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Quite a few of my students play with racquets that I think are too heavy and grips that are too large.  It's a sensitive issue.  The player gets used to the weight of the racquet and may be reluctant to change (or maybe can't afford to change).  It feels more difficult for me to help them get more racquet speed and be quicker around the net when the racquet may be affecting their technique. 

I started with a wooden racquet and got good racquet speed since I had a whippy forehand and serve (and very good technique).  The racquet weight may have prevented me from developing a better one handed backhand, since it's harder to rotate and keep the racquet steady (especially when you are 14 years old). 

I'm open for discussion about racquet weight.  What are you experiences with making changes or adjusting to different weight racquets?

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Comment by Tim Prapong on June 28, 2013 at 6:46pm

I think it's important to simplify on this topic. You state "Some players will use poor technique just so they can 'manage'." In my mind, that is not "managing with dexterity for two hours". I would define that as having to bear with a racquet that is too heavy for them.

Secondly, I would start them off with no bend with the elbow or wrist and let them understand that the simplest one hander is a low pendulum. I would not allow them to bend the elbow and wrist at whatever angle they choose at the very beginning. Then I would slowly introduce the loop and show them why it is necessary on the higher balls to not keep a strict low pendulum with a purely straight arm takeback. I might show them eventually how to think in concave and convex, and the figure eight and how to adjust the swingpath.

But let's not complicate the issue here. If a person feels the racquet is too heavy or the grip is too large, let he/she decide and interpret their strength of their forearms and shoulders. There is no one size fits all.

Comment by Ron Rudin on June 28, 2013 at 6:34pm

Tim, that is a good way to simplify what can become a complicated issue.  Each person will need to interpret "manage with dexterity".  Some players will use poor technique just so they can "manage", although they might be doing the best with what they have or know.  A heavier racquet could make it harder to become competent in more advanced (or proper technique).  I started with an adult wooden racquet when I was 11 yo.  I don't ever remember the racquet being to heavy (I used a TAD Imperial, lighter and more flexible than most of the other racquets).  I had to develop good technique in order to handle the racquet well.  Except I used "adapted"  and slice  one handed backhand technique because I was not strong enough to use a top spin stroke. 

Some the pros use surprisingly light racquets.  They could have managed with heavier ones, but their ranking might not be as high.

Pete: I'd be careful about going up so much in weight.  To me it sounds like somewhere in between would be best. Tennis elbow is not usually caused by a heavy racquet.  It could be technique, poor shock absorption or stability in a racquet,  or simply swinging faster than you arm or wrist can handle.  I know if I play with a wooden racquet now, I feel it in my shoulders and arm right away.  Too heavy for my whippy strokes and it effects timing.  Poor timing is terrible for the body.

We need to trust our feelings when choosing a racquet, and know what our goals are in turns of improvement.  Mistakes are made.  Sometimes we need to admit that the racquet is not the right one.

Comment by Tim Prapong on June 28, 2013 at 6:12pm

Rule of thumb is to use the heaviest racquet you can manage with dexterity for two hours.

Comment by Pete on June 28, 2013 at 8:59am

Actually, now I've put my glasses on, I see the racquets are only 260g (9.2oz) - strung weight. They are Wilson NCode, N5's. I have just broken one and they are no longer available so I need to replace the set. I am currently looking at Babolat Aero prodrive GT's to replace them which weigh 300g so am concerned because I have tennis elbow at present and wouldn't want to aggravate it any further.

Comment by Ron Rudin on June 28, 2013 at 6:58am

Pete.  That's 9.8 ounces.  Is that with strings or unstrung?  My racquet is 280 g unstrung.  I can use about about .5 ounces (14 g) heavier in my next racquet.

Comment by Pete on June 28, 2013 at 2:40am

My current racquets weigh 280g and while on holiday recently I had some coaching from a local pro'. He was adamant that my racquets were too light for me, but I prefer a light racquet as I feel it helps me make quick reactions when hitting the ball. I know that I would probably have a better weight of shot with a heavier racquet, but that's my preference.

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