January 27, 2019 by

It's long been a sales strategy of racquet companies to have 'off the shelf' racquets used by Pro Players on telly. Spectators will see Novak, Roger or Andy for example play a great match and say to themselves, "I'd love to play with that racquet". They then google the racquet and a day (or even an hour) later, their Amazon Prime order has arrived.

However, little does the everyday tennis player/fan know that the racquets the pros are using are not the racquets that are in the shops that they're passed-off to look like.

Why is this? The reason is simply that the average person playing tennis needs a lot of help from a racquet and a racquet you can pick up and play great with will make you feel good about yourself - and feal great of course about the racquet manufacturer too. You'll tell your friends how great your racquet is and those friends will seemingly think they've seen that racquet on TV too and buy one themselves. It's a sales strategy as old as the hills, but the harsh reality is that a pro player is looking for something very different in a racquet and the average unstrung weight of a pro player racquet is above 350g and the frame is usually very head heavy. Hitting a great shot with a racquet like this is reserved for the pros or other such high level players.

Every player under this level will likely find the racquet too heavy to lug around and the small and unforgiving sweet spot will soon turn a recreational player right off. This is so much the case, that Pro Player racquets are often very sought after by players a tier lower who can't buy these racquet types off the shelves and whom their sponsors are not in a position to create them their own custom racquet.

So what are the Pro Players using?

The short answer is that Pros are largely choosing a racquet mold from a relatively small selection available (because pros tend to like the same mold attributes). The racquet manufacturer then takes the racquet mold and manufactures the racquet with a custom weight and balance to the requirements of the Pro player (sort of like personal Golf club fitting to the extreme). The racquet will then get a paint job matching an off the shelf racquet that they want to sell lots of. Players will then likely have a 50-100 of these racquets made for them in a given season often with very slightly different weights and balances. These racquets are also rarely restrung and are often taken to the incinerator after a single use because they often have little to no durability built into the racquet.

I once managed to get hold of a set of Thomas Johansson racquets and they litterally lasted two or three restrings before they would crack at the throat of the racquet - certainly not something a racquet manufacturer would want a member of the public complaining about. Ever wondered why a pro player racquet seems to smash so easily when a player loses their temper? Those off the shelf racquets would withstand much more than you're seeing on TV.

Do these Pro Player Racquets have a name?

Yes, of sorts, these racquets do have a name, rather they have racquet mold name or manufacturer code. This code is really for internal purposes only, but to give you an idea, Andy Murray uses PT57A which is a racquet mold mor than 20 years old, whilst Novak Djokovic uses a very similar mold called PT113B.

Are there any exceptions to the mold rule?

There are a few exceptions to the rule whereby Pro Players use a racquet that's the same mold as the off the shelf racquet. The most notable is Roger Federer who uses the Pro Staff Roger Federer Autograph which is also the racquet mold that is sold, although Roger's racquet is still different to these off the shelf racquets with the weight and balance slightly different. Even with this notable exception to the rule, the off the shelf racquet is very difficult for the recreational player to use and is largely aimed at the higher end player market who are looking for soemthing similar to what the pros play with.