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How to Choose a Racquetball Racquet
It can be difficult to choose the right racket for you. If you’ve been playing for a while, you might already know if you’re a HEAD guy/gal, or an Ektelon guy/gal, etc.
If you are looking to get your first serious racquet, or even your first racquet season, answering some simple questions can help you in your search for the perfect racquet.
What size grip?
This is one of the easiest questions to answer. If you wear an XL size glove, you might want an XS (eXtra Small, although it is the larger of the two racquetball grip sizes.) or 3-7/8″ or 3-15/16″ grips.
Most others will want a SS (Super Small) or 3-5/8. Some users of large gloves may want a larger grip, but in general, the smaller grip allows you to move the racquet around your hand more easily for more control, and you can generate more wrist snap for more power.
If in doubt go with SS, you can always build up the size of the handle with tape, but shaving down a handle is not recommended.
On top of that, some grips are rounder and others are flatter. In general, Ektelon and ProKennex have somewhat more rectangular (flatter) grips, while the other manufacturers have more square (rounder) grips.
Good rackets range from 150 to about 195 grams. Some cheaper racquets are heavier, but we’re assuming if you’re looking at this you’re serious about racquets.
Lighter rackets are preferred by more advanced players. The lighter racket is more maneuverable and can therefore provide more control. Almost all professional players use a racquet in the 170-175g range. This is the range where the racquet is light enough to move around, but an athletic person can still generate some power with it.
In general, a heavier racket will help “round your swing” and provide some extra power, after all, Power equals Mass x Acceleration (F=MA). If you have a slower swing speed, buying mass can compensate for less acceleration. Less experienced or just slow swing speed players will tend towards the heavier racquets. Heavier racquets can lead to more arm fatigue over longer games.
Rackets weighing less than 165g are generally designed for people who aren’t looking for a lot of power or who just can’t swing a heavier racket effectively. Small women and younger players may want a 150g racquet because they can swing it easily, most players will probably find these racquets too light and may even experience some elbow pain swinging such a light racquet.
So that’s all it takes?
Not quite. There are some other factors to consider such as balance and swing weight.
Balance helps describe how the racket’s weight is distributed. Head heavy refers to a racquet that has its center of mass towards the racquet head. Mass further away from the lever point (your hand) requires more inertial motion but generates more force. Masses closer to your hand, gives more control but not as much power. HEAD, gearbox and Wilson tend to be head heavy. Ektelon and E-Force tend to be slightly light-headed to a little heavy-headed. ProKennex has models that are everywhere.
Swing weight is how heavy the racquet feels when swinging. It is a combination of the total weight and the balance. 2 rackets can have the same swing weight even if they have different stationary weights. For example, a lighter racquet with the weight distributed toward the head may actually have a higher swing weight than a heavier racquet with a headlight balance point. For example, GB-250 165g and GB-250 170g have the same swing weight, although one is lighter than the other.
As long as you don’t smash your racquet against a wall after missing a shot, durability shouldn’t really be an issue with today’s modern racquet technologies. Most new racquets come with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty just in case.
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