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Swing Change: Wilson set to release its new Shift racquets
The concept frame will soon be available in limited supply for customer feedback before its finalized rollout this summer.
Published Feb 10, 2023
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If its name and appearance aren’t familiar, that’s because the Shift is a brand-new racquet franchise from Wilson. Its designers had an idea for a racquet that fuses controllable power with a high spin output, a combination they felt was lacking in their lineup. The foundations for the frame were set in early 2021. Internal response to early versions was overwhelmingly positive, so the company felt it time for a real-world stress test.
However, rather than go through the standard gestation period—typically a frame like this wouldn’t hit market until 2025—the company decided to accelerate the process. Starting in October 2022, Wilson got Shift prototypes in the hands of sales reps, coaches, juniors and other players worldwide to give immediate feedback on the racquet. Each sample frame had a QR code that took users to a playtest questionnaire to detail their on-court experiences.
This became the first concept racquet for Wilson Labs, a new innovation platform intended to fast-track the time it takes to go from idea to execution. These responses would not only be used to tweak the frame’s playability, but verify its worth. If opinions of the racquet’s performance were lukewarm, it would be back to the drawing board. Receiving all the encouraging reactions and the demand from players and dealers led Wilson to believe they had something worth sharing. So it has decided to open the Shift up to a broader audience.
Beginning in February, the Shift will have a limited, soft rollout. Racquets will remain in concept form; each will still have a QR code and will be monitored for user feedback to see if improvements need to be made. Those tweaks could be incorporated into the final product, which will have an expanded release in the summer.
One of the reasons for the enthusiasm is the Shift represents a brand-new frame shape and geometry from Wilson. As with many of their other recent releases, the key technology revolves around the frame’s unique bending properties. At contact, the racquet allows minimal torsional bending so there’s ample power and energy back into the ball.
At the same time, the frame has a fair amount of lateral flexibility. This design promotes high-end stability, while creating a higher launch angle and allowing users to accentuate the spin on the ball. It’s meant to produce a heavy ball with manageable power that penetrates through the court.
The look of the Shift was also an important element to Wilson. The eye-catching, color-shifting Artic Prism cosmetic gives the frame a sleek, icy appeal. The dot matrix used on the Wilson logo appears muddled up close, but comes into focus when the frame is at a distance. Modifications to the appearance will be made to the finalized version, but it won’t stray far from the current concept frame.
In terms of Wilson’s racquet lineup, the Shift is thicker and more powerful than the Blade and Pro Staff, but doesn’t offer quite as much assistance as the Clash or Ultra lines. It’s designed to attract the modern aggressive baseliner looking for the ball to explode off the string bed with lots of life. There are currently two models in the franchise which are differentiated by weight and string pattern.
99 sq. in.
4 pts. HL
6 pts. HL
The quicker 300g has a more open 16x20 string pattern for greater acceleration and spin potential. It’s the user-friendlier of the two, easier to whip through the hitting zone to generate lots of work on the ball. The heavier 315g sports a tighter 18x20 configuration, which gives it enhanced stability and directional control. However, the high launch of the frame gives it the target window over the net and spin potential of a more open pattern. And the added heft provides more weight of shot.
With its high RA, the frame has a decidedly firm response. Contact is clean and adequately comfortable, though probably best-suited for players with healthy arms and sound mechanics. It’s intended for players looked for a stiffer feel and a ball that jumps off the string bed. It’s not devoid of touch, but is in its element when swung aggressively.
Both the Shift 300g and 315g models are priced at $269 and will be available in limited quantities at select tennis specialty retailers.