To play tennis you only need a racquet and a couple of tennis balls, yet most tennis pros take 9 to 12 racquet bags to their matches. Do they really need so many racquets for one match? Or it’s just an unnecessary practice? … I did some research and this is what I found!
The 4 main reasons why tennis players have so many racquets are:
- (1) to keep a replacement ready in case the racquet and/or string breaks midway the match.
- (2) to change their racquets when needed to maintain the consistency of tension in the racquet.
- (3) to have a variety of racquets strung at different tensions for different game strategies and/or match conditions.
- (4) to be able to change a racquet quickly in the case the overgrip losses its grip.
Continue reading to find out more about why tennis players have so many racquets.
Why Multiple Racquets?
A tennis spectator may not see the need for additional racquets, and when he sees tennis pros with a bagful of racquets, he is naturally to ask why do tennis players need so many racquets.
After some games, during a tennis match, the racquet loses its optimal tension and is no longer able to perform at its best. This is the primary reason why pro players change their racquets frequently.
Due to the heavy hitting and vast amounts of topspin tennis pros use nowadays, the strings start to suffer some wear and tear. In the process, the racket’s string loses tension. And slowly, its ability to produce the desired intensity in the shots diminish. Also, racquets with different string patterns are also carried to tackle heavy topspin.
So, professional tennis players, who play at a high intensity and pace, frequently change their racquets during a match, so that they can consistently produce the same power, speed, and accuracy in their shots.
Most players find it uncomfortable to switch to another racquet of a different brand and model. Since the game demands the best performance from players, they too want to play with a racquet that gives them maximum confidence. This is why most pros and some club players keep identical pairs of racquets so that they are not left without their best racquet.
At an Amateur Level
Many players at an amateur level have a minimum of two racquets. The main reason for this is to have a replacement racquet in the case the racquet and/or string breaks. Also, at this level, some players might have more than two types of racquets: one for power and another one for more control.
Generally speaking, players begin to carry multiple racquets much before they reach the professional level (for example high school, college, and or adult league players).
Popping and Breaking of String
Breaking and popping of string are common abruptions during a game. However, top pros pay up to around $50,000 a year to their racquet stringers for taking care of their racquets during the tournaments. It is such an important task!
Breaking strings is a common issue among intermediate and advanced level players as they play for multiple hours at high intensity. It is advisable for them to have more than one racquet of the same brand and model so that they are not left stranded without their ideal racquet during the middle of a match.
However, for the beginners who mostly have to deal with slower and less intense swings, the problem of popping strings is less common. The strings do not wear quickly at this level. However, breaking strings is always a possibility for which it is wiser to remain prepared, and have a second racquet.
Tennis Pros Show the Way
Many tennis pros (like Rafael Nadal) produce a lot of topspins when hitting the ball, and as a result, their strings take a good deal of wear and tear. This could potentially cause the strings to break during play, increasing the chance of losing important and decisive points.
So, to avoid such an eventuality, players frequently change their racquets and play with freshly strung racquets. If the racquet is not strung appropriately, it can make a difference to the ball flight, and that can cost a player a few points.
In a YouTube interview, Roger Federer explained that he goes through around 55 racquets per year. Nadal, who is reported to arrive on the court with as many as nine freshly strung racquets, goes through 35 or so racquets a year.
The pros play with higher intensity for a longer duration than most amateur players. They would often hit more powerful shots that the average player. Consequently, their racquets are more likely to give up sooner, a situation for which all the professional players have to be ready.
Most tennis pros will usually carry 9 to12 racquets with them during important tournaments. Based on the available information about the playing conditions and the opponent’s style of play, most of these racquets are strung differently for each match.
Even restringing during an ongoing match is not very rare. Pro stringers can re-string a racquet in about 15 minutes or less. Also, pro players will get their racquets re-strung before every match even if they have not played with their racquets before the match.
For best performance, tennis professionals have to be artists at their craft. This calls for taking into account various playing conditions such as sun, humidity, wind, and altitude, which can affect a players game depending on the string tension of their racquets. All these factors play an essential role in determining how the ball is going to come off the racquet after being hit.
Other Reasons for Having Many Racquets
A small margin of error
At the pro level, the margin of loss and defeat is exceptionally narrow. So, every player wants their equipment to be in their best shape; otherwise, it can have an adverse effect on their performance on the court.
Some players like to play with a racquet of different degrees of tension when they are serving. It’ll depend a lot on a player’s preferences as to which racquet she wants to use and when.
Once the match is over, the strung set of racquets are, usually, kept strung for next day practice and cut out and re-strung before the start of the next match.
Changing racquet can also be part of a particular player’s habit and psychology. It can be related to the mindset of the player and the game. Even if the racquet itself may not put a player at a disadvantage, the doubt that it can create on a player’s mind can make him unease during the game. For this reason, as soon as a player realizes that his racquet is showing weariness, he would simply replace it with a newly-strung racquet.
In this scenario, it sounds logical for tennis players to keep as many racquets as possible so that it is never difficult for them to replace a racquet during the middle of a match.
Also, sometimes, professional players might carry multiple racquets as part of a sponsorship gimmick and strategy.
Sport merchandise companies would like to see their sales grow through top athletes brand endorsements. The last thing these companies would like is for people (and potential customers) to see their products giving way midway a televised match.
Therefore, they supply a huge stock of racquets to players and encourage them to a new racquet or almost a new racquet for every match. For many top tennis pros, the racquets mostly come for free, as part of endorsement deals.
Why don’t women players change their racquets as often as men do?
It is true that the tendency to change racquets frequently is mostly found among male players. However, professional female players do change their racquets as often as their male counterparts.
Yet, at an amateur level, women players do not exhibit this tendency in a significant way. One reason for this could be that men tend to hit the ball with more power, especially while serving.
What Happens When String Breaks?
When the string breaks, the racquet loses its tension, control, and predictability when hitting the ball. It is not recommended to continue playing with a racquet whose strings has snapped.
What Should a Player Look for in an Extra Racquet?
Tennis players keep many racquets ready so that they can change their racquet, during the game, in the case of tension loss or any other malfunction. For an exact replacement, the racquet should be of the same brand, model, and string tension.
However, a pro player may like to have a set of racquets with different tensions, so that she can use the one that suits best to the playing conditions, as well as, to her game strategy. For beginners and amateur, just an extra racquet should be enough.