Devil in the detail

One thing that can separate the great from the good is attention to detail.

Take Formula 1. Having won a race, Michael Schumacher would often leap from his car and check out the tyres on his competitors cars, or sneak a peek at some of the aero dynamics detailing on them. He would then take the time to feed this info back to his teams engineers in the hope it would give him an edge some time later in the season. There are numerous other drivers that matched the raw talent of Michael but I believe their lack of interest in the design and set up of their cars is somewhat reflected in their lack of career wins.

There is a similar situation going on in tennis. We all know that a specific racket isn’t the only reason Rodger has so many wins under his belt, but I’m pretty sure he would be a few slams less in his tally if he wasn’t as fanatical about the details of his frame and how it’s set up. It might only account for 1% of his performance, but at the highest level, that’s huge.

I recently was asked to build some rackets for an aspiring player to test. He could strike the ball well and seemed to have a solid all round game, but my heart sank when I started talking rackets with him. He was using frames he had been given by a friend after he lost his somewhere. He didn’t know much about them and wasn’t 100% sure which string he liked to use. He was keen to tell me his preferred tension but when pushed for more detail he lost interest in the conversation. I got the distinct impression he was more interested in which socks he would wear on a match day than which racket he would swing.

I’m not advocating that every player should be a racket geek and obsess about their specifications but in a sport where consistency is vital and your equipment needs to be almost an extension of your arm, knowing your current frames specifications and which elements affect your game most are the bare minimum.

If asked, could you tell someone your racket weight, balance, stiffness and string pattern?

I really hope the aforementioned player proves me wrong and wins a slam sometime soon, but unless he starts showing some interest in using the right equipment, I fear he isn’t going to create too much work for the trophy engravers in 2015.

2 Responses

  • Never a truer word spoken. If I had been more interested in racket make-up rather than the cosmetics when I was a Junior, I wonder how far I could have gone. It is a sad state of affairs that most juniors out there are too worried about how cool they look on court and are too absorbed in brand names and the sticks that their favourite pros are allegedly using than the equipment that will actually make them better. I guess we live and learn. I did and I will never go back to a shop sold frame. It was actually Dunlop that put me on the search for a custom frame. They decided to stop making the F100 classic frames and I was on the market for a frame. Nothing out there had the specs I was after, so I started a google search for custom rackets and stumbled uopn Angell. I have never looked back.

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