Lead Tape and It's Application
|Tennis4you Technicals - Alan Vihn
Written by Alan Vihn
As a reference, let's draw a clock on our racquet's head. Let 12 o'clock
be at the center of our racquet head's tip and 6 o'clock be at the
center of our racquet head's throat. Below you will find a list of
facts and ways that lead tape can help you with your racquet(s).
1. Lead tape *normally* weighs 0.5 gram per inch.
2. 8 inches of standard 1/2-inch
[wide] lead tape adds around 3.5 grams of weight (28 grams = 1 ounce).
3. "H" shaped tape that fits
around grommets weighs 3 grams each.
4. To add power, add weight at 12 o'clock (to
equalize balance, if desired, place weight near the butt of the racquet
- under the grip/wrap).
5. For less dramatic perception of weight change, add
weight at 10:30 and 1:30 (shoulder area). Note that the sweetspot
will follow the direction of the added weight - so if your sweetspot
is low and you tend to hit closer to the tip of your racquet, then
adding weight near the tip (12 o'clock) will bring the sweetspot towards
6. To gain torsional resistance (to help steady off-center
shots), add weight at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock.
7. If you want a heavier racquet
without changing the feel or playing characteristics, add weight at
the throat (6 o'clock) or closest to the frame's even-balance point.
8. The best place for lead tape
is under the bumper guard or inside the head's rim (or throat area
if applicable) so that the lead tape won't be scratched.
9. The power element is produced
with added weight because the extra mass tends to propel the ball
deeper. Control is achieved with added weight because the ball beds
or grips deeper into the string face at contact adding 1 to 2 milliseconds
of extra contact time which results in more reliable placement of
10. Off center hits on too-light
a frame tends to twist or torque the racquet face hence twisting the
racquet in the player's hand. The more weight available to resist
the torsion of off-centered contact, the more energy returned to the
ball rather than energy lost by the ball's control of the racquet.
You not only produce a better shot, but less stress is being placed
on the arm since the racquet isn't twisting as much on contact.
11. 3 to 4 grams is enough
weight to *noticeably* increase power or improve torsional stability
and of course you'll have to adjust to the newly placed weight and
its feel on your serves/strokes which might take a little while.
12. If you add 10% more mass, you'll
get 10% more torsional stability according to Steve Davis (Director
of Research and Development for Prince).
13. If you want a racquet to *feel* heavy
without increasing its weight very much, add weight to the top and
the butt of the racquet to achieve the *polarized* effect without
offsetting the frame's balance.
14. Adding the same amount of weight
distributed at the tip and butt of a racquet will cause the swing
weight of that racquet to increase and feel/ play heavier while adding
the same amount of weight at the center balanced point of the same
racquet will give the player more power without making the racquet
play a lot heavier and the swing weight isn't affected as much.
15. Frames with a greater
swingweight tend to feel heavier and tend to be less maneuverable.
However, the greater the swingweight, the more power available to
16. Steve Davis feels the optimum
compromise is to add weight between 10-11 and 1-2 o'clock on the frame
to increase a frame's swingweight/power and torsional stability. Steve
Davis suggests a "crude" method to calculate swingweight as follows:
"Multiply the weight of the frame by the distance of the balance point
from the butt end of the frame. Working in metric units, you'd multiply
the weight in grams by the distance in centimeters. This would give
you a rough estimation and would provide a basis for comparison from
frame to frame."
17. If I remember correctly, 28 grams = 1 ounce and ~2.54
cm = 1 inch. For my racquet, (say 1/2 a racquet for a long body) 14
inches = ~35.56 cm, 12 ounces = 336 grams, so 336 * 35.56 = 11,948.16
(not sure in what units here). I have had my racquet's swingweight
measured on a Babolat's Racquet Diagnostic Center (RDC) machine and
its swingweight was somewhere in the mid 300 range (not sure what
units Babolat is using either). Using the crude method described by
Davis above on all racquets for comparison purposes is probably sufficient
though for people like myself who don't want to spend $4-5K on a Babolat
much weight change is discernible by the average player? 4 grams is
often noticeable among the pros but 10 grams is more realistic for
The materials I've read suggest that players
should play with the heaviest racquet that is *comfortable* and *maneuverable*.
Add weight until your racquet becomes too heavy to play with then
back off small amounts at a time. You won't have to work as hard playing
with a heavier racquet and heavier racquets are more stable.
I am in no way advocating the use of lead tape with your racquets!
This note is for your informational purposes only. Experimentation
is really the only way to arrive at the best weight, balance and swingweight
for an individual player, and all players are different in their perception
of what feels right.