With so many different tennis racquets out there, all of which at first glance look the same. How do you know which to choose? Unless you play competitive tennis, you probably have no idea. This guide is here to help.
As with almost anything, do not simply pick a tennis racquet based on the colour or because your favourite player uses that tennis racquet. This may have detrimental effects on your performance.
If you are new to the game, then we recommend a lightweight racquet with a larger head. The larger head provides more power and is more forgiving (allowing for mistakes, if the ball doesn’t connect with the center or, ‘sweet spot’).
More experienced players however, may want to invest in a heavier tennis racquet with a smaller, mid size head, as this allows more power & control.
Other important things to consider when choosing a tennis racquet include:
Balance: This is the weight distribution of a tennis racquet. A light-headed racquet, or one that is evenly balanced, enables beginners to have more control without the risk of fatigue or getting tennis elbow.
Weight: The weight of a tennis racquet determines how quickly your arm will become fatigued. Lightweight (or approx. 250-300g) is easier to swing but lacks fast, hard power shots. Determining which weight tennis racquet to get depends on your physical ability as well as your training/ability.
Grip: Choosing the wrong grip size is the fastest way to end up with wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries. The best way to determine which size grip you need is to test a tennis racquet out (which you can do at Sportsmart).
Frame: Tennis racquets are rated for stiffness from 10-100. A flexible tennis racquet frame (rated under 69), results in less power. However, a stiff frame (rated over 69) can result in greater arm strain. Frame stiffness comes down to a matter of preference.
Strings: A racquet with a string configuration of 16×19 (open string pattern) allows for more give and spin, but also tend to snap more. A racquet with an 18×20 (closed string pattern) is a lot denser, therefore less prone to snapping. This configuration is more suitable for a player who has great ball control and power.
These are the main features to look out for. However, it is worth also considering if the tennis racquet comes with interchangeable grommets. Which are designed for advanced players who want to mix up their game. Lastly, Graphene XT technology, is a special frame material that makes a racquet lighter, without losing stiffness or power.
Shop our range here
At Sportsmart, we offer bat preparation for you:
New natural-faced cricket bats need to be oiled and knocked in before play. The deluxe cricket bat preparation will eliminate hours of manual preparation. Please allow 4-5 business days for this service to be completed.*
If you prefer to do your own bat prep, follow the steps below:
Cricket bats are made primarily from two different types of wood. English Willow or Kashmir Willow. Both are very soft types of wood, and require preparation before they can be used to hit a cricket ball.
There are four stages involved in preparing your cricket bat:
1. Pressing, 2. Oiling, 3. Knocking In, 4. Playing In.
Stage 1: Pressing
Pressing the bat is important for two reasons. 1) It strengthens the fibers in the bat, and 2) Saves hours off the knocking in process. Some brands already do this stage for you, i.e. Kookaburra (KPP), but it doesn’t hurt to do a little bit more yourself.
Most bat prepping is done using a machine. Or using a mallet to knock it in, however this takes twice as long.
Stage 2: Oiling
Oiling helps reduce the chance that your cricket bat will crack or split. Oiling your bat helps to maintain moisture levels within the bat.
- Using Linseed Oil, apply a light coat to the face, edge, toe and back of the blade – avoid the stickers and splice area. Allow to dry for 24 hours. Then, using a very fine sand paper (+180), give your cricket bat a light sanding. Reapply a light coat to the face.
- 2-3 coats should be sufficient. Allow each coat to dry fully (it’s best to dry your cricket bat in a slightly elevated horizontal position).
Stage 3: Knocking In
Knocking-in is probably the most vital stage in the preparation process. This process compresses the fibers in the wood, protecting the bat against ball impact. If done correctly, this can increase a cricket bat’s performance and lifespan.
- Using a special bat mallet or an old quality cricket ball, carefully and repeatedly strike the bat (increasing the force gradually) in any area where one may hit the ball. The edges and toe should not be struck directly at right-angles to the blade as this can cause damage.
- This stage should take a minimum of 6 hours (every bat varies).
- Finally, using an old quality cricket ball, hit some short catches. If the seam, on the ball, leaves a mark, go back and continue knocking in. Allow at least another hour for this stage.
Stage 4: Playing In
This stage is important to determine if you have knocked-in the bat well enough.
- At this stage, the cricket bat can be used in nets with a soft ball. If the ball contact leaves a mark on the bat, go back and repeat the knocking in process for another hour until no marks are left on the bat.
*Our services should not be considered as full preparation – you still need to work your bat in against an old ball prior to use against new hard balls.
Shop our range of Cricket bats in store and online here.
So, we’ve helped you pick a basketball system…now how to pick the perfect ball. After all, you can’t play basketball without a basketball!
When looking for a basketball, be aware that there are different sizes available for different age groups. The following is a standard basketball size guide:
- For ages 3+ (Male & Female): Size 3
- For ages 5-8 (Male & Female): Size 5
- For ages 9–12 (Male Only): Size 6
- Women aged 9+: Size 6
- Men aged 13+: Size 7
These sizes fit consistently and comfortably across the different age groups.
Additionally, depending on whether you are playing indoor or outdoor basketball, you may want a ball with a different texture. Outdoor balls will need to be tougher than indoor to last well on the concrete courts. Some people simply prefer the feel of one type of ball over the other, in which case it is always best to pick what feels most comfortable to you.
What is the point of compression wear?
Compression wear is the best to wear when engaging in demanding physical activity. It helps boost circulation – resulting in more oxygen being transported to the active muscles, helping to improve performance. Compression wear can also help to reduce muscle fatigue. Compression wear is lightweight, breathable and body firming, making it ideal for both low and high impact training, competition as well as recovery.
How does compression wear work?
Compression wear works through the use of strategically placed panels. These panels wrap and support the major muscles being used in physical activity. Compression wear helps to reduce vibration and fatigue in the muscles. It can also help to keep you feeling dry, as the material is designed to wick moisture away from the skin. Many high-end compression brands contain a 50+ UV protection, making it perfect to wear all year round.
How does compression wear fit?
Most compression brands determine size using the BMI index, weight and height. Compression wear should be quite tight to work effectively.
At Sportsmart we stock compression tights, tops, shorts and socks. We also offer both normal compression and thermal compression – perfect for winter.
Skins have come out with the Skins ‘Team’ range which is a more affordable price range with the same high quality they have always produced.
STEP 1: Choose a type that suits your needs
|In ground systems remain stationary for maximum stability.
Best for: Premium performance usage in a permanent paved area. And best for competitive or professional players, casual but regular players, families and teens.
|Portable systems can be moved for convenience or storage.
Best for: Anywhere where portability is important. Portable systems with an acrylic or polycarb backboard are best for casual players, young kids and families. Portable systems with a glass backboard are ideal for competitive players.
|Combo systems consist of a backboard and rim. They can be mounted to either an existing basketball system, to a pole, or roof via mounting hardware (sold separately).
Best for: Tight spaces or areas where there is no fixed place for a pole/bar. Casual but regular players, families, teens.
|Infinite Adjust||Preset Adjust|
|Infinite adjustment lifts can be set to any height between:
7.5 feet to 10 feet (2.3 to 3 meters).
|Preset adjustment lifts can be set to predetermine heights in 4 or 6 inch (10 or 15cm increments).|
STEP 2: Choose a backboard type and size
|Glass backboards feature the best rebound performance and are ideal for highly competitive play.
Best for: heavy use; competition or professional players.
|Acrylic backboards feature better rebound performance and are ideal for competitive play.
Best for: casual-heavy use; families; teens and children.
|Polycarbonate backboards feature good rebound performance and are ideal for recreational play.
Best for: casual use; children.
|Composite backboards offer a recreational level of play and a larger variety of colour options.
Best for: young children playing for fun.
Choosing a backboard size and type
Sportsmart offers basketball backboards in 8 sizes: 24”, 32”, 42”, 44”, 48”, 50”, 52”, 54”, 60” and 72”. The main factors affecting the size you choose are the size of your playing area and the skill level of those who will be using it.
The 24” and 32” are junior basketball systems best for young kids from 3 years old.
The 42” and 44” backboards are most suited to young children playing casually.
Backboards sized 48”, 50” and 52” are best for a small playing area, and can often be a good option to suit budgets.
For a playing area the size of a 2-car driveway, a 54” or 60” backboard will suit.
For more professional players who want to best replicate actual playing conditions, and who have the space and budget to suit, a 72” backboard is ideal.
NEED MORE HELP?
Sportsmart has a wide range of basketball systems suited to all types of players. For more advice and information, view our range of basketball systems and backboards online, visit one of our Melbourne stores or phone our online team on (03) 9091 5024.
Having just completed Connor’s Run on the weekend, I experienced that all too familiar burning pain in the side of your abdomen that signals a stitch. It makes any runner want to stop in their tracks until that pain subsides. So, I decided to do some research to understand what causes this familiar pain and the best way to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What is a stitch?
Basically, a stitch occurs when there is a reduction in blood flow to the diaphragm. There is no definite reason as to why this occurs. Theories suggest it is caused by pressure from the legs on to the diaphragm from below, in addition to quick breathing putting on pressure from above, resulting in the muscle pinching and cutting off the blood and oxygen supply.
How can you prevent a stitch?
1. Stay hydrated: Ensure you are well hydrated in the 12 hours before exercising.
2. Don’t eat too much food or sugar: Avoid large quantities of food in the 2 hours prior to exercising. Also stay away from sugary drinks and lollies.
3. Deep breaths: Most runners swear by deep, steady breathing to help avoid a stitch. If this doesn’t help, try slowing your pace and reducing intensity until the sensation subsides.
See a doctor if you experience persistent pain following exercise.