Customer Service: Simplify The Selection of a New Racquet
By Denny Schackter
For many years I was a territory manager for Wilson Racquet Sports, until I retired six years ago. Recently, I was teaching a woman who asked me about picking out a new racquet. Since I retired, I haven’t been as familiar as I used to be with current trends in the racquet market. But in thinking back to what I would tell consumers about picking out a racquet, I thought about some helpful things teaching pros and retailers might consider to help simplify a customer’s selection process.
Although I had worked for one company, I also worked hard to know other companies’ products. A teaching pro may play with one brand, but knowing the other brands and their product strengths makes that pro a trusted advisor to his students.
Here are some other important things to remember when helping a student or customer find the right frame:
Check out your student’s current racquet
Is it head light, balanced or head heavy? Head light aids in control, head heavy helps with more power, and balanced is the best and worst of both. As a player ages, they might want more power, but one can also injure a wrist or elbow because of a change in head weight. Most highly ranked players gravitate to balanced or head-light sticks because they’re able to provide most of the power themselves, but the average club player has to make more decisions when buying a racquet.
Determine the right grip size
Measure the student’s hand. One way to do this is to measure from the top of the ring finger to the second lifeline, or to a spot very close to where that lifeline should be. Another method is to have the student grip the racquet and make sure a forefinger can fit between the end of his fingers and the meat of the thumb. If the grip is between sizes, go smaller since it’s easier to build up a grip than reduce it.
Demo racquets four or more times under game conditions
Game conditions are a lesson, a drill and play, or even better, in a match. Most players hesitate using a demo in a match until they feel comfortable. However, using a different racquet every other game will give a player a pretty good idea of how the racquet performs. It is also a good way to zero-in on what the student likes and which frame seems comfortable. A tennis pro can also monitor the strength of shots coming off the student’s racquet.
Judge a new frame based on your favorite or best shot
In my opinion, this is one of the most important things to tell a student looking for a new racquet. Some pros want students to buy a racquet to improve their weakest shot, but I’m not an advocate of that because a weak shot probably will not improve with a new stick. However everyone has a shot they love to hit or one they count on at crunch time. The new racquet must feel good on that shot, or confidence will drop quickly. Pancho Gonzalez used to say, “Forget about making your weak shots stronger; I practice my strengths, to keep them strong.” So he hit a multitude of serves every day because that was his weapon.
Your students are influenced all the time by what they read, by friends, by teaching pros and others. I remember one student bought the same frame as her best friend, who was a good player, because she figured her friend’s needs were the same as hers. But to keep people in the game, improving and having fun, we need to make sure players have the right racquets for them.
Racquet manufacturers, distributors and retailers have done a great job on their websites to aid consumers in making a well-researched choice. And teaching pros can be a trusted advisor in helping match a player to a frame.
However, it’s the player who can best make the decision based on doing a thorough investigation of products, taking time to test racquets, and being sure his or her best shot remains their best shot.
Denny Schackter resides in Palatine, Ill., where he is the owner of Tennis Priorities, a firm whose focus is recruiting young people into tennis teaching. Check out his website tennispriorities.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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