A hurting arm makes it no fun to play tennis! So we need to keep your arm from hurting. Typically players associate hurting with stiff, lightweight racquets which may be true. We know that weight is your friend when it comes to comfort. I have written about this many times and most players accept the concept but simply don’t think they can play with a heavier racquet.
Well, don’t worry too much because we can make the stiff racquet feel “softer” by focusing on “effective stiffness”. Effective Stiffness is a calculated number based on the racquet stiffness, that can not be changed, and the string bed stiffness that can be changed.
That means the lower the string bed stiffness the lower the “effective stiffness” will be. By knowing the “effective stiffness” of a racquet/string combination we can customize the string bed stiffness to create almost any feel you want. Our diagnostic equipment makes it easy for us to collect “effective stiffness” number for any racquet at any time. For example if your racquet is feeling particularly good right now we can capture the current “effective stiffness” and duplicate this number the next time we string the racquet.
This is a very simplified version of what can be a complex discussion so please accept it as such.
Many racquet manufacturers include frame stiffness in their specifications that are viewed by the consumer. What exactly does that number mean to you?
Well, very simply, stiffer racquets will provide a little more power because the racquet is not loosing the bending energy, and a less stiff racquet may be a little more comfortable.
As a player there is very little you can do to decrease the stiffness other than bashing the racquet into the court then there is no issue!
However, your racquet technician can make your very own racquet feel “softer”! There is a little used characteristic called “effective stiffness” that I calculate for every racquet I do. I am not going into the formula for that stiffness here but if you go for a lower string bed stiffness it will, obviously, create a more flexible “feeling” unit.
So, if you have a racquet with a stiffness of 70 (RDC) and a string bed stiffness of 65 (RDC) you have an effective stiffness of 32.31 (which is pretty high). Now, if that is perfect for you it can be replicated from racquet to racquet. If you know the racquet stiffness you can arrive at the correct string bed stiffness to yield the desired effective stiffness.