
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  30. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    The dampener has no effect whatsoever except for the sound you hear. Plus when is a 90 more lively than a 100?
     
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  31. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Play without a dampener, play with a smiley face dampener, then play with a worm dampener. Then come back and tell me whether you noticed a difference in how it plays.

    People who say vibration dampeners don't change the way a racket plays aren't perceptive to one of the most obvious changes in racket playability. The bigger the dampener, the more dead the lower half of the stringbed. Night and day difference.
     
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  32. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    When you string up the 90 with Wilson gut mains at 48, ALU Power crosses at 44 lb, leaded at 12 o'clock, and no dampener... compared to the 100 with full poly and a dampener.
     
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  33. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    > Out of the current ATP top 10, 6 use a 100 sq in racquet and only
    > 1 uses a racquet with less than 95 sq in.

    Federer 90
    Djokovic 95
    Murray 95
    Nadal 100
    Ferrer 100
    Berdych 95
    Tsonga 100
    Del Potro 95
    Tipsarevic 95
    Isner 100
     
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  34. goosala

    goosala Hall of Fame

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    I would say feel, control and serving with a midsize are unmatched.
     
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  35. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    players who use <90 sq frames are blinded to the stupidity of their choice by the sense of achievement they derive from getting the ball over the net at all..


    RIP Douglas Adams
     
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  36. MikeHitsHard93

    MikeHitsHard93 Hall of Fame

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    Sorry, but this is wrong.

    Federer 90
    Djokovic 100
    Murray 98
    Nadal 100
    Ferrer 100
    Berdich 100
    Tsonga 100
    Del Potro 95
    Tipsarevic 95
    Isner 100.

    Just had to :)
     
    #36
  37. filphil

    filphil Rookie

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    This is what I would have said, except I'd make less sense.
     
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  38. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    no, it isn't, but you apparently imagine every pro in the top 10 is playing with the raquet represented by the paintjob of teh day.

    this isn't actually the case.

    (or do you think Nole actually plays with a real Speed? Surely nobody is that naive??)
     
    #38
  39. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    Let's go through the top 10 and see what the head size is REALLY and NOT advertised.
    1 Roger Federer really uses 90sq.in
    2 Novak Djokovic really uses 95sq.in
    3 Andy Murray Really uses 95
    4 Rafael Nadal does use 100
    5 David Ferrer does use 100
    6 Tomas Berdych really uses 95
    7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga does use 100
    8 Juan Martin Potro does use 95
    9 Janko Tipsarevic does uses 95
    10 John Isner does use 100

    So you have 4 guys using 100, 5 guys using 95, and 1 using 90. People use what is comfortable and what gives you confidence. There are guys that post on here and say "yes the midsize racquet is still viable today". They talk about their personal experiences playing with the smaller racquets.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
    #39
  40. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    I would rephrase that by saying - if the pros play better with a MP head size, what makes us weekend warriors think we can also play better with a MP head size? We are not pros and have absolutely nothing in common with them.

    I guess you've never played against 4.5 players that use those Mids and play really well with them like I have. I've played against 4.5 players using those Mids who can absolutely crush the ball and pretty much hit winners at will with them. They can also generate a tremendous amount of spin with those Mids, just as much as anyone using 100 sq. in. racquets.
     
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  41. Nikae

    Nikae Rookie

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    You said (in some other threads) that Murray uses PT630 but 16/19 string pattern ( head size 98 ), and that Berdych is using head youtek radical MP with 16/19 pattern ( also head size 98 ).
    I am from Serbia, same as Tipsarevic and Djokovic, and everyone around here talks about their rackets being the ones with head size 98...we could be wrong though.
    Are they all actually using frames with head size of 95?
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
    #41
  42. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    Head measures size from the outside. To compare with other companies, you should measure from the inside.
     
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  43. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    The only think that is dead is the sound which is making you think there is a difference, but it is your imagination that makes you think it play differently.
     
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  44. ramos77

    ramos77 Semi-Pro

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    I grew up playing with a Max200g.

    Started playing again about 6 months ago after a break of 15 years.

    I tried 95, 97 and 100 inch frames. Have finally settled on the PSBLX90. Why? Because I can control my shots and take a proper swing and not be worried about hitting it long.

    I feel confident with it because I was used to playing with a small frame as a teenager. I just couldnt play with the larger frames. My SH backhand has improved a lot, just by changing to the 90.

    The weight is also a major reason why I like smaller frames, they are usually heavier.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
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  45. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    The Pro Tour 630 and Radical MP are really 95 headsize. But HEAD marketed them as being 630cm2 (98sq.in) head size. That's the reality. Just like the Prestige Mid is called by HEAD 600cm2 (93sq.in. headsize) but the reality it's 89.5sq.in headsize.
     
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  46. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Like I said, folks need to get over the number on a frame. That is basically a heritage number. What I mean by that is once it's put on a model, the manufacturer doesn't change it.

    And who really cares? I've seen numerous posts on here about playing "better" with a 95 than a 98. I think all that does is limit the choices and restrict one from making a positive change in equipment.

    Case in point, one of my playing buddies plays with an ginourmous Prince frame. I think it's the 115 Prince Silver. Anyway, his game is unorthodox and he's in his early 60s now. He plays 4.0 and gives the younger set all they can handle. He wins more than he loses. He also can compete, especially in mixed doubles, with 4.5s.

    Head size has zero to do with ability and is the wrong way to get better fundamentals.

    And, if vsbabolat posts it, you can bank on it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
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  47. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Completely oblivious to the most obvious. You can bounce the ball on the ground a bunch of times and tell dampeners firm up the stringbed.
     
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  48. MikeHitsHard93

    MikeHitsHard93 Hall of Fame

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    Sorry, I thought they all used rackets that were very close to the ones they have painted on..

    I think you need to calm down and stop harassing me.
     
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  49. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    > Sorry, I thought they all used rackets that were very close
    > to the ones they have painted on..

    There's a tremendous amount of knowledge on this forum on what Pros use - often from posters here that own the actual pro frames and post actual specs and pictures.

    Fabfed has actual Federer, Djokovic and Nadal frames. There are a few tournament stringers here too that post information from stringing pro frames.
     
    #49
  50. Top Jimmy

    Top Jimmy Semi-Pro

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    All that matters to me is weight, balance, feel, and in some odd way head shape.

    If you hold up head sizes next to each other there really is hardly any difference between a 90-98 not to mention 95's to say a 100. I can hardly tell which is bigger, my 4d tour or something like a Head Speed. But they sure feel different.
     
    #50

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