Racquet weighting: out of balance

anubis

Hall of Fame
I think most ppl here would admit that its best to play with the heaviest racquet that you can safely wield without getting tired, and/or suffer poor stroke mechanics. But one thing I don't see too many conversations about is with regard to the balance of the racquet.

We all chose our racquets for specific reasons. If the racquet comes from the shop as 4 points HL, and that's how we like it, then it probably isn't a good idea to mess with its balance, correct?

So, a proper racquet customization job would be to keep the balance the same (4 points HL), meanwhile increasing the swing weight to the desired effect. This would be done by adding weight in a polarized fashion: weight at 12:00 noon and in the butt cap of the handle.


So, the question is: one of my team mates in my league is experimenting with weighting his racquet. He wants a nice and high swing weight (about 345) compared to his stock 315. He added so many grams of lead to 12:00 and now he has his desired SW. However, it has thrown off his balance. Its now more or less head heavy by a couple of points. I don't have the exact measurements.

He's unwilling to add weight to the butt cap of the handle in order to counterbalance the HH nature of the additive weight. I think this is making his game suffer because he's not used to a HH racquet and it may be hurting his technique.

Would he be better off to just remove the lead tape if he's not willing to balance it properly? Even though a high SW will help him hit deep, its at the expense of improper technique and will eventually tire himself out, I think. Or just make him lazy since he's relying on mass and not body mechanics.

I'd appreciate your input, thanks :)
 

Fuji

Legend
It's really personal. The best way to keep mechanics similar would obviously be to keep the balance the same with the higher SW but some people like it their own way.

Also, Serena Williams uses a head heavy stick with a SW of over 400, maybe she's on to something there!

-Fuji
 
What you need to keep in mind is the effect of each detail, (sw, balance, mass) is influenced by the others. Being HH or HL on its own does not determine how maneuverable a racquet is because in conjunction with balance, a lighter racquet will inherently be more maneuverable than a heavy one. Now, in this case, your concern is that the balance is what's hurting his game while he's not used to it. This is just not the case. It's the shift in sw and additional mass that would affect his technique and its just something that will take a little while for him to get used to. A shift of 2-3 points of balance, (which is about what it would be to go from 315 to 345 via adding lead at 12'. I'm guessing it's between 8 and 12 grams lf lead he added) isn't going to have a significant impact on his technique. If the guy feels comfortable with the higher sw, give him time to adjust and things should be fine.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
I think most ppl here would admit that its best to play with the heaviest racquet that you can safely wield without getting tired, and/or suffer poor stroke mechanics.


Who told you that?

There's no such thing as using the heaviest racquet and not costing anything. Saying such thing is akin to saying it's best to become a doctor without having to study or to drive a Mercedez without having to work and pay for it!!!!

Heavier racket will cause you tired quicker. More tired = poorer stroke, games.

With that said you guys should change your racket usage philosophy to this that I came to realize: use the lightest racket that gives you no troubles handling shots of the majority (80%, 90%, your choice) of your opponents. That's how you maximize your game.
 

McLovin

Legend
The only time I've added led, I added it to the throat so as to add mass, but not throw off the balance. Is there a reason no one suggests that?
 

anubis

Hall of Fame
The only time I've added led, I added it to the throat so as to add mass, but not throw off the balance. Is there a reason no one suggests that?

Probably because that adds mostly static weight, but not much swing weight. You'd have to add four times the amount of lead tape at the throat to get the swing weight that you would have gotten had you placed it at noon.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
I have seen specs here and other sites that show Serena and Venus use HH rackets but I have seen the SW around 370. I have not seen a SW of 400, but 370 is a hefty swing weight.

Carlos Moya also use HH with high SW and Nadal uses a balance less HL than most with a relatively high SW. I think Nadal is still a bit HL but less HL than the stock racket. It sounds like Moya influenced his setup as Moya was an idol to the young Nadal.

Personally, I like 4-8 HL but if you can adjust your swing there are many successful players with even to HH. ITF suggest 4 or more HL points with decent swing weight (320+) is better for you comfort and health.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Who told you that?

There's no such thing as using the heaviest racquet and not costing anything. Saying such thing is akin to saying it's best to become a doctor without having to study or to drive a Mercedez without having to work and pay for it!!!!

Heavier racket will cause you tired quicker. More tired = poorer stroke, games.

With that said you guys should change your racket usage philosophy to this that I came to realize: use the lightest racket that gives you no troubles handling shots of the majority (80%, 90%, your choice) of your opponents. That's how you maximize your game.


Who told him that?...

C'mon now, don't go shooting the poor guy down like some kind of heretic. That guideline is repeated around here all the time. And for the record, he also qualified that idea of a heavier racquet as one that doesn't make a player tired from swinging it. Not out of bounds at all in terms of conventional racquet wisdom. Harumph...

But hey, before you get all defensive or anything, I'm going to agree with you, too. There's plenty of upside to having a frame that's light enough that it swings well for a certain player for sure. One of the kids I coached taught me this as she develped a stronger game over her high school career. As you mentioned, she maximized her game without going to heavier gear as she progressed. Now she plays in college and has evolved into a far more competent hitter than when I first met her. I'd bet anyone a nickel that a beefier frame would do her little good, but then again, I also wouldn't think that anything lighter would help her with trading bullets against other sluggers (she uses the BLX Blade 98, in pink of course).

That's why we demo. A racquet has to be heavy enough that it can actually tell the ball what to do, but a frame that's light enough will let us do our thing for most of the day without feeling like a canoe paddle that's under water. I think it gets dangerous whenever we go either much too heavy or far too light. That leads to the stress of trying to get a tree trunk to the ball on time or over-swinging if the racquet doesn't have much inertia built in. Either extreme can lead to trouble in a hurry.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Oh yeah, racquet balance...

I find this spec to be probably the strongest contributor toward any frame having a familiar personality in terms of general handling. Even if a racquet is a bit lighter than what I typically use, it can feel sluggish and unwieldy for me if its balance is less head-light than what I like. My Volkl C10's are maybe 9-10 pts. HL (with a little lead on their handles) and that makes them quick enough around the net for me, but still nice and stable with a static weight at about 12.5 oz.

I've tried lighter alternatives, but even with less overall heft, I'm in trouble if that balance gets down toward maybe 5-6 pts. HL. Yes, there is such a thing as too HL - that's when a frame starts feeling especially twitchy for me - but that's rare. What you may see in general is that as racquets get heavier, they may feel okay with slightly more HL balance. One frame weighing 11.8 oz. with 7 pts. HL balance may handle about the same as another weighing 12.3 oz. with 8 or 9 pts. HL balance.

If your pal wants to enjoy extra stability with similar handling in that racquet, that's where counterbalancing comes into the conversation (you can search up some thoughts on that here if ideas aren't handy in the TW material). I think this becomes a consideration as soon as anyone adds more than just a few grams to the hoop of their racquet.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Who told him that?...

C'mon now, don't go shooting the poor guy down like some kind of heretic. That guideline is repeated around here all the time. And for the record, he also qualified that idea of a heavier racquet as one that doesn't make a player tired from swinging it. Not out of bounds at all in terms of conventional racquet wisdom. Harumph...

But hey, before you get all defensive or anything, I'm going to agree with you, too. There's plenty of upside to having a frame that's light enough that it swings well for a certain player for sure. One of the kids I coached taught me this as she develped a stronger game over her high school career. As you mentioned, she maximized her game without going to heavier gear as she progressed. Now she plays in college and has evolved into a far more competent hitter than when I first met her. I'd bet anyone a nickel that a beefier frame would do her little good, but then again, I also wouldn't think that anything lighter would help her with trading bullets against other sluggers (she uses the BLX Blade 98, in pink of course).

That's why we demo. A racquet has to be heavy enough that it can actually tell the ball what to do, but a frame that's light enough will let us do our thing for most of the day without feeling like a canoe paddle that's under water. I think it gets dangerous whenever we go either much too heavy or far too light. That leads to the stress of trying to get a tree trunk to the ball on time or over-swinging if the racquet doesn't have much inertia built in. Either extreme can lead to trouble in a hurry.


fuzz, no reason for me to get defensive. Above is my experience that I seriously share (and these days I find myself posting more jokes, nonsensical stuffs than serious stuffs).

It's probably just semantic, but saying heavier racket that doesn't tire you out sounds like an oxymoron. Plus, it neglects the crucial part that is your skill. My philosophy emphasizes that the racket has to be able to handle most of your opponents' shot. Again, this is no advanced physics: which would allow you to retain your strength longer: running/playing with a heavy or a light load? Remember, the biggest part of sport is competing over strength.

I also emphasize 80, 90% opponents. Rec and club players face a wide range. There's no one racket that covers the whole range. A "heavy" frame is gonna be terribly ineffective against a light hitting opponent as is a light frame against a heavy hitter. You probably should pick a weapon that covers 80% and give advantage to the 10%'s on each extreme ends. Against these 10% extreme ends, your desired frame will be struggling, equipment wise. :)
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Serena can be a bad example to use. She's stronger and heavier than 90% of us on this site. Can anyone argue that?
A lightweight racket with moderate SW can be just fine for tennis. For instance, my Aero500's at 10 oz. and SW's around 315 can handle anything a 4.5 can throw my way. I can choke DOWN on the handle to affect heavier SW's.
Since I'm not 4.5, it's good enough. Seldom will I face Raonic in a real match. Reality says I have to beat every 3.5 and 4.0, that is my challenge.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Serena can be a bad example to use. She's stronger and heavier than 90% of us on this site. Can anyone argue that?
A lightweight racket with moderate SW can be just fine for tennis. For instance, my Aero500's at 10 oz. and SW's around 315 can handle anything a 4.5 can throw my way. I can choke DOWN on the handle to affect heavier SW's.
Since I'm not 4.5, it's good enough. Seldom will I face Raonic in a real match. Reality says I have to beat every 3.5 and 4.0, that is my challenge.

You don't need to meet Raonic. There are plenty of 3.5, 4.0 hard hitters. Sounds surprising, but really not. They like/prefer ripping 2-3 very hard shots and be done with a point. I think LeeD is one of those who avoid long rallies as well. If they play it right they can beat a much more consistent, softer hitting opponent. But their overall results do not elevate them beyond 4.0. That's nothing surprising.

Choking down on the handle is a lousy solution, LeeD. A great part of using a racket is that you're familiar with it, weight, distance, etc. that you hit the sweet spot most of the time. When you move your hand away you create another feel which is not optimal.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Plenty of 4.0's hit as hard, for one to 3 shots, as the male pros. They might miss before those #'s are achieved at times, but the power is there.
But for one to 3 shots, a light racket is fine, an out of balance racket is fine.
Not talking about last year's bump up crop. They can't.
 

anubis

Hall of Fame
OK, I think we're getting a bit off topic here. My central point is that racquet balance is more important than swing weight, meaning the balance should remain constant. You can affect swing weight and static weight all you want, but the majority of rec hackers are better off to keep the balance constant across any change you make to the weight. So, no matter what you do to the racquet, it should remain HL. You can add weight all you want, and as long as it remains HL, then the added weight won't affect form as much as if it was done in an unbalanced fashion.

That's my point, but it's just an opinion. Do you think there's any truth to that, or am I just splitting hairs here?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I think different players like a different balance. Nothing in universal in life, and balance is in life.
 
It's probably just semantic, but saying heavier racket that doesn't tire you out sounds like an oxymoron.

No, it saying using a racquet as heavy as you can that wont cause your arm to tire out over the course of a match

A "heavy" frame is gonna be terribly ineffective against a light hitting opponent as is a light frame against a heavy hitter.

The bolded makes no sense to me, heavier racquets are easier to generate power with than lighter racquets assuming the same swing speed.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
There's that word again, assume. ASS, U, ME....
Everything is the same, assuming it's all the same. There.
 

T-Vex

Rookie
LeeD, I'm a high 4.0 player, and I haven't seen that many hard hitters at my level.
Guys that are one level above, say 4.5, yeah, those can hit the ball hard and produce winners even from baseline at pretty decent consistancy, but at lover levels than that... :-?

Disclaimer: I'm not in USA and we play 95% on claycourts
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
AH, once again, if a tree falls in the forest, and you did not hear it, see it, or feel it fall, did it fall? You are at home.
I was a former A/Open player who won as many matches as I lost. Meaning, I'd go more than ONE round most of the time, not all.
I aged, got some injuries, can still throw a football close to 50 yards, first try, no warmup. I can hit some serves, some forehands, some backhands, and lots of volleys as well as 5.5 level college players. Just I can't do it all the time.
I know several 6'4" 220 lbs 4.0 tournament players who can do likewise. What keeps them from being Open level players? Training and conditioning. Some have jobs, some play once a week (me), some have sustained injuries that keep them from training. But they can still hit the ball as hard as any human....just not every time.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Suresh, YOU, as a 4.0, cannot hit as hard as college players. I will agree, you cannot even hit a simple forehand, as you stated.
But lots of guys CAN. I can play most sets, and hit at least 1-4 forehands as hard as any average Pro level player (ATP). I'll also hit 30 weaker and shank some of them, true.
I can still hit 85 mph second serves that don't double fault.
I can volley any ball I can reach about as well as when I played 38 years ago. I can't reach lots of balls, so those I shank.
My 1hbh topspin backhand is stronger and more consistent than it was in 1979, when I was playing in the A's. Only my rotator cuff prevents me from hitting it as often as I'd like.
I'm about 8% as fast as I was around the court.
I know several 4.0's in my same situation, only heading downhill, but still able to beat any 3.5.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
The bolded makes no sense to me, heavier racquets are easier to generate power with than lighter racquets assuming the same swing speed.

You probably haven't played cat and mouse games where both guys run in all 4 directions. In these game it's tougher for the guy with a heavy racket. He's not as quick and manuverable as the guy with a light racket.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I didn't think we meant EVERY ball we hit, only a few select ones.
If I can hit every ball as well as my best of the day, I'd be a 6.0 with a weak serve.
But ONE shot, easy. Just allow me to hit 20, and the best one is good enough to play Q's and first round losers.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
At most 1 out of 20 may be good enough and only because the person opposite you is not a pro. If he was, he isn't going to give you a chance to hit 1 out of 20.

If you have the biomechanics to hit pro level shots, you will have the biomechanics to do it over and over again. It will not be a 1 out of 20 thing. Biomechanics does not show up once and vanish the 19 other times.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Have you taken into account injuries?
I have not been able to run one step in 4 years. That means, lots of balls are beyond my normal reach, or comfort level.
In rally practice, lots of balls are within my strikezone, so I know I can still hit the ball.
And which PRO men's player would play a serious match with a self confessed weak 4.0 singles player?
NONE of us will ever again get to hit with a PRO player.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
Geez, the age old debate. Be a big boy and get a racket with a SW between 320 - 400 grams. If your racket has a SW below 320 grams, you are a wimp.

Please don't tell me how your prefer to compensate for lack of SW with your awesome racket head speed. 320 gram SW is very very very light and any one with 1/2 a biceps can handle it comfortably. The physical attributes of the game demand a decent amount of mass. The ball weight, speed of the income shot (and even 3.0 players occasionally hit a heavy ball) and court size dictate reasonable mass in rackets. Reasonable mass is 320-400 grams and you all can handle it.

Balance it 4 points or more HL and you are good to go.
 
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