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Q. If someone uses a heavier racket is he/ she more susceptible to injury, or vice versa, is a player more likely to be injured playing with a lighter racket.

A. The speed that you get off your racket depends on the racket head speed - linearly; that means if go up 10% in speed (racket head velocity) the ball will leave the racket 10% faster. The ball speed as it leaves the racket depends weakly on the weight of the racket -if you go to a racket that is 10% heavier, the ball speed increases only a very small percentage. If you go to a lighter racket can you swing it faster? Yes, therefore you should get more power. But how much faster? There is no good data correlating racket head speed with racket head properties. If you are a typical player hitting ground strokes, the racket weight typically doesn't change your racket head speed. Very few players swing as hard as they can on ground strokes. It is only when you swing as hard as you can that the racket weight influences how fast the racket goes. On the serve it does, because then you are swinging as hard as you can. But on ground strokes, if you go to a racket that is a little heavier or lighter your swing speed is going to be the same because it is a controlled swing. Therefore, if you go to a slightly heavier racket you will get a bit more 'bang' from the swing. It will be more effort on your part. Which way should you go? The top pros today will take an ordinary racket and weight it. A slight person should take a very light racket.

What happens at contact? A heavier racket will recoil less. A lighter racket will recoil more. More recoil could produce injury. Has it? As far as I know, all the data on racket properties versus injury is anecdotal. I don't know of any study where someone has correlated racket properties with injury.

A. To quote this white paper on injury and technique. "The racket itself should not be thought of as the most important factor in tennis performance or injury risk. However, if injuries do occur, then part of the evaluation of the cause should focus on the type of racket." In other words, what racket you play with is less important than what develops the racket head speed. It's not the light weight or the heavy weight; it's what you do with your trunk and your body that makes the difference.

Q. A few months ago I switched to a new racket. It's a bit heavier than my last racket but it is the next generation of what I had. Since getting the racket I occasionally feel tinges of pain in my wrist, but it never lasts for more than a few minutes - usually during warm-up. The other day, however, my wrist area really hurt. I saw an orthopedist who ruled out major problems and said it was tendonitis. I have been wearing a wrist brace and icing it and hope to be hitting in a few days. The big questions are "How much of this is because of the racket? Do a few ounces make a huge difference?"

A. It may not be because of the new racket. To see if it is the new racket, try the following. After your wrist heals, start off with your old racket, then switch to the new one. A racket weighs about 10 to 11 ounces, so a "new" one will not be heavier by "a few ounces." It could be that the new racket is stiffer, which might cause a problem. It could be that the new racket is strung tighter than the old one - which may have originally been strung tightly but now the tension in the old frame has relaxed to a much lower value. It may be that by switching rackets you also effectively switched to higher tension and stiffer frame. 

Q.  How does a racket's length influence play? Does the longer body help a baseliner or the server?

A. The extra length can be a benefit to servers, but only IF THEY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. The extra length may allow you to get in an extra first serve or two per match. The baseline player will have a slightly longer reach. However, players will have to re-learn where to hit the ball on the head if they switch to a longer frame.

Q.   If you play with a longbody are you more prone to becoming injured?

A. A longer frame has its Center of Percussion (minimum shock and jar point) and its NODE (minimum vibration point) at a slightly different location from the hand. If you go to a longer racket and still hit the ball at the same distance from your hand, you may feel a bit more vibration, shock, and jar.

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