For 2017, Head just wants everyone to “feel” good about their racquet again. The new Head Graphene Touch Instinct S aims to please the players looking an ultra light, fast frame that has loads of spin and a comfortable feel. An update to Head’s existing Graphene technology, Graphene Touch incorporates a rubberized dampening material known as Kraibon to the construction. The result is a dampened feel that still produces easy power. Head reduced the head size to 100 inches for added control and thickened up the beam in the throat for improved stability. This frame targets up and coming juniors and players with shorter slower strokes and I took to the court with it to see what it could bring to the table for those players.
Power was readily available with the Touch Instinct S. The 23/26/23 mm beam offered plenty of pace from both sides at the baseline. At 10.1 oz strung, I found it easy to accelerate through contact and ratchet up the pace on my shots. The sweep spot was ample even with the reduction in head size compared to the previous S model. While there was a slight power drop high in the string bed, it didn’t impact my shotmaking on a large scale. This model had the same point and shoot power on defensive shots that I enjoyed in the heavier model. Similar to the MP, the directional control with the racquet was a bit limited. It was so easy to generate power that I tended to send balls out if I got too aggressive in hitting to the lines. Spin production was excellent with the racquet. The easy speed and spin friendly 16 x 19 pattern made it a breeze to put topspin on my groundstrokes. It was effortless for me to increase the margin on my shots at will. The frame needed a bit more weight to step in and flatten out shots but players with shorter strokes shouldn’t have issues there. While the frame did a great job redirecting shots on defense, there was some instability against hard shots. The light overall weight left it vulnerable to twisting against heavier hitters. The upside was that there was plenty of room for customizing to spec as the player develops.
Volleys & Serves
The Touch Instinct S was incredibly fast at the net. During volley exchanges, I was consistently able to position the racquet and snap off reflex volleys. The fast feel also rewarded aggression as I used the power and speed to make short work of anything opponents left sitting up for me. The lightness of the frame made it a little harder to pick small targets without floating the ball so I focused on simply driving volleys through the court as much as possible. Touch volleys were a little challenging due to the limited feel and the speed at which the ball exited the string bed. Developing players and juniors should find adequate stability when defending at net but players would likely want to customize later on in order to improve the racquet’s stability as the pace of play increases.
Utilizing spin was my favorite part of serving with the Touch Instinct S. The low weight allowed me to create pace easily but the ball simply lacked the heavy penetration through the court that a heavier racquet would have offered. I had more success using spin to frustrate returners. The easy head speed and open pattern yielded great action on my kick serve. I was consistently able to have it explode up and out of their strike zones, creating opportunity for me on the first ball. My slice serve also moved well but a bit more weight would have kept it a bit lower in the court and made it more challenging.
Using a moniker like Graphene “Touch” was a little bit of a misnomer when it came to the feel of this frame for me. It was so muted on contact that I found it challenging to pull off touch shots. I was a bit disconnected from the ball and while I appreciated the lack of harshness, I would have liked a little more feedback from the racquet. I had no issues comfort wise. The S was slightly more flexible than the MP model, creating additional softness for players with delicate arms. With such a dampened feel, players should try some different string combinations to find the right balance of feel and comfort for their game.
Head continues to advance their usage of Graphene with this latest update. The frame provides ample power and spin for players needing a bit of extra help in those departments. It is easy to maneuver at the net and provides excellent spin on serves. The feel will be subjective but the Head Graphene Touch Instinct S is a can’t miss option for developing players and rising juniors who want a fast, powerful option that plays easy on the arm and has the capability to grow with them.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.