Demo arm-friendly rackets - things to think about

#1
I got three rackets to demo that are supposed to be arm-friendly (well, at least two). Doing some light hitting later this week (I've had elbow problems)

Prince Phantom 100
ProKennex Ki Q+ Tour Pro
Yonex EZONE 98 (I think this can't really be much friendlier than my Pure Strike, similar specs)

Anyway, wanted to ask if there are certain things I should think about/pay attention to when hitting to test for how it feels. Not just, "does this hurt" but--I don't know really--I just have a suspicion that I'll come away from this not really being able to tell much of a difference. So any tips welcome!
 
#3
I never had tennis arm problems but I know a lot of people who have. Usually it is two different causes: 1. improper technique on the groundstrokes, 2. Use to light of a racquet against faster pace groundstrokes and serves that you do not hit in the sweet spot of the racquet.
 
#5
The racquet sampling might be great, but don't be surprised if you come away from your demo sessions with a little bit of a grumpy arm. This is only because you'll be playing with unfamiliar racquets that are probably going to swing a little differently than what you're used to right now. That can mean racking up a few extra mis-hits that might give you a mildly rougher ride. This has happened for me on more than one occasion.

Before you start hitting balls with those demos, I'd say swing each of them around so that you can order them from what feels the heaviest (and slowest) down to the lightest and quickest of the bunch. Start with the "heaviest" one first. As you progress to the lighter ones, it will be easier to adjust your swing tempo instead of having to go the other way and use earlier stroke preparation as you go heavier. That can potentially make the heavier ones feel clumsy and slow because you didn't dial in with them right away. This has also happened for me on more than one occasion.

There's a pretty good chance that they should feel pretty nice if they're strung at mid tension with multi. It might also be helpful to keep some notes as you noodle around with these racquets.
 
#6
The racquet sampling might be great, but don't be surprised if you come away from your demo sessions with a little bit of a grumpy arm. This is only because you'll be playing with unfamiliar racquets that are probably going to swing a little differently than what you're used to right now. That can mean racking up a few extra mis-hits that might give you a mildly rougher ride. This has happened for me on more than one occasion.

Before you start hitting balls with those demos, I'd say swing each of them around so that you can order them from what feels the heaviest (and slowest) down to the lightest and quickest of the bunch. Start with the "heaviest" one first. As you progress to the lighter ones, it will be easier to adjust your swing tempo instead of having to go the other way and use earlier stroke preparation as you go heavier. That can potentially make the heavier ones feel clumsy and slow because you didn't dial in with them right away. This has also happened for me on more than one occasion.

There's a pretty good chance that they should feel pretty nice if they're strung at mid tension with multi. It might also be helpful to keep some notes as you noodle around with these racquets.
Will do—thanks!
 
#8
I got three rackets to demo that are supposed to be arm-friendly (well, at least two). Doing some light hitting later this week (I've had elbow problems)

Prince Phantom 100
ProKennex Ki Q+ Tour Pro
Yonex EZONE 98 (I think this can't really be much friendlier than my Pure Strike, similar specs)

Anyway, wanted to ask if there are certain things I should think about/pay attention to when hitting to test for how it feels. Not just, "does this hurt" but--I don't know really--I just have a suspicion that I'll come away from this not really being able to tell much of a difference. So any tips welcome!
Did you take a look at TW's Comfort Scores on their racquet reviews? This score should be a much better indicator of arm-friendliness than flex/stiffness specs. There are some frames, like the Volkl V1 Classic, that have high stiffness specs (69+) but are among the most arm-friendliness available. OTOH, there have been some frames with stiffness specs in the 50s (or low 60s) that players have found to be not arm-friendly at all.

Is your EZONE 98 frame a 285g version or the more common 305g version? (This is a reference to their unstrung weight). I don't see a TW Review for the 285g version but there are TW reviews for 3 variations of the 305g version. These 305g Yonex frames all have very respectable Comfort Scores of 79-81. But not quite as high as your other choices.

On average, Babolat frames are not particularly arm-friendly -- but a some of the more recent ones are. I took a look at TW Reviews for various version of the Pure Strike. Some of them have good/excellent Comfort Scores, others have low scores. The VS Tour version had a very low score of 67 but the PS VS (non-Tour) had a better score of 77. The PS 100 version had an even more respectable score of 81. The PS 98 (18x20) had an excellent score of 86. The PS 98 (16x19) had the best score of 88. This is comparable to Comfort Scores for Prince and ProKennex frames. (No review for the PS Team version).

The Prince Phantom 100 and ProKennex (325) frame reviews that I found both had excellent Comfort scores -- 88 & 91, respectively. But no reviews yet for the 2019 versions of the ProKennex. Note that the Prince Phantom Pro 100 has an outstanding (unmatched) score of 94.

https://www.tennis-warehouse.com/reviews/PKQTP/PKQTPreview.html

https://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Reviews/TP100/TP100Review.html
https://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Reviews/TPP100/TPP100Review.html
 
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#10
Because you have had elbow problems, you ought to be able to immediately detect differences in the racquets. When I was returning to the game after battling TE for 20 months I could immediately tell that my old racquet was a no-go. I felt vibrations with each hit. The old Prince EXO3 and the Volkl Classic V1 had virtually no vibration. And my old and new racquets were strung with multi.
 
#11
Yikes I didn’t realize they had the pure strike comfort so high...
You have to take the reviews with a grain of salt. The PS 98 16x19 is really a nice playing racquet. I love the way is plays, but I can't take the jarring pain in my elbow at the about the 30 minute mark. If a reviewer falls in love with a racquet (like it seems to have happened on the PS 98 16x19) he/she will tend to give it high marks, and if they are young players with sturdy arms, they probably aren't as qualified to review comfort as someone in their 50's with sensitive elbows.
 
#12
I got three rackets to demo that are supposed to be arm-friendly (well, at least two). Doing some light hitting later this week (I've had elbow problems)

Prince Phantom 100
ProKennex Ki Q+ Tour Pro
Yonex EZONE 98 (I think this can't really be much friendlier than my Pure Strike, similar specs)

Anyway, wanted to ask if there are certain things I should think about/pay attention to when hitting to test for how it feels. Not just, "does this hurt" but--I don't know really--I just have a suspicion that I'll come away from this not really being able to tell much of a difference. So any tips welcome!
My advice would be to make sure you give each racquet a chance to play a long singles match. My problem with the Pure Strike didn't show up until I played a competitive match. I think you picked a good group of racquets to start with. You might want to do more demoing if your top pick among the 3 still has you wanting for something more.
 
#14
yeah i wish i had picked out another 100 to try...I think I might still be too out of form to hit properly with a 98 or lower... :/
I think the difference between 98 and 100 sq in is all in your head. I laid my Prince Beast 98 O3 on top of my Pro Kennex Ki 5 320 (100 sq in), and I can't tell a difference in head size. If anything, I tend to think the Beast 98 O3 has more usable hitting area because of the slightly rounder shape. In actual play, the only relevant thing I notice is that the Beast 98 O3 responds better on off-center hits near the top of the frame because of the O-ports.
 
#15
The strings by themselves can make a world of difference. You can probably make any frame arm friendly if you put gut strings in it. Then there are a variety of synthetic strings that are also friendly to varying degrees.

If you have a serious issue and want a frame that is super arm friendly, I would recommend that you give the older graphite fiberglass frames a look. I am currently playing with a Rossignol F230 and it's great. It's only 82 sq. in. IIRC, but it's quite flexy and you can feel the flex in these older graphite fiberglass frames. I've also enjoyed the PK Copper Ace a lot and have several of those as well. There are also the older Head frames of which there are several threads on the forum about.

I don't really have any arm issues, but I've always loved the frames that have more feel to them. I still have 3 Babolat Pure Control 95s which are pretty soft for modern frames. So soft in fact that Babolat must have decided they were off brand because they quit making them. Anyway, for me I think I am now permanently stuck in the past playing with these old fiberglass composite frames that feel more like wood. They are great. I bought a bunch off the used sites when I was trying them all out to find what I liked the best, and I'll probably end up selling about half of what I collected now that I've sort of settled on my favorites, but they offer a truly different experience than what you will find in a modern frame. So if you really want something more forgiving I'd encourage you to try out a few if you can. Otherwise, in a modern frame, my best advice is whatever frame you go with, really give some thought to finding a soft and forgiving string set up. It can make a huge difference.
 
#17
The results are in:

Yonex - this was fun to play with, but basically the same as the Pure Strike for me in almost every way, especially the harm to the arm during serve. So that's gonna be a no,

It came down to the Prince Phantom and the ProKennex Ki Q+ Tour Pro.

I went into this expecting to love and then buy the Phantom, but that's not really what happened.

Something about the ProKennex just made me play better and more consistently. Balls that I felt like I shouldn't have been getting over the net were somehow getting over the net. And I could point and shoot with actual control in a way that I normally cannot. Serve was ok--getting used to the extra weight was tricky. Net play took some getting used to but was fine.

While the Phantom--when I hit with it properly--was probably even more arm-friendly than the ProKennex, the problem was that I often was not hitting it properly, and I had more trouble keeping the ball in play. It also felt kind of pingy to me in general. The serve was another story. I could land serves with tons of spin and speed with very little effort when compared to my Pure Strike, which is pretty damn cool, and probably the biggest thing that will save my arm going forward.

Unfortunately I don't have an opportunity to play with these racquets again before shipping them back to TW. I objectively played better with the ProKennex (apart from serve) and from what I could tell it seemed to be arm-friendly, despite an RA only 3 points down from my Pure Strike. It's also like $40 cheaper.

So, I should probably just pick the arm-friendly racket I played well with...right?
 
#18
The results are in:

Yonex - this was fun to play with, but basically the same as the Pure Strike for me in almost every way, especially the harm to the arm during serve. So that's gonna be a no,

It came down to the Prince Phantom and the ProKennex Ki Q+ Tour Pro.

I went into this expecting to love and then buy the Phantom, but that's not really what happened.

Something about the ProKennex just made me play better and more consistently. Balls that I felt like I shouldn't have been getting over the net were somehow getting over the net. And I could point and shoot with actual control in a way that I normally cannot. Serve was ok--getting used to the extra weight was tricky. Net play took some getting used to but was fine.

While the Phantom--when I hit with it properly--was probably even more arm-friendly than the ProKennex, the problem was that I often was not hitting it properly, and I had more trouble keeping the ball in play. It also felt kind of pingy to me in general. The serve was another story. I could land serves with tons of spin and speed with very little effort when compared to my Pure Strike, which is pretty damn cool, and probably the biggest thing that will save my arm going forward.

Unfortunately I don't have an opportunity to play with these racquets again before shipping them back to TW. I objectively played better with the ProKennex (apart from serve) and from what I could tell it seemed to be arm-friendly, despite an RA only 3 points down from my Pure Strike. It's also like $40 cheaper.

So, I should probably just pick the arm-friendly racket I played well with...right?
Your results don't surprise me. I always had problems controlling the Prince Tour 100 (the predecessor to the Phantom). However, I really like the Beast 98 O3. Even though it has the O-ports, the stiffness improves the power and control for me. I have to admit, though, the Tour 100 was the best on the arm. I actually think my arm felt better after a match with that racquet than before the match.

Pro Kennex racquets have always worked out for me too. I like the Ki 5 320. Compared to the Q+ Tour Pro the beam is wider, stiffer, and more powerful, and for some reason it still doesn't hurt my arm. I've gone back and forth between the Ki 5 320 and the Beast 98 O3. The Ki 5 320 has a little more power and the Beast 98 O3 is a little better on off-center hits. Which one I prefer is kind of dependent on my mood.
 
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