Tennis Industry magazine

 

Racquets: Frames of Reference

Our exclusive Racquet Selection Map will help you guide customers to their perfect frame.

By Bob Patterson

With all the choices available, selecting a new racquet can be a daunting task in today’s market. Basic Psychology 101 shows that when consumers are overloaded with too many choices, they often don’t make a decision, which means you don’t make a sale.

It is up to you to narrow the focus of your customer to help them choose a racquet that is going to fit their needs and elevate their performance on the court. If you are successful, not only will you make the sale, but also that customer will tell their friends about their experience. Word of mouth advertising is always the best promotion.

So how can you help narrow their focus? First, if you are not familiar with their style of play, you’ll have to ask some questions and listen carefully to their answers. While they may not know exactly what they want or need, with a brief conversation you will be able to get some good information to get them started.

Second, you need to know your inventory. Using our exclusive Racquet Selection Map on the following pages enables you to help your customer choose the perfect racquet for them quickly and easily, with the features and performance they want. You can also use the map to make sure your racquet wall has a good selection and variety across the map. If you find some gaps, fill in some models so that you don’t miss sales.

Our Racquet Selection Map presents the entire performance racquet universe on one grid that instantly locates each frame compared to every other in terms of power, control and maneuverability. Simply locate the specs of your customer’s current racquet on the map, then move outward in large or small increments in the direction of the customer’s primary preference — relatively more or less power, control or maneuverability. Once you’ve zoomed in to an approximate location on the grid, you can narrow down the racquet’s feel attributes by choosing from length, size, and flex specs coded into the racquet number.

Next, look up the racquet(s) by number in the accompanying table. Note, though, that the table on these pages only lists the performance racquets introduced in the last 12 months. If the racquet you find on the grid is not in one of these charts, you’ll find it online at tennisindustrymag.com, where we have the complete list of every racquet that is currently on the market.

Your customer will now have a handful of frames to try, and all you have to do is give them a couple of demos in their target area. Once they’ve given the frames a test drive, get feedback from them. Did your demo selection meet their needs? Do they need more power? Larger head? Something else?

From here it should be easy to hone in on that perfect racquet with a couple of additional demo sessions — and you’ll have a satisfied customer.

Trends & Technologies

‘Smart’ frames, more spin, and customization are some of the trends in racquets today.

Every year we see new technologies introduced as racquet manufacturers strive to improve their racquets. Their ultimate goal is to improve the consumer’s game, so if their newest technology can improve a player’s performance, there’s a good chance they will buy. And after all, just like you, the manufacturers are in business to sell racquets.

As a racquet retailer, it is up to you to not only make your customers aware of the new technology, but you must also be able to show your customer how that technology can elevate their performance on the court.

Some technology is easier to explain than others. What is generally referred to as “visible” technology is usually simple to explain and show, while a new material or handle system may be more difficult since the new racquet looks pretty much the same as the previous model. The bottom line is that you need to learn about new technologies as they are introduced and be able to explain what the technology is and what it can mean to a customer’s game.

Some of the trends we are seeing today include data technology, spin and customization.

Bob Patterson

Racquet Selection Map Key

  1. Power/Control (columns). (formula = length index × headsize × flex × swingweight) ÷ 1000. Length index calculation: 27” = 1.0, 27.5” = 1.05; 28” = 1.1, etc.
  2. Maneuverability (rows). RDC (Babolat Racquet Diagnostic Center) swingweight units.
  3. Racquet ID. The number in the grid correlates to the accompanying racquet list.
  4. Headsize. Midsize and midplus (≤104 sq. in.) have no indicator. Oversize (105-117 sq. in.) = •. Superoversize (≥ 118 sq. in.) = :.
  5. Length. × = extended length. Standard length (27”) racquets have no indicator.
  6. Flex (RDC). a = < 60; b = 60-64; c = 65-69; d = 70-74; e = > 74. The higher the number, the stiffer the racquet.
  7. Company. Coded by number and color. See accompanying racquet list on the following pages.
  8. Racquet Quadrants and the Center of the Racquet Universe. The center of the racquet universe is located at the intersection of the two red lines. Approximately half the racquets lie to the right and left, and half above and below these lines. The lines divide the racquet universe into four color-coded quadrants – clockwise from top left: (1) quick power, (2) quick control, (3) stable control, (4) stable power. These characterizations provide a general vocabulary for comparing racquets.
  9. Racquet Finder List. The racquet list accompanying the map identifies all the new racquets and gives additional information. For a complete list of all current frames on the map, go to TennisIndustryMag.com. The map provides specific (very narrow ranges, anyway) swingweight, flex and power statistics, and general size and length characteristics. The racquet list specifies the length and size and further specifies weight, balance, and price.

How To Use It

  1. Ask questions. What are you looking for that your current racquet does not provide? What do you like most and least about your current racquet? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game?
  2. Locate current racquet on map. If the racquet is not in the list, take measurements.
  3. Locating potential racquets. Depending on the answers to the above questions, draw an imaginary arrow (a wide or skinny one) from your present racquet in the desired direction for power and maneuverability.
  4. Narrowing the field. Shrink the choices using the length, headsize, and flex codes to match customer preferences.
  5. Selecting racquet demos. Once the choices are narrowed, locate the racquets by number in the racquet list.

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About the Author

Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005.

 

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