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-   -   Do most pros care much less about their racquet than the typical recreational player? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=441603)

davo81 09-30-2012 04:22 AM

Do most pros care much less about their racquet than the typical recreational player?
 
Yesterday night I watched a few of TW's "The Next Level" videos. What I noticed was that the part that dealt with their racquet was always the part where they didn't know what to say - most said that they use their racquet because they like it (duh), or because it gives them a nice combination of power and control (duh). To me it seemed as if they didn't care too much and as if they'd be just as fine with most other racquets. Does anybody share that view? Is racquet choice something that only we recreational players get completely obsessed with?

makinao 09-30-2012 04:42 AM

They're probably not THAT obsessed. But pros who pick up 20 racquets at the start of a season, hand them over to a professional technician to have them modified to their personal preference and perfectly matched, then have half of them strung almost every day during a major tournament must be pretty concerned with precision and consistency.

rafazx10 09-30-2012 08:35 AM

From what ive seen, they care about rackets when they are still juniors, they evolve their game and change rackets.

When they turn pro's they just keep the same racket they use to have when younger. Unless someone comes and drops a lot of money on a sponsorship they will just play with what they have (maybe new paintjobs).

lawrencejin 09-30-2012 09:57 AM

To some degree I agree -- I think pros obsess less about racket data and more about racket performance. It makes perfect sense that all they need to do is maximize their game performance. The pro just needs to go out to a tennis court, hit with a bunch of rackets, and pick one that he/she plays best with. Technicians deal with the rest, such as ensuring that every spec on each racket is identical.

Recreational players like us don't only care about performance, but also about many other factors like feel, appearance, what the racket symbolizes, etc. More factors to consider means choosing the best racket is a more complicated procedure, hence greater obsession over different specs. For instance, I win more games with a slightly larger head size, but I enjoy the feel of a smaller frame. I am a rec player and I can make that trade-off. Pros obviously cannot; he must go with the one that wins him most games.

One thing to point out, though. I don't think Talk Tennis members qualify as a "typical recreational player". In my experience, an average rec player is not that interested in their rackets. Talk Tennis just attracts people who enjoy experimenting with and obsessing over rackets (including myself) :)

Vlad_C 09-30-2012 11:24 AM

There's no doubt that the pros can still beat anyone else with any racquet, but that doesn't mean they're not obsessive about their racquets.
Pete Sampras was, he hired Nate Ferguson to customize and string his racquets exclusively.

From an interview with Nate:
"The company I was with in Connecticut was almost strictly custom-building racquets, so we had a great list of clients, including Lendl and Navratilova, and along comes this 19-year-old kid named Pete Sampras," Ferguson says. "He called and had a lot of questions about racquets and I explained to him what the process was of duplicating a favorite racquet. He had a real genuine interest in racquets and how theyíre customized. I could tell the handle, head and feel of the racquets were very important to him right off the bat."

As rafazx10 said, they care about it when they're at the beginning of their careers and still trying to find the perfect setup for their game. Once they've done that, there's no pint in changing it anymore, they just keep it and use different PJ's.

Probably that's one reason why they are so reluctant to talk about their racquets in interviews, since what they're really playing with is totally different from what the sponsor claims it is - sometimes even a different brand.

thejackal 09-30-2012 01:50 PM

some pros are pretty superstitious about gear.

a girl I know on the tour (career high around 70ish in singles, and 30 in doubles) used to play with the nTour and the kTour, but could no longer play with a racket with an assymetic paintjob, so she is no playing with a Steam (which is 0.25 inches shorter and 5in larger).

she used to use both sides of the strings to hit the ball, but because of the kTour's paintjob, she now only hits the ball with 1 side of his strings.

she never lets the stringers stencil her rackets, because the W needs to point the same way all the time.

...meanwhile, her rackets are pretty much stock (not much lead if any, lux mains, gut crosses strung lower 50s)

TonyB 09-30-2012 02:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thejackal (Post 6928013)
some pros are pretty superstitious about gear.

a girl I know on the tour (career high around 70ish in singles, and 30 in doubles) used to play with the nTour and the kTour, but could no longer play with a racket with an assymetic paintjob, so she is no playing with a Steam (which is 0.25 inches shorter and 5in larger).

she used to use both sides of the strings to hit the ball, but because of the kTour's paintjob, she now only hits the ball with 1 side of his strings.

she never lets the stringers stencil her rackets, because the W needs to point the same way all the time.

...meanwhile, her rackets are pretty much stock (not much lead if any, lux mains, gut crosses strung lower 50s)


That's actually pretty hilarious. She is superstitious about her frames, yet uses Wilson "stock" racquets, which are among the absolute WORST in terms of consistency and quality control.

So, she wants the stenciled "W" to point in the same direction as the paint job, but doesn't care if the racquet's balance is off by 4 points. Amazing.

thejackal 09-30-2012 02:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TonyB (Post 6928035)
That's actually pretty hilarious. She is superstitious about her frames, yet uses Wilson "stock" racquets, which are among the absolute WORST in terms of consistency and quality control.

So, she wants the stenciled "W" to point in the same direction as the paint job, but doesn't care if the racquet's balance is off by 4 points. Amazing.

it depends on the player. remember reading about this pro stringer/racket tuner, who would add aluminum foil to the side of a pro client's rackets after matching them, so that they would all look the same (as requested by the client).

the biggest difference IMO between pros and rec players, is the pros demand consistency (always the same feel), whereas rec players demand novelty (a different frame for a bit more pop on the serve, or something more maneuvrable, or with a softer feel, etc) - something to give their games a boost.

TennisCJC 10-01-2012 09:33 AM

I think most pros do care a lot about their rackets and that's why they get a racket that they like and stick with it for the rest of their careers. Very few pros change rackets during their active careers and the ones that do tend to style close to their original specs.

Their are a few exceptions to the stick with it rule - the Bryan brothers have played several models during their career but my view is they still carefully select their new racket.

Sampras was extremely picky - only st vincent pro staffs and heavily customized to his spec with lead tape. Rumor was Pete would complained if the stringer put too much stencil paint on the strings because he claimed to feel the difference in weight.

Nadal is playing with a much older model the AP - probably one from his late teens. Even his switch in strings is somewhat bogus as he apparently plays a special 15G version of RPM that is not available to the public. The 15L RPM is probably very close to original 15G Duralast string.

Federer has basically stuck with the same racket since the K Factor version. Some say he still plays a painted Ncode but I think he at least plays a KF. Even if he really is playing a customized current BLX 90, it is still very close in spec to what he has been playing for over a decade.

So, I think most pro do care about their racket and strings.

El Diablo 10-01-2012 09:47 AM

Does the OP really think most recreational players are obsessed with their equipment??? Remember that people on this website are a tiny fraction of recreational players; go to a club sometime and ask random samplings of players if they can tell you the specs of their racquet. I doubt it. The guys I play with are people who play perhaps four times a week, and not one of them could tell you what his racquet weighs.

movdqa 10-01-2012 01:05 PM

Tomas Berdych switched over to the IG Instinct PJ around Wimbledon 2011 or a bit later on but still used the YT Radical PJ for quite a while into late 2011 and he did fairly well with it. So paint can matter; even if it really doesn't.

I'm a software engineer and I use a computer that's moderately old. It has the software that I need and it's setup the way that I like it. I could get something newer, faster, lighter, better battery life, better styling, etc. but I don't see a need to change something that works great as it is.

On racquets, what I like the most is consistency in frames - getting two, three or four frames that are matched for weight, balance and swingweight. I can than make the same modifications to get the frames where I want them. I think that I'd be happy with the Radical or the Prestige and they're quite different racquets - but I think that most players can play well with a range of racquets, as long as they have the optimum weight, balance and swingweight.

The main thing that I avoid is racquets that are overly stiff. I try to stay below 66.

thejackal 10-03-2012 10:20 AM

talked to filip peliwo yesterday. he also belongs to the group of pros who are not too picky. he plays his blx blades stock. asked him if he uses any lead, he says no but that he plans on experimenting with it a little bit.

jazar 10-03-2012 11:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thejackal (Post 6933328)
talked to filip peliwo yesterday. he also belongs to the group of pros who are not too picky. he plays his blx blades stock. asked him if he uses any lead, he says no but that he plans on experimenting with it a little bit.

He cares a lot more about his stringing than most of the other top juniors. He had at least one racket strung per day at the French Open and Wimbledon. The only other junior I can remember doing that this year was Luke Saville.

thejackal 10-03-2012 04:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jazar (Post 6933393)
He cares a lot more about his stringing than most of the other top juniors. He had at least one racket strung per day at the French Open and Wimbledon. The only other junior I can remember doing that this year was Luke Saville.

should have asked him about strings then. but as far as I can see, the pros on the main tours usually get 2-3 rackets strung per day, minimum, no?

TimothyO 10-03-2012 08:52 PM

Quote:

Do most pros care much less about their racquet than the typical recreational player?
Yes.

That's why they don't pay companies big bucks to highly customize their frames or stick with frames for many, many years changing only the PJ.

Some don't pay big bucks to break sponsorship contracts since they care so little about their gear on which the rely to feed, house, or clothe themselves and their families.

Instead they use whatever's the latest model from their sponsor right off the shelf. They pickup six frames at the local sporting goods store and don't bother matching them for weight or SW or balance. Mueck, they usually mix models from different manufacturers in their bag!

They use just one frame for an entire match changing racuqets only when they break a string. They'd never do something like switch frame when new balls come into play. What's the point in that?

No, slip YOUR frame into a pro's bag and he couldn't tell the difference and it would have no effect on his success. He could return a 130 MPH serve from Isner with a 9.8 oz frame strung with year old NXT 17 just fine and take home that silver platter ftw.

Oh, wait, I may have that backwards...

TimothyO 10-03-2012 08:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by El Diablo (Post 6929357)
Does the OP really think most recreational players are obsessed with their equipment??? Remember that people on this website are a tiny fraction of recreational players; go to a club sometime and ask random samplings of players if they can tell you the specs of their racquet. I doubt it. The guys I play with are people who play perhaps four times a week, and not one of them could tell you what his racquet weighs.

This is cery true.

As rec players we TT members are the exception. Most rec players I've met up through 4.0+ don't care that much about their frame. The vast majority don't even know what stringis in their frame. It's just something the tennis store recommended. Stiffness? Tension loss? Nylon vs poly? What's all that about.

TT members are tennis tech geeks. And I like it.

jxs653 10-04-2012 08:27 AM

Well, letís admit it. Why do we some rec players change racquets? Mostly because we get bored and want to try new ones. Of course we canít say that to ourselves as well as others and say better reasons like how they are different in weight, head size, flex, etc. etc., and it makes it look like we care about racquets. And this getting bored doesnít have a limit, so we appear to keep caring about racquet.

But obviously pros donít do that. They donít seem to get bored with their racquets, although I have never been in their head. Yeah I guess they have better things to worry about than equipments like opponent, practice, diet, fitness, etc., etcÖ

dominikk1985 10-04-2012 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by davo81 (Post 6927327)
Yesterday night I watched a few of TW's "The Next Level" videos. What I noticed was that the part that dealt with their racquet was always the part where they didn't know what to say - most said that they use their racquet because they like it (duh), or because it gives them a nice combination of power and control (duh). To me it seemed as if they didn't care too much and as if they'd be just as fine with most other racquets. Does anybody share that view? Is racquet choice something that only we recreational players get completely obsessed with?

They are actually ver obsessed about their rackets. but it is not about 93 vs 95 inches or babolat or wilson. this is more about feel and balance.

those discussions like "wilson is better than babolat" or "fed would win more with a big racket" are really stupid. the modern rackets are all very good. It is more about how you feel with your racket.

TimothyO 10-11-2012 07:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jxs653 (Post 6935240)
Well, letís admit it. Why do we some rec players change racquets? Mostly because we get bored and want to try new ones. Of course we canít say that to ourselves as well as others and say better reasons like how they are different in weight, head size, flex, etc. etc., and it makes it look like we care about racquets. And this getting bored doesnít have a limit, so we appear to keep caring about racquet.

But obviously pros donít do that. They donít seem to get bored with their racquets, although I have never been in their head. Yeah I guess they have better things to worry about than equipments like opponent, practice, diet, fitness, etc., etcÖ

You're assuming they're still using the same racquet they started with.

The TT boards have posts from young players seeking information on various frames and strings. Undoubtedly they experiment over time and eventually settle on something they enjoy. Once their game is tuned, which includes technique and how it's influenced by hardware, they're understandably less inclined to change unless for some compelling reason.

We rec players, with our less refined game and no career hanging in the balance, have the luxury of being able to change more freely. There's still a strong benefit to sticking with one setup over time but if we spend a season getting used to something new we can still pay the mortgage and feed the family. We simply might have a bruised ego with some extra losses as we settle in with our new setup.

I've been playing for only two years and my first year was chaotic hardware-wise since there's so much bad information out there (or, when just starting out, no information outside of some old guy at the Authority on Sports giving my advice that I've since learned was all wrong). Last year I stuck with one frame and string setup (Speed 300 and gut/poly) and saw the value of doing so in my technique, but was also very happy with that particular hardware compared to earlier experiments.

Seeking more control compared to the Speed 300 I recently tried the PS 6.1 95, and the 4D 200 family and have decided to stick with the 200 Tours for the foreseeable future. But I knew that frames such as the PS 95 and 200s might work for me only because of my experience during that first chaotic year.

This past spring when we searched for frames for our sons I knew enough about the "taxonomy of frames" to manage a demo process that took about two months. The end result is that they both have frames they really enjoy and which fit their physiques and styles perfectly. In fact, my 10 year old tried hitting with my 12 year old's frame on Monday night and hated it. He switched to my wife's (he forgot his at home) and had a better time since hers is closer to his performance-wise. Just as the two boys are different so are their games and tastes in frames. I would never have been able to help them select a frame without my first chaotic year learning about different frames and how they play (an expensive but very enjoyable process). And even specialty shop staff don't help much since they can't observe how one hits. I've often wondered why pros don't hire themselves as racquet consultants.

Power Player 10-11-2012 08:51 AM

When you get to the pro level in anything you tend to trust the gear that got you there. There are always exceptions.


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