When/How to Change Tennis Racquets?

What is the real life span of a tennis racquet and when should you replace what you have been playing with?  For many players that can be one of the biggest decisions in how they play the game.

Old But Comfortable

Like an old pair of shoes with no holes in them, there is a real comfort in playing with sticks that you know – as compared to trashing them and starting with new sticks.

I had been playing with the same three Volkl PowerBridge3 racquets for almost EIGHT YEARS.  They were not cracked or damaged (to the naked eye) in any way; and I knew what to expect when I struck the ball with them.

But “the experts” say that the composite material loses its resiliency after so many years and they should be replaced.  So in the spring of 2019, good friend Rick Barletta shared his new Wilson Clash 100 with me during a practice session … the new stick felt great and I eventually bought three of them.

For me, that transition was easy and in keeping with the advice from my tennis guru, Hank Irvine, who suggested I switch (from my 110 sq inch frame) to a 100 square “player’s racquet.”

How To Switch?

For me, switching racquets was usually like getting a new email address … a real pain in the butt.  I feel I know a lot about HOW to play the game and the RULES of the game; but when it comes to racquets, I plead ignorance.  So …

  • What criteria do you use in selecting the best racquet for your style of play?

  • How many different racquets should you test before you decide?

  • How can you really know a racquet when the demo you will be using is strung way differently than you would have it done?

  • What price should you expect to pay for a “good” racquet?

Any/all opinions are welcome.

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14 thoughts on “When/How to Change Tennis Racquets?

  1. How was the adjustment going from a 110 to a players’ racket? Regret it? What are the advantages of one versus another? See you in Maine or New Hampshire! Best, Ray Jean

    Ray, the transition was amazingly easy and i am very happy with the size and the play of the racquet. Thanks, george

  2. I like to play with the same style of racquet for at least 5-6 years. My 4 main criteria are:

    – Feels good in my hand
    – fairly light-weight and flexible
    – over-size (103/105)
    – Under $125……………everyone stay safe! Scoot

  3. I’m no expert, but I play 4-6 times a week. I change racquets every 3-4 years, and always buy two identical racquets which I alternate every change-over. For me, there are just SO many racquets out there it would be impossible to compare them all, so I made the decision many years ago to stick with Wilson. That narrows it down quite a bit. Now, WHICH Wilson? I start by looking at the specs to narrow it down to 2 or 3, and then I demo each. But you’re right – the string and tension in the demo makes a HUGE difference so it’s still a bit of a guessing game. In the end, I figure your brain will quickly adjust to whatever you get. And, it’s probably has more to do with what’s between your ears than what’s in your hands.

    Terry, i am a THREE racquet guy and change for each match. Three sticks in case one breaks just before a tournament, i don’t want to go into it with just one other. Thanks, george

  4. My biggest challenge is the mental commitment once I have switched. After the honeymoon period, I constantly wonder if there is something better. Intellectually, I know it is not the racquet, and that there is minimal difference among racquets of similar weight and head size, but “what if…” can get in my head. Perhaps the best approach is to demo 3-4 racquets representing different weights, balance points, and head sizes; pick one; and then commit for an extended period.

    Doug, as Terry said above, a lot is between our ears! thanks, george

  5. the only way to change rackets is once you make your decision, and you choose your new rackets, you should then give your old rackets away. burn them, throw them in the trash, whatever, but do not keep them.
    the reason for this is you will have to go through an adjustment period where you will long for your old rackets. youll be playing poorly and if your old rackets are available, youll be so tempted to pick them up again.
    i have a friend who is a very, very good player who continually trying new rackets, but cannot make a commitment because he keeps his old rackets available.
    once you decide on your new rackets, give your old ones away!!

    Joe, kinda like a lover or ex-wife, huh? 🙂 george

  6. I used to play with a 100 sq. inch frame, but as I have gotten older, and the muscles have weakened, I depend on the equipment to take up the slack, so I now play with an oversize Weed racquet, which does just that.
    I only change racquets when I feel that the racquet doesn’t give as much pop as it did, but I change strings frequently.

    Michael, that huge frame and your incredible quickness are a formidable combination! george

  7. I HAVE been playing the same racquets for possibly 15 to 20 years……..Wilson Pro STAFF. I TRY TO CHANGE EVERY OTHER YEAR BUT NEVER SUCCEED. I SEE NO DIFFERENCE IN THE PLAYABILITY AS THE YEARS GO BY….

    Charlie, that is loyalty (or stubbornness!) thanks, george

  8. I’ve used the Bosworth, custom fitted racquet for about 9 years. It’s the most expensive racquet at $399 but is well worth the money. It was recommended to me by our tennis director here at Bonita Bay when I had a sore shoulder. It’s a heavier racquet but you don’t need to swing as hard to generate pace on shots. I believe this saves wear and tear on the joints. It’s only 96″ but the whole racquet seems to be a sweet spot because of it’s superior construction. It also seems to absorb the vibration of the ball better than any racquet I’ve used. When you hit it’s like the difference between driving a Yugo and a Mercedes. The only con I can think of is that because of it’s weight it’s tough to snap the wrist on a serve, but at this stage in life a slower serve isn’t catastrophic. Jay Bosworth claimed the racquet would last forever and not need to be replaced. However, after 8 years the frame was tested for resilience and it had lost a bit so I replaced my 3 racquets (yikes).

    Andy, that is a big price; but if it does all that you say it does, well worth it. thanks, george

  9. I switched to a ProKennex 5g twenty years ago to combat my tennis elbow. It miraculously disappeared with the ProKennex and I then moved on to a Babolat. The similarity between the two racquets was that they are both fairly heavy and head light. Haven’t had a problem with tennis elbow since, and even switched for a 3rd time to the Asics 116 last year and find it works just fine. Why the Asics 116? It works for Jimmy Parker, and that’s enough for me! 🙂

    Mike, so do you now play like Mr. Parker?? george

  10. For me , switching racquets is being curious about new technology. I like to check out a new racquet’s specs, such as swing weight,
    balance, string pattern, etc. and compare it to an older version of the racquet I am using. For a number of years, I have been satisfied with Wilson over the years, having played with an older Blade since 2013. I had a chance to demo the full line of racquets Wilson offered. I liked the new Blade 98 right away. Good response on ground stokes, serves, and maneuverability at net.Compared to the other racquets, it was right for my swing speed and style of play. I received a discount for that day, had it strung with natural gut, and left a happy camper. I do suggest you might look into purchasing extra bumper guards/grommet strips to ensure a longer string lifespan after many string replacements. Now, everyone go out and have fun with your new racquets.

    Glenn, good advice! thanks, george

  11. I like Bum Phillip’s quote about the Bear.

    Bryant can take his’n and beat your’n, and then he can turn around and take your’n and beat his’n. ~ On Bear Bryant

    It ain’t the racquet. It’s the archer.

    Like Mike, I cured my tennis elbow with the 5G. When my wrist left the building, I went with the 135 Weed strung at 30 because I couldn’t produce any power without that trampoline effect.

    Recovering now from the wrist bone removal, I’m back to the 5G.

    There was a time that I’d go to Walmart – after breaking a string – and buy one of their $12.95 racquets because it cost less than a string job. 🙂 I’d *still* test that theory if this thing heals up. Who wants a match? 🙂

    Kevin, when i was a teen, playing high level ping pong in my basement, my brother and i practiced for a couple of weeks using a BOOK instead of a paddle; then challenged some friends to a match and beat them. george

  12. BTW, I watched that Parker/Cheney match on YouTube. Fun stuff. *Lots* of shots that, apparently, barely missed “wide” that could have made a huge difference in the outcome had they fallen “in”.

    Over to the side (on YouTube) was *another* match – from the ASI. Have only watched the first set, but, *dang*! Turville and Meyers. The level of play was *off the charts*. Even if I had the athletic ability to play at that level, I’d *never* practice enough to actually play that consistently at that level.

    Kevin, they are just another level. george

  13. For the last 45 years or so I buy second hand racquets from Bill Simonton. I do that because he gives a great deal on those racquets after I beat him. This is not a joke.

    Roy, Bill is one who tries every new tennis thing! Good story. thanks, george

  14. Another great topic. In 2011 I was playing at John Maloy’s club in Cotuit using a long body Prince. My friends Swanny and Ted had just changed to a GAMA big Bubba and were just raving about it. I tried it and never looked back. Its oversized to the max at 137 sq inches and long at 29 1/2 both maximum allowed. Its very helpful at the net when guys like you drill it at me and the long handle allows you to get to balls that would be out of reach. String tension is a big factor. Like you I carry three of these. It must be a winner as Fred Drilling recently started using it.

    Phil, it has become THE racquet among super seniors like you (and Fred!). thanks, george

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