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The Ingredients of Maximum Shot Speed
Crawford Lindsey, Tennis Warehouse, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93401

ALL the TW racquet power measurements indicate that the racquet location with the most built-in power is somewhere near the throat. This result seems strange because players do not usually attempt to hit the ball at this location. Instead, players usually try to hit the ball using the high middle third of the racquet--from the center of the stringbed to a couple of inches above. Why is this?

The key is that the racquet power increases toward the throat but racquet speed increases toward the tip. The maximum shot speed comes from hitting in the location that produces the highest combination of racquet power and racquet speed. If you tend to swing more slowly, the difference in racquet speed as you move toward the tip may not make up for the loss in racquet power, so it may behoove you to aim a bit lower on your racquet. If you swing very fast, the extra speed may make up for losses in racquet power. It all depends on the racquet power profile and how fast you can swing.

Different combinations of power and racquet speed are possible at any given impact location. Different combinations will yield different maximum shot speed locations on the racquet. These can vary all the way from throat to tip. You can see this yourself by going to the "Shot Speed Tool" and choosing parameters from the drop downs and experimenting with different values.

Does this mean that you should aim for different spots on your racquet depending on the shot? Probably not--changing your aim of the ball onto the racquet seems a bit difficult and unrealistic, except for serves. All other shots seem to take care of themselves. If you get jammed on a volley or groundstroke and can't swing as fast, you most likely will hit closer to the throat where there is more racquet power. It becomes a self-correcting problem.