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JAK'S NEW ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

The Backup Racket in Your Bag

November 2021

Some less experienced, less evolved club players don't even have one. They go into battle with one stick only. And for them that might be adequate. Others, more experienced, recognizing that they could possibly break a string, have witnessed players who, without a backup, have to borrow an unfamiliar racket to complete their match. Others, with a backup, might discover an off string tension in their number one, or a worn slippery grip, smartly have a second racket in their bag.

But, unfortunately, too often it's not the same frame as their number one. Different head size, strings, dated string tension, even different grip sizes and shapes are often the norm.

What results is a completely different playability, a predictable loss of confidence, and sub-par tentative play.

Crap shoot city.

What's in your bag? A well-stocked tennis bag with at least two identical tennis rackets is essential.

More serious club players carry two (2) identical sticks, which they meticulously maintain with frequent overgrip changing, and periodic restringing to keep them fresh and responsive to their game. Remember the common wisdom on the stringing subject – restring as many times per year as you play on average per week… minimally.

Personally, I typically restring every 25-30 hours of court time, which is about one week for me, for the same relative reason tour pros – initiated by Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl in the 80s - switch to a freshly strung racket after every new ball change (after 7 games at the match's start to include the warm-up, and then every 9 games after that) in order to maintain the very same feel for the ball on contact all match long, and to eliminate unwanted stroke altering necessities.

It's not unusual for those pros that you see on the Tennis Channel, or at a live tournament venue if you're lucky, to have as many as six (6) rackets, or more, that they carry on court restrung and regripped every day.

A tennis bag with 4 tennis rackets, water, balls and other suppiles.

That's, of course, a bar too high for the average club player, even the best ones. Overkill at the club level. I get that. But, if you have progressed to the point where you do have 2 rackets, do make them the same exact model in order to not miss a beat if you do break a string, or to just refresh things up a bit when needed.

So, if you do currently bag two rackets, but they are not identical in every way – Note: Some players do choose slightly different string tensions in those same rackets… one a little tighter for extra control, one a bit softer for slightly more power (generally about a 2 pound difference) – look for a fellow player wielding your non-identical 2nd and make them an offer to purchase it they cannot refuse. Then put those funds toward a back-up that's a duplicate of your mainstay.

If you're not a very frequent stringer like myself, it's effective to rotate their usage. This is after having them strung at the same time in order to keep that consistent feel going forward to their next restringing, and not derail your otherwise usual ball striking mechanics.

Good tools are important in any endeavor, especially in a sport like tennis where seemingly small issues can make a big difference in your performance.

Copyright© by Jak Beardsworth Tennis. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

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Past Essays

  • November 2021 - The Backup Racket in Your Bag
    [read more]
  • October 2021 - Every Tennis Player Can and Should Have a Weapon
    [read more]
  • September 2021 - LEARNING NEW SKILLS: First the Process, Then the Results
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  • August 2021 - The Challenge of Visualizing… For Some
    [read more]
  • July 2021 - Playing with both your feet and your hands
    [read more]
  • June 2021 - Finding the Range
    [read more]
  • May 2021 - The Focus
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  • April 2021 - About Your Butt Cap
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  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
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  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
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  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
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  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
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  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
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  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
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  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
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  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
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  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
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  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
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  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
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  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
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  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
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  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
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  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
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  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]
  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]
  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.