Why do they know so little about racquet customizing?

Gee

Hall of Fame
Since I visit this forum frequently and I learned very much about racquet customizing I became aware of the lack of knowledge and nonsense talk from my local tennis shops (in Holland). They don't even understand a term as swingweight. When I asked them to explain such a technical term I always got a very strange answer. Then they began to talk faster and inarticulately that confirmed my presumption.

I seldom meet players with racquet knowledge as well. I never met someone who added lead to his/her frame. The funny thing is that nobody seems to notice my lead strips. (I must admit that I never knew about Sampras' lead while I saw him many times playing on TV before I learned this from this forum).

It seems like that only TT members know how to customize and try to increase the swingweight to 340-370.

Our no 1 team (5.5 level) players are using light frames like Head Radical MP, Dunlop 500 and Dunlop AG300. When I try to convince them to use a heavier frame they laugh and ignore me. They simply don't believe they can raise their level a bit with the right racquet.
 
Perhaps Gee these people spend too much time in the coffee shops of Amsterdam. But I digress. I don't know. I played tennis a full 15 years before I even considered customization. Perhaps these are non-professionals or part-timers who work at your local pro shop. Stick to the TT forum. This is a wonderful site that has helped my tennis game tremendously.

BorisBecker
 

Up&comer

Hall of Fame
I actually don't know what my racket's weight strung is, the balance, or even the swingweight. I found a racket I'm comfortable with and that is nice on my arm and I've stuck with it. I think I've reached a pretty high level by focusing on technique with the weight of the racket rather than constantly adjusting my swing to compensate for a changing racket weight. I had a friend match my rackets, but I have no idea of their specs.

Now string...string is a different matter.
 

slowfox

Professional
How many guys do you know that wear a suit to work everyday? And of those guys, how many know the difference between a spread, tab or straight collar? Or a windsor, double windsor, or four-in-hand knot? Barrel cuffs vs French. Pleats or flat front. Herringbone or hounds-tooth. And etc.

My point is some guys just don't care that much, and are fine with whatever. And yes, they'd be better dressed if they knew a thing or two about clothes, but eh... :???: Perhaps the same for some guys and tennis.

Now as for those guys at the local shop, maybe they should learn a little more about their profession. Then again, their ignorance isn't really gonna hurt anyone. It's not like they're doctors with concerns of malpractice...
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I have the same experience in New Hampshire. People that I know that add lead tape do it because they learned it from me. I have a friend that I play regularly and he bought a Wilson racquet - 11 ounces, 100 sq in, very inexpensive (discontinues model). He couldn't generate any pace with it. He added an ounce of lead tape to it and he creams the ball with this thing. I think that you can do that with many cheap, platform racquets.

I like the flexibility that lead tape gives you. You can pick from a wider variety of frames out there and then get it to where you play best.

There's a lot of specialized information on the internet. I was recently surprised at finding YouTube videos on doing car repairs.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
> Now as for those guys at the local shop, maybe they should learn
> a little more about their profession. Then again, their ignorance
> isn't really gonna hurt anyone. It's not like they're doctors with
> concerns of malpractice...

Some shops (perhaps most) don't want to spend the money for an RDC machine. I'm not far from Boston but I am only aware of one shop with an RDC machine within 50 mile of where I work. I've spoken to MRTs in the area hoping that someone could do customization to match racquets none of the few that I called got the concept of matching swingweight.
 
I was never too concerned about specs either. However, I did customize. I started with racquets that I liked the feel. Having some knowledge of physics, I knew I could modify the playing characteristics. However, I never weighed or checked balance. I would just change/add/subtract until it felt good. Still how I do it.
 

t-swede

Semi-Pro
here in sweden where i live even the guys working in the pro shop are clueless about customization , when i asked about head tk82 and tk82s head pallets they look at me like a dear in the headlights !
 

Hi I'm Ray

Professional
Back in the day I just played stock frames, as did almost everyone else I knew, except for maybe one guy on the team and my friend who played for another college (using a PD). Most of us were using heavy players frames as they were the standard back then (tweeners weren't popular yet). There was only one guy on our team that was using a super light Wilson Hyper Hammer and he was suffering from bad arm pains as the season went on. The lighter weight of the tweeners I now prefer playing with is what drove me to explore customations. I was missing the heft, so I started experimenting with lead tape and I'm glad I did. Even players frames can stand a little bit of additional lead to bring it up to a more familiar SW if thats what you're used to.
 
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connico

Rookie
Our no 1 team (5.5 level) players are using light frames like Head Radical MP, Dunlop 500 and Dunlop AG300. When I try to convince them to use a heavier frame they laugh and ignore me. They simply don't believe they can raise their level a bit with the right racquet.
Most people don't care; because they don't want to or have no need too.

AND

You can not simply raise your level of tennis by applying some lead tape and customising, that is a fallacy. Are you in the same league as the 5.5s. Maybe they are laughing because its coming from someone that isn't playing on the same level they are?

And

No one see's my tape because they are all under my head guard and handle. The only time people may see the lead tape is when I'm experimenting with a new racquet.
 

Gee

Hall of Fame
You can not simply raise your level of tennis by applying some lead tape and customising, that is a fallacy.
Of course I don't mean that like this.
You 'll raise your level much more by improving your technique, tactic, physical stamina and mental skills.
But playing with the right racquet 'll help a little as well. For example look at Sare Errani who is playing now with an extended length frame. Nadal added a bit of lead to his frames this year and he finally won once again from Djokovic into the French Open final.


No one see's my tape because they are all under my head guard and handle. The only time people may see the lead tape is when I'm experimenting with a new racquet.
Why did you customize your frame with lead?
 
D

decades

Guest
the dirty little secret is that racquet customization is 90% placebo. if you are 4.0 with a "custom" stick and you hand an off the shelf wal mart special to a 4.5, then play 2 sets, he will beat you with it. like a drum.
 

jmverdugo

Hall of Fame
the other thing about customization is that it is a really long process, I would say a life time process, pros did not come up to what they have in a couple of months or years, it all started when they were kids, for most rec players I would say that it is better just to buy something similar to what they are used to and forget about the rest, we do not need and extra variable on our tennis equation, which is already pretty complicated as it is.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
> the dirty little secret is that racquet customization is 90% placebo.
> if you are 4.0 with a "custom" stick and you hand an off the shelf
> wal mart special to a 4.5, then play 2 sets, he will beat you with it.
> like a drum.

There are a lot of other things that you can do to improve your game: nutrition, fitness, agility, endurance, strength, lessons, etc. If you have already taken care of the other stuff, then tuning your racquet can improve various aspects of your game including arm and shoulder health. The effect is probably smaller than the other large things but there's nothing wrong with looking at all optimizations.

Something as simple as sunglasses or wearing a hat or visor can improve your match performance. Same with eating enough before a match and making sure that you have sufficient electrolytes.
 

Rich

New User
Most sports shops in The Netherlands that I know of are a joke. I like Volkl racquets. Most employees in my local shops don't even know that brand, let alone that they sell them. It's hard to find shops that sell 'players racquets' at all, whatever brand. Thank goodness for the internet and shops like Tennis Warehouse.
 

Fuji

Legend
We have a shop here in the city that functions as a pro shop, but as far as I know they only do matching with lead tape, no silicone. Last time I gave them a call to see if they could match my frames, the guy did seem a bit flustered that my 5 6.1 95s weren't perfectly on spec.

-Fuji
 

T-Vex

Rookie
> the dirty little secret is that racquet customization is 90% placebo.
> if you are 4.0 with a "custom" stick and you hand an off the shelf
> wal mart special to a 4.5, then play 2 sets, he will beat you with it.
> like a drum.

There are a lot of other things that you can do to improve your game: nutrition, fitness, agility, endurance, strength, lessons, etc. If you have already taken care of the other stuff, then tuning your racquet can improve various aspects of your game including arm and shoulder health. The effect is probably smaller than the other large things but there's nothing wrong with looking at all optimizations.

Something as simple as sunglasses or wearing a hat or visor can improve your match performance. Same with eating enough before a match and making sure that you have sufficient electrolytes.
This is so true!

Tennis is a sport of tinny little impacts, possibly more than any sport in the world! So many things influence the outcome of a single match! Players oscillate in their match-form depending on a number of variables like physical condition, prematch nutrition, daily mental freshness (especially with recreational players is this important!), spacial conditions (I find tough to play no where near my top game at certain grounds - it defenitely has a lot with spacial perception, since tennis is a game that relies HUGELY on eye-hand coordination), racket specs (a whole new world), string conditions that are highly influenced by weather conditions (which also affect many aspects of one's game), etc, etc...

After all this being said, it's a bit dull to state racket issues are 90% placebo. Maybe to guys that never change anything with their racket, not even for years (believe me, I've seen few 4.0 players never changed their strings?!?!), maybe for begginers - but for me, I noticed I am able to feel more and more to racket/string technologies as I progress as a player!!


Recently I changed to a 35g lighter racket having thought it would'nt had felt as a big change - oh my lord was I wrong! It felt like a completely different sport, as a new beggining! Only because of those tinny little 35 grams?!?

Placebo??
I think not, no way placebo effect can make me "forget" to swing my backand, my stronger and more reliable shot!
 
Customizing a racquet doesn't mean one is the superior player than one that doesn't customize his/her frame.

There are people who customize a racquet because the minute differences have a huge impact in their game. Then there are people who customize a racquet just to customize and say "look how much lead I have!"
 

TennisCJC

Legend
> the dirty little secret is that racquet customization is 90% placebo.
> if you are 4.0 with a "custom" stick and you hand an off the shelf
> wal mart special to a 4.5, then play 2 sets, he will beat you with it.
> like a drum.

There are a lot of other things that you can do to improve your game: nutrition, fitness, agility, endurance, strength, lessons, etc. If you have already taken care of the other stuff, then tuning your racquet can improve various aspects of your game including arm and shoulder health. The effect is probably smaller than the other large things but there's nothing wrong with looking at all optimizations.

Something as simple as sunglasses or wearing a hat or visor can improve your match performance. Same with eating enough before a match and making sure that you have sufficient electrolytes.
I disagree that customization is "placebo". I started customizing about 6 years ago. I was playing thin beam rackets at the time. I remember my TF 320 (older square beam model) specifically as my "revelation" moment. It was a very good stock racket but I added a total of 8 grams just above 2/9 o'c which moved the balance to 6 HL which was still fine for maneuverability. I went to practice with the customized version and from the first ball it was like "holy crap, this is great". Easy power, stability thru the roof. It was much better with the customization. I now tend to buy solid rackets around 11 oz and tweak them to what I want.

I do agree that equipment is a small portion of the total equation as long as your equipment is in the "reasonable" range for your level. So, yes technique and athleticism are more important. But, customizing a racket does improve performance a bit too - not just a placebo.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I think that there may be a placebo effect for small amounts of lead but the effects are very real. I was hitting with my regular frames indoors yesterday (we've had a lot of forecasts of scattered thunderstorms which makes playing outdoors tricky) and I had trouble keeping the ball in the court. I took off the dampener and that did help. I could have taken off some of the lead tape too.

I added lead for playing outdoors. I find that I lose some pace and depth on the ball playing outdoors compared to indoors and it's nice to be able to add or remove a little tape depending on conditions. Playing with balls that were already used may also be a good reason for adding a bit of lead.
 

bigmatt

Semi-Pro
This is so true!

Tennis is a sport of tinny little impacts, possibly more than any sport in the world! So many things influence the outcome of a single match! Players oscillate in their match-form depending on a number of variables like physical condition, prematch nutrition, daily mental freshness (especially with recreational players is this important!), spacial conditions (I find tough to play no where near my top game at certain grounds - it defenitely has a lot with spacial perception, since tennis is a game that relies HUGELY on eye-hand coordination), racket specs (a whole new world), string conditions that are highly influenced by weather conditions (which also affect many aspects of one's game), etc, etc...

After all this being said, it's a bit dull to state racket issues are 90% placebo. Maybe to guys that never change anything with their racket, not even for years (believe me, I've seen few 4.0 players never changed their strings?!?!), maybe for begginers - but for me, I noticed I am able to feel more and more to racket/string technologies as I progress as a player!!


Recently I changed to a 35g lighter racket having thought it would'nt had felt as a big change - oh my lord was I wrong! It felt like a completely different sport, as a new beggining! Only because of those tinny little 35 grams?!?

Placebo??
I think not, no way placebo effect can make me "forget" to swing my backand, my stronger and more reliable shot!
35 grams is over an ounce of weight. It's not "tiny"!
 

pkshooter

Semi-Pro
Lol yesterday I just saved a grown *** man from getting a head os ti for 70 bucks. The guy helping him had no idea what he was talking about... Convinced him to get a micro gel radical instead.
 

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
Standard experience for the vast majority of rec players:

1. Go to major sporting goods chain

2. Purchase whatever's being pushed by retailer, the frame that swings really fast/light, or "the frame that Nadal/Federer/Djoker/ Sharapova/Williams" uses.

3. Store staff (teenager who learned how to pull strings through holes last week) strings frame with NXT 17 at mid-tension

4. MIGHT get frame restrung one day...maybe...

With their light, stiff frame, and dead multifilament trampoline stringbed they spend the rest of their tennis career tapping tentatively at the ball for fear of hitting long. And they wear a brace or magnet on their arm due to chronic tennis elbow caused by the stiff frame and bad form.

Their Saturday morning doubles consists of serving hard into the net or long, then dinking in the inevitable second serve waiter-style, and then engaging in long exchanges of high lobs (ladies) or smacking the ball over the fence with their rocket launcher as they try to imitate Nadal (men).

At no time are they actually fitted with a frame given their physique and at no time does anyone consider how their playing style and choice of frame should drive their string type and tension.

When some are finally exposed to this knowledge and fit properly it's like the discovery of fire by cavemen! Their elbow stops hurting! They can take a full and proper swing with good follow through without sending the ball over the fence! They no longer tap the ball like they're afraid of it.

One retail worker told me he was instructed NOT to figure out what frame and string is best for a given customer. Takes too much time. He was told to agree with whatever sold quickest and get the customer out the door asap. He quit in frustration.

The tennis industry is its own worst enemy.
 
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Fuji

Legend
Standard experience for the vast majority of rec players:

1. Go to major sporting goods chain

2. Purchase whatever's being pushed by retailer, the frame that swings really fast/light, or "the frame that Nadal/Federer/Djoker/ Sharapova/Williams" uses.

3. Store staff (teenager who learned how to pull strings through holes last week) strings frame with NXT 17 at mid-tension

4. MIGHT get frame restrung one day...maybe...

With their light, stiff frame, and dead multifilament trampoline stringbed they spend the rest of their tennis career tapping tentatively at the ball for fear of hitting long. And they wear a brace or magnet on their arm due to chronic tennis elbow caused by the stiff frame and bad form.

Their Saturday morning doubles consists of serving hard into the net or long, then dinking in the inevitable second serve waiter-style, and then engaging in long exchanges of high lobs (ladies) or smacking the ball over the fence with their rocket launcher as they try to imitate Nadal (men).

At no time are they actually fitted with a frame given their physique and at no time does anyone consider how their playing style and choice of frame should drive their string type and tension.

When some are finally exposed to this knowledge and fit properly it's like the discovery of fire by cavemen! Their elbow stops hurting! They can take a full and proper swing with good follow through without sending the ball over the fence! They no longer tap the ball like they're afraid of it.

One retail worker told me he was instructed NOT to figure out what frame and string is best for a given customer. Takes too much time. He was told to agree with whatever sold quickest and get the customer out the door asap. He quit in frustration.

The tennis industry is its own worst enemy.
This post is pretty much dead on with any major retail sports store I've seen.

I've been offered numerous jobs to work at said stores because of the knowledge I've gained on forums like this. Sometimes it blows me away that their sales staff don't even know the difference between head light and head heavy rackets... That being said, in Canada, one of our major retailers is looking at becoming more tennis efficient and the staff are attempting to learn the basics in fitting people with the right frames. It's definitely a step in the right direction.

-Fuji
 

pkshooter

Semi-Pro
^lol my third racket (first one stolen, second one broke off a mishit) the sales man pushed an os at me and when I said I wanted a smaller head for more control, he denied that rackets came in diff. head sizes. For some reason my mom wanted that racket for me, the guy sold it to my mom and I ended up having to use it. When we were leaving the store my dad commented on how helpful he was, and my mom gave the cashier the sales man name with a smile.
Face and palm
 

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
An employee at a store which claims to be an Authority on Sports asked me what the numbers on string packages mean (he was referring to the gauge).

He was the new manager of the tennis section.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
> An employee at a store which claims to be an Authority on
> Sports asked me what the numbers on string packages
> mean (he was referring to the gauge).

You could have said that it's the quality rating of the string to see if he believed you.
 

JohnB

Rookie
Depending on which store you go, you get reasonable good advice. I am often interested in the why part. For example: say someone wants to choose between the PD and the APD. One is spinnier. Please explain to me why. There is a shop that explained it. He said it's about different flexes in different directions and I believe he also said that it was due to the aerodesign, which gives a whippier stroke. More often than not, they leave you guessing.
 

kgeonz

New User
Our no 1 team (5.5 level) players are using light frames like Head Radical MP, Dunlop 500 and Dunlop AG300. When I try to convince them to use a heavier frame they laugh and ignore me. They simply don't believe they can raise their level a bit with the right racquet.
Haha I use a Head Microgel Radical MP and it wasn't until this summer I started customizing and made it around 12.5 (350g if i'm not mistaken) and it rasied my skill level a bunch. I noticed I don't have to use more effort and I still generate roughly the same groundstroke speed when I didn't use lead tape. But for sure, lead tape and a bit of customization to suit your particular game helps a whole lot!
 

connico

Rookie
Of course I don't mean that like this.
You 'll raise your level much more by improving your technique, tactic, physical stamina and mental skills.
But playing with the right racquet 'll help a little as well. For example look at Sare Errani who is playing now with an extended length frame. Nadal added a bit of lead to his frames this year and he finally won once again from Djokovic into the French Open final.

Why did you customize your frame with lead?
A player has to reach a certain level of play to start noticing any differencing with playing with lead.

I customise my frames to get them to match and to the specification I can comfortablity play with. I customise because I feel I need too.

Many don't feel the need too. Many buy a racquet off the shelf and are very comfortable with the frame. Some dont have the time to customise, its not just a matter of sticking lead and playing, its trial and error and then a science too.

At higher levels the little things matter, such as the head weight of a racquet etc.
 

SFrazeur

Legend
All most all Tennis pro shops are retail establishments. They are in the business to sell a consumer a new or different product, not to customize a racquet to a players needs.

-SF
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
> Many don't feel the need too. Many buy a racquet off the
> shelf and are very comfortable with the frame. Some dont
> have the time to customise, its not just a matter of sticking
> lead and playing, its trial and error and then a science too.

It makes sense to customize if you like Wilson frames. There QC is so bad that you might buy two of the same model and they feel completely different.

I have two K90s bought at different times and realized after a while that I always used only one of them and the other I only used when my favorite was being strung. Many years later I bought a kitchen scale and found out that there was a big weight variance between the two. I also found out that this was a very common problem when I moved onto my KPS88s. I bought three and they weighed 12.7, 12.9 and 13.1 ounces. I later bought two more that were very light before customization and they came in at 12.6 and 12.8 stock. So a total variance of half-an-ounce between the lightest and heaviest.
 
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