Failing with Pro Staff racquets

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by anubis, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

    Mar 2, 2012

    I have a question about science vs. perception regarding which racquets to use. Is there a scientific reason why some racquets work better than others for specific people, or is it all mental? Please note I’m not asking for advice as to which racquet to use, I’ve already made up my mind. I just want to know *why* I did. I know one racquet feels better than another, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that.

    I’ve been playing tennis off and on for about 20 years now. I use a full western grip, have a long, fast swing. I use a lot of spin, not a lot of power. NTSP of a 3.0.

    I’m currently using an old, early 90’s Wilson Pro Staff 4.3 si that I bought off of **** years and years ago. I miss-hit 80% of my shots with it.

    Last night I demo’ed an early 2000’s model Prince Hornet Triple Threat, it must have been 105 square inches or greater. Almost immediately, my pace improved. I went from probably 20% shot completion to 80%. I had much greater control and spin, though my shots were slightly less powerful. The only downside was the grip was too small for my hand, a 4 ¼. I’m a 4 3/8, so my hand was tiring quickly.

    I also demo’ed a Volkl Power Bridge V1 MP. Everything that was great about the Prince was even better on the Volkl. Every shot was easier, more control and more feedback to my arm. Placement was easier and my serves were much better. Basically, wherever I wanted to put the ball, it went there with the Volkl. I was very confident with this racquet. I couldn’t miss with it. And, it had my grip size: 4 3/8, so it was less fatiguing.

    The Volkl was the best racquet I’ve ever used, and I don’t know why? I’ve always been a Wilson guy, never even heard of the Volkl before. Why would the Prince and Volkl be so much easier for me to use than my old Pro Staff? Is there science in the numbers (stats for each racquet) that can explain why I can’t hit with the Pro Staff, but am a force to be reckoned with on the Volkl or Prince? My hitting partner said it was like night and day with me.

    I can think of four things, perhaps they matter?

    Stiffness: my old racquet is a SI of 4.3, I assume that’s around a 45? I imagine a lot of my power is being absorbed by the racquet? The other two racquets have indexes of around 65 to 68.

    Weight: my old racquet is heavier than these two. Does 2 ounces really matter? Perhaps for my fast, loopy swing, a lighter racquet is better for me?

    Head size: I admit my hand-eye coordination is poor, bigger head size = more forgiving. 90 square inches means you have to have to be more precise, right? Perhaps I need to work on that more.

    Technology: my old pro staff is, well, old. I think it may even be an amateur level, not much technology behind it. But the new Volkl has a lot of stuff going on under the “hood”, so to speak: vibration dampening, geometry, and overall more comfortable. Perhaps more expensive racquets are just better than less expensive racquets?

    Perhaps I need to end my love affair with Pro Staff racquets. Just because Sampras was my hero, doesn’t mean his weapon of choice is the best for me.

    Anyway, that’s my story. Thanks a lot 

  2. OTMPut

    OTMPut Hall of Fame

    Dec 29, 2008
    I am not sure how much of a difference "technology" makes. Very minimal would be my guess.

    Racquet head size is another amateur myth. I shank the same % with a 100 sq in babolat and a 85 sq in wilson. That just shows my proficiency.
  3. TheRed

    TheRed Professional

    Nov 7, 2004
    "Tech" has very little to do with it. Most of tech that is effective in creating better feel, better hitting is the same old concepts of balance, swingweight, weight, length of strings, size of the racquet face, etc. Another factor is, how old were the strings on your Pro Staff.
    The TT Hornet was one sweet racquet. Didn't get enough recognition but it had a very large sweetspot and hit very comfortably. Wilsons, everyone I've hit with, tend the have a sweet and hot sweetspot but when you hit outside of it, they tend to be jarring.

    Racquet head size however, is not a myth. It helps a lot. For those saying it doesn't matter, try returning 110mph serves with a 75 sq inch wood racquet. Sure, you may shank just as much with a larger racquet but with a larger racquet, even if you are not hitting the sweetspot perfectly, it still feels fine and the ball leaves your racquet with decent depth and pace. It's not like one either hits the ball perfectly or shanks it. Larger racquets allow each hit to have a bit more pace and depth.
  4. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

    Feb 11, 2004
    In my opinion, it depends on what you're calling technology. When graphite racquets first appeared, they were built with respect to weight and balance to be exactly like their wooden counterparts. As time has progressed, manufacturers have tweaked the weight and balance to be more to the user's advantage.

    Improvements in graphite technology have allowed manufacturers to build lighter/stronger/longer lasting frames. This has also allowed them to tailor the weight, balance, stiffness, and response of the frames. What we see now then is really akin to a "generally" customized frame for the masses. In other words, Wilson, Prince, Babolat, et al now make racquets for the masses that aren't one flex or one weight or one balance. While not a tweaking akin to what P1 does, it does allow for players to select a racquet closer to their needs.

    I think what you've seen is how the progression of racquet manufacture has allowed the racquet to help you more.

    I'm all for it. :)
  5. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

    Mar 2, 2012
    Thanks. perhaps that's really what I'm looking at, how the progression and evolution of racquets year after year just work better than their predecessors.

    Thanks again.
  6. dnj30

    dnj30 Semi-Pro

    Jan 24, 2012
    If you were lucky enough to find a stick that you absolutely love, dont overthink it too much. And im not surprised you loved the Volkl. The most common thing you will hear from people about Volkl's is how great they feel. Thay dont have much reperesentation at the high pro level, but they are very well known and widely used at all other levels. I know many club pros who play volkl, and swear by them.
    On the other hand, i also think that coming from an old pro staff, most other rackets are going to feel better and perform better for you. The pro staff is what i would call a precision instrument that rewards the player with the skills to use it, but also punishes those who don't.
    And dont get too caught up on the tech stuff(youtek, ig, nanotubes, pwerbridge, basalt, flexpoint, etc.....). Most of that is marketing bs, in my opinion. Rackets are all made out of the same thing, and have been for over 20 years now: Graphite. Look at head size, wieght, stiffness, swingweight.
    Lastly, dont forget the strings, as "TheRed" mentioned above. Very important, and so often overlooked when evaluating rackets. The type, tension, and age of strings on a racket is as important(if not more!) than any other factor. Its amazing how many people will obsess over a 5g difference in wieght between 2 rackets, yet have no idea what type or tension of strings they have.
    But like i said at the beginning, if it feels great and you play great with it, don't ruin things by thinking too much.
  7. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Apr 20, 2010
    The volkl v1 is a good racket. Just play with it if you like it.
  8. Don't Let It Bounce

    Don't Let It Bounce Hall of Fame

    Sep 15, 2009
    Quite a few scientific reasons, but as others have said, you'll probably learn more by correlating your results with physical properties like mass, balance, swing weight, head size, and stiffness than with the minor year-to-year changes hyped by the marketing departments of racket companies.

    Those Triple Threat sticks were sweet. By moving some extra weight to the top and the bottom of the racket, they got some extra mass right behind the ball while keeping the balance low for maneuverability. That was what worked; Prince's marketing copy about it ("Copper AND titanium ... and they're BRAIDED! Now with tungsten... which they use in missiles, you know") was just smoke and mirrors. Similarly, Volkl makes nicely balanced frames with good weight distribution that shed vibration nicely, with handles that damp vibration just right. They have to talk about a lot of other stuff to compete in the racket market, but that doesn't mean that stuff matters.

    Stiffness does matter, and not only overall stiffness but stiffness in the various areas of the frame. But your Wilson was almost certainly even stiffer than the two you like now. The old Wilson SI system, unlike the Babolat RDC ratings, had lower numbers for stiffer rackets.

    I can't say what is better for your swing, other than to offer the general advice to use the heaviest racket you can handle, but I can say that two ounces is a major difference between two tennis rackets. It's pretty close to the difference between the heaviest and lightest retail rackets sold, ignoring a few outliers.


    Only in the very general sense that the sort of racket you get from TW is better than the sort you get from Wal-Mart. Don't worry about the age of the "technology": if you have a mid-size or bigger racket made from carbon composite, you're covered for major technological advances (in frames, anyway; strings are a separate topic) of the last few decades.

    He can still be your hero. Just emulate his game instead of his racket!
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  9. borgpro

    borgpro Semi-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Your old prostaff is extremely stiff I have one also, 72 or so. I suggest restringing it with a soft multi and than see what you think. Still a sweet stick imo, plays a lot like the 2012 sixone (rackets have not changed much at all over time!)
  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I was sponsored by Wilson, so feel an affinity towards them.
    I can't play worth a darn with modern Wilson rackets, starting with the black 6.0 ProStaffs with the little yellow and orange stripes.

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