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Tuning your racquet: swingweight, balance, lead tape adjustments, polarized/ depolarized setups.

After my years of fiddling with lead tape, I would like to share what I know on tuning a racquet by altering the weight and balance.

 

First off, you should determine the swingweight of the racquet. Swingweight is different from overall weight. It is possible to have a very light racquet which swings heavy. Manufacturers do this by placing all the weight in the head and not much in the handle, so it will still perform. Avoid these racquets because the shock produced by these racquets can hurt your arm.

 

You can measure the balance of a racquet by balancing it on a rod or hanging it off the side of a table until it leans. Measure the distance from the balance point to the butt cap. Then subtract that number from 13-1/2 inches (the midpoint of the overall length). Let's say you get 12-5/8. That would make it 7/8 inches away from the midpoint. Every 1/8" is 1 pt head light, so you have a 7pt HL racquet.

 

Baseliners generally like a racquet between 3-6 pts. HL. Serve and volleyers generally like 8-10 pts. HL. But this is a matter of taste.

 

Let's say you have a 7 pt. HL racquet and you want more power out of it. You can balance it to 4 pt HL by placing lead in several locations.

 

Putting lead at 12 o'clock will change the balance the most. It will also give you more spin because it pulls the tip around faster on strokes. It is said Federer puts about 3-5 grams of lead on the tip, Nadal 6-8 grams. They put it under the bumperguard. The average club player can just put it inside the rim to good effect. This setup is called a polarized setup. Think "pole" as being "top of the globe", like "North Pole". (However, Federer's balance point is said to be around 8 pts. HL/ 32 mm from the buttcap)

 

Putting lead at 3 and 9 o'clock will change the balance less, per strip, but substantially also. This setup will give you more solid volleys, because the racquet will be less likely to twist on off centered shots. It will also make flatter groundstrokes more dependable for the same reason. Sampras was known to put gobs of lead along the side inner rim, which suited his flat loop forehand and volleys.

 

Let's say you wanted an 9 pt. HL racquet instead. You will have to put weight in/on the handle to make this change. You can either remove the grip and place the lead horizontally or vertically down the handle. The problem is that it will make your grip size bigger.

 

To avoid this problem, you can put the lead tape near the top of the handle and layer it there. Or you can take off the butt cap, by removing the staples, or open the trap door of the buttcap. The handle is hollow, and from there, you can place cotton two inches or less, and put in a known amount of silicone or fishing weight, or poster tack. Measure the material first, so you will know or be able to arrive at the desired balance point later.

 

I have found that putting lead at the top of the handle works better, because you do not have a reduction in power as you do when putting weight in the bottom of the handle. It is also much easier to put lead at the top. When putting lead at the bottom, I have had too much reduction in power where the racquet feels substantially less responsive.

 

A mysterious racquet customizer, John Cauthen, advocated putting 50 grams of lead at the top of the handle. I have put 24 grams and feel the difference already. It makes the racquet much more maneuverable, yet produce a noticeable increase in power. Cauthen's claim is that Agassi and Muster had their racquets customized in such a way and thus, rose to number 1 in the world when they did. I do not know if that is true, but I can speak from my own experience only.

 

Remember, a 4 inches of a 1/4" wide lead is 1 gram. So if you want 3 grams at the tip, multiply that by 4 and so you will need 12 inches of lead. So if you wanted to do a polarized setup, take 6 inches on one side, and 6 inches on the other side of the rim at the top of the frame. It doesn't take a genius to lay it in there, just put it in there nice and neat, then go out and try it.

 

If the swingweight feels too heavy, either reduce the size of those strips or counterbalance the weight you put at the top, with an amount in/on the handle. Then tune according to your taste. My taste is 8 pts. HL. with 24 grams at the top of the handle. What's yours?

 

Note: I achieved 24 grams by using 3/4" wide lead tape, using 8 inches length, wrapping the top of the handle twice. I found this tape at the Racquet Doctor for $1.75/ ft.

Tags: customization, depolarized, lead, polarized, racquet, swingweight, tape, tuning, weighting

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thnx for putting all this info on one page...

 

kt

No problem, Kelvin. If you knew how much time I spent weighting racquets, writing a couple pages worth is nothing.

Hi Tim, I've recently changed my PureDrive Roddick for a Youtek Radical MP. Although I had tried it before and loved it at first glance, now that I have it I found that my shots are not as aggresive as they were with my Babo. I bought some lead tape but I'm wondering where to put it exactly. My Head Radical is 10.4 oz. , 2/3" HL.

Can you help me please ?

 

Thanks in adv, Oscar.

Tim Prapong said:

No problem, Kelvin. If you knew how much time I spent weighting racquets, writing a couple pages worth is nothing.

Hi Oscar,

      I think you're going to have a problem with making the Radical feel as aggressive as the Pure Drive. The Pure Drive Roddick has a wider beam (more power) somewhere around 15-20 grams more weight, and is much stiffer (72 opposed to 59).

      Also, when they balance a very light racquet like the Radical MP, they will make it 2 pts. HL to give it power. The problem here is the Roddick is at 5 pts. HL. How do you add weight without making it anymore head heavy?

     A common solution is to put a leather grip that weighs 25-30 grams and an overgrip that weighs 5 grams. This will bring the racquet up to 4 pts HL or maybe 5. If then, you think that you've lost too much power, add weight at the tip, perhaps 4 inch strips of 1/4 wide, on both sides. You can add more strips in pairs until you feel the racquet performs like you want it. Let me warn you, it will not play like the Roddick because of beam width and stiffness differences. But it will make the racquet swing faster (more headlight) and with the added overall weight, more plowthrough. So it will play more aggressive.

     If you don't like leather, take the buttcap off by prying the staples, and you can measure 25 grams of silicone. Put cotton in first, then the silicone. Put the buttcap back on with a staple gun and regrip. Or you can put 25 grams of lead at the top of the handle like I do, (8 inches of 3/4 wide tape)


Thanks for your quick answer Tim.

Actually I don't exepct the Radical to perform as aggressive as the Roddick. I chose the Radical because of its faster swing, better spin shots, and better behaviour in volleys ( I found myself missing too many ball at this point with the Babo ).

But I know that the one I tested was tunned with something like you mention.

I'll try some of your advice and see what happens.

Thanks again

 

Good points Tim. The cauthen stuff is some of the most interesting tennis info I've read. I too have gone up to 25g at top of handle on a lm radical with weight in the hoop to balance. It performed really well and there is deffo something in the theory. I think cauthen even advocated going up to 100g. It suits a certain game tho imo its depolarised set up being good for hard flat hitting. Cauthen did say samps agassi and muster had 16oz rackets which just hit straight thro the ball and had no twisting and negated opponents spin. Interesting. Players should experiment they Will be very surprised with the results.
I have a polarized setup which suits my groundstrokes game. But i also have a very stable foam filled racket that suits my serve and volleying.

Wow, Richard. I had only read about 50 grams, but 100 grams? I wonder what that would do, but yeah, it probably would be great for a flatter hitter like Agassi. Every once in awhile, I do go back to my early flat game. 16 oz to serve with must be a log to serve with. 

The LM radical would need that 25g, that thing is so light. Plus that 2-3 pts HL is not good for the arm.

So you have a polarized setup for groundies, and a depolarized one for S&V? Interesting.


No Tim what im saying is i have a polarized setup. Full stop. But.....my racket is very stable with very little twisting off centre so it doesn't need added weight in those depolarised areas like above the handle and at 9&3 so it is also very able in the s&v department.
I had a choice of playing a depolarised setup which didn't suit my extreme grips and groundstrokes or find a real stable pro stock like racket that helps my s&v and polarized it to suit my groundstrokes......i think most pro rackets are set up like this these days.



Tim Prapong said:

Wow, Richard. I had only read about 50 grams, but 100 grams? I wonder what that would do, but yeah, it probably would be great for a flatter hitter like Agassi. Every once in awhile, I do go back to my early flat game. 16 oz to serve with must be a log to serve with. 

The LM radical would need that 25g, that thing is so light. Plus that 2-3 pts HL is not good for the arm.

So you have a polarized setup for groundies, and a depolarized one for S&V? Interesting.


Sorry Richard, I guess the word "But" threw me off. In any case, yes, that is how I want my own racquet. Polarized for groundies and stable enough for volleys without the depolarized weighting.

I actually use no lead at all on my PT280, the frame feels polarized. I do not have a cap guard, but I think the bumper strip does make it polarized enough. I rarely have had the racquet twist on me. Well, I might try adding two grams on the tip but there really isn't any need to. I get plenty of spin already.

They also used to say on the Head Prestige Classic, the handle cap on top gave a minor Cauthen effect. I don't think much of that though.

Interesting tho, personally the best dampening stabilizer is the ISIS handle from dunlop....you can just see where it starts to get real fat where the handle begins, edge of foto, I can sort a better foto tmoro. Even the kps88 swells at this point too.

 



Tim Prapong said:

Sorry Richard, I guess the word "But" threw me off. In any case, yes, that is how I want my own racquet. Polarized for groundies and stable enough for volleys without the depolarized weighting.

I actually use no lead at all on my PT280, the frame feels polarized. I do not have a cap guard, but I think the bumper strip does make it polarized enough. I rarely have had the racquet twist on me. Well, I might try adding two grams on the tip but there really isn't any need to. I get plenty of spin already.

They also used to say on the Head Prestige Classic, the handle cap on top gave a minor Cauthen effect. I don't think much of that though.

I think I remember seeing someone on TW forum saw up a K Pro Staff and found pieces of metal in that area. Dunlop Tour Revelation, was that a good one? I had the purple Revelation a long while ago and liked it.

Those old 200G had that long section at the bottom of the throat where the diamonds or arrows painted. When I was placing two quarters with duct tape at the top of my handle of my capped PT630, it automatically made me recall the 200G I had in my first year of college. Weight in that area makes it swing like a wand!

nice post,  also I just wanted to add that I just discoverd that there is an IPHONE app for checking swingweight, so this could really help anyone wanting to experience some racket customization work.

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