The "perfect" racket - statistically

Professional
Just for kicks, what frames are marked "best selling" here at TW?

Pure Drive
Pure Drive Plus
Ti.S6
Graphite Mid
Graphite OS
Warrior MP
Warrior OS
nCode 90
nCode 95
PS60 85
PS60 95
Hyper Hammer 5.3 MP
Hyper Hammer 5.3 OS
Hyper Hammer 6.3
RDX 500 Mid
RDX 500 98

You want to speak in generalities? There they are. That list is a fair assessment of frames popular today. Heavy, light, big, small, modern, old school - it's all on there. Quibble about individual entries in that list if you want (and knowing this board, I'm sure someone will as we love proof by small cases around here) - but if you know anything at all about statistics, you know you don't need to. You should quibble about relative weighting and sample size as these averages don't take into account actual sales numbers - though I doubt including them would drag the averages significantly in either direction. The standard deviation would likely tighten up, however.

If you don't know what standard deviation means, go read about it. If you don't know what average means, go away.

So let's run the numbers. Variable width frames were averaged between their thickest and thinnest points. As in racquetfinder, negative balance numbers are head light, positive are head heavy. The typical best selling racket at TW has specs in the ballpark of:

head size (sq in) 98.7 +/- 7.8
length (in) 27.2 +/- 0.3
mass (g) 319.1 +/- 31.5
balance (pts) -4 +/- 6.3
swingweight 324.3 +/- 8.9
stiffness 66.5 +/- 4.5
beam width (mm) 21.8 +/- 3.3
min tension (lb) 53 +/- 2.6
max tension (lb) 63.6 +/- 2.5

Essentially, there's a very narrow range in length and swingweight in popular rackets today, and a wide range (at least in terms of the pea under the mattress princess tennis nerds that hang out here) in head size, static mass, balance, stiffness and beam width. So the meat of the bell curve of head sizes among popular racket models at TW is somewhere between 90 and 106 square inches. Static weight? 290 and 350 grams.

In other words: get over yourselves. There is no evidence that the tennis playing population is or should be playing with a particular kind of racket. At least not the population that buys from TW. People also seem to prefer rackets stiffer than one would expect.

What if you took those averages and plugged them into racquetfinder? With narrow wiggle room (+/- 2 sq inches of hitting area, +/- 1/8 inches in length, +/- 0.25 ounces, +/- 5 swingweight, +/- 2 stiffness, +/- 2 points balance)?The following are rackets in their stock forms should be both "quick enough for the modern game" and also "heavy enough to learn proper stroke mechanics" or whatever other crazy argument you want to get into. These split the difference. Using actual data, even!

Babolat AeroPro Drive
Babolat Pure Storm Team
Dunlop Maxply McEnroe
Prince Triple Threat Warrior Midplus
Prince Turbo Shark Midplus
Tecnifibre TFeel 305
Wilson nPro Surge

Come on. Bring it. You know you want to.

pinky42

New User
Averaging like that doesn't work. It reminds me of the joke about the three statisticians hunting. One takes aim at a bear and misses 5 ft to the right. The next misses 5 ft to the left. The third one yells, "We hit it!"

Buzzlightyear

Rookie
I used the Prince Turbo Shark (my wife is still using) and now using the TFeel 305. So you know my taste for racquets.

I go over the "tweener vs player" argument on the other threads and seems like the fundamental problem is that no one has a clear cut definition for Tweeners or Players. Moreover, the game has change and many strokes that players of the glory good old days used to won Grand Slam has obsolete or at least, well, just changed.

The Player-camp argue that it's unsafe to use some 9 ounces frame (do they exist?) while the Tweener-camp is really talking about some 11 - 11.5 ounces frames.

The Tweener-camp say it's stupid to use some 14 ounces frame in 80" headsize to play today's game while the Player-camp is actually talking about some 12 - 12.5 ounces frames.

At the end of the day, I think both camps are using something between 11 - 12.5 ounces and you can call them whatever you'd like.

I'm using a tweener or whatever you call them and I beat numerous other players using tweeners and players. I also get beaten by numerous other players using both tweeners and players. I see the same case when I was using a player frame (or whatever you call it) 10 years back then.

OK. Let's argue about the color of the frame.

bcaz

Professional
Good analysis, ohplease. It's flawed because you can't weight the results by actual sales by frame, which you can't know from the TW site. Still, a worthy effort to make your point.

Pomeranian

Semi-Pro
If you think that result would be interesting, and are interested in writing down all that information and making an average in every racquet trait, go for it. But I think the result would be a little discouraging as a prediction.

G.O.A.T.
pinky42 said:
Averaging like that doesn't work. It reminds me of the joke about the three statisticians hunting. One takes aim at a bear and misses 5 ft to the right. The next misses 5 ft to the left. The third one yells, "We hit it!"
Ha! What if there was a 4th hunter and it was Cheney?????? ;O and does anyone else now think of Elmer Fudd every time they think of Cheney ?

Professional
pinky42 said:
Averaging like that doesn't work. It reminds me of the joke about the three statisticians hunting. One takes aim at a bear and misses 5 ft to the right. The next misses 5 ft to the left. The third one yells, "We hit it!"
Assuming buckshot (which you should if you want to make your analogy suck less), they did.

Bora

Semi-Pro
So you proved that the racquet mfgs cater to the median with the bulk of their sticks. Great, now, can we put a stop into this tweener vs player stick BS? I mean I think some of the lighter sticks are getting a heck of a lot more stable these days, but there is something to say for the stability and heft of heavy lumber. Did anyone notice that most older pros who retired from the tour are playing with either tweeners or game improvement sticks. How about that?

Professional
Bora said:
So you proved that the racquet mfgs cater to the median with the bulk of their sticks. Great, now, can we put a stop into this tweener vs player stick BS? I mean I think some of the lighter sticks are getting a heck of a lot more stable these days, but there is something to say for the stability and heft of heavy lumber. Did anyone notice that most older pros who retired from the tour are playing with either tweeners or game improvement sticks. How about that?
The racket manufactureres have absolutely nothing to do with where the averages work out. That's a result of the tennis playing/buying population voting with their hard earned cash.

Older pros, that guy down the street, me, you - that's all anecdotal evidence. As my experience is different from yours - why should either of care what the other thinks is "normal?" How can we know what "normal" is? What's the range of "normal?"

That's why I ran the numbers, and the numbers tell us several things:

1) People buy frames at either end of the spectrum and everywhere in between.

2) The average of those best sellers just happen to correspond to some of the best reviewed frames by TW's broad panel of playtesters.

3) There is a huge overlap in "acceptable" or "normal" specs among the tennis racket buying population, regardless of skill level. That implies there's little, if any, correlation between your level and what you "should" be using.

4) Most importantly, the term "tweener" misses the mark. The so-called "player's tweener" is the actual middle ground, at least if you look at the data.

5) The racket manufacturers are actually looking at their sales data and trying to serve their customers needs. Who ever would have guessed?

6) Finally, I should be able to hand anyone not playing tennis for a living, from rank beginner to open level players, any of those "average" rackets and they should be able to go out there and have a good time.

On that last point, in fact I'd go a step farther. People come here looking for racket advice all the time. The new best answer is to buy a clearance "average" frame (LM Rad MP, Maxply, Warrior MP, Pure Control Zylon/nee Storm) - blind, and spend some time with it. In the best case, if they're not too picky, they're good to go. In the worst case, they get to educate themselves as to what direction they'd rather move, and they're out maybe \$100, tops. Heck, even if they are a princess - demo those four, pick one, and you'll do just fine.

Rookie
I think that TW's "best-seller" list is skewed towards players rackets. Some of the frames, like the 6.0's and the POG, are not ones that you can get many places so TW is probably one of the biggest sellers of those frames. Meanwhile there are large percentages of people who buy their frames from local retailers, either specialty shops or large sporting goods stores like Sports Authority or Dick's, and there are very few player's frames available there.

chess9

Hall of Fame

I'm a well-known, dyed-in-the-wool, card carrying elitist snob, so I don't care what the boob-wah-zee buy. They are all out hunting with Cheney for weapons of mass instruction anyway.

-Robert
________
Mercedes-Benz W154 Specifications

Last edited:

mark1

Semi-Pro
The racket manufactureres have absolutely nothing to do with where the averages work out. That's a result of the tennis playing/buying population voting with their hard earned cash.

Older pros, that guy down the street, me, you - that's all anecdotal evidence. As my experience is different from yours - why should either of care what the other thinks is "normal?" How can we know what "normal" is? What's the range of "normal?"

That's why I ran the numbers, and the numbers tell us several things:

1) People buy frames at either end of the spectrum and everywhere in between.

2) The average of those best sellers just happen to correspond to some of the best reviewed frames by TW's broad panel of playtesters.

3) There is a huge overlap in "acceptable" or "normal" specs among the tennis racket buying population, regardless of skill level. That implies there's little, if any, correlation between your level and what you "should" be using.

4) Most importantly, the term "tweener" misses the mark. The so-called "player's tweener" is the actual middle ground, at least if you look at the data.

5) The racket manufacturers are actually looking at their sales data and trying to serve their customers needs. Who ever would have guessed?

6) Finally, I should be able to hand anyone not playing tennis for a living, from rank beginner to open level players, any of those "average" rackets and they should be able to go out there and have a good time.

On that last point, in fact I'd go a step farther. People come here looking for racket advice all the time. The new best answer is to buy a clearance "average" frame (LM Rad MP, Maxply, Warrior MP, Pure Control Zylon/nee Storm) - blind, and spend some time with it. In the best case, if they're not too picky, they're good to go. In the worst case, they get to educate themselves as to what direction they'd rather move, and they're out maybe \$100, tops. Heck, even if they are a princess - demo those four, pick one, and you'll do just fine.
well said ohplease. specifically number one and number six mainly. good post.

Professional
I think that TW's "best-seller" list is skewed towards players rackets. Some of the frames, like the 6.0's and the POG, are not ones that you can get many places so TW is probably one of the biggest sellers of those frames. Meanwhile there are large percentages of people who buy their frames from local retailers, either specialty shops or large sporting goods stores like Sports Authority or Dick's, and there are very few player's frames available there.
Right - this is the "I don't like your sample" argument.

TW *might* have a players frame bias in its sales. Regardless of how true that may or may not be, one could easily argue that TW's customer base is a better representation of the tennis playing public than a place like Sports Authority. In either case, neither of those assertions would trend the "average" frame significantly in either direction.

The point is neither of us has any proof that either of those assertions is correct, and even if we did, I'd bet the answers wouldn't be very different anyway. Think I'm wrong? Let's see your data. I'm not seeing anything more than a hunch, here.

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I don't see any O3's in the list. They are getting quite popular. Are these stats recent?

Rookie
Right - this is the "I don't like your sample" argument.

TW *might* have a players frame bias in its sales. Regardless of how true that may or may not be, one could easily argue that TW's customer base is a better representation of the tennis playing public than a place like Sports Authority. In either case, neither of those assertions would trend the "average" frame significantly in either direction.

The point is neither of us has any proof that either of those assertions is correct, and even if we did, I'd bet the answers wouldn't be very different anyway. Think I'm wrong? Let's see your data. I'm not seeing anything more than a hunch, here.
First of all, you're drawing all of your conclusions based on TW listing certain rackets as best-sellers without ANY knowledge of their criteria for doing so. You don't have any real data. You can't even prove whether or not TW's listing a racket as a best-seller is based on actual sales or an effort to promote that particular frame. So there is no sample to begin with.

Bolt

Semi-Pro
First of all, you're drawing all of your conclusions based on TW listing certain rackets as best-sellers without ANY knowledge of their criteria for doing so. You don't have any real data. You can't even prove whether or not TW's listing a racket as a best-seller is based on actual sales or an effort to promote that particular frame. So there is no sample to begin with.

This is a well constructed rebuttal. Thanks.

Professional
Bolt said:
This is a well constructed rebuttal. Thanks.
It was. The problem is that even with bad data (note that even *I* don't claim that the original input data was good), we sometimes stumble upon good answers. I claim that 1) the original data was better than what most racket arguments start with and 2) the resulting answer was very reasonable.

So let's find better data. From here: http://tennisindustry.org/pdfs/YearEndExecutiveSummary2003.PDF

TOP SELLING TENNIS RACKETS
By Year-To-Date Dollars
January - December 2003

SPECIALTY STORES - Separate Head Sizes
1 BABOLAT PURE DRIVE TEAM (MP)
2 BABOLAT PURE DRIVE+ TEAM (MP)
3 WILSON T3 (OS)
4 DUNLOP 300G (MP)
5 VOLKL CATAPULT 4 (OS)

SPECIALTY STORES - Combined Head Sizes
1 BABOLAT PURE DRIVE TEAM
4 WILSON T5
5 PRINCE MORE CTRL DB800/850

Using the same, unweighted method as before, in the first group, the numbers work out to:

head size (sq in) 103.6 +/- 6.9
length (in) 27.3 +/- 0.3
mass (g) 297.8 +/- 24.4
balance (pts) -2.6 +/- 4.9
swingweight 307.0 +/- 18.2
stiffness 67.4 +/- 2.8
beam width (mm) 24.2 +/- 2.2

...and in the second group:

head size (sq in) 102.2 +/- 4.9
length (in) 27.1 +/- 0.2
mass (g) 308.4 +/- 15.9
balance (pts) -2.8 +/- 4.5
swingweight 312.9 +/- 14.1
stiffness 66.6 +/- 4.3
beam width (mm) 22.4 +/- 1.4

The first average corresponds roughly to: Volkl DNX V1, Babolat Pure Power Zylon 360, Volkl Quantum V-1 Midplus

The second average corresponds roughly to: Pro Kennex Ki 10, Volkl Classic V-1 10 Year Anniversary, Wilson Hyper ProStaff Surge 5.1

There are no traditional player's frames in either of those lists. And even then, there's only a slight movement in the average towards game improvement, though this time the error in not weighting total sales (due to missing data) actually moves the "real" average closer to the previous estimate given the high ranks of the pure drive and LM radical series and the lower ranks of the T3, T5, and Cat 4.

That's "better" data. Is there that much difference in the answers? No. We've moved maybe a half step more towards game improvement and the traditional "tweener" category. Add in sales weighting and we might not have even moved that much. Not to mention the significant overlap between all the average ranges.

Volkl V1? Pure Drive? LM Rad MP? Are those hugely different answers? I don't think so.

Rookie
That's an interesting documents. Here's some of the things I noticed.

The top selling rackets (combined head sizes) correspond to the frames endorsed/played by the top 2 American male pros. I can't prove any correlation but common sense tells me there is one.

Racket sales by Internet/mail order increased dramatically from 2002 to 2003 at the expense of chain sporting goods stores.

Avid and super avid players are more likely to buy through the Internet/mail order.

Players with self-described long and loopy strokes are twice as likely to purchase rackets through the Internet than players with self-described short and compact strokes.

Males are twice as likely as females to purchase rackets through the Internet/mail order.

What conclusions can I race to based on these numbers? TW sales are skewed because an outsize percentage of their customers are avid male players with long and loopy strokes, some of whom want to be like Andy or Andre, and some of whom want to be like Pete.

Professional
That's an interesting documents. Here's some of the things I noticed.

The top selling rackets (combined head sizes) correspond to the frames endorsed/played by the top 2 American male pros. I can't prove any correlation but common sense tells me there is one.

Racket sales by Internet/mail order increased dramatically from 2002 to 2003 at the expense of chain sporting goods stores.

Avid and super avid players are more likely to buy through the Internet/mail order.

Players with self-described long and loopy strokes are twice as likely to purchase rackets through the Internet than players with self-described short and compact strokes.

Males are twice as likely as females to purchase rackets through the Internet/mail order.

What conclusions can I race to based on these numbers? TW sales are skewed because an outsize percentage of their customers are avid male players with long and loopy strokes, some of whom want to be like Andy or Andre, and some of whom want to be like Pete.
Let's say I give you that TW is home of male racket nerds who tend to be better or more avid players. My crazy methodology, using their crazy data, with their crazy user base STILL gets an answer that's simply not that different. It's one step up or down in a typical manufacturers model line, if that.

Bolt

Semi-Pro
Can you post the median of your data sets? Thanks.

wksoh

Semi-Pro
Just for kicks, what frames are marked "best selling" here at TW?

Pure Drive
Pure Drive Plus
Ti.S6
Graphite Mid
Graphite OS
Warrior MP
Warrior OS
nCode 90
nCode 95
PS60 85
PS60 95
Hyper Hammer 5.3 MP
Hyper Hammer 5.3 OS
Hyper Hammer 6.3
RDX 500 Mid
RDX 500 98

You want to speak in generalities? There they are. That list is a fair assessment of frames popular today. Heavy, light, big, small, modern, old school - it's all on there. Quibble about individual entries in that list if you want (and knowing this board, I'm sure someone will as we love proof by small cases around here) - but if you know anything at all about statistics, you know you don't need to. You should quibble about relative weighting and sample size as these averages don't take into account actual sales numbers - though I doubt including them would drag the averages significantly in either direction. The standard deviation would likely tighten up, however.

If you don't know what standard deviation means, go read about it. If you don't know what average means, go away.

So let's run the numbers. Variable width frames were averaged between their thickest and thinnest points. As in racquetfinder, negative balance numbers are head light, positive are head heavy. The typical best selling racket at TW has specs in the ballpark of:

head size (sq in) 98.7 +/- 7.8
length (in) 27.2 +/- 0.3
mass (g) 319.1 +/- 31.5
balance (pts) -4 +/- 6.3
swingweight 324.3 +/- 8.9
stiffness 66.5 +/- 4.5
beam width (mm) 21.8 +/- 3.3
min tension (lb) 53 +/- 2.6
max tension (lb) 63.6 +/- 2.5

Essentially, there's a very narrow range in length and swingweight in popular rackets today, and a wide range (at least in terms of the pea under the mattress princess tennis nerds that hang out here) in head size, static mass, balance, stiffness and beam width. So the meat of the bell curve of head sizes among popular racket models at TW is somewhere between 90 and 106 square inches. Static weight? 290 and 350 grams.

In other words: get over yourselves. There is no evidence that the tennis playing population is or should be playing with a particular kind of racket. At least not the population that buys from TW. People also seem to prefer rackets stiffer than one would expect.

What if you took those averages and plugged them into racquetfinder? With narrow wiggle room (+/- 2 sq inches of hitting area, +/- 1/8 inches in length, +/- 0.25 ounces, +/- 5 swingweight, +/- 2 stiffness, +/- 2 points balance)?The following are rackets in their stock forms should be both "quick enough for the modern game" and also "heavy enough to learn proper stroke mechanics" or whatever other crazy argument you want to get into. These split the difference. Using actual data, even!

Babolat AeroPro Drive
Babolat Pure Storm Team
Dunlop Maxply McEnroe