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Selecting the racquetball racquet that is right for you can be tricky. If you have been playing a while you may already know if you're a HEAD guy / gal, or an Ektelon guy / gal etc.
If you are looking to get your first serious racquet, or even your first racquet period, answering some simple questions can help you in your quest for the perfect racquet.
What Size Grip?
This is one of the easier questions to answer. If you wear an XL sized glove you might want an XS (eXtra Small, even though it is the larger of the two sizes of racquetball grips.) Or 3-7 / 8 "or 3-15 / 16" grip.
Most everyone else will want an SS (Super Small) or 3-5 / 8. Some Large glove wearers might like a larger size grip, but in general, the smaller grip allows you to move the racquet around in your hand easier for more control, and you can generate more wrist snap for more power.
If you are unsure, go with the SS, you can always build up the size of the handle with tape, but shaving a handle down is not recommended.
On top of that, some grips are rounder and others are flatter. In general Ektelon and ProKennex have somewhat more rectangular (flatter) grips while the other manufacturers have more square (rounder) grips.
Good racquets range from 150 to about 195 grams. Some cheaper racquets are heavier, but we're assuming if you're looking at this, you are somewhat serious about racquetball.
Lighter racquets are preferred by more advanced players. The lighter racquet is more maneuverable and therefore can provide more control. Almost all professional players use a racquet in the 170-175g range. This is the range where the racquet is light enough to move around, but an athletic person can still generate quite a bit of force with it.
In general a heavier racquet will help "bring your swing around" and provide some extra power, after all Force equals Mass x Acceleration (F = MA). If you have a slower swing speed, buying some Mass can make up for less Acceleration. Less experienced, or just slow swing speed players will tend toward the heavier racquets. Heavier racquets may lead to more arm fatigue over extended play.
racquets lighter than 165g, in general, are designed for people not seeking a lot of power, or just can not swing a heavier racquet effectively. Petite women and younger players might like a 150g racquet because they can swing it easily, most players will probably find these racquets too light, and might even experience some elbow pain from swinging such a light racquet.
So that's all there is to it ?
Not quite. There are some other factors to consider such as balance and swingweight.
Balance helps describe how the weight of the racquet is distributed. Head heavy refers to a racquet that has it's center of mass toward the head of the racquet. Mass further away from the lever point (your hand) requires more inertia move, but generates more power. Mass closer to your hand, allows more control, but not as much power. HEAD, Gearbox, and Wilson tend to be head heavy. Ektelon and E-Force tend to be slightly head light to slightly head heavy. ProKennex has models that are all over the place.
Swingweight is how heavy the racquet feels when swung. It is a combination of the total weight and the balance. 2 racquets can have the same swingweight even if they are different stationary weights. For instance a lighter racquet with it's weight distributed toward the head can actually have a higher swingweight than a heavier racquet with a head light balance point. For instance the GB-250 165g and GB-250 170g have the same swingweight despite one being lighter than the other.
As long as you do not smash your racquet against a wall after you skip a shot, durability should not really be an issue with today's modern racquet technologies. Most new racquets come with a one year manufacturer's warranty just in case.
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