Question of the Day: What is "Construction"?
TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.
In your articles, you talk a lot about racquets’ “construction.” What are you referring to?—Albert B.
A racquet’s construction, Albert, is often used as a synonym for its flexibility, i.e., the extent of the frame’s rigidity—specifically, how far (and how fast) the frame bends and then springs back (or beyond) its original position on impact with the ball. In general, rigidity corresponds to beam width. Racquets with thinner beams (~19mm to 23mm) are more flexible; racquets with wider beams (~24mm to 30mm) are stiffer.
While there are exceptions to the rule, by and large, manufacturers tend to design flexible racquets for more advanced players and stiffer racquets for beginner- to intermediate-level players. Accordingly, compared to stiffer racquets, flexible racquets tend to be heavier, balanced more head-light, and have smaller heads, all of which make them, overall, less powerful and forgiving on off-center hits and harder to swing.
(Of course, in recent years, these categories have started to blur, as many touring professionals have taken a liking to racquets with thicker, stiffer beams. See, for example, Victoria Azarenka with the Wilson Juice, or Rafael Nadal with the Babolat Aeropro Drive, both very stiff frames.)