my thoughts trying arm-friendly rackets--would love feedback!

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by Sam F, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. Sam F

    Sam F New User

    Aug 27, 2009
    Used to be a decent player and played in college. Am now in mid-30's and trying to get back into tennis after around 15 years off and shoulder surgery about 1.5 years ago. My shoulder problem put me out in college and I blame my racket (Yamaha Secret 04 strung at 70lbs) and tendency to muscle the ball for the injury.
    So now I'm trying to change my game and play a much looser and more fluid game, but am also looking for a racket that's easier on my arm so I never have to go through the nightmare of surgery again. I have done my research and learned flexible rackets strung loosely are the best. Weight seems to help with shock absorption, but you run the risk of straining your arm if you pick too heavy a frame. So I guess you need to make like Goldilocks and find the 'just right' weight for you.
    Just had my 1st day hitting with some rackets that have a good rep for arm-friendliness. I'm calling this 'Batch 1' b/c I'm sure I'll be demoing a few more groups. I also tried the Donnay Pro One International, but didn't like it at all so it's not included here. Below are my thoughts and observations for the other 3 rackets. Hopefully they're of value to someone out there. But please let me know what y'all's thoughts are and if they are any other rackets I should try out.

    Batch 1:

    Boris Becker 11
    This was 1st of the four I tried. First several shots were instant love. It felt very soft, had lots of topspin, and was easy to control with my forehand. The backhand was a bit more awkward, then again, everything is a bit awkward since the last time I trained was in the early '90's.
    Volleys felt decent, but not as good as the ProKennex Kinetic Pro 7G. Serving was okay, but I felt I had more speed and kick with both the 7G and the Prince EXO3 Rebel 95. Actually, this was the only place where I thought I felt the weight of the racket and that I was laboring to use it. This is strange b/c the other rackets were of similar weight and balance. This is also an odd observation b/c I've noticed most people rave about the Becker 11 specifically at the net and when serving.
    Conclusion: A favorable impression nut concerned about the strain on the serve.

    ProKennex Kinetic Pro 7G
    Tried this one out next and also liked it. It also felt nice and soft, especially when you hit dead center in the sweetspot. However, off-center hits felt harsher and not as cushioned as the Becker 11. My hitting partner tried it out and agreed with me. With all the talk of the Kinetic system and shock blocking, I was surprised. Perhaps there was some slight problem w/ the frame b/c we both heard something that sounded like sand moving around from a place on the top of the frame. But, it makes me wonder if your body's feel is actually the best judge, i.e. if you can feel more shock but your body actually absorbs less. This kinda happens with vibration absorbers, and they just deaden the vibration and do nothing for the shock (which is the real killer). Any thoughts?
    I did like the 7G more at the net than the Becker 11. Also, it seemed to have more pop and possibly spin on the serve than the Becker 11. In addition, I finally got comfortable with backhands when I went back to this frame late in the session. Of course, these impressions could have been b/c I was more grooved in my game as time went on.
    Finally, this frame felt heavier (again hitting partner agreed) than the Becker. This is odd b/c the 7G weights very slightly less than the Becker according to Tennis Warehouse. However, the weight never bothered me and it may have when serving using the Becker 11.
    Conclusion: Nice frame, but worried about the off center harshness. Perhaps there's a reason why it's rated below the Prince EXO3 Rebel 95 and Becker 11 in comfort in Tennis Warehouse's reviews.

    Prince EXO3 Rebel 95
    Another nice and soft frame, though possibly not quite as cushy feeling as the Becker 11. The Rebel 95 was a good all-around performer. Nothing felt terrible and when serving I got a great deal of kick and probably the most power of any racket. I might have felt a tiny twinge on one of the hardest flat serves I hit that day. Perhaps that was the weight, which is supposed to be the heaviest of the three frames I tried.
    Conclusion: Another soft frame that I enjoyed.

    Final thoughts:
    I can say that after what for me was along time playing yesterday that I feel pretty good today. The part of my elbow which hurts after using my Prince 730 Longbody (circa '97) was not nearly as bad. And the 730 felt much gentler back in the day than my Secret 04. My shoulder was also very slightly tight, but I could have gone out there again today. So perhaps there is something to this arm-friendly technology.
    Overall, my hitting partner and I agreed that all 3 of the frames felt forgiving and we imagined they would be good for your arm. Hard to tell which would be better for this in the long run from just one 1.5 hour hitting session though.
    My partner vacillated b/t the Rebel 95 and the 7G as her favorite. I'm still completely torn b/t them and the Becker 11. Have a feeling I'll have to demo them again.

    Next Up:
    I'd like to try out the ProKennex Ki 5 and Ki5x. Interestingly, they both have significantly lower scores at Tennis Warehouse for their comfort than any of the rackets I just reviewed. With as much as ProKennex lauds the improvements in comfort and shock reduction with their Ionic line, these scores seem odd.
    Will also have to try the Fischer M Pro Number One 98 as it's gotten a great deal of buzz as an arm friendly stick. Again, this seems out of place as it's not their models with the grip dampening system (GDS) designed to protect the arm.
    If anyone has any comments or recommendations for other rackets to try, please speak up!
  2. markwillplay

    markwillplay Hall of Fame

    Jul 7, 2007
    which Becker 11? I have the mid and I must say that it has helped my arm, and now my shoulder. I did not have surg on shoulder but was having some pain. Pretty much gone now. Having said that, it has a healthy SW and I may get tired at the end of matches, we'll see. I did think that it swung a little easier than the mp that I had here demoing. the Mid seemed a bit more headlight.

    I found the prestige pro arm friendly when I used it but I always strung lower end. If you are looking for something lighter, you may want to look at the gamma T-7. that stick seems to be getting some attension and the specs look like it would be very arm frinedly.

    I think for me, the becker has made a difference in my shoulder bercause I don't try to muscle the ball on serve..can't. The beckers all tend to have good "weight" in the head that don't like to be muscled.
  3. Lefty78

    Lefty78 Professional

    Jan 16, 2009
    Try the Volkl C10 Pro.

    Learning an abbreviated service motion can also do wonders for your shoulder.
  4. Gee

    Gee Hall of Fame

    Apr 24, 2006
    The Netherlands
    Give the PK Black Ace 98 a try. A soft comfortable frame that is very arm friendly as well.
  5. NoNameZ

    NoNameZ Semi-Pro

    Jan 3, 2009
    The BB11 mid is definitely a soft frame. I hit with one strung with full bed of syns at 55lbs and it was a really nice soft, plush feel to it. I would highly recommend the Ki5,Ki5X or the Ki5PSE (if you like a heftier frame).
  6. dParis

    dParis Hall of Fame

    Nov 30, 2004
    Nothing wrong with the frame. That's "kinetic technology" you're hearing. The Ki series would be better used in the rhythm section of a salsa band than on a tennis court, but that's just my opinion.
  7. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

    Jul 23, 2009
    Roswell GA
    I am in the same boat and settled on the Prince Ozone Tour. Very "spongy" feeling racquet. I love it and its got similar specs to what you are trying. Give it a whirl!
  8. NoNameZ

    NoNameZ Semi-Pro

    Jan 3, 2009
    Ki5 does have the "sand" inside the frame that makes sounds when shaken. But least to say, it does absorb the shock from the ball, but leaves you with all the feel.
  9. Martingale

    Martingale Rookie

    Aug 7, 2007
    I cannot comment on all of the rackets. I too played various Yamaha rackets as a youth, and loved them. They do, however, incite one to be impatient and overly muscle the balls, so after a lot of thought, I moved after a 20 year break to various PK rackets.

    The PK 5g and 7g are arm friendly, and they do have a small dead spot towards the top of the hoop. I do not think this feature makes them any less arm friendly, but you are going to miss a few balls, especially on high overheads.

    The KI series is supposed to eliminate some of this dead spot, and the spot does seem to be smaller, although it is true that the KIs also are slightly less headlight, which may be part of the trick.

    My 5 cents.
  10. film1

    film1 Semi-Pro

    Mar 24, 2008
    some options

    A 5 g with 4 grams at 10 and 2.
    Volkl c-10
    Yonex RD-23 if you could find one
  11. Fed Kennedy

    Fed Kennedy Legend

    Sep 6, 2008
    With Roger
    C-10 pro has the best feel on contact of any frame I've tried
  12. Sam F

    Sam F New User

    Aug 27, 2009
    Thanks you everyone for the feedback! I appreciate it. The Becker 11 I mentioned was the 98 sq in head and I believe is called the 325 for its weight.
    Also, I'm trying an abbreviated service motion. I have no idea why this is supposed to be easier on an arm, but it seems to me that as most people pause in the trophy pose anyway you shouldn't be losing much. I just try to get to that pose and concentrate of keeping my arm loose. Would love to get some instruction on it at some point though.
    Thanks everyone for the advice on other rackets to try! Particularly the C-10 pro kept popping up so I'll have to add it to the next list. Interestingly, its stats are very similar to the Becker 11 325. It does feature the Twin Absorber Technology, where as the Becker 11 325 (& most of the Beckers) have the Sensor Plus Handle System. Apparently the Sensor Plus Handle System offers more dampening than the Sensor Handle System that comes on most newer Volkls. Does anyone know what the difference really is or have an opinion on what works best?
  13. neomonkey

    neomonkey New User

    Aug 23, 2009
    arm-friendly racquet

    I got a PK Ki 10 last summer when I got tennis elbow from using a Wilson Hyper Hammer. It's lighter than the Ki 5, which I liked since my elbow was hurting so much. After playing with it for a month, my elbow was all better! It really was the cure. Now I'm playing with a PK graphite Prophecy and just recently a Black Ace, both of which I picked up cheap on Craigslist.

    As far as the "sand" noise, I read that too before I got the Ki 10, but I never heard a thing. Don't know if people are making that up or what. I just sold the Ki 10 2 weeks ago to a fellow player suffering from tennis elbow. After my elbow got better, I felt it was too light to continue playing with. In retrospect, I should have gotten the Ki 5.
  14. meowmix

    meowmix Hall of Fame

    Jul 5, 2007
    Hanover, NH
    Wow, your first post and it's a very highly educated one! Welcome to the forums!!! I can tell you'll be a wonderful addition.

    I cannot comment specifically on these three frames, since I've never used them. However, it seems that, as of right now, none of them should be what you want to consider buying, as all of them have their weaker points.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the ki5 recommendation, as well as the C10 pro. Both very comfortable frames. I'd also add to that list of frames the Gamma T7. It's not a racquet that gets much attention here on these boards due to the lack of promotion from Gamma, but it's a fairly soft racket that's a little on the light side (at least, when compared to everything else you're trying).

    The reason you're finding that the BB11 feels heavier than the others is its balance. It's only five points headlight, whereas the others are 9 points headlight. This, while it doesn't sound like all that much of a difference, is actually quite a significant difference. You here have experienced it.

    Another racquet that comes to find for players like you is the Redondo MP. It's another one of those very soft frames, but this one is a little more suited to everything. It doesn't pack the biggest punch, so serves may feel a little weak.
  15. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

    Jul 29, 2008
    Sammamish, WA
    2nd on the Gamma T-7! Definitely worth a demo. Very nice, very soft, very control oriented. On the lighter side, but you can add lead and it takes well to customization.
  16. TennisNinja

    TennisNinja Hall of Fame

    Mar 23, 2007
    Someplace, Somewhere
    You can try the Speedport Tour as well (orange one), very arm friendly. Even the K tour is pretty friendly.

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