Do I need the latest tennis racquet?

New tennis racquets are flooding the market each year. On the one hand that's quite exciting, but on the other their appearance triggers a cycle that reminds me a bit of Groundhog Day. The vast majority of racquets haven't shown to be breakthroughs over what's already been out there. So once the excitement wears off, we're mostly back to looking at the good old specs that we think best support our natural style and create effective strokes.

For example, the Wilson Pro Staff Classic's specs have lasted a quarter century, being reincarnated in the SixOne series along the way. A true-to-spec RF97 Autograph is not that different either. Material, grommets, grip dampening etc keep undergoing changes too - but they don't necessarily lead to better playing racquets, and most changes don't seem to stand the test of time. My favorite material for example still is Wilson's HyperCarbon, which came out around the turn of the millennium.

Tennis pros tend to stick to proven gear as well. Many pros play racquets based on a handful of stock frames, which are then tweaked to their liking. Ana for example confirmed that she hasn't changed her setup much over her career. At first sight, Roger's change from the Tour 90 to the RF97 seems quite drastic, however it's worth noting that both racquets are quite similar in terms of weight, balance, and swing weight. So often times, when a new racquet comes out, the pros stick to the old frame that gets a new paint job - unfortunately.

So what does that mean for us? Well, once we figure out what specs we like we can narrow down what's on the market from a few hundred to 20 or so frames. Or if you have an all-time favorite you go from there and demo similarly spec'ed frames, and maybe change 1 variable at a time. Either way, you don't necessarily need the latest and greatest.

From time to time though, I'd still try something different - maybe even extreme -  to question your assumptions, avoid missing out on the occasional step change, develop your game, or just get more excited about playing. For example, that crazy big, long, and swingweight-heavy Gamma Bubba found a surprising number of fans when it came out.

To help understand racquets are out there and what has and hasn't changed, I created a bit of an overview. And if you'd like to dig deeper, you can find plenty more about racquet specs here.