Tagged: Playing

How to choose a tennis racquet.

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._MG_1900-1

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 232608_Radical PRO_Detail 2also 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

How to prepare your cricket bat

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.83154_500

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.

How:

  • 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.

How:

  • 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.

How:

  • 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.