How to decide: control vs. power frame

time_fly

Hall of Fame
Part of my never ending racquet journey is bouncing back and forth between control and power racquets. I’d like advice from the other experts here on how to finally(?) make this decision. I’m 51, in decent shape for my age, play USTA league 3.5 and 4.0, both singles and doubles but generally more doubles. I’m lefty, play with a lot of topspin, and my groundstrokes and serve are the best parts of my game. I take full swings and especially when I play 3.5, SwingVision almost always has my average serve and shot velocities higher than my opponents’. I am still more of a grinder than a high-risk player though so I try to out-rally my opponents rather than try to blast baseline winners in early points.

Currently I play the Pro Staff 97 v14 and I like slightly heavier racquets, but I have also cycled through frames like the the Dunlop FX 500 and SX 300, Shift, and Pure Aero. Before that, I played the Phantom 100 18x20 for a while. I always bounce back and forth between liking the easier access to power / spin and getting frustrated with UEs and wanting a steadier racquet.

How do I decide whether I should try to “maximize my strengths” and look for a frame that provides power and spin, vs using a control frame and generating my own power? Is there a general consensus on what approach is better?
 

snoflewis

Legend
Im in the camp that you should either find a powerful racket with the most control for you, or a control stick with the most power.

Im also in the camp that if anyone's goal is to improve, the racket doesnt matter unless it's causing arm pain.
 
Go with your gut. What feels good to play with? What gives you confidence?

I played with Yonex racquets for a long time, then I tried the Tecnifibre Tfight 305 and almost immediately loved the feel of this racquet and its versatility. Now I play exclusively with it, and I'm not planning to stop until / unless it stops giving me joy and confidence.
 
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Another thing I'll add is that you should never pick a racket based on your best or worst days / sessions. There will be days when you'll play badly or amazingly regardless of the racket. Don't fall into the temptation to change racket because you're having one of those days, it's pointless.

On the days that you're playing well but not your best, if the racquet you use is working well and feeling good to play with, that's a good stick to use right there.
 

Lack

Rookie
If the balls tend to go too short on off center shots then power oriented racquet would suit your game.
If the balls tend to fly off the court on off center shots then control oriented racquet would suit your game.
 

bigbadboaz

Semi-Pro
I wouldn't make it such a black and white choice. Maybe despite all the racquet changing you still haven't found the one that is the best fit for your personal taste.

Me, I've finally settled on the ATS Tour 98 and couldn't place it in either "camp". It's got just the amount of power I would want yet I don't have any issues with control. Maybe you need to try a few more frames outside of what you've listed, and maybe at some point (once you've found something that truly feels generally good) you need to force yourself NOT to make any changes for a good period of time. It's a problem for those of us who like to tinker, but there IS a point at which you can tell there's nothing significant to gain from a switch.
 
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Dragy

Legend
I would suggest taking forgiveness into consideration. Pick something that helps you on your bad days and in tough situations, while being controlled enough. Don’t get sold to blistering baseline winners made on good day with power frame, neither to painting the lines the one day out of 5 with controlled option.

Best racquet is one you don’t think about, which just performs as expected.
 

Tranqville

Professional
@time_fly A new category of racquets has emerged over the past years that we call "pleeners", that are modern hybrid between control and power categories. So, as @bigbadboaz said, it's not a black and white choice now. He's playing with Price ATS Tour 98, which is one of the "modern pleeners". I call this category "white", because most of these racquets were colored white by manufacturers to communicate their futuristic nature.

The racquet lines that are power-control hybrids, or "pleeners":

Head Speed
Technifibre TFight ISO
Price ATS Textreme Tour
Babolat Pure Strike
Wilson Shift

It's a control-power continium, and there are racquets that are similar in power category, like Diadem Nova and Dunlop FX500, or in control category, like Blade, TF40, Radical MP and Prestige MP-L

So the answer to your question, "How do I decide whether I should try to “maximize my strengths” and look for a frame that provides power and spin, vs using a control frame and generating my own power?" - is somewhere within power-control category or near its borders. It's evident manufacturers adressed your needs with this new category, creating racquets that combine power, control, and some spin for the modern game!
 

Konik_1982

Rookie
Is there any particular racqeut that you keep coming back to after some time? Than this one might be it! I'm sure that many of us here like to switch between frames since is just so much fun to try new stuff. But usually there is a one that we pick up from the bag quite regularly and maybe we're not just that aware. Is there any in your bag/garage that you just don't want to sell or let go? So this is it.
 

Trip

Hall of Fame
@time_fly - As a general preface, I would abide by the rule of: don't make tennis any harder than it needs to be. This includes choosing a racquet with the highest power/forgiveness/stability -to-spec ratios that you can still control and maneuver well enough.

Overall guidance -- Factoring in what you've shared here, plus about 10 minutes of research on you (via your post history), I think it's evident that your home base seems to be moderately-weighty, more head-light control frames with medium-density string patterns. That's perfectly fine, but in the spirit of my general rule above, I say you use that as a base to test how far you can push the power/forgiveness envelope, short of giving up too much finer-grained playability. Chances are, there's probably something out there with a slightly larger head size and lighter spec, that will give you the same or better potency from most areas of the court, while doing so with increased ease and consistency -- a win-win, if you will.

Specific frames -- Your first stop could very well your newly-acquired TF40 315 16x19, which, as you've noted, is a tad bit easier to play than the PS97 v14, mainly due to the lower stock swing weight and slightly higher stability-to-spec. While one might call that "done", in the vein of truly finding your upper bounds on power/forgiveness tolerance, I'd be interested in having you try the following frames, in order:

- Wilson Pro Staff X
- Wilson Blade 100 v9
- Wilson Blade 100L (customized up)
- Babolat Pure Strike 100 16x20 (only via matching service, 292-295sw unstrung)
- Volkl V1 Evo
- Dunlop CX 200 OS (customized up)

I think one of those 100"+ pleeners, tuned to your ideal recoil weight, could give you the bulk of the free power/spin/stability that you crave, with the control/precision that you desire, all in a package that's playable well in your later 50's and beyond (especially the Strike and V1 Evo).

Hope some of that helps. Any questions, feel free.
 
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Grafil Injection

Hall of Fame
I would choose based on your preference in feel, between the easy-depth/spin but lack of connection of most thick-beamed 100sqis, or the more connected feel of thinner-beamed 97-98sqis.
 

gold325

Hall of Fame
If anyone I have ever met that ask this question -
the answer is almost always "control" frame.

The hallmark of a great technically sound, physically fit, mentally gifted tennis player is ability to convert a "power" frame to a control frame with quality of stroke, string selection and tension.

For everyone else with compromised stroke quality, health, footwork - its the "control" frame that lets us play and lets us compete.

The 64,000$ question is
What exactly is a control frame?
Answer : You and only you can decide that.
 
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fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Part of my never ending racquet journey is bouncing back and forth between control and power racquets. I’d like advice from the other experts here on how to finally(?) make this decision. I’m 51, in decent shape for my age, play USTA league 3.5 and 4.0, both singles and doubles but generally more doubles. I’m lefty, play with a lot of topspin, and my groundstrokes and serve are the best parts of my game. I take full swings and especially when I play 3.5, SwingVision almost always has my average serve and shot velocities higher than my opponents’. I am still more of a grinder than a high-risk player though so I try to out-rally my opponents rather than try to blast baseline winners in early points.

Currently I play the Pro Staff 97 v14 and I like slightly heavier racquets, but I have also cycled through frames like the the Dunlop FX 500 and SX 300, Shift, and Pure Aero. Before that, I played the Phantom 100 18x20 for a while. I always bounce back and forth between liking the easier access to power / spin and getting frustrated with UEs and wanting a steadier racquet.

How do I decide whether I should try to “maximize my strengths” and look for a frame that provides power and spin, vs using a control frame and generating my own power? Is there a general consensus on what approach is better?
Some of our pals here will probably brand me as a heretic, but I actually think it's fine to carry two different racquets in the bag - one with a bit more raw horsepower and another that's a little more of a spin and control factory in your hands. I did this for a number of years and I benefited from it more times than I could count.

I play on my own a little bit, coach high school teams in the spring and fall, and teach both at a small club and also on my own through the summers. Sometimes I need to rip it at top speed if one of the kids wants to work out, but other times I'm perhaps feeding or maybe playing doubles where I need some touch and control instead of a big gun. On top of all that, I might just feel a little "off" with one racquet on a particular day, but then my synapses sort of wake up when I grab my other frame and use that for the rest of the session.

In my case, I used two different models of Volkl racquets. The grip shape, static weight, balance, hoop size, string pattern, and general flex were all close enough that switching between these two frames wasn't a big deal for me. But their personalities were different enough that I could cover a lot of different bases using them - a couple pals also compared both of these racquets at one time or another and they could recognize the same yin-yang contrasting personality going on between them.

We're not competing for our lunch money out there like the pros, so I think it's okay to use more than one racquet, especially if that makes things a little more fun. It's only bad for me if I have let's say three or four different racquets on hand and they become too much of a distraction. Having two in the bag has never been a problem for me. If you go this route, I'd recommend keeping a contrasting Wilson on hand (same grip shape) that you can tune into a layout that has a weight and balance close enough to your ProStaff to make switching off relatively easy.

Right now I've turned a corner and I'm keeping only my pair of Prince Phantom 97's in the bag, but I'm trying out different 16 and 17 ga. syn. gut beds to see what I get there. These are just a little bit lighter than my older Volkls, but they're giving me enough of everything that they're working well enough for me in every setting. We'll see... I might add another model at some point down the road, but I don't have much of a need or want right now. Maybe I'll eventually noodle with a Phantom 100, but I'm still enjoying an extended honeymoon with the 97's.

...Details at eleven...
 
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JRH

Rookie
I sort of clocked the other week that all the best players at the club use all different types of racquets. Some play with Aeros and have no problem with control, others play with blades and have no problem generating power.

Probably mainly technique, but that’s not as fun
 
Some of our pals here will probably brand me as a heretic, but I actually think it's fine to carry two different racquets in the bag - one with a bit more raw horsepower and another that's a little more of a spin and control factory in your hands. I did this for a number of years and I benefited from it more times than I could count.
I do this all the time.
 

ajspurs

Rookie
Sometime's (and I'm not saying it's in your case) it's about acknowledging your level and capabilities too. We all love to use rackets that intrigue us, look good, we've seen plenty of good reviews for, we've heard are good or a pro we like uses etc. and that can have us neglecting what we actually play best with. I was playing my best tennis with a 2003 Babolat Pure Drive Team, but then the new Pure Aero came out and I couldn't resist it. Have tried a couple of other rackets since, and am now testing a few more control-oriented/lower flex rackets whilst looking for something better for my arm, and can play really well with them but if I'm completely honest I don't play in that consistently aggressive manner at a high enough level enough times for me to warrant using the ones I've tried so far. One match I'll be hitting the lines, the other I'll be struggling for depth or not finding myself able to utilise the added precision and find myself needing to have a bit more for free. Especially when I'm tired.

I picked up the old Pure Drive for a set the other day just out of curiosity and I was really surprised by how much easier the game became for me, how easy the depth was, and how much more off the racket I got from a really relaxed swing. My arm didn't hurt at the end of it either so I'm going to experiment with it more. I guess I thought I'd 'moved beyond' a Pure Drive but I really think I play my best tennis with it.
 

socallefty

G.O.A.T.
I think that it is best to stick with a racquet (just buy a bestseller for an intermediate) for a long time while you are developing your game until you become an advanced 4.5+ player. After that you can work on optimizing your equipment. Before that there is a lot of low hanging fruit in terms of improving technique, movement, mental focus/strength and match strategy/tactics to make progress in tennis. Learn the fundamentals properly and practice a lot. Hard to make big changes to your game and equipment at the same time when you are developing.
 

zykoniko

New User
I tested Blade v8 and v9 a year. In training it is so wonderful, the typical blade control feeling.
But in matches it was only ok...
Since one week i play the Pure Aero 2023 again, with RPM Blast at 53 pounds... i play so much better tennis.
Serve, depth and spin is so much better...
I am lever 4.0 till 4.5 and play on clay... i think on hardcourt and carpet i would chose the blade, because you need more control and flat strokes...
a lot depends on the surface!
you dont need to play high over the net on hardcourt.... but on clay you have to, and on this surface the Pure Aero is the magic stick for all levels!
 

Hulger

Semi-Pro
This is a very subjective topic, but IMO, it’s better to develop stroke technique and fine motor skills overall than to compensate for the lack of them by using a very control-oriented frame or depend on monstrous fitness and power levels. Play with a racquet that has the most power in the lightest weight that still offers stability for volleys and defending. The ability to control it comes from training and experience with the frame. There are limiting factors to this, e.g.:
- You should be able to hit some sort of flatter stroke to finish high easy balls and also tangentially the same; too much topspin will give your opponents unnecessary time.
- You shouldn’t feel pain.
 
I think that it is best to stick with a racquet (just buy a bestseller for an intermediate) for a long time while you are developing your game until you become an advanced 4.5+ player. After that you can work on optimizing your equipment. Before that there is a lot of low hanging fruit in terms of improving technique, movement, mental focus/strength and match strategy/tactics to make progress in tennis. Learn the fundamentals properly and practice a lot. Hard to make big changes to your game and equipment at the same time when you are developing.

This is a very subjective topic, but IMO, it’s better to develop stroke technique and fine motor skills overall than to compensate for the lack of them by using a very control-oriented frame or depend on monstrous fitness and power levels. Play with a racquet that has the most power in the lightest weight that still offers stability for volleys and defending. The ability to control it comes from training and experience with the frame. There are limiting factors to this, e.g.:
- You should be able to hit some sort of flatter stroke to finish high easy balls and also tangentially the same; too much topspin will give your opponents unnecessary time.
- You shouldn’t feel pain.
Yes. I'd say get an ezone 98 (serve boost) or 100. Lot of topspin, perhaps a vcore 100. Or, hate yonex? Get a pure aero, go back to it.

Pro staff + 3.5-4.0 no help for your game there, and you probably aren't generating your own power, but are in comparison to your opponents , hence the swingvision mention.

Using a control racket shouldn't reduce unforced errors, especially if you are mr. topspin, a "power" or "tweener" should improve topspin and depth, giving you a different type of control via spin.
 

dr. godmode

Hall of Fame
How to pick a racquet for dummies (aka racketaholics):
1. Use your favourite player's endorsed racquet, if you don't like it
2. Use the coolest looking racquet, if you don't like it
3. Use something so uninspiring in every single way that you stop thinking about racquets (EZONE 98/Aero 98)
 

Seth

Legend
How to pick a racquet for dummies (aka racketaholics):
1. Use your favourite player's endorsed racquet, if you don't like it
2. Use the coolest looking racquet, if you don't like it
3. Use something so uninspiring in every single way that you stop thinking about racquets (EZONE 98/Aero 98)
This is exactly how I landed on the 2021 VCore 98.
 

naturalexponent

Hall of Fame
How to pick a racquet for dummies (aka racketaholics):
1. Use your favourite player's endorsed racquet, if you don't like it
2. Use the coolest looking racquet, if you don't like it
3. Use something so uninspiring in every single way that you stop thinking about racquets (EZONE 98/Aero 98)
This is so solid / true I want to cry
 
How to pick a racquet for dummies (aka racketaholics):
1. Use your favourite player's endorsed racquet, if you don't like it
2. Use the coolest looking racquet, if you don't like it
3. Use something so uninspiring in every single way that you stop thinking about racquets (EZONE 98/Aero 98)

This is exactly how I landed on the 2021 VCore 98.

This is so solid / true I want to cry
Help me fill in the blanks, what's the missing inspiring part from an Ezone 98 or Aero 98 (well vcore 98 is a little crankier than these in some situations)?

Is it just that they are obviously great choices for all players so kind of meh?
 

naturalexponent

Hall of Fame
Help me fill in the blanks, what's the missing inspiring part from an Ezone 98 or Aero 98 (well vcore 98 is a little crankier than these in some situations)?

Is it just that they are obviously great choices for all players so kind of meh?
It's personal and subjective. Some racquets you just don't feel particularly inspired by, no matter how good (even great) they are. For most people that's fine. For holics it's a real affliction.
 

Hulger

Semi-Pro
Help me fill in the blanks, what's the missing inspiring part from an Ezone 98 or Aero 98 (well vcore 98 is a little crankier than these in some situations)?

Is it just that they are obviously great choices for all players so kind of meh?
You understand that the advice you were referring to was formulated in a setting similar to an AA gathering in a pub, where free drinks facilitate the exchange of wisdom.
 

Crocodile

G.O.A.T.
I would go like this:
1. Choose a racquet that won’t hurt your wrist, elbow and shoulder
2. Choose a racquet that best compliments your strengths or winning shots. So for example if your serve is most valuable to you, choose a racquet that will maximise your serving effectiveness, but make sure it’s one that won’t hurt your arm.
3. Choose a racquet that you like the feel of and enjoy playing with.
4. Choose a racquet that you can afford - some racquets these days are way too expensive and if you need to buy 2 or 3 of them, then that’s going to be a significant expense to your budget if you have to pay the rent and electricity
5. Choose the racquet with the head size you like the most. While a lot of people recommend 100 sq inch as the current go to, I still like 98, 97 or sometimes 95, because I enjoy the sensation and joy I get when using those frames
Finally test out different types of frames at the same time for say a week and gather your thoughts. You should be able to narrow down to one or 2 based on your likes and dislikes.
One last thing - test under pressure more than just when having a hit.
 
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Seth

Legend
Help me fill in the blanks, what's the missing inspiring part from an Ezone 98 or Aero 98 (well vcore 98 is a little crankier than these in some situations)?

Is it just that they are obviously great choices for all players so kind of meh?
For me, it’s the last sentence. Nothing wrong at all with any of them, but they are basic 98s. You could add the Blade to the list.
 
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