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Yet these kits are performing several important functions. Tennis players must pay attention to these or risk damaging their expensive racquets and, more importantly, hurting their arms.
Bumpers are the plastic inserts around the top of the head of the racquet. They attach to grommets which are sold as part of a kit that includes the bumper. Grommets are the plastic sleeves through which the strings pass around the outside of the frame.
The primary function of the bumper is to protect the frame and strings at or near the top of the head. Without a bumper, the strings might break everytime you go for that low volley or drop shot when the racquet makes contact with the court. Also, as bumpers wear away by play, the overall weight balance of the racquet shifts slightly away from the head.
Two important functions:
Protect the strings from breaking as they bend around the frame.
Absorb some of the shock and vibration occurring when the ball strikes the strings, especially on shots that either miss the sweet spot or are hit with power. Less vibration means less stress on the elbow, wrist and shoulder. If grommets were too soft, it could reduce power too.
Some players replace them every time the racquet is restrung. They absolutely must be replaced any time the bumper is broken, cracked or worn to the point of exposing the strings. In any case, annual replacement is a good idea. Grommets get stiff over time which means they become less effective at dampening vibration.
Buy only a bumper that is made for your specific racquet. Not just the brand but the specific model. Keeping track of the model year of the racquet model is becoming increasingly important to find bumpers that fit correctly.
Manufacturers discontinue making bumpers a few years after the racquet model is launched. Therefore, if you keep using racquets that have been on the market for more than a couple of years it is smart to stock up on bumpers. They get harder to find as your racquet ages. If you replace your racquet every three years or less, you shouldn't have trouble finding bumpers.
Once you find the correct bumper for your brand and model racquet, if there is a color choice it is strictly a matter of personal choice.
Professional racquet stringers maintain a wide inventory of bumpers but they may not have an exact match for you. Be sure to ask.
Tennisracquets.com has a giant selection of bumpers. Finding an exact fit can sometimes be a frustration so call us if you have questions. If racquet terminology is puzzling you, check out our Guide to Tennis Racquet Terminology. We are your one stop shop for tennis racquets, shoes, apparel and accessories. We are here to make tennis even more fun for you!