Is there a inverse relation between head size and unforced errors

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by dnyce18, May 18, 2005.

  1. dnyce18

    dnyce18 New User

    Nov 1, 2004
    I always thought that racquet size was not a big issue and focused more on racquet weight, balance and so forth. Some players told me smaller heads offered more control, larger heads more power, the more crossstrings the more spin. So there are a lot of variables. I just concluded that if you're good you're good and went about my day. Then I retired to a dark room and watched a lot of tennis. I mean a lot. I mean ...well, you get the point. I left the tennis-watching room to find that the people I had been watching no longer played and the racquets weren't made of wood. Ok, maybe I didn't watch that long, maybe I left to eat or relieve myself. In any case I looked at Nadal and Agassi and Coria and Roddick and Sharapova and virtually everyone with a plus sized head (100+). They all tend to keep their unforced errors to a minimum. I again shrugged it off as a misreading of cause and effect: I tentatively concluded that maybe the players' style of game dictated their racquet choice and not the other way around. Then I looked at players with smaller head sizes and checked their errors in the last 4 grand slams: more errors but also some with more winners. When I see Federer mishit (arguably the best all-courter ever; a pretty good yardstick) he mishits big (shanks balls off the frame). I can't help but think that if he had a larger sweet spot he might not only connect better but maybe get the ball in play. Couple that with the fact that the only players he has had trouble with this year are players with larger racquets (98+). Not only did they beat him - they were the only players close to beating him (Safin, Nadal(almost), Gasquet). I think the effect is heightened on clay where errors are more important than anywhere else. If Federer wants dominance and more ease of play on clay does he need a larger racquet? <b>Does he need to come in to the net more to reduce errors on his side?</b> Not to say that limited unforced errors is impossible with a smaller head but I am proposing that hit after hit, stroke after stroke, a larger raquet gives you more margin. With all of Sampras's success he was never dominant on clay and his racquet was Is it time to embrace the more advanced, larger frames as as good with control and better with power?...
  2. ferrari_827

    ferrari_827 Professional

    Oct 4, 2004
    With a larger head, there is a small decrease in accuracy, but it's hardly noticeable. Would Federer benefit from a larger head ? Maybe. His shots have some margin for error, so he's not painting the lines all the time. I don't think a 95 or even 98 would hurt his control at all, and could even be beneficial.

    There are players who would definitely be hurt with a larger head. Davenport hits so close to the lines a larger head would not help, and with Safin, a larger racket would produce more errors. Interestingly, I feel Sharapova would benefit from a slightly smaller midplus vs. the shark.
  3. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

    Feb 18, 2004
    A smaller head provides more accuracy and control. A larger head does provide more power but a guy like Federer, with his incredible racquet head speed, can generate his own power so he doesn't need his racquet to do the work for him. He needs the control he gets from the smaller head and that's how he hits so many winners because he can hit any shot from anywhere at any time - that's control! I don't think a larger head will help him since he mishits because he swings at the ball so fast so I think he would mishit just as much with a larger head. Plus a large head would be cumbersome and get in the way of his fast swings, especially on the one-handed backhand side.

    BTW, Safin's racquet is no larger than Federer's and he did beat him at the AO. Safin uses a painted Head Prestige Classic Mid which is really 90 sq. in. (or less) even though it's listed as 93 sq. in.
  4. Grimjack

    Grimjack Banned

    Feb 18, 2004
    The last thing I want to do is look up the history of these things, but here's a potential flaw in your analysis -- at least with respect to Fed:

    Of *course* he has bigger numbers of UE's and winners over the last four slams...he's played more grand-slam matches than anybody over that stretch, because he keeps advancing to the finals.
  5. dnyce18

    dnyce18 New User

    Nov 1, 2004
    When I say UE's I meant avg. UE's per set. Yeah, I know - I spend a good deal of time looking at stats. I enjoy it! see ya
  6. Power Game

    Power Game Professional

    Jun 30, 2004
    Safin uses a midsized (93", 600cm2) racquet....
  7. court_zone

    court_zone Rookie

    Dec 22, 2004
    Am I correct that Safin has been using the Prestige Classic since he "started" until now? So he probably got used to it and maybe he decreased the headsize as he got older/better.
  8. TommyGun

    TommyGun Semi-Pro

    Jun 10, 2004

    The bigger your head the less unforced errors, because your brain is huge.

    The smaller your head, the more unforced errors, because your eyes will have to be the size of peas to see the ball.....
  9. elbuzzard_lives

    elbuzzard_lives Rookie

    Mar 8, 2005
    Mountains and Sea
    tommy, LOL.
  10. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

    Dec 11, 2004
    Perhaps the reason is that he makes those kind of 'big', shanked unforced errors is that he's trying to generate racquet head speed which is harder with the kind of frame he uses.

    Anyway, its not the racquet that makes the errors, its the player. However, if you need to go for a bit more on your shots, especially on clay, because the racquet doesn't offer as much innate power due to headsize etc then you might be more likely to commit errors.
  11. Steve H.

    Steve H. Semi-Pro

    Feb 25, 2004
    On the other hand, look at the Williams sisters -- big racquets, big errors. Anybody swinging that hard is going to miss sometimes, no matter how big the head.
  12. Pushmaster

    Pushmaster Hall of Fame

    Apr 3, 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Incorrect. BreakPoint is right, the PC is just shy of 90si. The claim by Head of it being 93si. is marketing BS.
  13. doriancito

    doriancito Hall of Fame

    Mar 29, 2005
    Will federer play as good with a 107 sq. in head?
  14. devwizard

    devwizard New User

    Feb 25, 2004
    There is one other big key: Serving. I would enjoy laughing if Federer or Roddick tried to serve with a 110 sq. in racquet, because of the physics of it. Usually larger racquets tend to be lighter, and considering how hard those guys serve they would honestly lose 20-40 mph on their serve by using a light, big racquet. In physics, you learn F=ma, meaning that to increase the force hitting the ball you need a heavier racquet if the acceleration remains constant. This we can safely assume considering these atheletes are at the peak of their performance and cannot possibly generate any more arm speed.

    Plus, I would like to see ANY pro stick a solid drop shot with an oversize frame.
  15. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

    Feb 26, 2004
    Agassi uses oversized frames and he has hit drop shots, albeit not his favorite shot.
  16. Richie Rich

    Richie Rich Legend

    Feb 24, 2004
    I think AndrewD hit it spot on. Bigger head = more power but maybe more UE. Smaller head = more control. However, at 4.0-5.0 level a smaller head will lead to a lot of shots that your opponent will put away b/c, at our level, we don't have perfect "pro" technique.

    I played with Tour 90 for a while. Loved the feel and serves and groundies but hated return of serves. Too many short returns that were just eaten up by my opponents. Switched to i.rad and have improved returns dramatically since racquet does some of the work for me.
  17. Gappy

    Gappy Guest

    On clay, the larger head size seems to be the choice of champions

    I did summarize the info about the racquet head size of the grandslam champions in the last 10 years as listed below. Note that the racquet and head size presented may not the same one by the time they won the championship.

    French Open (clay)
    2005 Rafael Nadal Babolat (100)
    2004 Gaston Gaudio Wilson (95)
    2003 Juan Carlos Ferrero Prince/Head (100)
    2002 Albert Costa Fischer (98)
    2001 Gustavo Kuerten Head (98)
    2000 Gustavo Kuerten Head (98)
    1999 Andre Agassi Head (107)
    1998 Carlos Moya Babolat (100)
    1997 Gustavo Kuerten Head (98)
    1996 Yevgueny Kafelnikov Fischer (98)

    Wimbledon (grass)
    2004 Roger Federer Wilson (90)
    2003 Roger Federer Wilson (90)
    2002 Lleyton Hewitt Yonex (90)
    2001 Goran Ivanisevic Head (93)
    2000 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)
    1999 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)
    1998 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)
    1997 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)
    1996 Richard Krajicek Yonex (88)
    1995 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)

    US Open (hard)
    2004 Roger Federer Wilson (90)
    2003 Andy Roddick Babolat (100)
    2002 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)
    2001 Lleyton Hewitt Yonex (90)
    2000 Marat Safin Head (93)
    1999 Andre Agassi Head (107)
    1998 Patrick Rafter Prince (97)
    1997 Patrick Rafter Prince (97)
    1996 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)
    1995 Pete Sampras Wilson (85)

    Average head size
    Winbledon = 87.6
    US Open = 92.9
    French Open = 99.2

    To be success on clay, the larger head size seems to be the choice of the champions.

    IMHO, Federer/Safin/Hewitt may try to step up to the bigger head size when playing on clay courts. Larger sweetspot may be suitable for long rally and may handle well with ball uncertainty on clay with low chance to hit the frame.
  18. Lakoste

    Lakoste Professional

    May 15, 2005

    That was a great first post for you,
    thanks for the info, very insightful
  19. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

    Nov 24, 2004
    New Jersey
    Well said by Gappy....would be even more instructive to see the same analysis for the women's champions, whose games have a bit more in common with most of us than the men's champions.
    Never understood what BreakPoint means when he says a large head gets in the way on the backhand side. Nonsense. WHAT gets in the way? Plenty of players (myself among them) hitting 1HBH for years with a 107, and nothing ever "gets in the way."
    Chinahui Cam
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
  20. Honestlybad

    Honestlybad Rookie

    Mar 30, 2005
    I was thinking the same thing lately. The balls sometimes bounce crooked on clay and that strange bounce is much easier on larger head sizes.
  21. Speedy_tennis

    Speedy_tennis Semi-Pro

    Apr 2, 2005
    with 107 sq in agassi has won the grand slam and sampras has won 14 gs with 85 sq in,
  22. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

    Feb 18, 2004
    I don't think it's really "nonsense". When I use an oversize racquet, I feel as if the head is going to hit me under my armpit when I take the racquet back to prepare to hit a one-handed backhand. This is not an issue with a two-handed backhand because both of your hands are together, thereby, closing your armpit and the racquet head gets nowhere near under your armpit.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that most of the touring pros that use oversize racquets tend to hit with a two-handed backhand (e.g., Agassi, Spadea, Chang, etc.).
  23. monologuist

    monologuist Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2004
    wow...that is really interesting to actually see the breakdown of headsizes per grand slam....didn't Sampras admit he wished he hadn't been so stubborn to stick with his 85" Wilson for F.O.'s? I guess he could bump up to at least 95 and see what happens ..for clay.

    I think OS heads definitely are not optimal for a one handed backhand. Of course, there are people who can do it (although I can't think of one pro with a 1-hander that uses an OS). OS heads feel sluggish on 1-handers for me....less aerodynamic=less head speed...especially with eastern or continental grip (more open-faced). I feel similarly about OS on serves....especially flat serves.
    Not sure I can put in scientific terms, but I have noticed an obvious correlation between headsize and the amount of control I have on serves and 1-handed backhands(and volleys, to a certain point...i.e. smaller head = less accuracy on reflex volleys, but if I have the time, smaller head=better placement). My forehands don't seem to be as affected control-wise by headsize...not sure why...maybe I just have more control over that stroke naturally...

    in general though, I think smaller headsize= more control given that you have enough time to set up for your shot and aren't off-guard b/c of pace,spin, ....but = more mishits/UE's against heavy serves, reflex volleys, hitting on the dead run/full-stretch, against heavy/high kicking topspin...etc.

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