Tennis Equipment

Tennis Racquet Demo Programmes – How To Demo A Tennis Racquet

Most specialist tennis retailers allow you try before you buy, but how do you make the most of a tennis racquet demo program?

If you've read any of my other guides on equipment and tennis racquets, you'll know I'm a big fan of demoing a racquet before you splash the cash on buying it outright.

That's because a racquet demo program is an excellent way of getting a feel for a racquet without risking buying something you don't like. Online reviews and feedback from other users are undoubtedly useful to narrow down your choices but hitting with a frame beforehand is far better.

Most major tennis retailers and local racquet shops (sadly dwindling) offer a demo program where you can select several racquets, get them shipped to your home (or collect in-store), use them for a week or two and then send them back. No strings attached πŸ™‚

But how do you make the most of a demo racquet for a week? Are there some things to look out for and pitfalls to avoid? Let's take a look.

The Problem With Demo Racquets

demo racquet problems

While demo racquets are a great idea, there is one problem. The vast majority of demo racquets will come with a string setup that you have no control over. This could be a dead poly that's been used several times by previous racquet demos which means the racquet will not play well.

Or it might even be freshly strung with a synthetic gut, but if that's not the string you like or use so you won't get the exact feel you'd get had you bought it and strung it yourself.

Can I Restring a Demo Racquet With My Own Setup?

stringing

Restringing a demo racquet very much depends on the retailer, but in most cases, it's not a problem and I would hazard a guess most retailers wouldn't even realise. For example, Tennis Warehouse says the following:

We don't have an official policy regarding restringing TW demos. While we don't recommend it, if you do choose to re-string the demo, you take full liability if anything happens to the demo during the re-stringing Tennis Warehouse Demo Racquet Policy

In my opinion, if you're a fairly serious player that understands types of tennis strings and how they can affect your game, then you should restring demo racquets with your own string and tension.

The thing to be aware of is that every time you put a racquet in a stringing machine, then you do risk damaging the frame due to the forces exerted when pulling strings to the required tension.

If you decide to restring a demo racquet, please use a competent racquet technician that will do a high-quality job.

Yes, there's extra cost involved, but the strings change the playability of a racquet a lot. For example, if you use a full bed of RPM blast in your existing racquet, a demo racquet that comes with Wilson NXT (like the Tennis Warehouses program) will feel vastly different.

How Many Racquets Should You Demo?

Demo Racquet

I recommend demoing around three or four frames to get a decent enough sample size. You could then narrow it down to two racquets that you like and re-demo them if you are not sure before picking your preferred choice.

Doesn't Demoing Racquets Just Create Extra Expense?

how much spend

Yes, it certainly creates an extra expense, but if you are playing tennis often and seriously, then it's worth the extra hassle and cost to get the most suitable racquet for your game. It's more expensive to keep buying the wrong racquet only to replace it six months later.

How Do I Know Which Racquets To Demo?

how to choose

There are literally thousands of different tennis racquets on the market, so how do you know which to demo? 

Generally speaking, if you want a new racquet, you will fall into the following categories:

  • I like my current setup, but my existing frame is no longer available.
  • I have changed my playing style, and my racquet is no longer suitable for my new style of play.
  • I am looking to reduce the amount of arm strain or injury that I am experiencing with my existing racquet
  • I am looking to increase the overall power, control or spin associated with my game.

For those who like their existing setup and see no reason to change, then choosing is fairly easy. Just find a handful of racquets that fall within very similar specs of what you currently use. Look for a similar weight, head size, string pattern, swing weight and stiffness. Of course, you can experiment by mixing in a slightly lighter or heavier racquet to see if you find any advantages.

If you have changed playing style, then that's a whole different post. I've written a guide here on choosing a tennis racquet which will give you some pointers. If you are looking for advice, leave a comment below telling me what racquet you are currently using, what you think the downsides to it are, and what you are looking for in a new frame and I will try help.

If your current frame is causing you physical problems with tennis elbow, wrist or shoulder, then the first thing you should do is try a softer string such a natural gut or a multifilament. Maybe that solves all your problems, but if the problem persists, you should switch racquets. I've written a guide on racquets for senior players which also caters for those looking for more forgiving frames. One thing to note is much of the reasoning behind which racquets are good for tennis elbow is anecdotal and what helps one player might hinder another.

Finally, if you are looking for more power, spin, control etc., then you have a few things to think about. Want more power? A heavier racquet will offer that but go too heavy, and you suffer when on the stretch. Want more control? A denser string pattern can help. Want more spin? A looser string pattern offers more spin.

How To Demo a Tennis Racquet

Federer Miami 2R 19

The first time I demoed a racquet, I hit with it for half an hour and thought “that feels good, definitely better than what I'm using at the minute, I've found the racquet for me.”

However, that's not the best approach as just because racquet feels good after 15 minutes of hitting, doesn't mean it's the one you should buy.

While the racquet demo process can never be scientific, I recommend making it a bit more methodical to get a good comparison. So while there's more than one way to do this, I do the following:

  • Don't demo a new racquet after a hiatus from tennis. If you haven't hit for a few weeks then get back into the swing of things with your existing racquet so when its time to demo you aren't rusty.
  • When it's time to test, take your 3 or 4 demo racquets to the courts as you will use them all across one hitting sessions.
  • Have a quick warm-up with your existing racquet to get a feel for how you are playing and striking the ball.
  • After 10 mins, pick up a demo frame and hit some casual groundstrokes with it in what is basically another warm-up. Move up to the net, take some volleys, hit some overheads and then hit a few serves.  Once you have done this, play some ten-point tie breaks to get a feel for how the racquet feels in competitive play.
  • Before you move to the next racquet, take a few notes about the impressions of the racquet and what you liked and didn't like. 
  • You then rinse and repeat the same process for the other 2 or 3 demo racquets including the casual hitting before moving onto some tie breaks. This gives you a comparative framework to judge each racquet.
  • Try to avoid only having one hitting session with each frame; ideally, you should repeat the exact process above two days after the initial hit. This should then be followed narrowing down your choice to just 2 racquets and having a third hit before you have to return them.
  • While you want the same hitting partner for the duration of each test, try to hit with a different player when you hit with the racquets for the second and third time. Each player hits a different ball, and you want to test each frame against differing styles.
  • If you are blessed with a lot of free time and a keen hitting partner, you could even test one racquet each day for a more extended period, but not everyone has that luxury.

When it's time to return the racquets, consult your notes and figure out where you are at. Do you want to test more? Do you want to re-demo one specific frame? Do you have some questions for the retailer or a second opinion from a coach or racquet technician? Or are you ready to buy? Either way, sooner or later, you will arrive at a racquet that is the best of the bunch.

You can then make a purchase and string it at the tension you like. Most competitive players want to have at least two matching frames. However I do not recommend buying two immediately, only buy a second frame when you have had a hit with the first one for a couple of weeks and then get a matching second frame when you have firmly decided it's the right racquet for you.

The More Expensive (But Viable) Way to Demo a Racquet

natural gut colour coating

If you don't like the idea of restringing a demo racquet, don't have access to a demo program or want to hit with a brand new racquet then the more expensive, but surprisingly common way to test a tennis racquet is:

  • Purchase a new racquet outright
  • String it yourself with your preferred string and tension
  • Play with it across multiple practice session and matches
  • Re-test your old racket and compare
  • Decide on it. Not a fan of the new one? Resell it on eBay or local classifieds and take the depreciation hit on a used item.

The problem with demo rackets is the grip size, tension, and string is usually different than what I use. The last frame I tried had gut in it, it felt great, so I purchased one, I then strung it with poly, and it did not play very well. Gut is $35 a set, too much money for me so I had to sell it. Now I just buy them and if they don't work for me I sell them on. Why demo racquets aren't for everyone

Final Thoughts

federer press

So there you have my tips for demoing a tennis racquet. As long as you understand some of the variables and technicalities associated with racquet construction, and have a logical and consistent process in place to test the racquets that interest you then you are well on the way to finding a frame that suits your game.

It might sound like a hassle, but given the rather exorbitant price tags associated with modern, player endorsed racquets, the effort is well worth it. 

What tips do you have for tennis racquet demos? Got any questions about demo programmes or choosing a racquet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Federer and tennis in general.

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83 Comments

    1. Haha Sue πŸ™‚ Nah, today is just a sad day, hope a certain Russian guy can make it better, otherwise a “most injured during career but still managed to win 18 slams while being injured”-guy will win 19… sigh.
      Seriously hoping for an upset. According to Pat Cash Roger is the only one who could stop Rafa. Yeah, we have heard that for a long time now, haven’t we? πŸ™‚

      Great post Jon.

  1. I have never used a demo program. For different reasons. Main probably I started to play very late (at 50), so I was wise enough (I hope) to understand all technicalities of the rackets.
    When I bought a racket and was generally happy with it (generally, not going into details), I was never looking for a new racket, which should make my game better, but rather for training more to make my game better.
    While progressing and getting to know better, how my game is and what I would like to try to change, but also as a motivational impulse, I was trying new one, according to my knowledge of technical details and of my particular needs.
    If the new racket proven to not be what I expected, I always assumed, not the racket is bad choice but I’m not ready (it was always a step to the more professional racket), I got back to my old and as my game was progressing, I was trying for longer periods to play with the new racket. If experimenting, so rather with stringing. Once I felt, my game was ready for the more demanding racket, I switched to the new racket and started to play it regularly for longer time. If after month or two I was not happy with the new racket and experiments with stringing did not help, I was going back to my old racket and and looking for someone among partners, who would eventually buy the racket from me. And so on.
    I had only two rackets which were definitely a misunderstanding and needed to sell them – both were lightweight (one with very big head) and the reason for such choice was, I was inured and the rehabilitation lasted about a year, so I thought, I would need a lighter racket to have more comfort, no matter how good they play, until I’m recovered. I was wrong in both cases πŸ˜‰

    1. Even if you understand the specs I would still demo it. After all the specs are only quoted and not always a true reflection of how a frame plays.

      When are you upgrading to the 3rd Gen Pure Strike? πŸ˜€

      1. Probably never. I’m happy with the older one and my age is not the best to go for too many experiments.
        But for sure I will buy a racket, with which Thiem wins his first slam (if he wins one) πŸ˜‰

      2. Another aspect – not much tennis gear shops in the forest πŸ˜‰ I’m always buying via Internet. Not good for demoing πŸ˜‰

  2. All the racquets I have at home have been bought on sale; having 3 more players at home pretty much puts all the gear into some heavy use. So, when I feel like trying what I have it’s similar to doing a racquet demo, except that I already own the material…
    From beginner up to some intermediate level I would say that the biggest difference between racquets is noticed on overhead shots: service and smash. The racquet weight makes a huge difference there. Anything above 330 g strung slows down my movement a lot but makes you do all the things right. Service is definitely the first thing I try. The second is volleys: that’s where I absolutely hate head heavy racquets. On ground strokes I don’t notice such severe differences and as long as there is enough time to prepare, I can hit fine either with a (strung) 370 g 95 sq inch or a 300 g / 100. Here I would look primarily for feel: can you sense the ball hitting the strings? Is there just about the right amount of vibration? None is bad. Too much is uncomfortable. I like a little shock.
    I also suggest trying as many as possible in the same session so you can eliminate the β€œbad day/good day factor”
    There. My 0.02 €.
    Cheers

    1. Well, you probably need 3 rackets on board when you play. You serve, throw the racket in the tribunes, take the next from your backpack to play some groundstrokes and when you feel it’s time to attack, you throw this one the opponent to the feet and take the third to finish with volley and/or smash. A bit unorthodox but … these days it’s allowed to be unorthodox and still rich the slam final πŸ™‚

  3. @Jon
    Off topic. We have once discussed shortly about SiteLock vs. SSL.
    I have done some research on some forums with this result.
    I can have both SiteLock and SSL – they are not inherently incompatible, but it’s a bit complicated to load SSL into SiteLock.
    I think, actually I need some security only for those potential readers, who would not open a page if there is no security certificate.
    But I don’t collect vulnerable personal data, so .. I rather need SiteLock (protecting my site against hackers, malware a.s.o.) than SSL.

    All this does not mean, I need to inform readers about my security level via pop-up πŸ˜‰

    1. Just use SSL.

      Why do you need Sitelock? It isn’t going to help you if a rogue plugin has an exploit. It’s just some front end nonsense. It’s s scam like I said and you are paying money for old rope.

      Get an SSL and install Wordfence instead, this is a far better way to prevent malware. Done.

    1. Bah. I watched a couple of games and did not see a single interesting thing to keep me tuned.
      Excuse me now, I need to demo a few bed sheets! Good night, folks.

      1. Worst Nadal’s performance of the year. The only thing which worked, was his fighting spirit.
        Medvedev is another one-way, short-term hero. No time or will to improve skills. Another 198+ robocop with short lifetime (like Raonic, Anderson, Zverev). Not a tennis we dream of.
        Wait a year and Medvedev joins his friend Kyrgios, serving underarm (unorthodox) or hitting both serves same way (too lazy to learn the second serve).
        No chance he turns unorthodox in a beautiful and skillful way like Dustin Brown or Monfils.

      2. You are completely wrong about Medvedev. Being 2 sets down and a break against Rafa 99% of the tour just gives up and this guy turned the match around not because Rafa dropped his level but because he raised his and changed tactics. He was really really impressive, in the end of the 3rd and the 4th sets he was playing like a god (Nole god mode like).

        The comparison with Raonic and Anderson specially make no sense at all. This guy’s movement is from another level, he gets every single ball. He will be a multiple a GS champion. I have no doubt about that.

        “Worst Nadal’s performance of the year” Not at all. He played way worse in AO and W.
        With regards to Rafa, it was amazing how he was able to deal with the pressure in the 5th. He was very smart using his slice effectively.

      3. @Jonathan
        No, I’m not. It’s rather typical fir Fedfans πŸ˜‰
        Thiem was this year impacted the most by viruses, not by Medvedev. Thiem is 2:1 vs. Medvedev and his loss in Canada was the one he would not have played at all (because of illness), Thiem does not care about rankings, records a.s.o. If so,, he would not played Kitz (he did for emotional reasons, leading to ruin totally his USO Series. I don’t care about his numerals too. I like his game and character. I don’t like Medvedev’s style and character. Matter of taste. You like Federer, not Nadalright? You would LOVE Medvedev if fe defeated Nadal.
        But OK, you was kidding to provoke me πŸ˜‰

      4. @Pablo
        I agree with you. Medvedev played like god, Nadal was garbage. GREAT MATCH.
        If you didn’t watch the match, look into stats.
        Nadal’s serve stats:
        5 aces
        5 DF
        58% first serve in
        52% second serve won
        Typical Nadal?
        Nadal served himself in troubles.

      5. Ye I was trolling, just like you.

        I wasn’t bothered about the outcome of the final tbh. I didn’t watch as I was working on something.,

        The only problem I have is umpires showing zero bollocks again and not enforcing rules for the time between serves.

  4. Nadal almost choked. being up 5-2 in the 5th. The best match of the year was Federer-Djoko Wimb19 final. USO19 final was a fully fit NAdal vs not so fit and UE machine Medvdv.

      1. Medvdv openly admitted “I prefer to play 3 set matches”. So Medvdv was in a no win content. Nadal should have wrapped this in 3.

      2. @Claud
        Yes,I was wondering, why Nadal didn’t do this. Nadal was slow and less aggressive than usual. His serving was a disaster. Anyone “non-orthodox” would beat him.

      3. Nadal seemed to have made some improvements in his service last year, but it is not showing now. What sometimes works is the standard lefty wide service on the advantage side… except when the receiver reads it. Apart from that… meh.

    1. “Nadal almost choked”. Almost… but look: The King of Clay just won his 5th Canadian Open, his 4th USO and his 19th GS. Not bad for a guy who can’t play well outside of clay uh?

      1. What has it to do with choking? Yes, Nadal choked in this final (don’t know the reason). Nadal can play on every surface since years. Time can come soon, he will win more on hard/grass than on clay (getting too old for physicality of clay).
        Maybe 2020 Nadal skips the whole clay season and wins all non-clay slams and masters?

      1. I disagree, you can’t expect the players to be ready if the server decides to spend 2 seconds between points as an strategy. That would not be tennis.
        Maybe a maximum time for the returner to be ready would be ok.

        The clock thing should be a bit more flexible. Yesterday the umpiring was terrible. You can’t expect players to recover from rallies after 4 hours in the same way they did at the beginning of the match. Similarly, players might need to catch a breath after 20+ 30+ shot rallies.

      2. @Jon
        Medvedev was ready all the time, because he was mostly not the last to hit the ball πŸ˜‰ Moreover – Medvedev is so unorthodox, he hits only 5 shots in a rally of 20. 15 must play the opponent πŸ™‚

  5. I watched the whole match. Medvedev certainly had his chances and was a fool to keep using the drop shot. Other times, I was impressed with his fight and stamina. Oh well, another easy draw and win for Nadal.

    1. Federer had an easy draw too but pathetic Dimitrov was too much for him. Federer is fading, has no more motivation. Next such season and he r………. Or UniKlo deal requires him to play another 10 year.
      Should (against expectations) Fed win another slam, he should take it as the last and r…… in glory.

      1. @Armstrong7
        Thank you πŸ™‚ You mean, I was negative about Federer? This was kind of joke, but you should know, like me, nobody wins big titles for ever, even Federer not. And better than tennis without big titles (for him) is walking in the mountains with the family. Federer will not play to reach QF’s in big tournaments.

    1. Not quite…
      By the way: is Pro’s Pro blackout string good for such a bargain? I miss the crispness of the original tecnifibre black code and the word on the street (shoe polishers and traffic light beggars whisper about that) is that these are similar.

      1. Yes, that’s where I got the reference from. After that, some bell ran in my mind and then I recalled having seen that a local shop sells the 200 m reel for 31.9 €. They also sell Tourna leather grips. I think I’ll pack all and order the Autumn Upgrade Kit.
        By the way, how are your experiences with the stringing machine going?

      2. I like it, it’s crank so not as good as an electric straight-pull one so a bit more time consuming and I guess there is some tension loss. But it’s fun just to restring at your own will. Wouldn’t fancy doing it for others as it’d kill my fingers and get boring but for my own racquets, I like it.

    2. If you are looking to test some strings look into Toalson. Pretty sure they manufacture for some of the bigger names who just white label. They make some good stuff at cheap prices.

    3. The only thing I might say about racquets is that it should feel like part of your body. So everybody will be different. But there’s a wide choice out there, and most of them can deliver much more power for the recreational player than the older models used to, and enough feel. As usual, it comes back to how good your technique is.

  6. Hey guys, credit where credit is due! Of course, super bummed that Fed couldn’t win this one. But Nadal played great and if he’s holding up the trophy, he deserved it. So did Medvedev – wish the kid could have won, but wasn’t the case – fought like an absolute legend against the greatest fighter in tennis – no mean feat.

    May not love Med’s game style, but sold by his sheer will, no BS attitude on court (over the last few matches), honest/ frank/ fresh/ funny (without trying to be) interviews off the court. Plus he had the maturity to admit that he was an idiot with the crowd and ballboy. I admire that. Hope he can keep it up, cause if he can, dunno about the NextGen, but Med’s here on the big stage and here to stay and I’m happy with that.

    Hopefully no being a dick with ballkids in the future though…

    Also, @Jonathan – just returned to London from India armed with my tennis kit! BLX 12 racket Fed bag (admittedly housing 1 smashed kid racket (used to vent frustration – venting on BLX’s was proving to be too costly with my game), 3 semicracked BLX blades, one semi cracked ProStaff and Fed’s 2017 racket (unused). Finally time to hit the tennis courts after nearly 2 years. Three’s going to be a lot of shanks! Bring ’em on. That and the end of year tennis season! Hopefully Fed can come back with something reminiscent of 2017.

  7. Well, you probably need 3 rackets on board when you play. You serve, throw the racket in the tribunes, take the next from your backpack to play some groundstrokes and when you feel it’s time to attack, you throw this one the opponent to the feet and take the third to finish with volley and/or smash. A bit unorthodox but … these days it’s allowed to be unorthodox and still rich the slam final πŸ™‚

  8. Just found. I’m actually practicing this model “The More Expensive (But Viable) Way to Demo a Racquet”. With the difference, I never buy a racket with demo strings and I have no stringing machine home, so I always buy my favorite string set and let the seller to string the racket with it. I’m buying from the same seller since years so I can rely on the quality ofg stringing and eventual recommendations.

      1. As a musician I find there’s a tendency by some players to get a bit fixated on equipment, whereas your skills more than gear are perhaps best to be “fixated” on; experienced players can use almost anything. When I was learning the game of tennis I was a bit like that with racquets, but the better I got the easier it was to be effective with just about anything. Yet, I’ll partly contradict myself, and also say that as I got better I could discern subtle differences in feel between different racquets and strings – and so I developed preferences. I imagine pro’s are even more like that. So while the racquet doesn’t make the player, the “right” racquet makes the player a little better – if you see what I mean.

      2. From my experience, most recreational players are absolutely clueless about strings, racquet weight etc. You need to have some idea to avoid using a racquet that doesn’t suit you at all. How many players are buying an RF97 as they want to play like Fed? It’s not suitable for many players at all.

        You do get some players who are absolutely obsessed with stuff “all the gear, no idea” sort but they are few and far between. There’s no point telling them anything about equipment as they know it all already πŸ˜†

      3. @Armstrong7 as a part-time (wannabe) musician myself – so true!! I’ve seen people obsess about their guitar pedals and rig and cables to no end. It’s hilarious!

        But @Jonathan’s definitely right – I had no clue about strings/ weight/ tension when I started playing. Like he said, many many years ago, as a kid, I picked up a BLX because I wanted to play like Fed (lol, about that: fail).

        Overtime, that’s changed – I was more informed about music vis-a-vis tennis in my journey, so began to be more discerning with my choices, first with music gear, and now with tennis as well. (Although, admittedly, my guilty pleasure is collecting every Federer racket. But that’s just from a ‘collector”s POV, so perhaps that’s acceptable haha)

      4. Right. Or they come strung with anything, which is not meant to be used to play but to avoid deformations of the frame.
        In ma difficult “forest case” I must know which strings I want and what tension, before i buy a frame, then I need to ask the seller to string the frame. As a rule they offer stringing as a bonus, just because I”m buying there not only frame, but also strings and balls and the apparel …
        I agree with @Armstrong7. Once you are aware of your game, you can use almost any racket and first pros really need special tuning.
        I have seen on video, how it looks like. The manufacturer sends the team to the off-season preparation and they do the tuning on site.
        If I may use this definition, “advanced recreational players”, when adult and experienced enough and not training or playing daily, will know what they generally need and what they have to tune, is the game, which happens automatically. The more you know the racket (including stringing), the better you can adapt your game (if you can it at all ;)).
        If it was definitely a fault, you go to your old and after some time you rethink and try another one.. Or even not. You must not win next match, you must have fun and that’s possible, when you like to play and the racket is not the worst choice possible πŸ˜‰

      5. GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is a terrible disease. I stopped at a total ~9-10 racquets for 4 players, which is not bad.
        And every now and then I wonder how I was able a long, long time ago to go almost head-to-head with colleagues who had tennis lessons (I hadn’t) with a supermarket racquet, 90 sq. in., 355 g strung.
        (I used to watch Borg, Willander, Edberg… see a pattern here? and absorb visually all they did and imagine myself doing the same)

      6. @Rui
        GAS is a viral infection – dangerous for your bank account not very nice πŸ™‚
        I’m not surprised, you was able to stay head-to-head, without lessons. I have a lot of tennis friends, who never had lessons and play extremely unorthodox. Some play table tennis on tennis court, others play volleyball or use raw power.
        My experience is, some basics lessons when you start help a lot, because what you learned once (the orthodox way), you never forget and you can then improve yourself. without a coach.
        If you never had a lessons, I would be surprised, if you can play orthodox.
        At the recreational level you can of course win a lot without having lessons. If you are really talented you probably can learn a lot by watching pros.
        But I have never seen anyone doing the classic service motion sequence without having learned this with a coach. Basic groundstrokes you can learn on the wall, still your takeback and follow-through will probably never be optimal and your shots mostly flat.
        Is your experience different?

      7. Some of them come with decent strings, but I think those are the exception. The Pure Drives are pre-strung with Xcel which is a very good multifilament, not too elastic, not too muted and with some feedback. I think that this is the only one I would tell to not cut right away after the purchase and just keep using until it is frayed. Cheaper Babolats are strung with Nvy, a basic single core nylon, fine for beginners. Dunlops come strung with Silk, very comfortable but meh… The rest is useless: the multifilament Sensation on the Wilsons is… void of sensations.

      8. @PRF: by far the most difficult was the serve. I would not raise the left arm enough (I’m not even sure I knew I had to do it) and sometimes I hurt my right shoulder due to the wrong mechanics. That’s where the lessons helped the most. Now it’s acceptable.
        My forehand was fine and that’s the shot my friend has the biggest trouble in returning. Today it has lost its depth, but it’s my fault because I am using lighter racquets and my swing has got lazy. I must take the dust off that old heavy club, hahaha. (and do some workout)
        Backhand was meh. I was also very comfortable at the net. I loved hitting volleys and I still do. I could do the backhand over-the-head volley (almost) like Becker. I don’t know why but it’s a shot that has always seemed natural to me.

      9. @Rui
        You are physicist, aren’t you?
        This may have helped you with understanding the mechanics of motion sequences and timing at different shots.
        Somehow volley seems to me the easiest to learn without professional support. Once you get the ball close to the net, you may play millions of variations, so even if you not always play what you wanted, there’s no time to get aware of having hit it unclean πŸ˜‰
        Serve – yes, if you want to play classic sequence since preparation till the follow-through. Very few do it in recreational tennis.
        But you can find a lot of players on tour, who’s serve has no preparation, does not start with bending knees a.s.o. Or you serve like Pierre Hugue – the only thing which matters in his serve is to hide the direction.

        I’m serving very orthodox, but make a lot of errors – the motion sequence is excellent but my body is not able to do it so, I can get frequently the ball over the net and not out πŸ˜‰ My fastest serve ever was 138 kmh (3 days ago) – at least Babolat PIQ tells me that. I’m only not sure if it wasn’t fault πŸ˜‰

        I started with lessons (before I was only assistant with basket, when my daughter – 10 years old by then – learned tennis in a club school with professional trainers) at 50+ so my experience is, it’s never to late to take some lessons and start to avoid the worst errors (sometimes costing injuries).

      10. “Right. Or they come strung with anything, which is not meant to be used to play but to avoid deformations of the frame.”

        Nah. How can a string prevent deformation? If they are strung, then the frame is under 60lbs of tension and at more risk of deforming. It’s better to leave racquets unstrung when not in use IMO.

      11. @Jon
        Hmmm … have always heard to not leave a racket unstrung. Times are changing πŸ˜‰ For wooden rackets you need special clamps but this is wood, natural material, they say “it’s working” all it’s life.
        Modern rackets are probably not so prone to deformations, but my stringer always tells me, better to leave strung with anything than leave unstrung. Just for the reason, frame is under tension (as it normally is, when you use it) and that tension prevents deformations.
        But I don’t think it to have really an importance for modern frames.

      12. All higher-end racquets are shipped unstrung. And they’re not sold instantly. If putting the string in prevented deformation, they’d ship them strung.

        Any time you string a racquet you can damage it, quite easily if you leave it under tension. I have seen stringers do the mains and then take a 30-minute break before doing the crosses, which is not good as you have uneven tension.

        I believe you should store wooden racquets unstrung too.

  9. @Jon
    Could you send me the link from Rui, you needed to delete and I cannot find it anymore, to my private e-mail [email protected]? Or ask Rui to do this? I have asked him under one of his posts but they are probably too old.
    Thank you (of you can or not)

      1. Thank you, Rui πŸ™‚ Agree. Everything working like you described. Now waiting until RLC appears there πŸ™‚

  10. https:www.tv24.ch/live. They will stream RLC live. But you need VPN to get a Swiss IP. It’s free. And currently the streams are working if you are on Swiss IP.

    1. Well I didn’t mean, VPN to be free (maybe there are free VPN programs, don’t know) but the stream on https//:www.tv24.ch/live. Sorry, I forgot 2x // in the link above.

  11. I have just tried to recollect all my experience with choosing rackets, strings, tension a.s.o. I have also asked a friend (about 40, coach with license from Polish Tennis Association, occasional player on club level). I have also reflected on Jon’s posts and the whole discussion.

    I will try to limit myself to not create a very long story πŸ˜‰ These are conclusions in points:
    1. Before you start to believe to be able to do it with some sense (choosing racket, string …), look on your game or take a lesson with professional coach and ask him, how it looks like. No any racket makes your game better. With better game (through lessons, training, fitness, wall, matches) you get better results, no matter which racket you take.
    2. It’s a big illusion of recreational players, they can really assess which racket fits better their game. Their game is far from the level, when they can really differentiate rackets and their single features. They may feel better and even reach better results in matches playing this or another racket, but they still choose: the racket of their hero, the racket, someone recommended them, the racket having nice design or more aggressive marketing or better price.
    3. Bresnik (Thiem’s almost-lifetime-coach) says: 99% of your results are passion and work, 1% is talent, assuming you are young, healthy and not spending 99% of your time, sitting at PC or Playstation. The same with the gear. 99% of the success is the quality of your game – good racket can add 1% to that.
    So better spend your money for some lessons and more own training (fitness and technique) and don’t change the racket (if you are not used (and rich enough) to smash rackets πŸ˜‰

    On the end an example from my experience.
    I was regularly playing about 10 years long a friend, 10 years younger, who never took a lesson and invented some unorthodox style, hitting everything like it was slice: forehand, backhand, volley, smash, dropshot, even serve! (his serve had backwards rotation). He used the double-strung Blackburn racket.
    I (and all others in the circle) was losing to him during 2 hour session 7-10 sets, all sets 0:6, 1:6, sometimes 2:6.
    Everyone thought, ok, let him use “normal” racket. Impossible, he plays the same as with Blackburn, having 100% sweet spot and a specific boost coming from double string-bed. He accepted. The result? we were losing 7-10 sets in 2 hours by 0:6, 1:6 a.s.o.
    That’s how the recreational tennis looks like πŸ˜‰

  12. Great! Just for next Jonathan’s post like “7 great things you never knew can be used for your first tennis lessons” πŸ˜‰ A smaller Tefals for kids you find for sure in your kitchen too πŸ™‚ This may be the source of Federer’s great forehand, I guess. Only wondering, why he didn’t learn double-handed forehand, perfect for snow clearing, hahaha …

      1. I could, but my only resource is my own experience and to some extent the experience of my friends. No time for a regular research, but maybe it would be enough as a platform for sharing ideas of others? Or you would rather expect the initial post to contain better founded knowledge?
        I will try and I send you the text when I’m ready. I would expect you to make some
        (if necessary) linguistic correction, so everyone can easily understand the ideas πŸ™‚
        I would also post it on my blog, pointing to your site, because I expect more input from your readers πŸ™‚

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