Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ever wonder why your strings are moving so much? Simple. They're supposed to. The more spin you hit, the more the strings should move, and the more they move, the more spin potential you will have. In this era of tennis where standing at the baseline and trading big groundstrokes, topspin has become more important. The more spin you can hit, the larger the margin of error over the net and shot depth. String movement helps increase spin potential. When strings move more they can grab the ball, hold on longer and impart more spin. There are many factors that can add to the string movement. 1. "Spin patterns" - Companies like Wilson are making rackets with intentionally more open string patterns. This increases the space between strings, giving them more room to move to increase spin potential. (see video below) 2. Stiffer rackets - As rackets have gotten stiffer, players have found that they can hit the ball with more power. When a frame is stiffer, it doesn't give as much at impact. The only other thing that can give is the strings, and they will give more, and move more. This increases power and spin potential 3. The strings themselves - Many strings are made with a coating on them to increase the ability of the string to move across itself without wearing into itself. This adds some durability as well as spin potential. Something we see here is customers asking to have their rackets strung as tight as possible to reduce string movement. This only works to a point. Hit enough spin, they will still move, not to mention the increases shock at impact and loss of depth and power. Others will use a poly string because "they don't move". They still move, but the stiffness of them gives them more of a tendency to return to where they started. For many though, poly strings are tougher on the arm and require more effort to get the ball deep. We do have to be honest about one fact of string movement. More string movement does, for some players, reduce the life of the string. The friction at the intersections of the strings causes them to wear through and eventually break. Generally, the harder you hit and the more spin you hit, the quicker you're likely to have your strings break. The trick is to find a string and tension combination that maximizes spin, power and feel, without sacrificing durability. Yes, moving strings back is a pain, but the additional spin is more than worth it in the form of more balls hit in and points won. Check out the video below to see the effects of string movement on spin in the Wilson Spin Effect rackets.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tennis Myths Busted - Big/Small Grips Are Best

Something we hear fairly often from people in our store goes like this. "I heard a smaller grip won't cause tennis elbow", or, "someone told me a bigger grip is easier on the arm".
Both things are wrong.
Here's the thing. A grip size that is the wrong size, small or big, has the potential to be tougher on the arm. Over the years, the myth about grip size has gone back and forth between big or small being better.  The fact that it goes back and forth gives you an idea that both are wrong.
About ten years ago, we would see guys come in with grips built WAY up. When asked about it, the answer was the same, "it is better for my tennis elbow." No matter how big they made their grip, the tennis elbow never seemed to go away. We're not saying that grip size is the cause of tennis elbow but combined with other factors, can make it worse. 
When a grip is too big or too small, the effect is the same. You will have to squeeze the grip tighter than normal in order to keep the racket from slipping or twisting in your hand. Multiply that by several hours of playing tennis and you're likely to feel it in your arm or hand. Add heat and humidity and it just gets tougher to keep a good grip on your racket.
A properly sized grip allows you to grip the racket firmly, yet without the need to put a death-grip on it to keep it stable. You shouldn't have to squeeze if the size is right. You can see below what the right size grip will look like in your hand.
If you've got more than a finger's width gap between the middle fingers and the base of the thumb, the grip is too big. The above is the desired size.

There should be a pinky-finger width space between the base of the thumb and the middle fingers 
If the fingers and base of the thumb are touching, the grip is too small.

When buying a racket, something to consider is the use of over grip. It will add just about one grip size when added. Many people are now choosing a grip size that is a little small so that when the over grip is added, the size will be right.
If your grip is too small or too large, there are options to get it closer to the right size. There are some limitations to how much bigger or smaller we can make it, but we can get it closer to the right size than it is now. Stop by our Dale Mabry store and we can show you the options available and can show you the right size grip for your hand.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tennis Myth - Adding Weight to the Head is Always Best

So often, a customer will come in and ask for their racket to be made heavier. The mistake they make is wanting to put all of the weight in the head of the racket. A common myth is that when you add weight to the racket, it should always go on the head.
This is very often the worst way to do it.
Here's the problem. You have a racket that becomes to light for you and you'd like to add weight. No problem, so far. But if the racket is already head heavy and they want the weight added to the head.

You will be making a head heavy racket, even more, head heavy. The racket will become less maneuverable and tougher to generate racket speed with. Think of it this way. How maneuverable is a sledgehammer? Sure, assuming you can swing the thing, there may be power, but with the cost being the loss of maneuverability and stability.

The better option is to add weight in both the head and the handle. Done correctly, you can add weight without changing the balance of the racket.

An even better option if using a head heavy racket is to add the weight in such a way as to make the racket both heavier and less head heavy. There is a reason that the racket companies all do the same thing. As the rackets they make get heavier, they also get more head light. This adds maneuverability and the ability to get racket speed while also making the racket more stable. The more head heavy a racket is, the further from your hand the weight is, making it less stable.

Everyone is different. If you need a racket heavier, stop into our Dale Mabry store and we can show you the best way to add weight to your racket to achieve the feel and performance you are looking for.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

One Way to Make Racquetball Strings Last Longer

For those that play a lot of racquetball, string breakage is a fact of life. Often, it is just lots of use or hitting the ball hard that causes strings to break. But there is one cause that can be largely prevented.
Anyone who has played for any amount of time knows that your racket will eventually make contact with the wall. Over time, this wears on the frame. As you can see in the below pictures, with enough wear, the bumper guard will wear down. This will cause more potential damage to the actual frame, eventually leading to a crack or breakage. But it also harms the string.
String exposed by excessive bumper guard wear.

A new bumper guard protecting the strings from
damage from the wall or other rackets.

The bumper guard's other job is to protect the string. The strings should sit below the edge of the guard so that when the racket scrapes the wall, the guard takes the punishment, not the string. Once the bumper wears down to a certain point, the string is exposed to their surroundings. The same scrape to the wall will now damage the strings. Eventually, the strings will look as if sandpaper had been rubbed on it, and they will break sooner than they should.
There are two ways to stop this kind of string wear, and no, not hitting the wall isn't one of them.
First is to use head protection tape on your racket. When the racket scrapes the wall, the tape takes the punishment. When the tape starts to show excessive wear, pull it off and replace it with a new strip. This will also increase the life of the frame itself.
The other way, assuming that they are available, is to replace the bumper guard. Newer rackets are usually easy to find replacement bumper guards for. The guards can be replaced while being restrung and are the best way to reduce damage to the strings and frame. For an older racket, you'll have to go the head tape route to protect the strings and frame.
If you have any questions on rackets, bumper guards or strings, stop in and we'll help you find the right ones for your game.