Attention players: Try to avoid this

Racquet is damaged beyond repair

Often times I see racquets coming to me for service that have a very common problem. Looking at the top of the racquet with reference to a clock face, at the 11 & 1 areas and moving in towards the center to almost 12 o'clock straight up the bumper guard is completely worn away and in some cases, the wear is so deep that you can actually see the composite fibers of the racquet itself. So, how does this happen? There are two things that typically cause this.

  1. The player is using the racquet to pick up balls, as is the case in the photo to the right. They point the racquet straight down to the ground in front of the ball and then drag it across the court until it reaches their shoe and then they pull up to pick up the ball. This is the most common cause of the problem and of course it's more prevalent on hard courts.
  2. The second way this happens is when the player is going for a wide ball and they end up about a half a step too far away before contact. So, for a right handed player, going wide to the forehand they end up with the right foot out in front and as a result, they have to bend at the waist to reach the ball as opposed to being in better position where they can bend at the knees. When that happens the wear marks are a bit further down the side of the racquet, more like 10 & 2.

The second scenario is much more difficult to correct BUT, the first one is not. The reason this is important is because once you wear through your protective bumper guard and into the graphite of the racquet it becomes more susceptible to cracking and breaking. To further complicate the problem, we often see these racquets way too long after the fact and by then it's not possible to address it with any reasonable results. Why? First, the damage is to severe and even with a new bumper guard installed it's not going to remedy the problem. Second, often, by the time we get the racquet it's too old so even if a new bumper guard would solve the problem it's not available. Once the racquet has been out of production for a long period of time those bumper guards are just no where to be found.

So, players, you can still pick the ball up with your racquet but I would advise you make a small adjustment. As opposed to reaching out so far and then dragging the ball closer with your racquet just move closer to the ball, reach straight down and lift the ball as you normally do.

Written by Tim Strawn

Executive Director, IART

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