Tennis Science Chat with Crawford & the Wolfeman Part 1: discussion of feel & touch when it comes to racquets & strings

TW Staff

Administrator

They're back! Crawford Lindsey and Jonathan Wolfe return to our podcast to talk more about the science and tennis behind all things tennis! We take a deep dive into "feel" and how players might speak about feel in terms of what they experience on the court. And is it something we can measure in the lab?!

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Happy Hitting!
 
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jackcrawford

Professional
Any scientific basis for any of the handle vibration dampening systems (do it yourself silicone/bluetac addition, Yonex mesh, PK Kinetic, Volkl Dual-Dampening), or is it just the extra weight itself rather than the specific technology that would help in the collision with the ball?
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
What is the point of "feel". Like by the time you feel the collision, the ball is gone. Its impossible to have the feel adjust your stroke, so whats the big deal?
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
What is the point of "feel". Like by the time you feel the collision, the ball is gone. Its impossible to have the feel adjust your stroke, so whats the big deal?
It is for the next time. Feedback from this time registers in your subconscious and makes you adjust the stroke the next time.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
It is for the next time. Feedback from this time registers in your subconscious and makes you adjust the stroke the next time.
Cool story bro. Next time has a totally different series of parameters than the last time, so you can't adjust based on the past shot because its different. Sure there may be some variables that are the same, like the racquet weight, but lots of things that make a bigger difference like launch angle will be different everytime.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Cool story bro. Next time has a totally different series of parameters than the last time, so you can't adjust based on the past shot because its different. Sure there may be some variables that are the same, like the racquet weight, but lots of things that make a bigger difference like launch angle will be different everytime.
You will adjust. That is why pros restring frequently even for practice sessions. They don't want to get grooved to a tension they are not going to use.

In the military, they call it negative training.
 
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Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
Cool story bro. Next time has a totally different series of parameters than the last time, so you can't adjust based on the past shot because its different.
Not that different. The better you are, the more you hit the same strokes over and over again. It's called practice.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
You will adjust. That is why pros restring frequently even for practice sessions. They don't want to get grooved to a tension they are not going to use.

In the military, they call it negative training.
Adjust to what? The incoming ball is different everytime!
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
Not that different. The better you are, the more you hit the same strokes over and over again. It's called practice.
Sure but we are talking about feel somehow allowing you to adjust for the next shot? Its impossible to act on the ball based on the feel of the last shot. Its impossible to act on feel from the current shot.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Adjust to what? The incoming ball is different everytime!
Correct. But those are what Nadal calls microadjustments. The inherent feedback from previous history shapes muscle (actually brain) memory and tells the player how his actions will affect the ball and his own sense of comfort (lack of shock from mishit). That is how woodie players learnt to hit the tiny sweetspot accurately - the shock from the racket whose handle had one layer of leather was too much if they mishit.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Its impossible to act on the ball based on the feel of the last shot.
You are taking it too literally. The feel of the last thousand shots somehow get aggregated into your brain over time and subtly shape your future actions. If you ran over a speed bump and got tossed up and down, the next time you will slow down as you approach it.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
You are taking it too literally. The feel of the last thousand shots somehow get aggregated into your brain over time and subtly shape your future actions. If you ran over a speed bump and got tossed up and down, the next time you will slow down as you approach it.
Correct. But those are what Nadal calls microadjustments. The inherent feedback from previous history shapes muscle (actually brain) memory and tells the player how his actions will affect the ball and his own sense of comfort (lack of shock from mishit). That is how woodie players learnt to hit the tiny sweetspot accurately - the shock from the racket whose handle had one layer of leather was too much if they mishit.
Have you ever hit with a wood racquet? Some of the best frame winners ever.

All that can be accomplished without feel. It has alot more to do with just the result. The softness of the racquet or the stiffness or anything else that could remotely be called feel is more a comfort thing. Anyhow the podcast pretty much says feel is not a thing that impacts anything....its just prefernce.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Have you ever hit with a wood racquet? Some of the best frame winners ever.

All that can be accomplished without feel. It has alot more to do with just the result. The softness of the racquet or the stiffness or anything else that could remotely be called feel is more a comfort thing. Anyhow the podcast pretty much says feel is not a thing that impacts anything....its just prefernce.
It also says there is a huge psychological component to it, even in the case of string dampeners. If you feel good, you play better.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
He seems to be saying that a heavier racket will tend to be swung more slowly than a lighter racket, but since rec players don't swing too fast, the increase in swing speed should not make much of a difference.

This always reminds me of the difference between momentum and kinetic energy. For collisions, momentum is considered important, but why not energy? If a lighter racket is swung a little faster, will it "cancel out" because the momentum may be very close in the two situations, or will the lighter racket produce more power because the velocity term is squared in the kinetic energy?
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
When you string at an ungodly tension a very old racquet, you're looking for a very specific feel. It's weird to see you make the opposite point.
First off the current racquet is still produced and a best seller on TW.

2nd its hard to even talk about it. I think its safe to say that my stringbed is probably the most insulated one can get from the incoming ball. DT is as high as you can probably get. Until one experiences the lack of "feel" its probably not easy to understand. Its my preference to not have to worry about the stringbed acting differently on every shot and incoming ball.
 

stefmeister

Rookie
at a high level of tennis, feel is very important. by then your strokes are solid, and the way you place balls and have touch shots are through feeling the ball.
What is the point of "feel". Like by the time you feel the collision, the ball is gone. Its impossible to have the feel adjust your stroke, so whats the big deal?
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
at a high level of tennis, feel is very important. by then your strokes are solid, and the way you place balls and have touch shots are through feeling the ball.
Sure that is the common wisdom, but touch shots can be hit with a board. Dustin Brown has the best touch in the game. He is using a bab strung with lux 4G poly in the 80lb range. Is he not a high level?


and when you say, "way you place balls and have touch shots are through feeling the ball" seems to imply that the player can act on the ball DURING contact. That is impossible!
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
What is the point of using science to try and explain completely subjective non-scientific words like feel and touch. You can’t use science to explain parameters where there is no clear definition of what they mean as it relates to racquets and strings.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
What is the point of using science to try and explain completely subjective non-scientific words like feel and touch. You can’t use science to explain parameters where there is no clear definition of what they mean as it relates to racquets and strings.
That is what was once said about psychology and consciousness. Slowly they have entered the realm of science.
 
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