7. FRAME STIFFNESS
When evaluating stiffness consider that power, control and comfort are at stake.
At the same time, keep in mind that stiffness is perceived in a different way by every player and is also affected by the strings installed on the frame.
A flexible racquet provides more control and comfort but absorbs more power as it deforms more when hitting the ball.
Conversely, a stiff racquet doesn’t deflect as much on impact providing more power, but less control.
A stiffer frame is generally less comfortable as it transmits stronger shocks to the upper limbs.
Stiffness is measured with the RA method which analyzes how flexible a racquet is when a static force is applied in one point of the racquet, normally located in the shoulder area.
The RA index ranges from 55 to 75 falling in one of these subranges:
- 55-60 low stiffness
- 61-65 medium stiffness
- 66-70 rather stiff
- 71-75 very stiff
The RA index points out a static measurement at a certain point of the racquet., It does not describe the overall stiffness of the racquet.
There are many different kinds of dynamic components (e.g. bending stiffness, torsion stiffness, compression stiffness) which play a role on the overall perceived stiffness.
- Perceived stiffness is determined by the frame of the racquet and the installed strings
- The RA value mainly indicates the stiffness in the shoulder area of a racquet
- The stiffer the racquet, the more power
- The softer the racquet, the more control, and comfort
- An advanced player, capable of providing power, might prefer the control and comfort of a softer racquet
- A stiffer racquet can help beginner/intermediate players provide more power
- Players with elbow/shoulder issues should look at softer racquets (≤ 66RA)