HEAD Graphene PWR InstinctTennis Racquet Review
Graphene is the lightest, strongest material in the world, and Head had used it in a very innovative manner in its racquets. In the past, racquet manufacturers have used lightweight materials to reduce overall racquet weight significantly, and have had to dramatically increase head weighting to maintain a stable hitting platform. This use of technology has increased swingweight and power, but has reduced other areas of racquet performance where weight is a bonus, like recoilweight (resistance to “kicking back” in the hand at net) and twistweight (resistance to twisting on off-center hits). Head has chosen a new, and novel, approach with Graphene technology.
By using Graphene to make a lighter racquet shaft, Head has been able to take the leftover weight and place it in the head and handle areas of the frame. This has enabled racquet weights to stay pretty much the same, but swingweight has increased noticeably. So, by leaving weight in the racquet, Head has increased power, but maintained, and even increased, other performance characteristics, offering players a more powerful and efficient racquet with greater stability.
The extra weight in the racquet head leads to increased ability of the racquet tip to accelerate and “plow through” the ball from the baseline, allowing you not only more power, but also the ability to fight off your opponent’s strongest shots. Extra weighting in the handle helps keep the racquet from recoiling, or kicking back, in your hand at net, allowing better control and less stress on the arm.
The PWR Instinct ties the Graphene PWR Speed for the largest head size (115 square inches) in Head’s 2013 line. At 7.9 oz. (224g) unstrung weight, the PWR Instinct is Head’s lightest frame this year. A 6-point head heavy balance should lend stability to that low mass, and a low (for this segment) swingweight of 301 should make the PWR Instinct easy to maneuver from net or baseline. An open 16x19 “fan” string pattern should help make the PWR Instinct even more powerful, comfortable and spin-friendly in the upper parts of the string bed. A 29mm constant beam and a solid flex of 70 team up with Head’s longest frame length for 2013 (27 2/3”) to make the PWR Instinct a fast stick with maximum power potential for slower-swinging players.
Another interesting twist to Head’s Graphene series is the drilling of the string holes. At the top, all of the “main” main strings (the first 6) are drilled straight down the head, instead of at an angle, reminiscent of Babolat’s Woofer system (where they differ from the Woofer design is that the center mains at the throat are not drilled this way). The more direct alignment of the center main strings should make for less friction from string movement and more direct power transference on all shots.
From the Baseline
The PWR Instinct’s low weight is immediately apparent, allowing you to generate wicked racquet speed and take a huge swing at the ball if you desire. You can feel (and hear) the stiff, hollow frame on impact as the ball rockets away (use a string vibration dampener if this sound bugs you). The open string pattern really grabs the ball on shots with any kind of spin: topspin, slice or sidespin groundstrokes have a little extra something on them for your opponent to deal with. Balls hit high on the face are still pretty powerful and controlled thanks to the wide beams, head weighting and fan string pattern. Catch one low on the face and you can get a “flier”, but it took a lot of racquet speed to do so. If the ball gets on you too quickly, the lightness of the PWR Instinct allows you to take a short, choppy swing and play defense with ease. The stiff, widebody frame does communicate its firmness on every shot (the fan pattern helps dissipate a fair amount of shock), so forgiving strings like Head Intellistring, Tecnifibre TGV or Dunlop Silk would be good choices for the PWR Instinct, as they would be for any racquet of this type.
All in all, the PWR Instinct is a great baseline stick for offensive or defensive play.
At Net and Serving
The PWR Instinct’s length is a bit of a drag on its quickness at net, especially on balls hit right at the body, but its low weight makes it pretty easy to get in front of you on all but the fastest passing shots. Touch is not its strong suit (like most wide-beamed frames), but you can power away sitters and swing volleys quite simply. Getting the racquet up above your head is easy thanks to the low weight, and the extra leverage provided by its length will have you begging for lobs to put away.
The same things that make you look forward to hitting overheads with the PWR Instinct will also have you loving to serve with it. Easy to swing overhead, you can generate a ton of racquet speed on any serve you choose to hit, and the fan pattern contributes maximum spin potential to slice and kick serves. The length also provides access to areas of the service box you couldn’t reach before. You’ll “play taller” on serves with the PWR Instinct than you ever have before.
The PWR Instinct uses Head’s new Hydrosorb Comfort grip, and it is much softer and more comfortable than Head’s previous grips. The bumper guard has weight-saving slots somewhat comparable to the Graphene PWR Prestige’s slotted strip, so more aggressive net players will want to watch for wear on repeated low volleys. The blue and white paint job with silver trim is in keeping with the rest of the Instinct line, and has a great look on the court.
The Head Graphene PWR Instinct is, in this writer’s humble opinion, the standout frame in Head’s PWR series for 2013. Light weight and easy to swing, it provides more than enough power for beginning to intermediate baseline and all-court players with low to moderate swing speeds (a lot of the tennis-playing community). It may actually be an even greater benefit on the serve, its low mass and high power helping these players be more successful with the hardest shot in the game. If this description matches your style of play demo the Graphene PWR Instinct today.