Tennis Racket Swingweight Explained
When deciding which tennis racket you should go for, there is a lot more than just the colour to think about! Tennis rackets are very personalised pieces of equipment and should be chosen carefully, as they can make a huge impact on how you feel on the court.
Finding a racket that feels comfortable for you can be a very difficult process, as there are a lot of variables to consider.
Weight, string pattern, balance point, grip size, beam thickness, stiffness rating and the technology used in the racket all play a major part in whether it will feel as smooth as butter or like you’re playing with a plank of wood!
However, a very important but often overlooked aspect of a tennis racket is actually its swingweight. In many ways swingweight is more important than the actual static weight of the racket, as it actually indicates how ‘heavy’ the racket will feel to swing.
This is an often misunderstood area of tennis specifications, but can actually play a much larger role than you might think in how a racket feels.
So, if you have ever wondered what the swingweight of a racket actually means, how it is determined and what sort of swingweight would suit you best, you’ve come to the right place!
What is Racket Swingweight?
Racket swingweight refers to a measure of how heavy the racket will feel as you swing it to hit the tennis ball. This is different to the racket’s static weight, which is the weight (usually in grams or ounces) printed on the side of the racket, and is determined by a number of different factors.
Swingweight is really referring to how maneuverable a racket is, how solid it will feel on contact and how much perceived effort you will need to put into swinging the racket.
Swingweight is measured from around half way up the racket’s grip and takes into account all weight that is beyond this point up to the tip of the racket’s frame.
The point at which swingweight is measured from is known as the pivot point and is taken from half way up the grip to replicate you holding the racket at the bottom of the grip.
Basically, the swingweight considers all of the weight you will have to shift as the racket moves around your body.
Therefore, any weight in the bottom of the grip or the buttcap of the racket won’t impact the swingweight, as you won’t feel this being moved around as you swing the racket.
So, loading up the buttcap with lead tape or silicone can definitely increase the static weight of your racket, adding to stability, but will not increase how heavy your racket feels to swing.
So, swingweight is really referring to the distribution of weight around the racket, rather than the overall weight itself.
Therefore, a racket with most of its weight in the head of the racket will feel like a heavy hammer to swing, whereas a racket with most of its weight in its grip will feel light and whippy to swing.
This is referred to as head light or head heavy in the trade. A head light racket will have the benefit of being incredibly easy to move around quickly, so is great for net rushers and serve and volleyers, as it helps with quick reactions since you can get the racket into the perfect position so easily.
On the other hand, a head light racket may feel unstable at times and lack the desired plow through from the baseline if you are looking to unload on your groundstrokes.
On the other end of the scale are head heavy rackets. These have most of their weight situated in the hoop of the racket’s frame, so you will be swinging the majority of the mass from the outside of where you grip the racket.
These can feel very solid to strike the ball with and almost feel like you’re swinging a wrecking ball!
Where they excel is adding power to your shots. Not only do head heavy rackets feel very stable to hit with, they can also add more ball speed to your strokes as the additional weight will add momentum when the racket is swung quickly.
However, head heavy rackets can sometimes feel cumbersome and lack the tactility of a head light racket, as they are so geared towards big hitting.
Also, if you are not strong enough to swing a head heavy racket with the speed it is designed to be used with, it can actually do more harm than good.
A heavy feeling racket can put additional strain on your wrist, elbow and shoulder which can increase your risk of injuries.
Also, if you are using a racket that feels uncomfortably heavy, you may also struggle to add racket head speed to your shots, which will reduce the amount of power, spin and control you can access.
Where static weight or balance point are physically measured by a scale or tape measure, swingweight is given a number based on the weight and balance of the racket and is given a rating.
For example, a racket with a pretty low swingweight may have a rating of just under 300, whereas a very high swingweight may be upwards of 330.
Generally speaking, a racket with a lighter static weight will tend to have a head heavy balance to offset this low mass and make the racket feel more stable.
Medium weight rackets can have quite a bit of variation in their balance point as you may want a more stable feeling or maneuverable racket in this weight range.
Rackets with a much higher static weight will generally be given a head light balance, so players are not overwhelmed by the additional mass but still benefit from the natural shock absorption and powerful feel.
What Determines it?
Swingweight is ultimately determined by how much overall weight is in the racket and where it is distributed. So, a light racket with the majority of weight distributed towards the head will still likely feel lighter than a heavy racket with most of the weight in the grip.
Static weight of course plays a major role in determining how heavy a racket feels to swing, but so too does the balance point.
You can look at the overall weight of the racket and get a round idea of how heavy it will feel in the hand, but until you have taken the swingweight into account and actually swung the racket, you really have no idea how it feels.
Therefore, you need to take swingweight into account to get a true reflection of how heavy a racket feels, and this is particularly important in the middle of the weight range we see on the market today.
For example, a racket of around 250g will feel light despite a lot of the weight being in the head, whereas a 350g racket will feel heavy even if a lot of the weight is in the grip.
However, rackets that weigh in at around the 300g mark can feel very different depending on where the weight is distributed across the racket.
So, in this weight range you should really take swingweight into consideration, as two rackets both weighing 300g would feel extremely different if one had a swingweight of 295 and the other was 320.
How Much Swingweight You Should Use?
Of course, you can manipulate the swingweight of your racket to suit your needs by adding lead tape to different areas of the frame. For a more head light balance, add lead tape under the grip at the bottom of the racket.
This will add more weight to your racket without you actually feeling the change, shifting your balance point lower down the frame and making your racket feel more head light.
This is ideal if you want to increase how light and whippy your racket feels, as well as its overall maneuverability. This may be a good option if you like playing a lot of doubles and need a racket that helps with your quick reaction volleys.
On the other hand, if you are after a frame that will give you a more stable feel and help you increase your power on big shots, adding weight to the top of your racket’s frame would be the way to go.
This will shift your balance to a head heavy one, giving you more leverage as you swing the racket towards the ball.
Therefore, you should base the swingweight you choose on how you like to play the game and the characteristics you are looking for your racket to deliver, rather than just thinking about the overall weight of the racket, particularly in the mid-range of racket weights.
Overall, racket swingweight can be confusing to understand at times. It is a very important metric that is sometimes not really considered by budding tennis players when looking at their next racket.
But, take a look at your current racket’s swing weight and bear in mind that any other racket with a lower swingweight will feel a bit easier to swing but could potentially feel less stable than your current racket, whereas a racket with a higher swingweight will likely feel more powerful but more difficult to get into position quickly.
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