Dampeners: Valuable or Mental?

What good does that little rubber thing do at the bottom of your string bed?  Does it effectively reduce vibration or is the benefit all in your head?

According to racquet supplier, Tennis Express

The sole purpose of the dampener is to reduce the vibrations off the racquet string bed. Players that like vibration dampeners mainly use it because it decreases the “ping” sound the ball makes at impact. For many players this is more of a mental purpose than a physical purpose.

Two common misconceptions with dampeners are that they help with tennis elbow problems and reduce a racquets power level. Although many manufacturers use this in marketing ploys, there is little evidence to support either of these myths.

More times than not, manufacturers have built in dampening properties to the frames to give better shock absorption than actual vibration stoppers. Most dampeners are usually fairly small and do not make significant changes in the way a racquet can play.

Types of Dampeners

(From TennisCompanion.org) “There are two primary types of tennis racquet vibration dampeners. The first and most common type of vibration dampener is typically referred to as a “button” dampener, since they’re roughly the size of a large button and frequently circle in shape.

The other common type of vibration dampener is frequently referred to as a “worm” dampener. Aptly named, these dampeners are long and thin in the shape of worm.”

Andre Agassi was different in that he frequently just used a rubber band tied at the bottom of the string bed.

What about YOU … What do you use and do you see a benefit in dampeners?

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14 thoughts on “Dampeners: Valuable or Mental?

  1. I’ve used dampeners all my life. Both buttons and worms. It may be all in my head, but I’ve always felt more sensitivity in the “sweet spot” with a dampener. My sense is that it’s more forgiving on those miss-hits with a dampener than not.

    Jim, for me, without the dampener, there is a “ping” that i do not like. thanks, george

  2. To me the dampener is essential because of the feel when you hit the ball. Without it it almost feels like the Raquet has a different tension. “Valuable” or “mental” are not mutually exclusive to me. Even if the dampener helps you only “mentally” it is still valuable! Don’t know about others but if my dampener falls off for any reason during a match I know instantly when I hit the next ball. It just doesn’t feel right so I start looking all over the court for my spongy little friend. I keep about a dozen in my bag. I need it even if it is “mental”.

    Jim, good point! thanks, george

  3. I like the feel of the racquet with a dampener. It’s probably psychological only, but I don’t care. If it makes me play better, I’ll do it.

    But an issue here that is not addressed is where exactly to place the dampener to comply with the rules. I always understood the dampener has to be placed outside of the hitting area on the racquet, which means that only a location outside of the lowest cross string (or I suppose above the highest cross string, but who does that?) is legal.

    This is easy to do with button dampeners, but I have seen them mounted higher and have always understood that is not allowed. However, worm dampeners sometimes cannot be mounted so low on the strings because they are designed differently. Some worm dampeners literally have to be affixed higher up in the string bed than the lowest cross string even to be usable.

    Is there a rule about this or is it just folklore? If there is a rule what exactly does it say, and who can enforce it – in other words, can an opposing player claim victory if you play an entire match with a dampener in the wrong place? Or can a referee take away a previously won point if he observes a dampener in the wrong place during the prior point? And are some worm dampeners automatically illegal because they cannot physically be mounted low enough on the strings, or am I just crazy even to mention this? 🙂

    Marty, good questions! My understanding is that the dampener has to be placed below the lowest cross string to be legal. I would assume you would have to all a referee to “complain” about your opponent’s illegal equipment. thanks, george

  4. Depends on the racquet being used … but for majority of frames , eliminates “ping” . I don’t like playing without . Haven’t played in a while though 🙂

    Marc, what are you doing for exercise?? george

  5. Contrary to what I used to believe, I was told by my (and well know industry) tech guru, Bruce Levine, that they are sound dampeners, NOT vibration dampeners. They give you a deeper sounding hit and not the high pitched ping that is irritating to many players and have no vibration dampening qualities. It sounds like that is the conclusion you have also come to.

    Steve, yup, for me, it is the sound! thanks, george

  6. Everything that I’ve read agrees with the “sound only” effect. My Weed strung at 30 lbs makes more of a “boingggg” than a “ping” sound. Seems to annoy opponents, so I don’t use a dampener. 🙂

    BTW, I think I’ve figured out that if you click on the posters’ little icon, it shows whether they’ve included a link to the website that is offered down at the bottom of this “reply” page. I just included the one about me from the Smithsonian. 🙂

    Also, I see that the Florida State Championships is about to be played just up the road in North Palm Beach. I also see that my buddy, Dan Warner, is signed up to play 65’s doubles. But, I also see that nobody else is signed up for doubles. If I could find me a 65’s doubles partner for this tournament, I’d drive up there and give Dan a chance to play. 🙂

    Kevin, good luck on finding a partner and playing!! george

  7. Hi Kevin I live in Boca and would like to talk with you about partnering. 561-325-4808

  8. I go TOTALLY mental when my damper flips out, and I hear the dreaded “Ping!” Besides the noise, the racket feels like a skeleton … insubstantial! I always have a large, thick rubber band in my tennis bag … just in case! p.s. Hey, George, you said that you like comments, guess you got more than enough on this issue!

    Caroline, i LOVE having comments… let’s me know someone is reading my stuff! thanks, george

  9. Thanks, George. Michael and I got to play together this morning. He’s already become a hero of mine. 🙂

    Kevin, i only ask for 10% of your prize money! 🙂 george

  10. I want 20% of that prize money!!…or at least a cold beer!….and yes, have always used a worm….it just “sounds” good.

    Scoot, I think the beer might be the best choice! George

  11. You got it, Scoot. Just help me find some doubles partners for those West Coast tournaments. 🙂

  12. In response to Marty’s question, there is apparently a rule about dampener placement. Approximately twenty years ago, a roving umpire at USTA league tennis Sectional Championships forced me to move my dampener down a row. He intervened during a changeover and didn’t dock us any points….

    Harry, thanks, george

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