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Customizing My Racquets

by Jonas Eriksson
Dominic Thiem commits to Babolat Racquets and Strings

I’ve recently switched my main racquet from my Yonex Ai 98 (Yonex DR 98 is just as good) to the more powerful Babolat Pure Strike (Project One 7) and I’m in the process of customizing it.

I’ve played with the Babolat Pure Strike in stock form for a few week and it is the first racquet that I’ve actually enjoying “raw” and I didn’t even think about adding lead tape to it for a while but now that I’m playing more frequently I’ve started noticing the vibrations you get when you don’t hit the ball in the sweet spot and I thought that maybe some lead tape can help me reduce some of those vibrations.

The Babolat Pure Strike is labelled as a stiff racquet by many, while others, including the TW play-testers, think it’s a rather comfortable racquet. I think it depends a lot on the string you use and your technique to be honest. It obviously helps if you hit the ball cleanly in the middle of the string bed on 90% of your shots, but not a lot of people do that, especially with the pace of today’s game.

My first hour with the Pure Strike was a really enjoyable one but the demo was strung with Babolat RPM Blast and it had probably been sitting in the racquet for quite some time. I immediately felt the harshness of the racquet, but at the same time it has an almost perfect blend of control and power that I’ve been looking for for a long time. It really does justify its name as an attacker’s racquet and that works really well for my game style. You can check out my review of the Babolat Pure Strike and my post on the so called Racquet Honeymoon Period.

I’ve strung my Pure Strikes with another favorite of mine, the Solinco Hyper-G, a spin-friendly, control-oriented but still rather comfortable string that is used by the Bryan Bros, Donald Young, Noah Rubin and quite a few other professional tennis players (click the link for a list of articles I’ve written about the racquets of the ATP pros. It has so far been a good match, but my plan B has been that if I start feeling any pain in my elbow or wrist, I’ll try it in a hybrid setup with Babolat natural gut.

The last one or two session I have been feeling some pain in my hand and arm. It could be the Pure Strike or that the string job is already losing some of its elasticity. My first test to find out if I can eliminate some vibrations is by adding some lead tape at 3 and 9 (my preferred lead tape place, this is obviously highly personal) and add one over grip to counter-balance. Since my Pure Strikes are grip 2 and I’m usually playing grip 3, the extra over grip is not an issue. I’m trying the new Tourna Tac grips for the Pure Strikes since my usual favorite – the Yonex Super Grap would be too much white for one racquet (yes, looks matter!).

This customization of my racquets land them on around 335 grams strung with a dampener. Since I usually play with 345 grams on my Yonex Ai 98, this should be fine despite the more head-heavy balance. Will this extra weight in the hoop make the racquet more stable on off-center hits? Yes, it will. Will it help my potential wrist/arm issues? No idea.

If the pain lingers, I’ll look into string choice next. I don’t want to give up on the Pure Strikes because they really play beautifully but obviously I will listen to the body if the pain persists through lead tape and string changes. Then you just have to admit defeat and move on to a softer racquet, but don’t give up until you’ve tried customizing it to work better for you.

Time to get back on the court. Will keep you posted on how it goes.

Have you played with the Babolat Pure Strike and do you have any suggestions around strings and customizations? Please comment below.

Places where you can buy the Babolat Pure Strike and other tennis racquets.

Racquet Depot
Pro Direct Tennis

Tennis Express
Do It Tennis

Racquet buying guides

Here is a great racquet buying guide to get you started.
What tennis racquet should I buy?
Top tennis racquets to buy right now
The Gear of the Year 2016
Tennis racquets for juniors
Tennis racquets for kids

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Oliver June 6, 2017 - 11:41

Very interesting article, I’ll keep this in my bookmarks.

The only thing I can say is that Luxilon Alu Power helps me a lot to get rid of arm issues, strung with 25kg/24kg it feels perfect. It also helped me to bring back more touch to my Blade 98 18×20 countervail. I also tested the RPM Blast on my Blade 98 which too me feels kinda dead compared to the Alu Power and it causes arm issues in my opinion, especially on a stiff racket.

And, surprise, surprise finally I removed the lead tape on 9 and 3 after the switch from blast to alu power.

But maybe you can’t compare a Wilson and the new Pure Strike? :-)

Tennisnerd June 6, 2017 - 18:07

Thanks! Yes, Luxilon Alu Power is not a bad string, I definitely prefer it over the RPM Blast. I think the Blade 98 CV is a bit more dampened than the Pure Strike, but otherwise they play pretty closely – especially when it comes to the size of the sweet spot. I’ll experiment a bit with the lead tape first and then we’ll see if I prefer stability over massive swing speed or vice versa. Will keep you posted!

Ethan June 6, 2017 - 14:09

Good article. I wonder if alternating racquets (different days) might be an option?

The Ai 98 isn’t completely different than the Pure Strike, but it’s softer.

Tennisnerd June 6, 2017 - 17:27

Thanks! Yes, alternating is an option not to stress out the arm, but on the other hand you want to really get comfortable with one setup and stick to that. But for a racquetholic like me, alternating could potentially work :)

Oliver June 6, 2017 - 21:10

Ok, interessting statement because I just thought about testing the new pure strike 310 gramms 18×20. I also expected that the blade countervail and the new pure strike are quite close together, maybe the pure strike is more crispy and that’s the feature I miss, as mentioned correctly, the new countervail has a dampened feel. I also thought about testing the Yonex DR 98.

Ethan June 7, 2017 - 05:28

The Yonex Dual G 310 is similar to the Pure Strike but easier on the wrist and joints. Though it’s firmer than the Yonex DR98. I alternate between the Dual G 310 and my Pure Strike 18×20.

Tennisnerd June 7, 2017 - 11:59

I’ve heard many good things about the Yonex Dual G 310! Gotta try it. Thanks for the tip.

Alex June 7, 2017 - 08:04

Have you looked at the prokennex Q+ ki 325 tour 18×20 2017 racket? I use it when my arm hurts. My usual racket is the pure strike 18×20 and they’re very similar just one is softer. Prokennex is underrated. Give it a go:)

Tennisnerd June 7, 2017 - 11:59

I do like ProKennex racquets, but haven’t tried that one. Good suggestion!

Oliver June 9, 2017 - 09:59

My list is getting longer :-) Ok, I’ll also try the Yonex Dual G 310. Thanx for the hint.

Vova June 12, 2017 - 14:15

Hi, i want know your opinion about very lowe tension on poly. (like J.Sock or lower) It is helpful for arm trouble? I dont like multi, because to much power for my game.

Or you dont have experience with lowe tension?

Sorry for bad english.

THX for answer.

Tennisnerd June 12, 2017 - 15:06

Trying low tensions for poly strings is a great idea! It will help your arm, give you more free power and a nicer feel in the string bed. You can actually go really low with polys and still get decent control. I string my nowadays rather powerful racquets at 50 lbs but have tried going down to 44 lbs with great results depending on the string and frame. Good luck! Cheers / Jonas

Georg June 25, 2017 - 08:28

Hey, Jonas!
Have you already tried Ultra Cable?

Tennisnerd June 25, 2017 - 08:30

Hey Georg,
I have not! String testing has been on hold for a while as I’ve stayed with the Solinco Hyper-G. Heard many good things about it though, so please share your opinions about it! Cheers / Jonas

Tennisnerd March 13, 2018 - 13:03

Hi Georg,
Now I have! Nice string, but seemed to lose tension really fast! At least in an open pattern. Think this string works best in 18×20.
Cheers / Jonas

Rildo March 13, 2018 - 12:51

Which Hyper-G gauge do you use on your Pure Strike 16×19? 16 or 16L?

Tennisnerd March 13, 2018 - 13:02

I usually do 1.25 (16L). Has always worked well for me in most frames. Cheers / Jonas

Jeff April 12, 2018 - 22:56

Thanks for all the tips guys. I bought the Pure Strike last year, and my arm was killlling me. After a half hour session I couldn’t lift my arm. I switched from an O3 tour that I’d used for a decade.

I switched from rpm blast, and put VS touch gut on there, same amount of pain.

I will try some lead tape, didn’t think of that. I agreed with your review of the racquet though, I destroyed my opponents the 3 times I got to hit with it. Very much suits my attacking style. Except that I had to forfeit the second two due to arm pain.

I have a feeling that using the incredibly forgiving O3 for so long has make me lazy in hitting the sweet spot.

Tennisnerd April 13, 2018 - 13:47

Hi Jeff,
Sounds like some really bad arm pain! :( Might be a good idea to see a doctor, do some rehabilitation and rest from tennis. Sometimes it could be something small in your technique so might also be a good idea to see a tennis coach for a session or two. And if nothing else helps, maybe consider a new racquet. The new Prince Beast line has a little more power, but are still more arm-friendly racquets than the Pure Strike. Maybe the Prince Textreme Beast 98 03 could be something for you? Heard good things about it.

Good luck and hope your arm gets better soon! Cheers / J

John May 1, 2018 - 13:34

Hi, I am playing with the Head Prestige Pro and customized it so that it weights at 345 gr. So far I loved this racket but being 53 years I started to develop a so-called golfer-arm. Training with younger guys three times a week takes its tolls :)

This being said, I am thinking of buying another racket and my choice would be the Yonex ezone 98 (new model) or the Babolat pure strike 98. The Yonex is probably the softer racket but is it also that crisp and powerful?

I would appreciate some advice here since I can not make up my mind. Testing is impossible since you can’t alter testing rackets.

Tennisnerd May 2, 2018 - 09:32

The Prestige Pro is a nice stick. If you’re looking for a less stiff racquet, I would go with the Yonex EZONE DR (or AI) 98 instead of the newer, firmer one. I think that is better for the arm. The Pure Strike is also a great frame, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone with arm issues unless you go for a softer string or natural gut hybrid but that can be hard to control when you come from a control-oriented racquet such as the Prestige.

Please note that this is also influenced a lot by string choice, tension and technique. What do you usually string your racquet with?

Good luck! Regards / Jonas

John May 8, 2018 - 20:25

Hi Jonas,
thank you for the good advice.
I just couldn’t stop myself ordering the pure strike.
Can´t wait to get it in my hands and customise it.
I normally play with solinco tour bite 1.20 but this needs to be changed now. I choose the Völkl Cyclone tour 1.25 and will intend to string it at 20/21. Of course natural gut is great but just too expensive. I play with a lot of spin mainly from the baseline. I also want to put lead tape on the handle and on 9/12. The grip will be replaced by a leather grip. How much lead did put in on each spot?
Best regards
John (another Tennisnerd)

Tennisnerd May 9, 2018 - 05:52

Sounds like a nice setup! It might be a little powerful with the Cyclone Tour at 20/21, but I haven’t tested it myself so not sure.

I put 5 grams of lead at 3 and 9 (1,25 grams per strip approx). Played more stable and comfortable with that.

Hope you enjoy the racquet! Cheers / J

Vlad May 23, 2018 - 15:28

Just got this stick and loving it with Solinco Hyper-G at 52 lbs. First time using these strings (I’ve been mostly using Yonnex PTP 120 at 46 lbs on my other racket). What tension are you using with the Hyper-G? And have you tried Tour Bite as a comparison?

Tennisnerd May 23, 2018 - 20:09

Hi Vlad,
I really enjoy Solinco Hyper-G at 23 kg! It’s my go-to-setup. Cheers / J

Louis May 27, 2018 - 23:19

Hi Jonas,

I play with project one 7 305 gr 16×19, and i like this stick, i just want to know your feel about it and why you change it ? (Cause i know you played with this next year, right ?)

Best regards. Louis from france.

Tennisnerd May 28, 2018 - 11:05

Hi Louis,
It’s a great racquet, no doubt about it. I was a bit bothered by the stiffness in the end to be honest, but that is highly personal. If you like, stay with it! Cheers / J

Sarah Flotel August 31, 2018 - 10:58

I had the Pure Strike 18×20 on loan for a few weeks and even in its well used, test racquet state it’s a solid hit – the 18×20 demands too much precision for flatter hits from me, but having to put more work in for spin isn’t necessarily a bad thing at times, bit more conscious shot making!

I’m going to buy a 16×19, bore out the handle and silicone inject then counterbalance to an even balance using lead tape. Aiming for a frame weight around 320g, I may well add a leather grip if I need more head light but will likely end up with my typical two overgrips setup.

I’m in love with Luxilon Element at the moment but may hybrid if the response is too soft, not having a stringing machine limits me somewhat!

First time I picked up the Pure Strike it felt so manoeuverable – just can’t go without one now.

Technifibre 315 tfight Ltd and Wilson Ultra Tour are on my wishlist too…..

Tennisnerd September 4, 2018 - 06:49

The 16×19 Pure Strike with silicone and a leather grip sounds like a fantastic spec! If you like Element, but want a bit more spin – I can recommend Element Rough. Good luck / Jonas

omgwth November 14, 2018 - 05:59

is it just me, but the balls I hit with the pure strike feels less solid compared to the balls I hit with the head graphene speed pro.

I have added lewd to 3 and 9 to the pure strike and it still feels hollow.

Do you think it is because it lacks plow?

Tennisnerd November 14, 2018 - 23:10

Most racquets these days feel a bit hollow, some brands make more light, hollow-feeling racquets than others. Babolat is a good example. There is simply nothing like foam or other materials inside the frame to dampen it. Sometimes lead tape helps, but you might need to add more. If you don’t like the feel, it makes sense to switch frame.

Bajro Slatina January 15, 2019 - 23:46


I have recently purchased Babolat Pure Drive and I found it to be too light for my taste. I have used some heavier frames (non-branded ones, this is my first serious racket after years of playing) before and I especially have issues with incoming heavy shots. I have purchased some lead tape but I am reluctant to put it without consulting someone, because I don’t want to mess with something I have no experience with. What I want to achieve is more swing weight which I do not feel with this frame and it really bothers me, and also some free power. Could you please suggest me where and how much lead tape should I put. Thanks in advance, love your writing.

Bajro Slatina

Tennisnerd January 16, 2019 - 15:08

Start with two strips of around 1-2 inches at 12 o’clock in the hoop. This will increase swing weight and power. I like this placement for lead tape on my Pure Drives and Soft Drives. Cheers / Jonas

Pradeep p September 1, 2019 - 13:37

Hi, such a detail explanation. I love your reviews and article. I usually play with 2017 Pure Strike and I have been using NRG2 16G strung at 51 Lbs tension. While it is awesome but feels heavy due to the racket type, with full arm friendliness and control. I recently demoed a freisnd’s 2018 Pure Drive strung with a Yonex poly at 55 and fell in love with the perfect balance of power, spin and control and a super arm friendliness that boosted my confidence on court. Whenever I play with that racket, my confidence is at sky high and my opponents cant stand. So last week I bought a 2018 Pure Drive size 2, but I did a mistake, I went with Wilson Spin effect hybrid, based on recommendation from the sales guy and as I always did I strung it at 51 Lbs. All I ended up is with a new racket that felt crappy on my arm, too much vibration from teo different strings, no control and ended up with hand pain within the first 30 mins of opening the racket. Then to confirm, I borrowed my friend’s racket and again I was the top guy for the evening. So I put a dampner on my racket to see if it helps, but it only made a slight difference. Is there anything I could try to stop this vibration, before I cut the string? I will never try a hybrid again in my life. Not sure if that issue is because of the hybrid or the guy who strung it did something wrong, but all my excitement and waiting for my new pure drive have landed me in nothing but dissappointment.

Tennisnerd September 2, 2019 - 07:16

Thanks. There is nothing wrong with hybrid strings, but some strings and racquets just don’t work well together so you need to experiment. I would try a softer poly at 24 / 55 lbs kg and see how you feel. Try either Solinco Tour Bite Soft, Luxilon Alu Power Soft or Volkl Cyclone Tour. Good luck!

Pradeep p September 1, 2019 - 13:48

Btw, I forgot to mention, I purchased my Pure Strike after seeing your exclusive review. Your review was awesome. And the PureStrike lived upto it. I love the racket. But with my thin arms, it feels heavier to maneavour. The 2018 Pure drive though only 5 gms lighter feels a lot maneuverable and lot lighter. Anyway, Inlook forward to your suggestion on how to dampen the vibration Im getying on my new Pure Drive from the crappy hybrid strig. Thanks in advance

Tennisnerd September 2, 2019 - 07:14

Thanks! For the Pure Drive, I would try a softer poly at 24 kg and see how you feel. Try either Solinco Tour Bite Soft, Luxilon Alu Power Soft or Volkl Cyclone Tour. Good luck.

PS. If you feel like my advice is really useful, please consider becoming a patron for $2 at patreon.com/tennisnerd and get exclusive content every week. DS.


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