| By Roman Prokes

With all of the various racket companies making a diverse array of models to compliment the broad spectrum of players, how do you know which racket is best for you? There are frames that are longer/shorter, stiffer/softer, larger/smaller, wider/narrower, etc. Shopping through the walls of rows of rackets at your local tennis shop can be overwhelming. Demoing rackets is time-consuming, costly and a nuisance. Then, when you finally find a frame that suits you, you have to find a string, and then a tension!

Here are three major components of the racket to simplify the process:

Weight
One of the quickest things that customers can notice is the weight of the frame. This is what the average tennis player feels when they pick up a frame. The general rule is that a player should use the heaviest racket that they can handle. The benefits of a heavy racket are that you get more mass behind the ball so that the racket can do the work for you once you start the swing. Having too much weight can ruin your timing and racket acceleration. This is not the time to pick a heavy racket because your favorite pro uses it. Keeping your ego out of the way can win you more points on the court.

Balance
Over the years, I have had customers pick up the lightest frames on the wall, call them heavy and vice-versa. What is the reason for this? It is the relationship between weight and where that weight is dispersed on the racket. This is referred to as the balance of a racket. When evenly weighted the balance point would be the center of the racket, but it can sway to the head or the handle of the racket. A racket with the weight at the handle seems to be lighter than that of a racket where the weight is concentrated at the head. A headheavy racket is great for primarily baseline play, while a handle-heavy racket favors net play. You can easily see a racket’s balance by placing it near the edge of a table surface and seeing at what point it begins to tip.

Swing weight
The result of weight and balance is what we call swing weight. This is how you really measure the true feel of when you are hitting the ball. Some even say this is the most important measure of the three for picking a racket because it is what you actually experience on the court. There is a lot of truth to this as you care about feel when you hit the ball, not what the racket weighs on the scale. This will affect your maneuverability of the racket.

Now that you know what to look for, be aware of these three factors as it applies to a racket you are shopping for or even the one you use now. You will need to find a harmony among the three factors that give-and-take according to what you want. Get your hands on the physical racket before buying so that you can measure these things. Don’t be duped into purchasing a racket online and not getting the racket that perfectly matches your game, style, strengths and demands. Use the help of your local tennis shop, teaching pro or playing partner. They can give you feedback on these factors as well. Sometimes it is hard to see them yourself during play. The better-matched they are, the more you get out of your equipment, and that should be your ultimate goal to play your best.

Roman Prokes

<p>Roman Prokes has perfected his art of gripping by traveling with the most finicky players like Agassi, Haas, Sharapova, Berdych, etc. He has traveled the world over not only to string rackets, but to also put on customized grips. He has produced several grips which are world-renowned, like RPNY Artificial Leather, RPNY Tacky and RPNY Cushion Perforated. For more information, call (516)759-5200 or visit <a onclick="window.open(this.href,'wwwRPNYtenniscom','resizable=yes,location=yes,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,status=yes,toolbar=no,fullscreen=no,dependent=no,status'); return false" href="http://www.RPNYtennis.com">www.RPNYtennis.com</a>.</p>