Why You Need to Guard Your Head Guard
It happens to all of us. Shortly after purchasing a brand new tennis racquet, you get it strung up, remove the plastic from the grip, and head to the courts. You strike a few shots fairly timidly, being slightly protective of your new investment. Perhaps not the first time out, but certainly within the first few weeks, you get the first scratch or “road rash” on your beautiful new racquet. It is like seeing a small scratch or ding on your new car. It hurts the heart a little bit, but the car still operates the way it is supposed to.
Your racquet will still function, as well, and you may actually be more comfortable battling with it now that you aren’t worried about its pristine cosmetic.
That being said, a chipped or damaged head guard can expose graphite and damage the racquet. The head guard acts as the last line of defense for the top of the frame, and absorbs quite a bit of the impact, while protecting the structural integrity of the racquet.
Though, a word to the wise, the head guard is not meant to save your racquet if it is smashed or thrown :). Occasionally, when digging out a low ball with a slice, the head guard will chip, and a piece may break off or come loose. While most would simply cut the loose piece off and move on, this is not a permanent solution.
Everything on and in a tennis racquet adds weight. The grip, strings, grommets, and head guard all slightly alter the racquet’s balance and swing weight. This means the racquet can play and feel different than you are used to.
A damaged head guard needs to be replaced, but you can wait until the next time you get the racquet strung because the head guard can’t be changed without restringing.
I mentioned them a little earlier, but grommets are also integral to racquet performance. They ensure the string and frame interact properly to give you the utmost performance. If you have a racquet for long enough, and you restring often, the grommets will need to be replaced, as well.
When grommets get worn down, the strings can break prematurely because the sharp frame holes cut into the string. Occasionally, grommets can break on a mis-hit and come loose. This creates an annoying rattle because the plastic has broken off inside the frame, or is sliding around while attached to the string. Most racquets come with a removable “trap door” butt cap, so you can open up the bottom of the handle and shake the debris (broken grommet) out.
The good news is that grommets and head guards are sold in the same package, and are cheaper than most re-string fees. By replacing damaged head guards and grommets, you will prolong the life of your racquet, and make sure it keeps the feel you loved from the first demo.
If you are in need of new grommets and a head guard, head over to our store! When ordering, get two so if you are playing a tournament and one breaks, you will have a spare. Most tournament sites (pro shops) won’t carry your racquet’s head guard in stock. For more tips on tennis gear, keep it right here at the Tennis Express Blog.
Play Tester: Sam Jones
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 207 lbs
NTRP Rating: 5.0
Plays: Right Handed, Two-Handed Backhand
Background: Sam currently works at Tennis Express on the Content Marketing team. He previously played at Southwestern University, taught tennis for 10+ years and earned his Master Racquet Technician Certification in 2011. He is an active USTA League and Tournament player at the 5.0+ level. He secretly wants Djokovic to become the GOAT in tennis.