April 13, 2010

A New Tennis Racquet: Part 2 - Doing Some Research

OK.  Time to start doing some research on tennis racquets.  In my previous post, I talked about asking friends, opponents, etc. about their racquets and what they liked.  This was a great place to start as I heard a lot of interesting stuff about a lot of different racquets.  It also made me realize that no one else is playing with the right racquet for me.  I'm going to have to find it for myself.

So what should I be looking for in a new tennis racquet? Because I want some pretty basic information but I want it to be up-to-date, quick and easy to get to, and free of course, I'm pretty much confining myself to on-line resources. Racquet technology is constantly changing so I don't want to read a book or anything else that might be too out of date. And, while I happen to know that the April issue of Tennis magazine is always a gear guide and probably has some useful info in it, I can't find my April issue. So I'm just looking on-line right now.

To start with, I found some great information in this article: Buying a Tennis Racquet for a Beginner in the Tennis section of the about.com site. I like this article because its not written by a racquet manufacturer or retailer and it assumes you don't know anything at all about racquets. The author talks about the main factors determining how a racquet plays - head size, frame flexibility, length, weight and balance. After reading this, I had a pretty good idea of just what these terms mean and how they can impact the way a racquet feels or performs.

Another good place with some basic, beginner-level racquet discussion can be found at tennis.com, the website for Tennis magazine.  Their article Gear 101: FAQs About Tennis Gear From Beginners provides quick and easy answers to the most basic racquet questions.  Here's a great example:  I’m a beginner. Why should I care about high-tech racquets?  Because most new technologies are designed to help players get better sooner.   (I guess that's not too obvious.)

Tennis.com also has an update on the latest racquets and what technologies the manufacturers are pushing: 2010 Racquet Guide: The Hybrid Revolution.

All of the big on-line retailers, have great guides to purchasing a racquet. I really like the one at Tennis Warehouse:  Selecting the Right Racquet.  The nice thing about this guide is it not only explains the various elements that go into a racquet, it offers suggestions of specific racquets within each of the categories it sets out.  The categories are Power or Game Improvement Racquets, 'Tweener Racquets and Control or Player's Racquets.  So you get a quick idea of just what racquets you might be interested in and about what they cost.

Another good guide can be found on the Tennis Express site: Choosing a Tennis Racquet.  This guide also gets into some of the numbers to help you pick a few racquets that might be right for you.  

Should you wish to read an in-depth analysis of the physics of tennis racquets, try How to Choose the Best Tennis Racquet for Control and Power back in about.com's Tennis section.  A typical sentence from this article:  "On off-long-axis hits, with all other factors being equal, less weight (or less widely placed weight) in the racquet head allows more rotation around the racquet's long axis (torsion), because the racquet head has less mass on either side of the long axis to provide rotational inertia."  It continues like this for a few pages but by the end, you have a better, although probably unnecessary, understanding of exactly what forces are at work when you hit a ball with your racquet.

So where does all of this leave me? I'm now looking for a game improvement or 'tweener or hybrid racquet. This means something a little lighter than what I've been playing with and something with a larger head size and thus a larger sweet spot. So the next step is putting all of my newly acquired tennis racquet knowledge together and picking out some racquets!


© Kim Selzman 2010
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