Tennis Racket Stiffness and Flexibility
Tennis racket stiffness, also called tennis racket flexibility, is a measurement of how much bend the racket will give into when it comes in contact with a tennis ball in motion.
It is one of the important criteria listed with the racket, along with the head size, weight, beam and length 😊.
The racket’s stiffness is an essential specification for.
What is the exact effect of tennis racket stiffness and flexibilty on a player’s performance, and why is it important? How is it determined? What is the best tennis racket stiffness for what type of player?
These questions and more will be answered in the following article, so any player will know exactly how to use the tennis racket flexibility to their advantage.
Table of Contents
What us Tennis Racket Stiffness Exactly?
When a player hits a ball with their racket, the racket’s frame must bend slightly when it is impacted 🥰.
The amount of bend the racket gives away can be manufactured to suit the player’s preferences.
One person might want a more flexible racket, and another might be a particularly stiff one.
The stiffness is usually a number between 60 and 75, but certain rackets can have a very low stiffness of 50 or a very high stiffness of up to 85.
Most modern rackets will stick between the former range. This is because modern racket frames are made from lightweight materials like titanium, Kevlar, or fiberglass that are added to graphite composites.
These are cost-effective but still sturdy, as opposed to old-school tennis rackets. Some of the first tennis racket frames were made of laminated wood, and eventually, heavy metals like steel.
In fact, the very first tennis racket made by Major Walter in 1874 is the perfect example. It was large and made of solid wood from frame to handle.
Though it was heavy, it could deliver a powerful blow due to its sturdiness. The wood also made it relatively flexible and easier to handle than most might imagine.
The following tennis rackets were sturdy but difficult to make. This resulted in a much larger tennis racket stiffness range than today.
A stiffness of 64 or below means the racket is flexible, while a stiffness of 70 or above means it is stiff 🥰.
How is the Tennis Racket Stiffness Measured?
There are two popular methods to measure tennis racket stiffness and flexibility.
The first is done by the Babolat Racquet Diagnostic Centre, which uses a machine to press down on the frame’s hoop.
To get a lever effect, the handle is locked in at one end, and the racket’s throat (where the handle meets the frame hoop) rests on a small bar.
The machine will automatically calculate how much the racket flexes under pressure. While Babolat does not show the exact calculations used to find the stiffness, Wilson does.
Wilson, one of the top leading tennis racket brands in the world, also measures the stiffness of their rackets through a similar method 😊.
They are the second most popular method to measure tennis racket stiffness. They use a similar method to Babolat, but do not have the small bar that acts as a lever.
Instead, the handle is locked normally, and force is applied to the frame with weights.
This video demonstrated how Wilson’s tennis racket Wilson Class 100 Tour is tested for stiffness.
This live example should demonstrate this racket is much more flexible than other leading rackets.
Some say this is a more accurate method of tennis racket stiffness. This is because removing the lever bar better simulates how a tennis racket is used in real life, with a firm grip 🥰 on the handle only.
When playing a real match, no other forces are acting on the racket, other than the force of the tennis ball and the swing of the player.
This means the bend of the frame can travel past the throat and down to the base of the handle.
Can Tennis Racket Stiffness be Measured at Home?
It is possible to get an idea of how stiff or flexible your tennis racket is by yourself, though it definitely will not be an accurate measurement.
First, you could put your tennis racket on a flat and sturdy surface and press it down on the frame.
So it is recommended to first measure the racket stiffness and flexibility.
If you have more than one tennis racket with different stiffness measurements but are around the same size otherwise, try pressing down on both and comparing which one is more flexible and which is sturdier 😊.
Just be sure not to put too much force on your rackets, or you might cause permanent damage to them.
If you have small weights lying around, you could also recreate the Wilson machine used in the video above. Either clamp the handle to a sturdy surface once more (like a heavy dining room table) or press down it.
Make sure it will not move even when pressure is applied.
First measure its height from the ground, while it is completely straight and not being tampered with. Record this, then add the weights to the frame.
The best way to do this is by tying the weight to the top of the frame with a durable string. Measure where the top of the frame is again, and find the difference in millimeters.
For comparison, the Wilson Class 100 Tour has a stiffness index of 11.5 millimeters.
👉 Watch this video to get a good idea of how your racket will actually look when being flexed at home:
What Tennis Racket Stiffness Measurement is Best?
To determine how flexible you want your racket to be, take some time to try out ones with different flexibility before going in to make a purchase 😊.
The salespeople at a good sports shop may make a recommendation based on your concerns and wants, but it is always better to get a feel for how a certain tennis racket stiffness and flexibility measurement will actually perform first-hand.
Before determining tennis racket stiffness, make sure that the racket’s size, weight, and length are suitable for you.
This should be done even while practicing with a racket to test it out.
This is because these other specifications will probably have a bigger impact on how you perform, and getting a racket with the right stiffness, but the wrong size will still result in a difficult match.
Meanwhile, a more skilled player might adjust to a racket, being too stiff or too flexible in a pinch.
The player’s skill level will also impact the performance of the racket, no matter how perfectly the stiffness matches up to their wants.
An amazing racket with all the right specifications can of course improve any tennis player’s performance, but hard work and practice will do even more to develop the skills needed!
Tennis racket stiffness affects performance in four ways: through power, control and comfort.
How Does Tennis Racket Stiffness Affect Power?
The more flexible a racket, the more moving energy it will absorb from the ball 🥰.
This means a tennis racket’s stiffness will affect a player’s power when using it.
A stiff racket will provide more power to a player’s swing, but that does not mean it is the best kind.
A player who already has a very powerful swing might not need a stiff tennis racket, as they want to get a better feel of the strokes they are taking instead.
How Does Tennis Racket Stiffness Affect Feel?
The flexibility also affects the range of feel that the player can achieve – a stiffer racket means it might be more difficult to get the perfect swing 😊.
Proceed with this to get more about tennis racket stiffness and flexibility.
Miniscule degrees in feel from the strings to frame, down to the racket handle, provide the player with more to go off for a quick tiny readjustment to grip or swing.
When playing tennis, minor adjustments like these can make or break a game.
A stiff tennis racket will have the feel of a clean and powerful strike if the player can properly execute their swing with enough strength and technique.
This might also be the kind of feel that a more seasoned player wants to go after, especially if they are used to the finicky strokes in tennis that require more skill.
How Does Tennis Racket Stiffness Affect Control?
A stiff tennis racket deflects more energy coming from the ball than a flexible one does 🥰.
This means a stiff racket does not offer as much control as a flexible one might.
This is partially due to the above reasons, but the control will be most affected by a player’s skills and techniques.
However, for players who are not as experienced, a stiff tennis racket and a harder delivery from a strike may be uncomfortable.
It will not absorb as much power, and the energy will then transfer to the hand and arm of the player gripping the handle.
A skilled player should exert a certain level of control over their tennis rackets, but it may be a good idea to try using a more flexible tennis racket if you lack that control.
This type of racket may do some work to improve a player’s idea of how to react to certain strikes by feeling it through the handle.
Tennis racket stiffness and flexibility can affect the amount of control you have on your shot.
It may also decrease the amount of strain put onto the wrist, elbow, and shoulder of the arm holding the racket.
While it is not a certainty that more flexibility equals more comfortableness, it is important to take into consideration 😊.
How Does Tennis Racket Stiffness Affect Comfort?
As mentioned above, a more flexible racket could help combat the amount of shock and energy going into the arms, particularly in the joints.
Having improper technique can cause a large amount of stress, especially on the joints, leading to pain. Having the right type of racket specifications could also help ease discomfort when playing.
👉 To get an idea of what kind of arm problems could be experienced and for what causes, watch this video here:
One of the first specifications mentioned in the video above that could further exacerbate these arm problems is RA (racket analysis), which is another term for tennis racket stiffness and flexibility.
It would be a good idea to try using a more flexible racket to avoid these issues, especially if you are an older or more seasoned player.
For a younger player who has not yet builtup strength in their arms, this could also be a good idea to keep in mind.
A more flexible racket might help them manage as they start to learn how to return balls with more powerful strikes 😊.
Tennis racket stiffness and flexibility is an important but often overlooked racket specification that should be considered whenever a player wants to buy a new racket 🥰.
I feel as though players should have access to the most information possible when buying a new racket.
One of these pieces of information is how stiff or flexible a tennis racket shaft is, and why that’s important.
You need some flexibility in your playing so you can hit hard without breaking strings, but too much stiffness will make shots difficult for both power and accuracy, which are two things any player wants on their side!
It’s not easy to find the best tennis racket that fits your needs. There are so many factors involved, such as string tension, grip size and shape, and weight distribution.
But once you do, it will feel rewarding knowing all those hours spent looking for a perfect one were worth it 😊!