Everything You Need To Know About Racquet Frame Stiffness
3/19/2021 - Staff Writer - Racquets & Paddles
Traditional wooden tennis racquet frames were more flexible compared to today's modern racquets. Though they were made from hardwoods such as Ash, there is only so much that can be done to prevent a thin wooden stick from buckling under pressure.
Modern Tennis Frames
While traditional wooden racquets offered plenty of precision, it was discovered with the introduction of modern metal racquets that the option to make them less flexible directly translated into additional power.
Though imperceptible to the human eye, all modern composite tennis racquets still wobble through the air after making contact with a speeding tennis ball. It is the degree to which they wobble that manufacturers are continually testing and innovating.
To quantify the stiffness of a modern tennis racquet, the Babolat RDC (racquet diagnostic center) machine is used. Ranging in scores from 45 to 85, the higher the score, the more stiff the racquet.
Typically, modern racquets will land between 60 and 75 on this scale.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Initially, you might assume that the more stiff the frame is the “better” the racquet will be. However, there are drawbacks of the stiff frame that come along with its benefit of additional power.
Thinking about tennis from a physics perspective, it makes sense that a more flexible frame will absorb more of the momentum of the tennis ball as it makes contact with the strings, while a more stiff frame will transfer more of that momentum directly back into the tennis ball.
The result is more power, but less control and a more jarring impact upon the frame. A tennis racquet may be too stiff for your liking if the impact of your swing causes pain or discomfort in your wrist, fingers, elbow, or shoulder. Additionally, an overly stiff racquet can also be one of the causes of tennis elbow.
Comfort aside, some players just prefer the greater control they have with a racquet that doesn’t transfer quite as much power back into the ball, sending it back in the opposite direction at a slower potential speed but with far more precision.
More than a Number
It is important to mention that there are many other factors that can impact the power and comfort of any particular tennis racquet. So, just because one racquet has been labeled 70 and another 65, that doesn’t guarantee that the 70 will offer more power and the 65 will offer more comfort if the other specs of each racquet have been optimized in very different ways.
While it is an important specification to consider when picking out your next racquet, you should keep yourself open to a range of stiffness ratings rather than looking for an exact number. Knowing which end of the spectrum you tend towards is enough.
Before making your decision, ensure that you review additional specs such as overall weight, head size, and grip to give you a holistic view of the power, comfort, balance, and precision that a racquet will offer.
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