Question of the Day: Time for a Tape Job?

by: Justin diFeliciantonio | September 19, 2012

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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.

I’m a 5.0 player with a Western power-baseline game. I play with the newest version of the Babolat Pure Drive, but have been told by several people that I should play with something heavier. What I’ve heard is that the heavier the racquet, the more pace I’ll be able to put on the ball. Is this true? If so, would you recommend me switching to a new racquet, or putting lead tape on my current one? I’m not extremely muscular; however, I’m definitely fit by tennis standards.—Rohan L.

Everything else being equal, Rohan, it’s true that heavier racquets are more powerful. “If a heavy and a light racquet are each swung at the same speed,” tennis physicists Rod Cross and Crawford Lindsey write, in Technical Tennis, “the ball will come off the heavy racquet faster because the heavy racquet has more momentum and more energy that it can transfer to the ball, and it will lose less energy."

Of course, heavier racquets present a greater challenge to maneuver. And they require more effort to accelerate—effort that, depending on technique and physical conditioning, a player may not be able to provide. Consequently, recreational players may not obtain more power by switching to a heftier frame. (Still, they may gain more control, as heavier sticks don’t need to be accelerated as quickly to generate the same exit ball speed; they may also insure themselves against future injury, as heavier racquets transmit less shock to the arm upon impact.)

But considering your 5.0 NTRP level, I’d say you’re more than strong and skilled enough to add lead tape to your Pure Drive. Start by adding half an ounce to the hoop and the handle, divided such that you don’t change the frame’s balance. (This should push your P.D.’s stock weight of 11.1 oz. up to  ~11.6 oz.) If that feels comfortable, you might even try adding an additional half an ounce. (Consider that most professionals on the ATP tour play with racquets above 12.5 ounces, strung.) It’d be a good idea to talk with a qualified racquet technician before messing with any of your sticks. They’ll have the expertise and tools to guide you through the customization process. To locate a technician near you, check out the USRSA’s (United States Racquet Stringers Association) stringer search here.

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