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Re-print from Tennis Magazine
April Issue 2002- Spring Racquet Guide
Author-Allen St. John

One-of-the-best articles we have come across explaining the concept of "swing weight".

When can an 11-ounce racquet feel lighter than a 10-ounce racquet?  When you swing it.

Welcome to the world of "swing weight," one of the least understood parameters of racquet performance.  Swing weight refers to how heavy or light the racquet feels when it's in motion.  "It's a measure of a frame's maneuverability," says David Bone, executive director of the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.  "And it's the number one thing that people feel when they're swinging a racquet."

Swing weight is the combination of the racquet's length, stationary weight, and balance point.  Together, these factors determine if a racquet feels light or heavy when it's in motion.  High stationary weight, head-heavy balance, and a length longer than 27 inches all increase swing weight.

The most accurate measure of swing weight is determined by a machine like the Babolat Racquet Diagnostic Center (RDC) (we use a Babolat RDC Machine). After clamping the butt of the racquet handle to vise, you push the frame and let it swing, pendulum-style.  In seconds, the machine spits out a number-expressed in kilograms times centimeters squared-that indicates how much energy it took to move the frame through the arc.  Based on scale of 000 to 999, most racquets fall between 280 (more maneuverable) and 380 (less maneuverable).

For example, the 27-inch-long, three-quarter-inch head-light Volkl Quantum 10 Tour tips the scales at 11.5 ounces but has significantly lower swing weight, 313, than the 10-ounce Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.9 oversize, which is a half inch longer, and almost an inch head heavy, and has a swing weight of 338.

You may be thinking, How can I tell a racquet's swing weight when it's not listed on the frame?  Many pro and specialty ships have the RDC machine and can provide your racquet's swing weight.  Also, beginning this month, TENNIS will include the swing weight of every racquet it reviews.

According to Bone, you should use a racquet that has the heaviest swing weight you can handle without it feeling unwieldy.  "In almost every way, a racquet with a high swing weight is better," he says.  "It's more powerful, transmits less shock, and twists less on impact."

Finding an optimum swing weight is not only about how strong you are, but also about what style you play.  Someone looking for more power from the baseline and on the serve should try a racquet with a substantial swing weight;  those seeking easier maneuverability for net play should opt for a frame with a lighter swing weight.