Spring is perfect time for equipment reality check

It's been a long winter and spring is in the air, along with an increase in your tennis activity.

And what better time to take stock of your equipment and its current condition?

Most recreational tennis players go from one season to the next with the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy, especially when it comes to racquets and strings.

Even if you're playing just once a week on average, your strings can still lose tension over time though they might not show any visible signs of wear.

Qualified stringers have tools to test string tension and can also check for string notching (contact points between main and cross strings). So, if your racquet hasn't been restrung in the past year consider getting new strings.

Even more so than racquets, string technology has advanced to amazing levels.

Currently, there are some 1,100 different strings available for your stick.

Although it's not always easy to tell if a racquet is worn out, here are some things to look for:

  • Inspect the racquet frame for any possible fractures or cracks. If they are serious enough, it is recommended that the racquet be retired, because the frame might not be able to handle tension from restringing.
  • Look for excessive wear of the bumper guard and grommets (these can be replaced if necessary when restringing).
  • Evaluate the condition of your grip and over-wrap. Have a new one installed if needed.

If you're interested in replacing your current racquet there are lots of new models to choose from.

Check with your local racquet retailer, pro shop or tennis professional about available "demo" programs so you can try before you buy.

Now you need to check out your shoes and socks. This is probably the most important and underrated part of your tennis gear.

If you play mainly on clay courts, your tennis shoes might not seem to show much wear on the soles, but their internal structure really takes the brunt of the beating, especially since we tend to have longer rallies and points on clay rather than on hard courts.

On the other hand (or maybe foot?), if you play on hard courts regularly, you'll see visible wear of the shoe sole, making it easier to justify replacement.

In either case, it's a good idea to have two pairs of shoes so you can alternate them between playing days.

For optimum performance, plan to replace at least one pair per year or every six months, depending on how avid a player you are. It's amazing how a new pair of shoes can make you feel like you're playing better.

Just like with racquets, there are tons of new shoe models available. As for socks, consider those designed with "wicking" ability to dissipate moisture.

To see the latest styles and technologies designed for tennis, check out your local tennis retailers and pro shops.

An equipment tune-up can really inspire you to "spring ahead" to a better, and more fun, tennis season.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area.

lwmarino@ hotmail.com


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