Do You Actually Need Expensive Tennis Racquets to Play Your Best?
So, I was sitting at the sidelines of my local tennis court, probably waiting for my turn to play on the crowded courts and I see so many people with these expensive racquets, while some unfortunate people (myself included) were playing with their not-so-expensive ones. I thought to myself, “Gee Hammad, these people must have spent a pretty penny getting a collection of all these racquets. Are they actually needed for this simple game that we all love?”
I came back home and did a bit of research, probably taking some of my own experience into account. What I came up with was that the simple answer is a big fat NO, you don’t need those expensive racquets because more often than not they are just what they seem at first, simple cash grabs. And no matter how many rave reviews a racquet gets, more often than not you can achieve the same racquet with a bit of customization. So, I’ll try and detail what I found was necessary info that you should take into account when buying racquets.
Pros Do Not Actually Play with The Racquets That They Endorse
So I used to believe that pros use the same racquets as they endorse, but I was very wrong. In addition to a few good websites on the subject, there is a very good YouTube channel called Racquet Tech talks about customizing your racquets and how to make yourself a better player, I was very intrigued to know that not only did I save a lot of money but these online shops don’t actually sell the stuff that the pros use. Most of the time these are random pieces of equipment and Tennis rackets that are there just there to make money. They are wildly different from the actual equipment that the pros use.
For example, Rafael Nadal, one of the best tennis players of this generation and probably the best there will ever be, doesn’t actually use the racket that he sells. Because he is very superstitious, he doesn’t stray away from the original Babolat Aeropro Drive which was made for him 15 years ago. And that racquet too is not completely the same–the company customized that to a specific weight which is not available in the normal racquet. When you think of pros, you shouldn’t even consider your game the same as theirs, but you should at least get the same equipment as them so you can experience how it’s like to play like the pros. However, companies don’t do that–they think that the things the pros use are extremely difficult for the normal person to use. That way of thinking can create problems because a lot of us have the ability to play the same way as the pros. Maybe not the same shot mechanics, but we may have the same power or the same athleticism as them. I for one didn’t know that I can play really well with a heavy stick and I was forced on a racquet which I thought Andy Murray used to play with.
The same is the case with Novak Djokovic. He uses a completely different piece of tech than what he endorses, and I for one don’t encourage you guys to buy whatever you see online. I was completely shocked when I read that and watched it on the YouTube channel.
Shops like the Tennis Warehouse or Tennis Express will make these wild claims that these are new racquets that are made for the pros and you can have the same game as the pros if you buy them but in reality, that’s very far from the truth. Because they want to just sell things, they want to look at the profit margins while the pros actually don’t use this. They actually use something which is called a pro stock which is an extremely light version of whatever frame they like. Companies make them and the pros just keep on adding weight until they feel like they are very comfortable with the racquet.
So, whenever you see something that claims to be a pro’s racquet you can check its specs with the player’s racquet and you’ll find out soon enough that they couldn’t be more different. Almost all pros use racquets that have heavier swing weights, but on the market, most racquets don’t go higher than 330 while the pros use close to 350-400 because their game demands it.
You can follow the pros if you want to, I think everyone should at least try a few pro specced racquets, just to get an idea as to how it feels and whether they can handle it. If you are a topspin heavy player and you think you can handle a racquet like Nadal’s then you can head on over to a very good site, Tennisnerd.com which highlights what type of weight distribution the 11-time French Champion is using. If you want to get really nerdy with it, there is a pretty good resource on the Tennis Warehouse University website.
Racquets are Never Too Wildly Different from Each Other
Another corporate drama is that companies make new racquets every year trying to push forward new technologies that are in most cases, not even a game changer. I’ll give you a personal example of mine, I used to play with a racquet called the Aeropro Drive GT 2013 version and the main selling point of the racquet was that it is aerodynamically more advanced than other racquets and the Graphite and Tungsten would take your game to the next level.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth, I had a very hard time switching from my Head racquet to this one and I ended up giving up because the racquet was extremely unstable to use. I found out that it was mostly the weight distribution of the racquet that was opposite to what I liked, it was never about the new and improved technologies that these companies were claiming.
Every racquet is made in pretty much the same materials as they were 20-30 years ago. While some companies have a few technologies that are worth looking into, more often than not you can find a racquet that is half the price of the racquets that the pros are endorsing and you’ll be to make it your own. I’ll explain it a bit more in a paragraph below, so stay tuned for that.
I used to be of the mentality that you needed the racquets to play like the pros but I was shocked to find out that some of the pros never go for innovation at all. They will keep using something that is 20-30 years old. Andy Murray uses a racquet called the PT57A which was made in the 1990s and was probably the best racquet that head has ever produced in the graphite era. So, if one of the best players in the world doesn’t need innovation and gets by with simple weight distribution to get the most optimal results, you can do the same too.
Are you like me, and have struggled with confidence when playing tennis? I was in the same place, not confident in my abilities until I did a bit of research, and got myself the ultimate solution to counter low confidence. I have made a very detailed blog post about it here
Racquet Manufacturers and Racquet Sellers Are Never Consumer-Centric
You might be able to figure this out on your own: the more a profit a company makes, the more the investors and shareholders become happy and rich. So companies have to come out with new racquets every year, more expensive than the last year models just to appeal to people.
They will try and do worldwide advertising campaigns just so that people will buy their racquets and think that they might perform better than they were previously. But as we all know this does not happen, you buy the racquet and now you are stuck with it. The placebo wears off in a week or two and then you have the same game without any real improvements because pretty much all consumer racquets, except for some beginner and player improvement racquets perform the same.
There are anomalies of course, but you won’t feel a stark difference going from one model of a racquet to the “new and improved” version of that same racquet. The difference in comfort that companies might claim comes from a new type of technology is just more weight in the handle so as to increase the recoil weight of the racquet. What it does is that it helps dampen the shock generated by the ball and it doesn’t travel to your arm. Someone who doesn’t know about the physics of tennis might think that it was the new technology helping with the comfort of the racquet but the actual fact is quite different.
Save yourself the extra bucks, and put it in a travels account or savings one and you’ll get its actual worth. Keep researching and make the best decision possible.
You Can Almost Customize the Racquet to Whatever You Want It To Be
So, this is something I stumbled upon very randomly. I knew people and pros alike used to add weight to their racquets through lead tape or silicone in the handles. I had no idea that it was actually a total game changer. Imagine a tennis racquet that could perform the way you wanted it too.
If you are a topspin player and you wanted to really take that topspin game to the next level then you can add lead tape to the right places and you will notice a night and day difference in your game. Take Rafa as an example, he uses a lighter racquet than most of his peers but has the right weight distribution to create a huge amount of whip in his game. I’ll make a blog later down the road detailing how he achieves that, but you don’t need a new racquet to achieve his game because he doesn’t use a new one either as I have written above.
Finding out what a magical thing lead tape was and how cheap it was to get really opened my eyes to this racquet business. I started looking at tennis racquets in a very different way. Because now I don’t feel like buying new racquets at all. I personally have 6-7 racquets of wildly different weights. Whenever I feel like experimenting, I pick the lightest one and keep on adding weight and testing it until I get to my sweet spot.
The moment I found out about this and the years before have been hugely different with regards to my game. I used to be a very low power heavy topspin player and people would just push me around the court. Now with just 6 grams of weight on the top of the racquet, I am hitting heavy balls that trouble my opponents and I feel on top of my game.
I didn’t even think that a few inches of lead tape would add such a huge difference to my game and it should to your game too. Go to Amazon and try it out. I’m putting a link to what I am using if you feel confused. Here you go