Racquet Customization 101: Sweat the Small Stuff

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Being in the business of racquet customization, I am constantly surrounded by players (like myself) that are very particular about their equipment.  Many start out slowly in the sport, usually with a used or big chain store-bought racquet  After all, you never know whether your newly found hobby will turn into some serious competition or remain as an occasional activity for sunny Sunday afternoons.  Assuming you have followed the former path, chances are you have moved on to purchasing a “performance” frame (or two or three) and have become enlightened into the world of stringing.  In my experience, the more time invested in the sport, the greater the need to have confidence in your equipment.  If you have yet to experience the anxiety of breaking a string in the middle of a crucial match, it can be an extremely unsettling feeling.  Knowing that over in your bag sits an identical back-up racquet can do wonders for your piece of mind; the opposite can also have you second guessing your chances.

Having an identical back-up racquet (or two or three) means having more than just the same model frame sitting idly by your side.  Everything that goes into or on your frame will affect the three big spec’s of racquets: static weight, swing weight and the balance point.  A vibration dampener can often add 5 or more grams to the static weight and make the racquet swing a little heavier as it is placed in the string-bed higher than the midpoint. Overgrips are one of the most overlooked additions that alters the vital stats; a concentration of weight on the handle can easily make the frame a point or two more headlight that the previous balance.  I see a lot of bumper guard tape on frames which easily increases the swing weight and  makes the racquet more head heavy.Strings can alter a racquet beyond just their playing characteristics.  Two similar strings of different gauges can vary substantially in weight, thus altering the frame’s stats.

300 1 Black Front

Want to know the worst part?  Even if you have your racquets setup identically (strings, grips, dampeners etc.) chances are they will still differ in static weight, swing weight and balance; possibly up to half an ounce.  We can thank poor quality control from racquet manufacturers for this discrepancy.  This is how we can explain the fact that players often have a racquet that is their “favorite”.  This choice isn’t just in your head; with differing weights among your gear you are bound to prefer one over the others.

What can you do to ensure you have identical (or at least similar) racquets?  Here are a few tips for piece of mind and confidence in your equipment:

1. If buying new frames, ask your dealer if you can weigh them on a scale.  If they have good stock of frames, you can make sure to buy the two or three (out of five or so) that are the closest in weight.

2. Make sure your racquet setup (grip, overgrip, strings, dampener, etc.) is the same for each racquet.  Even though each aspect that differs doesn’t make a huge difference in weight, a little goes a long way in how a racquet will respond on court.

3. Get your racquets custom matched.  This is the only way to completely ensure that every racquet has an identical static weight, swing weight and balance point.  It may seem overkill, but you can’t put a price on confidence and piece of mind.

If you have any additional questions about customization, please contact me through Sweetspot Tennis , where I offer affordable racquet customization and matching.

Look for more customization blogs in the near future.

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