Gear Q&A: Swingers Club

by: Jon Levey | November 01, 2018

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Jon Levey answers your equipment questions in Gear Q&A. Click here to email your question, or send him a tweet at @72unforced.


Last year I bought my current racquet, the Volkl V-Sense V1 Pro, after having read your review. I have now played with it for 12 months and I love it. Although happy, I always follow new racquets and have my sights on the new Yonex VCORE 98.

My question is this: Could you clarify the issue with balance and swing weight? I understand the basics of what they mean, but it still confuses me. My Volkl V-Sense V1 Pro has a swing weight of 317 and balance point of 3 pts. HL. The VCORE 98 has a swing weight of 322 and balance of 6 pts. HL. I used to think swing weight is directly related to a racquet being HL, but now I am not so sure. I recently demoed the EZONE 98 (which has similar specs as the VCORE 98) but felt like my Volkl was far more “swingable.”

And last but not least, do you think the new Yonex VCORE 98 is more or less easy to play with as the Volkl V-Sense V1 Pro? The Volkl feels great although sometimes it does lack a bit of stability.Alexander W.

Alexander,

Swing weight is essentially that: how heavy a racquet feels when moving through air. The measurement is a reflection of a frame’s characteristics such as weight, balance, length and beam width. The higher the number, the more demanding the frame is to swing. The most commonly trafficked area of the scale for racquets is around 315-to-325. That’s probably the sweet spot for most players. Those who prefer a whippier frame will seek something closer to 300; racquets that surpass 330 generally earn a beefy label.

The balance point determines how the static weight is distributed throughout the racquet. The measurement is taken from the butt end and is commonly represented by points. Each point denotes 1/8 of an inch. (Racquet techs and customizers tend to use centimeters as it’s more precise). If a 27-inch frame balances exactly at its midpoint (13.5 inches) it has an even balance. If the balance point is 13 inches—0.5 inches closer to the handle—the frame would be 4 points head light; meaning more of the weight is closer to the player’s hand, increasing its maneuverability. The heavier a frame’s overall static weight, the more head light it tends to be; otherwise it becomes too cumbersome to swing.

Lower weight frames are typically constructed with more weight toward the head to provide adequate power and stability. The more weight that is distributed farther away from the hand, the less head light the racquet. A relatively lightweight frame with much of its mass toward the head can actually feel heavier than a racquet that easily wins on the scale. Think of holding a hammer—if you hold the handle, it can tax your wrist; hold it from the business end and it’s suddenly a feather. That’s why extended length racquets tend to have more swing weight than standard length frames. 

Since your Volkl V-Sense V1 Pro has a lower swing weight than the Yonex EZONE 98, or the VCORE 98 you’re interested in, it makes sense that it would feel more “swingable.” But since it has the same static weight, slightly bigger head size and a more head heavy balance, I can see why it is nonetheless puzzling. Again, the balance point is just one of the metrics—certainly an important one—that determine a racquet’s swing weight. Subtleties such as string spacing, type of string and beam shape at certain points can all factor into how fast a racquet moves through the air. In this instance, the sum of the Volkl’s parts adds up to a quicker swinger, albeit not by much. But keep in mind, if a racquet feels cumbersome, it's very difficult to change its swing weight. 

In terms of playability between the Volkl and the VCORE 98, it really depends on your preferences. Many of the specs—head size, weight, flex—are nearly identical. If it comes down to user-friendliness, there aren’t many frames that fit that description better than the V1 line. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that can help dictate from the baseline with good power and heavy spin—with arguably a bit more feedback—the VCORE 98 checks a lot of boxes. 

But since you love the feel of your V1 Pro—which is so important when selecting a racquet—and are only displeased with instances of instability, perhaps adding weight to the hoop would be more suitable than a wholesale change. And to be honest, I found a similar issue with the Yonex (reviewed here). Just a small amount of lead tape at 3 and 9 o’clock on the racquet face—start with a few grams on each side—can make a surprising difference in terms of stability.

If that doesn’t give your V1 Pro enough backbone, then the VCORE 98 is certainly worth a test drive. 

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