Is this instance we are talking about racquet weight. Not the few pounds we put on yesterday, Thanksgiving Day!
In the early 1990’s we made a tennis racquet which weighed slightly over 7 ounces. Awesome, some said! This racquet traveled along with the standard weight racquets in the line and was available for anyone to hit with.
“Hit” in this case is a misnomer because the mass of the racquet was not enough to get the ball over the net in most cases! Instead of a “hit” it was like a light “shove”!
With out a doubt the weight of a racquet must be “usable”. Take a look at these brief warm-up videos to see weight in action then we will find out how much these racquets weigh and the swing weight…
This is a Wilson Blade 98 18×20 pattern. Racquet weight is 329 grams (11.61 Oz.) with a swing weight of 332 kg/cm^2.
Next let’s take a look at a different player…
This is a Head Radical with the Pro Cap System creating a racquet that weighs 340 grams (11.99 ounces) with a swing weight of 349 kg/cm^2.
It is obvious that both payers are swinging the racquet with gusto and it should be obvious that the racquets are stable on impact and this stability is necessary for power and control.
So the next time your oppponent asks if you have “gained weight” it will because the ball is coming at them with more “heaviness”! And you can repsond “yes!” with a smile on your face! Just like Robert, Sophie, and Aleks!
It seems like I am talking about where things have gone a lot recently but it is important, I think, to recognize what differences disappearing things make!
The mention of Swing Weight (inertia) causes many reactions from “who cares” to it “is the most important thing about my racquet”! So to be clear swing weight is the most important dynamic characteristic of a racquet while leading up to contact with the ball.
OK, that is out of the way but what contributes to swing weight? The weight distribution of a racquet determines swing weight and it can be changed (increased) by adding weight strategically on the racquet. The best possible use of added weight occurs around the mid point of the racquet face. This is sort of 3 and 9 o’clock. Obviously adding weight to the very tip of the racquet will add more swing weight with less overall weight but this location does not have the benefit of added torsional stability.
Here is the genesis of this post: I received four (4) racquets from a manufacturer to put together for a client. This includes cutting to length installing pallets, butt cap, grip, and any other customization that is required. Before I do anything I take data from each racquet in the “raw” form.
In this particular case there was a slight variation in swing weight. That is not an issue but what happens next is. I will be very brief.
Three (3) of the four (4) racquets had a Poly/Gut (1.27mm and 1.30mm) hybrid format and the third had a all polyester format. The all polyester format was 1.11mm! Very thin string, hence, disappearing weight. So, you know what is coming now…the swing weight of this racquet was much lower than the others.
So, you can have several racquets in your bag but unless they are strung with very similar string the swing weight may be different. Most players can feel the difference in a few units so it helps to know “where did my swing weight go?”
I always match the racquets. If the player switches to a different string modify the swing weight suit it!
Swing weight is the primary weight a player feels when the racquet is swinging toward a ball. Therefore, swing weight is the most important characteristic of a racquet.
So, how much swing weight can you use, and, how do I get it?
Swing weight can be added by applying heavy tape to areas on the racquet in front of the grip position. Anything behind that area will not enhance swing weight. Another way is to increase the length of the racquet. While I do this, it is not a recommended method for most players due to cost. There are long racquets available from manufacturers if you are interested.
My swing weight recommendations go something like this:
Club Level: 315
College Level: 330
These are the numbers you would see on a swing weight device such as the Babolat RDC, Alpha Accuswing, and Prince RTC. Calculated numbers will be different because they are calculated from the very end of the racquet instead of 10cm in front of the very end of the racquet.
Of course there are no limits on swing weight if you can handle it. More swing weight will deliver more energy to the ball, assuming you can swing it!
Just yesterday I did a complete customization of a new Prince racquet and increased the swing weight, unstrung, to 388! That would end up being about 417 after stringing! Huge! This player can handle the swing weight but it required a substantial amount of work.
Swing weight is your friend so when you find the “right one” treat it nicely!
One of the most important characteristics of a racquet is the swing weight, or inertia. This is really the dynamic weight of the racquet and is a measure of power potential, i.e. the higher the swing weight the more power the racquet can produce.
Of course there is a trade-off, and that is maneuverability. If you cross the threshold into massive swing weight, such as 350 and up you are going to be really tired of swinging that thing, unless you are a touring professional and even then that is a big swing weight.
So, without going into a lot of detail I would like to see everyone using a swing weight of not less than 315. If you are not sure what your swing weight is bring your racquets by the shop and I can test them for you. If necessary swing weight can be increased.
Remember, in tennis, weight is your friend. On the racquet that is.