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Customizing a Tennis Racquet

by Mark Illgner

We have a new guest contributor in Mark Illgner, who has written a post about customizing a tennis racquet. Keen to hear your experiences.

Customizing a tennis racquet

Customizing a tennis racquet is a great way to change a racquet you like into a racquet you love. You can change a racquet by adding weight, adjusting the grip, and changing the strings. This overview will give you a general idea about customizing a racquet and help set you up for success in your customization journey.

The first step is to find a racquet you like. Try as many racquets as you can to determine the racquet that feels best to you. Typically, lighter racquets are suited to lower skill levels while heavier racquets are suited to higher skill levels. Remember, when customizing a racquet, it is very difficult to remove weight from a racquet. So, choose a slightly lighter racquet to allow for customization.

The next step is where the fun begins, adding weight to a racquet. Tennis racquet customizers typically use strips of lead or tungsten tape that may be purchased from tennis specialty stores. Start with small amounts of weight, about 3 grams, when customizing.

Customize your racquet step by step

  • Adding weight to the grip makes the racquet feel lighter and more maneuverable. The easiest way to add weight to the grip is to change the synthetic grip to a leather grip. You can also add lead or tungsten tape under the grip to add weight. Players who like to volley normally benefit from adding weight to the grip as the racquet is easier to maneuver, and the added weight gives the volleyer more power.

  • If you like the balance of the racquet but want it to feel heavier in your hand, adding weight to the inner throat of racquet will accomplish this goal. Just remember to add an equal amount of weight to both sides of the throat.

  • The next part of the racquet you can add weight to is the head also known as the hoop. Weight may be added anywhere on the head, just make sure the weight is on the inner side of the hoop and in equal portions on either side. The following are the general effects weight adds to the racquet.
  • Bottom or 6 o’clock – adds a little stability and makes racquet slightly heavier to swing

10 and 2, 9 and 3 o’clock – adds stability for off center shots and makes racquet feel heavier to swing

  • Tip or 12 o’clock – adds power and just a little weight makes the racquet feel heavier to swing

The importance of the right grip

The next area to consider is the grip of the racquet. Make sure the grip feels comfortable in your hand. You can add an overgrip to get a drier or tackier feel. Buying a racquet with a different grip size can also change the way the racquet feels. A grip that feels a little small in your hand helps with generating topspin, while a grip that feels larger in your hand helps with flat and slice shots. Your experience may not match this theory, so test to see what works for you.

Strings have a large influence on the way a racquet feels and plays. There are many types of strings, and the one you choose depends on your playing style. The most popular types of strings are polyester and multifilament. Polyester strings are good for spin but can feel stiff and put strain on your arm. Multifilament strings provide more feel and are easier on your arm but do not generate as much spin as polyester strings. The gauge or thickness of the string will affect the racquet’s weight.

Strings with a thicker or lower gauge will make the heavier, while strings with a thinner or higher gauge will make a racquet feel lighter. The tension of the strings will also influence the performance of the racquet. A higher tension increases control, while a lower tension generates more power.

Testing your customized racquet

Once you’ve made the desired modifications, play with your customized racquet to evaluate how it feels and performs. Adjustments may need to be fine-tuned based on your experience.

Customization is a personal process, and what works best for you may not work for someone else. Be patient and open to making gradual changes to find the setup that feels best to you.

If you enjoy tinkering, customizing can be a lot of fun and rewarding just remember that once you find a setup you love, try not to tinker with it anymore.

Written by Mark


4.5 all-court player who plays with a one-handed backhand and uses a semi-western grip on the forehand. I played division I collegiate tennis from 1997-2001.

Currently customizing a Wilson Blade Team V8. Racquet most nostalgic for: Prince Graphite II Mid Plus.

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