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Key Racquet Terms

 

Key Racquet Terms

 

 

Balance - Also referred to as “static balance,” it is the point where a racquet will actually balance on a beam or other instrument, and is not normally in the center of the frame’s length. Balance can be expressed in two ways: inches or centimeters (measured from the butt of the racquet), or as “points” (each point is 1/8” of the racquet’s length). Racquet’s can be:

  • Evenly Balanced
  • Head Light - majority of the weight in the handle
  • Head Heavy - majority of the mass in the head

 

Butt Cap – The butt cap is the bottom of the tennis racquet and part of the racquet handle. It’s a place to display the manufacturer’s logo and racquet handle size.

 

Cross Section - Refers to the width of the racquet’s beams, and is an indicator of racquet stiffness and power. A racquet with wider beams will tend to flex less than one with more narrow beams. Cross section width is measured in millimeters, and termed in the following groups:

  • Player’s frames - 22 mm or less
  • Tweener frames - 23 – 27 mm
  • Game Improvement frames - 28 mm and above

 

Customization - Refers to the process of altering a racquet to enhance or reduce certain playability characteristics. Most frame customization is done by adding weight to various locations on the frame to increase power and/or stability.

 

Dampening - Normally associated with a frame’s ability to reduce shock and vibration before it reaches the player’s hand, and is commonly associated with comfort and injury prevention. Frames can dampen shock and vibration by high levels of weight, low flex levels, longer string length (larger head size), narrower beam widths, or by manufacturer- installed dampening systems like Babolat Cortex, Wilson Amplifeel, or Pro-Kennex Kinetic technology. String vibration dampeners do not have a noticeable effect on dampening, but serve mostly to eliminate the sound (high-frequency vibrations) of the strings.

 

Grip Size - Refers to the circumference of the racquet handle. Most adult-size tennis racquets today have grip sizes ranging from 4 1/8” - 4 5/8”.

AMERICAN SIZE

EUROPEAN SIZE

4"

0

4 1/8"

1

4 1/4"

2

4 3/8"

3

4 1/2"

4

4 5/8"

5

 

Grommet – a plastic insert extended through the string holes around the racquet head. This helps protect the strings from touching the metal frame and breaking irregularly. Each racquet will have a custom insert that are specifically designed for that racquet.

 

Handle – The bottom part of the frame where players will grip the racquet. Technologies have also been added to dampen vibrations as players hit. Also check out Customization and Grip Size.

 

Head Size - Refers to the actual strung area of the racquet’s head, and can be expressed in square inches or square centimeters. Head size is a determining factor in a frame’s power and stability. A wider head will have a larger “twistweight,” while a smaller head size can increase control. Common head sizes are below:

  • Midsize: 85-95 square inches (550-615 square centimeters)
  • Mid Plus: 96-105 square inches (621-680 square centimeters)
  • Oversize: 106-115 square inches (686-744 square centimeters)
  • Super Oversize: 116 square inches and above (750+ square centimeters)

 

Heat-Shrink Sleeve - A tube made of a material that forms around the racquet handle under application of heat to increase handle size. Heat-shrink sleeves are available in thicknesses to increase the handle by either ½ size (1/16”) or one full size (1/8”).

 

Overgrip – This is a soft, thin-layered tape that wraps around the racquet’s handle. This grip can come in a variety of textures and its main purpose is to prevent sweat from soaking into the handle.

 

Recoil Weight - A measurement of the frame’s ability to resist recoiling, or “kicking back” in the player’s hand, and is a primary factor in feel and stability on volleys. Recoil weight is a product of the racquet’s weight, balance and swingweight, and is greatly influenced by balance.

  • More weight in the handle = Higher recoil weight
  • More mass in the head = Less recoil weight

 

Replacement Grip – This is the very first thing you feel when you hold a tennis racquet. This assists players in finding their ideal grip for hitting and softening the vibrations when making contact with the ball. Also see Overgrip.

 

Sweet Spot - Refers to the area of the string bed where the shot “feels” best, and the most power is generated. The Center of Percussion (COP) is the spot where the player will receive the smallest amount of shock as the ball is struck. The Node is the point where vibration is lowest, and the point of Maximum Coefficient of Restitution is the spot of maximum shot power, also being the lowest of the three “sweet spots” on the string face. These spots can be relocated with the application of weight.

 

Swingweight – Swingweight is a product of the racquet’s weight and balance point. It is expressed in kilograms of weight per square centimeter of balance (kg/sq. cm). Swingweight can be increased by placing weight at any point above where the player holds the racquet (normally 10 cm above the racquet’s butt).

  • Higher swingweight = Harder frame to swing, but increased power level
  • Lower swingweight = Less power, but more speed and less effort.

 

Swing Speed – Similar to swingweight, swing speed is the actual pace a racquet is traveling prior to ball impact. This is an indicator of how much effort is required to swing a racquet.

  • Control racquets = Fast, Long Swing
  • Tweener racquets = Medium, Moderate Swing 
  • Game Improvement/Power racquets = Short, Compact Swing  

 

Tension Range – This is the spectrum that manufacturers recommended for maximum playability with a tennis racquet. This can be expressed in pounds or kilograms.

  • Lower tension = Increased power and less control
  • Higher tension = Increased control and less power

 

Throat – the middle part of the frame that give racquets their flexibility. It starts at the top of the handle and splits into two sections meeting at the start of the racquet head. The center of the throat is hollow so it can easily move through the air and keep the flexibility higher.

 

Trampoline Effect - The ability of the racquet strings to deform on ball impact, resulting in less energy loss and more stroke power. This is influenced by racquet head size, string tension and string construction.

  • Larger head sizes = Higher trampoline effect
  • Smaller head sizes = Lower trampoline effect

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