You may have seen professional tennis players carry huge thermo-bags on the court for tournament matches. This way, you know that there are 5, 7, or even 10 newly-strung rackets in each. And that top tennis players exchange rackets every 9 games.
Every contact of the racket with a tennis ball causes damages in strings and frame fibers. While the latter are only microscopic, hard-hitting reduces tension and wears strings out very fast.
In extreme cases, as little as the 2-hour practice is enough to break it.
Generally, you will experience two main maintenance issues with tennis rackets. You are going to restring your racket often, which is nothing strange. The real problem is if you have your racket cracked or even broken.
Any structural changes in the racket frame affect its performance. Weird sounds or feel on the hit can indicate that the racket is cracked or damaged. The cracked tennis racket can be repaired to a very limited extent .
Let’s have a closer look.
How Long Do Tennis Rackets Usually Last?
I can’t say that tennis rackets have an expiry date. This means you will enjoy playing tennis as long as it gets old and used. So, the lifespan of a tennis racket will depend on such factors as practice frequency, performance level, stringing number, etc.
On average, after two years pass, it is recommended to think about new gear in the future. This period will be considerably shorter for tournament players whose playstyle increases usage.
On the other hand, if you plan to hit from time to time, say once a week, you will keep this racket in good condition for years.
There isn’t any rule or producer’s manual determining how long tennis rackets will last.
How To Inspect The Tennis Racket?
A tennis racket can be compared to a car. If you ignore a minor defect, it will shortly become a bigger breakdown that is sometimes irreparable. You have to care for your racket the same way.
When inspecting the tennis racket, you should have in mind that there are many areas where problems can occur. This includes the frame, head guard and grommets, strings, and butt cap.
Pay attention to any superficial scratches or cracks on the racket head. It may be merely a paint splinting. But you shouldn’t ignore any physical abnormalities.
If it covers a larger surface or surrounds the frame, then the racket will soon end as a wall decoration.
Another critical part to check is head guards and grommets. They have a tendency to break or crack quite often. And if you play on hard courts, the guards will scratch the ground all the time.
Check structures of the head guards and grommets regularly. They should closely touch the racket frame and remain stiff. If they come loose, it’s their time.
The good news is that you can exchange head guards and grommets at a low cost. But, don’t postpone it too long.
Your racket’s strings and frame protection turns on the condition of the guards and grommets.
Any separate or sharp parts contribute to more severe damages. For example, excessive strings breaking is a clear sign of it. As well as wearing out of the upper frame.
Each restringing puts more stress on the racket head than hitting the ball. That is the result of tightening the strings across and along with the frame. A force of around 22-26 kg is usually used to do it.
You want to do everything, so the strings are changed only when you really need them.
If your strings are cut by deformed grommets before you outwear them, your frame will require stringing again. That means extra and unnecessary loading for the racket.
The racket handle can show some indirect signs of frame shape deformation or fiber structure damage. For example, when a butt cap falls out.
Can You Play With Hairline Crack In Racket?
If your racket has a superficial hairline crack, it is not that bad yet. Only if it turns into a deeper fracture, the racket’s time will come. Until then, you can still use it and perform at a similar or comparable level.
Some players, though, aren’t able to forget about the tiniest scratches and their performance still gets worse. This is purely psychological.
Before you decide to continue playing with a hairline-cracked racket, remember that you can reach out to the seller for help. If your warranty is still valid, there is a big chance to get a new racket in exchange.
Don’t forget to continuously inspect your cracked frame. As long as the scratch remains no different, you’re fine. But simple hitting or stringing can make it bigger.
Keep in mind that once the racket is broken, it doesn’t offer the same quality. The racket loses its stiffness, control, and power.
Even from a health point of view, you might expose your arm to higher shocks due to disrupted absorption capacity of the frame.
Can Cracked Tennis Racket Frame Be Repaired?
Considering that any structural damage will affect tennis racket performance, the earlier you buy a new racket, the better.
Even if you try to repair a crack, this measure will only extend the racket’s life but not bring it back to its original condition.
As I mentioned before, it could be a good idea to report this issue to the brand customer service. Usually, during the warranty period, they resend a new racket for free. And your problem is gone.
You can decide to fix it yourself too.
Probably the most popular and the cheapest method is to use the Super Glue (Amazon). Some clubs and service points will offer you help with repairing the rackets in such an unconventional way.
In short, the process looks like that.
Clean the area with alcohol and let it dry completely. Then apply a cyanoacrylate glue along with the damage and repeat the process after a couple of minutes.
Between both glue doses, you can add some baking soda to firm it up.
So, choose whichever solution is more convenient for you and your wallet.
A racket for tennis is like lungs for the body. To breathe and live, you have to keep your lungs in shape, free of illnesses. Similarly, to play tennis, your racket has to be ‘healthy.’
Naturally, tennis rackets wear out, and you can’t stop them. Depending on your level, but also many other factors, your frames will last shorter or longer.
Expect at least a 2-year lifetime on average if you don’t smash it against the court.
But it depends on you and how often you inspect and maintain your racket. Paying attention to details like grommets and head guard’s conditions can save you time and money.
The way you store and carry your rackets is perhaps the most important but ignored matter.
Keep them in plastic bags, air bubble bags, or dedicated cases. And never throw or drop your tennis bag. Handle it carefully.
Also, be careful while traveling by plane. Tag your suitcase or thermo-bag with a ‘fragile’ sticker for safety. Aircraft ground handling leaves much to be desired.
Do you check the condition of your racket regularly?
Would you try to repair your racket or buy a new one?