Buying a tennis racquet is a pretty big investment, so it makes sense that people want them to last a while. While rockets can crack or completely break, most of the performance models are pretty durable.
After a lot of use and plenty of re-strings, racquets go through some changes that hurt playability. It’s not always incredibly obvious when racquets need replacing.
Do tennis racquets wear out? Tennis racquets generally last around two years of regular play before they need replacing. The frame might not be showing any physical signs of damage, but the racquet slowly weakens after consistent play and re-stringing. This hurts its overall performance and could pose an injury threat.
The Daily Life Of A Racquet
Unlike a baseball bat, hockey stick, or anything similar, the ball rarely comes in contact with the tennis racquet frame itself. That’s why it’s a little more difficult to figure out when a racquet is completely worn out. What wears out the racquet quite a bit is the constant stress it is under every time a ball hits the strings.
Performance racquets are made of high-quality materials, so they can withstand hours of play without any issues. Tennis balls are also not all that heavy, so the stress is minimal with every single shot. However, hours and hours of play adds up, and all that stress leads to a racquet wearing out.
Another thing that compromises the frame is striking balls that are low to the ground. In the middle of a point, many players don’t even realize how often they scrape or directly hit the surface when they are swinging at a ball. It’s part of the game, so it’s hardly avoidable. Hard courts do the most damage, but all of those hits start to add up.
It should come as no surprise that a lot of cracks on a racquet usually come at the top of the head. If the racquet is starting to feel differently, check that area first, as it could be a serious issue. A compromised racquet is not only a challenge to play with, but it could lead to injury.
The Effect Of Stringing
Tennis racquets are under a lot of stress on the court, but they go through some stress off the court as well. Every single time strings are cut out and replaced, the frame weakens just a little bit. It’s impossible to avoid, even if the best stringers in the world handle it.
The first step of the process is cutting out the old string. If a person pays close enough attention, they will see the racquet change shape a little bit, and maybe even make sounds upon release. This is completely normal, but it clearly shows how the frame is under some stress at all times.
Once the new string is put in, the frame could make some sounds and show some changes as well. When the stringer pulls on the mains or crosses, the racquet is under a little bit of stress. All the bonds used in the frame to hold fibers together tear just a little bit, and it makes the racquet ever so slightly weaker.
People who re-string on a more consistent basis usually need to replace the racquets more consistently as well. That is one reason why professional players can’t use the same racquet for a couple of years, even if they have several in the rotation. They re-string so often that their frames wear out at a much quicker rate.
Do Lower Quality Racquets Have Shorter Lifespans?
There are a ton of advantages to investing in a performance tennis racquet, even for beginners. One of the main reasons is that it doesn’t cost that much more at the end of the day. A performance racquet can last around two years, but a cheaper model certainly won’t have that lifespan.
For starters, some low-tier racquets can’t even be re-strung. Once strings break, that’s it. Sure, the racquet might only cost less than $50, but how much does that matter if it needs replacing in a matter of months?
Even if they have replaceable strings, the racquet is usually not designed for anything more than extremely casual hitting. The frame is not going to be strung enough to hold its shape after more than a few strains.
Warning Signs Of A Worn-Out Racquet
A racquet can reach its end in many different ways, and some are much more obvious than others. Every once in a while, it’s worth checking the racquet out and seeing if anything looks off. Sometimes, its playability changes so much that it’s impossible to miss. In other cases, something is noticeable only after careful examination.
The most obvious warning sign of a worn-out racquet is a crack. Cracks are fairly noticeable, and the racquet will change how it plays right away. Even a very small crack will be noticeable to the majority of players, because it will cause more vibrations, different power, and more.
If the crack is so small that people aren’t sure, tap the frame on a hard surface. It will feel and sound different if cracked, and then it’s just examining everything to find where it is.
Checking The Grommets & Bumper Guard
The grommets and bumper guard are also pretty easy to check as far as the racquet wearing out goes. It is right there for everyone to see, and they are sometimes replaceable before the racquet is completely worn out. With that being said, if there are issues in those areas, it might be time to at least think about checking the frame and considering how long it has been used.
Finally, feel and flexibility will change in a racquet if it is starting to wear out. This is something that isn’t noticeable by the naked eye, and it’s hard to even measure as a player.
Instead of it happening all at once, it gradually starts to lose feel and flexibility. When the racquet starts to flex too much, it can cause a lot of lost power when hitting a ball. This is frustrating for any type of player trying to hit with a level of consistency.
This happens due to a bunch of small fractures in the racquet. If possible, see if there is a way to hit with a newer version of the same racquet. Maybe a friend has the same racquet, or there is a demo available that has been gently used at a local store.
By directly comparing a racquet that has been used for maybe 20 hours of play compared to 200, it’s easier to notice the lack of stiffness.
Negatives To Using a Worn Out Racquet
When a racquet wears out, that means a player is not getting the most out of that particular setup. The game suffers a bit when that is the case, and needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Another big issue is the fact that injuries could occur either directly due to the racquet being worn out, or indirectly as people try to make up for its shortcomings.
A cracked, broken racquet will cause a lot more vibration, which can hurt a person’s arm pretty quickly. If a person is not getting the same amount of power on a shot, indirectly a worn-out racquet can cause arm stress by swinging too hard as well.
Staying On Top Of Upgrades
After two years of use, examine every racquet if possible. If a person isn’t playing as much as they would like, there might be a chance to get a third year of use out of a racquet.
However, those who play consistently should consider getting a replacement. It doesn’t mean that the old racquet needs to be thrown out, but it should be moved to backup status.
A new tennis racquet will not only feel better, but it could improve performance in other ways as well. Tennis companies are always making new advancements in technology, and this is a good way to keep up with it all.
It’s frustrating to have to shop for a new racquet, but the good news is that it only needs to be done every other year in most cases. I listed my up-to-date tennis racquet recommendations in this post.