Article about sharapova's racquet

Discussion in 'Pros' Racquets and Gear' started by djokster, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. djokster

    djokster Professional

    Jan 25, 2008
    Maryland, USA
    First, let us clearly state that shoulder injuries and possible causes are outside of our area of expertise. We have studied and possess a solid understanding of tennis elbow, but shoulder issues are a different animal. With that duly noted, Maria Sharapova is currently attempting to comeback from serious shoulder surgery (rotator cuff). We have read reports that only now, AFTER the surgery, the Sharapova camp is examining her equipment. The results will not be surprising to those who read our blog entries and tweets.

    A review of Maria’s racquet has found the the Prince O3 and Speedport frames Maria was using have some undesirable specifications from a health perspective. As a result, it has been reported that Maria has switched from her previous racquet to a different Prince racquet. The report indicates the weapon Sharopova now weilds is less stiff than her previous frame and is a standard 27″ in length. It is reported her previous racquet was 27 1/2″ in length.

    We have whined long and hard about the high stiffness ratings of the frames Prince has been producing. From our perspective, the majority of Prince’s newer frames offer undesirable specs from an arm health perspective. We believe a healthy frame has a flex rating in the mid 60’s or lower, is a standard length (27″), weighs approx. 11oz or greater, and offers a head light balance. The flex rating is the only specification that can not be modified through customization and thus we believe is the first spec to consider when evaluating racquets.

    Team Sharapova is wisely reportedly reviewing her string setup as well. Previously Maria was using the Babolat Hurricane as her main strings with a natural gut cross. The Hurricane is a stiff and unforgiving poly-based string, similar in that respect to the Luxilon ALU. Her stringer has moved her to Luxilon M2 mains with a natural gut cross. While we applaud the effort to review the equipment and make this change, we would suggest going with the natural gut in the mains and a newer generation soft poly-based string in the crosses for added control.

    It is impossible to know the exact cause of Maria’s injury, but we do know that stiff strings and a stiff frame such as she was using do transmit extra shock to the body. Over time, it is the shock that causes the body to break down and promotes injuries.

    Look at the photo above. Even the professionals do not strike the ball squarely on each hit. In the shot above, Maria is striking the ball in the upper 1/3 rd of the hitting area. Any shot not centered is going to create extra shock. It is only wise to examine your equipment, (frame and strings), to determine if it helps to absorb this shock or if it promotes the transfer of the shock to the body.

    It is possible that the cumulative effect of shock contributed to or possibly caused Maria’s injury. It is wise of her team to now examine her equipment and switch her to a frame and string set up that will help prevent excessive shock from reaching her body.

    All recreational players should pay attention and take a cue from this. It is best to do so as a preventative measure. Do not be like Maria and make the change AFTER surgery. Analyze your equipment and make sure it is arm friendly. The friendliest strings are natural gut and premium multis. It is wise to do this evaulation prior to experiencing any arm pain.

    Good luck and stay healthy!

  2. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

    Nov 24, 2004
    New Jersey
    Wasn't she using the 03 White, with a flex rating of about 65, when this all began? The stiffer Speedport Black appeared when she came back from the injury.
  3. mrmo1115

    mrmo1115 Hall of Fame

    Mar 11, 2007
    Was she using reg pro hurricane or pht?
  4. mdjenders

    mdjenders Professional

    Sep 25, 2006
    methinks her injury has more to do with her propensity to strike her open stance forehands extremely late behind her body, putting tons of strain on the shoulder.
  5. Mick

    Mick Legend

    Jul 21, 2006
    sharapova has a massive shoulder (compared to the shoulders of the other wta players) and she managed to injure it :shock:
  6. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

    May 29, 2007
    Shoulder injury can be the result of multiple issues...repetitive stress and degeneration, timing issues, muscle imbalances, etc. Tennis is an incredibly difficult game and can be very stressful to the body. No matter how well you cross train, the repetitive nature of the game puts us at some risk of injury, especially when playing often and for long periods of time.

    I think it is incredibly important to address changing equipment needs, however many racquet companies produce racquets with a high stiffness rating. I think it's less an issue of brand, but more of racquet selection. The SP Black does have a high stiffness rating, but it is over 11 ounces (before customization) and utilizes the Speedport technology (even with the string hole inserts, O3, Speedport, and EXO3 racquets tend to allow more string movement than a traditional frame). In theory, the move to the SP Black from the lighter O3 white was a good choice.

    As a teaching pro, I recommend heavier racquets over lighter one, but going too heavy too quickly can be damaging as well. And going with too soft a string could force her to have to hold back on her shots and prevent natural acceleration, which negative effect on mechanics could outway the additional shock from a stiffer string. I'm sure her team is doing the best they can to find a solution that will allow her to play her style of tennis with less risk of injury (and re-injury).

    That's just my two cents.
  7. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

    Aug 23, 2006
    was wondering when they would figure it out. :-? the jury is still out...
  8. vasquez90

    vasquez90 Rookie

    Jan 10, 2008
    Always a sign of top-notch journalism and credibility to spell the subjects name wrong in the article, ha ha!

    As a result, it has been reported that Maria has switched from her previous racquet to a different Prince racquet. The report indicates the weapon Sharopova now weilds is less stiff than her previous frame and is a standard 27″ in length. It is reported her previous racquet was 27 1/2″ in length.

    Looks like this is the real article from a real outlet, TENNIS - interesting read about strings:

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