Coaches, we need your help!  My strokes are beyond help so what I am talking about is communication between you, the coaches, us, the racquet technicians, and the player!

Professional racquet technicians try hard to maximize the equipment the player presents us with.  In some cases, we will have input into which racquet the player uses but not always.  You as coaches have a lot of input because you see what the player is doing and what, in a racquet, may help.

What we see too often is a subjective input without consideration for what may be even better.  This, of course, is due to brand loyalty, free stuff, and contracts.  That can be fine because I believe within every brand range there is a racquet to suit any player if properly set up for that player.

Here is what is not helpful.

Recommending a change when it is not necessary or helpful!

From a racquet technicians' perspective, the racquet is a compilation of properties with each property depending on another property.  For example, a player wants to use a very stiff string in a 18x20 pattern at reasonable tensions.  The first thing is the proper grip size to accommodate the extra stress on the body.  This means a larger grip size is beneficial.  This also means the racquet mass should be a high as the player can handle, and the inertia (swing weight) needs to be customized for the individual.

When we do this and then get "the coach says the grip size is too small" we wonder if all the properties are considered or just the grip size.  No racquet technician I know would purposely recommend a grip size that is too small or too large!

Here is a true story:

A high "nationally ranked" junior player has been using the same setup, for over three (3) years.  The racquet weighs 337 grams (11.89 oz.), has an RDC flex of 62, swing weight of 331, string pattern of 18x20, string with a power potential of 3.92 (very low) with an effective stiffness of 30.5, and grip size of 43/8!

A coach, not her regular coach, tells her that the grip size is too large, without a discussion of why she is using this grip size.  Fortunately, she knows what works for her and will not be changing but what about a player that makes a change based on coaches well-meaning but uninformed input?

The point of all of this is that if you, the coaches, will engage in discussion with a qualified racquet technician it will benefit the player and of course the sport of tennis.

However, what happens after the racquets leave the shop is another story.


Written by John Gugel

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