Every professional athlete has some form of customized gear that helps them play well. Football players have gloves and cleats, basketball players have sneakers, and tennis players have their racquets.
To play to the best of your ability, you need gear that can complement your game. Everyone plays differently, so finding the right gear for you will likely require some fine tuning.
One way to customize your tennis racquet is to change its weight. This affects how you can swing the racquet, how it reacts when it hits the ball, and other factors like spin and power.
Custom-tailoring these factors to your preferences is one of the best ways for you to elevate your game and develop your style. In the following paragraphs, we’ll review the different factors that go into your swing and how the weight affects them, and then we’ll go over ways you can add weight yourself.
Why Add Weight?
Tennis is all about making sure that you hit the ball with the right power, angle, and swing type. Aside from your body positioning and footwork, the two primary factors controlling your success are how you swing the racquet and how it reacts to hitting the ball. As you may have guessed, this is where the racquet weight has the greatest effect.
Light vs. Heavy
Racquets take energy and strength to swing regardless of their weight. Add in that you will likely swing it a few hundred times per match, and the weight begins to play a role in how tiring swinging is. A lighter racquet will take less energy to swing, increasing your endurance. Additionally, you will be able to swing a lighter racquet faster because it takes less force to move it.
However, a lighter racquet will also respond more negatively to hitting the ball. This is because when it makes contact with the ball, both the amount of force you are contributing (your swing strength) and the weight of the racquet compared to the ball will affect how much force you can apply to the ball.
A lighter racquet is more likely to move, shake, or twist in your hand when hitting a ball that is closer to its weight because the impact applies force from the ball that the light racquet cannot effectively absorb. A heavy racquet however, can direct the impact onto the ball more easily and will absorb the shock of the impact.
Balance and Weight Distribution
Once you decide if you want to go light, heavy, or somewhere in between, your next decision is how to balance the weight distribution. There are two primary parts of the racquet: the head and the handle. Just as light and heavy racquets have positives and negatives to their weights, so do the handle and head. Two racquets that weigh the same can feel and perform extremely differently!
Adding more weight to the handle leads to a handle-heavy racquet. These racquets are usually easier to swing because the weight is close to your hand, bringing the center of mass closer.
This lowers the torque required to swing it, allowing you to move the head faster and more controlled, in addition to requiring less energy. However, a lighter head is more likely to shift on contact and you may not be able to swing the racquet fast enough to offset the lesser weight applying force to the ball.
Adding more weight to the head shifts the center of mass more towards the head of the racquet, creating a head-heavy racquet. A head-heavy racquet is harder to swing and feels heavier to the user despite possibly being the same weight as a handle-heavy racquet. The additional weight at the point of impact allows for more stability when making contact with the ball and more power, but less control due to the extra work required to position it.
As with the light versus heavy racquet decision, your racquet doesn’t need to be one or the other. It can be a balance between the two and tweaked until it feels comfortable and performs how you want it to.
How to Add Weight
Once you’ve decided how much weight to add and where to put it, you will have to add the weight itself. Depending on where you choose to add the weight, you can choose between a few options.
To add weight to your tennis racquet handle, you can add a gel-like silicone to the hollow part of a racquet handle. This lets you easily add significant weight. You can also wrap it in lead tape underneath the grip, which is a very precise way of adding weight. Finally, you can use a leather grip instead of a lightweight synthetic grip for a well-balanced weight addition that also gives you more padding.
To add weight to the head of the racquet, lead tape is a popular and effective method. You should add small strips symmetrically on each side, or one directly in the middle at the top of the head. This ensures that the head is balanced and maintains consistency when you swing.
Whether you’re a professional player or just play on the weekends, everyone can benefit from customizing their gear. By changing the weight of your racquet, you can make it easier to swing, drive the ball better, or stop it from moving in your hand or sending shockwaves down to your hands. Customizing a racquet’s weight is simple enough that anyone who wants a competitive advantage should give it a chance, and now you know how to!