The Life of a Tennis Racquet?

funeralHow often should you replace the tennis frame you have been playing with? For sure it is impacted by how often you play; but I believe there is probably some inherent “shelf life” to the composite frames we all play with.

Mixed Answers

Since my frames are aging, I was doing some online research. You get answers all over the ball park… from “every six months” to “many years.” Here is one answer from TennisWorld who asked Bruce Levine, chief racquet advisor for TENNIS.com and TENNIS magazine:

“Depends on how often you play, how hard you hit and the climate where you play. It could be as little as two years for an aggressive five-times-a-week player who strings at the top of the tension range and refuses to come in from the 35-degree cold of winter; to six years if you only play once a week, hit soft bullets, string loose, and live in cold-and-humidity-free Tucson, Arizona. Of course, the quickest way to kill a racquet is the Dr. Kevorkian assisted-suicide method of smashing it on the net post after you blow an easy overhead.”

Other factors?

“Restringing takes a toll on the frame, particularly on the grommets, so if you have it done often that will also shorten the racquet’s life expectancy. The string machine stretches the hoop and the materials in the frame stretch with it. Insist that your stringer pre-stretch the string by hand before putting it on the machine. Also make sure your stringer uses a “six point” machine, which holds the frame securely in place and minimizes distortion of the head of the racquet.”

I have been playing with my two Volkl frames for three years now and considering my six-time- a-week schedule, they are probably “due.”

Anyone have any good information or strong opinions on this?

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3 thoughts on “The Life of a Tennis Racquet?

  1. One of the most important features of the racket is the composition. In the “old days”, aluminum would flex and cracks would appear and then the racket would break. When fiberglass started to be used, the continual flexing of the racket would break up the fibers and the racket would flex and not be able to return quickly to it’s original position. The same happened with the “very old, wooden” rackets.

    When graphite was introduced, it was so much stronger than anything in the past, the rackets would be almost indestructible. Many graphite rackets were also combined with fiberglass and that would again make them weaken faster. Finally, high modulus graphite was introduced and that is by far the strongest and stiffest, thus giving the most power but also being the most expensive to produce. Special configurations of the frame also can make the frame stiffer. With the same material, whatever it may be, the more flexible the frame, the more quickly it will weaken through continual bending, and the more often it needs to be replaced.

    Place your frame on a table with mostly just the handle and part of the shaft on the table, holding the handle with one hand, press down on the tip of the head and see how much flex you can get out of the racket. The more it bends, the less power the racket will have, much the same as dropping a ball on a mattress as opposed to dropping it on cement. Pro’s often say a racket is too powerful for them as they are all used to the less “wide body” frames and they don’t want to take the time to get used to them in order to keep the ball in the court.

    We “seniors” on the other hand, like the extra power even though it takes a bit of getting used to. With the lower tensions so many of us use, the racket stress is minimized and the rackets are very durable. However, if a player is not playing well and an excuse is needed, a new racket suffices very well and will often get a player into a new level:).

    fred – great stuff! tks, george

  2. I use a Bosworth racquet and Jay Bosworth says I never need to replace it. As an aside I’m feeling pretty good as we just survived the Napa earthquake. We were rocking and rolling.

    Andy – “Never”?? Come back to flat and calm florida for no earthquakes (only hurricanes). george

  3. Leaving a racquet in a car on a hot summer day will also assist in the demise of a racquet and tension of a string job. Awhile back, a Tennis magazine writer left a newly strung racquet in a car during an 80-something degree day — the temp. in the car rose to
    over 100 degrees, and the string job lost a whopping 14 lbs. of tension in one day. Since the graphite of racquets is held together by resin (glue), which breaks down over time with repeated bending/flexing, we can gather that the heat of a car will also break down the integrity of the resin as well. Best to take your racquet with you, as opposed to “baking” it in the car, or trunk of your car, for that matter.

    Jimmy – good advice… especially for us Floridians! tks, george

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