High-end tennis rackets have been created using fiber-reinforced composite materials such as fibreglass, carbon fiber, and aramid since the 1980s (strong synthetic fibres). These composite materials have an advantage over wood and metal because of their high rigidity and low density, as well as their production adaptability. A typical modern tennis racket has several layers, with the outer layer being most likely made of polyester film or nylon net.
In comparison, traditional wooden rackets are much more flexible which allows for greater control during play. However, they are also significantly less durable than their composite counterparts. Modern wooden rackets can be reinforced with graphite fibers to improve their durability but they are still primarily made from wood. Their strings are usually made of polyester or natural gut.
There are some hybrid tennis rackets that combine both wood and composite materials, often in the form of a bamboo core. Bamboo is a sustainable resource and its strong straight fibers make it suitable for tennis rackets. Although these hybrids retain the light weight and high flexibility of a wooden racket, they are more durable than natural rubber strings which often break during play.
Finally, there are ceramic rackets which are very hard but heavy. They are used by players who want something extremely powerful but cannot handle the added weight of a wooden or composite racket.
Ceramic rackets are not common but they have been designed specifically for Chinese tennis.
Strings in tennis rackets are made of nylon, gut, or synthetic gut, while the handle grip is made of leather or synthetic material. Only a few specialists utilize gut, which is manufactured from twisted cow or sheep intestine. Most people use nylon strings, which are extremely durable and don't break like wooden ones do. Nylon strings are also very flexible, which makes them suitable for both skilled and unskilled players.
In addition to being lightweight and durable, nylon strings sound good when played correctly. This is because the vibration of the string when struck releases more energy at higher frequencies, which are more pleasant to listen to. Gut strings are much louder than nylon ones of the same tension, so they're not appropriate for everyone. They tend to produce more "thump" when hit with a heavy ball such as a hard serve.
Synthetic strings were originally developed for violin strings but have become popular in tennis too. They are less expensive than gut or nylon strings and don't break as easily either. They are still quite flexible though, so don't work well for skilled players who need a stiffer frame to control the ball better.
The most important factor to consider when purchasing tennis strings is your level of play. If you're just starting out, it's best to buy a set of polyester strings since they are cheap and will improve with time.
In both sports, the contemporary racket is often constructed of a graphite frame, a rubber grip, and synthetic nylon string mesh that extends over the face. Balls of Rubber A hollow ball is used in both tennis and racquetball. A tennis ball is constructed of rubber and has a fluffy wool coating. It is about 1 inch in diameter. A racquetball ball is similar to a squash ball and usually made of latex.
The strings on a tennis racket are tight enough to provide solid contact with the surface of the court while allowing the player to produce a powerful shot, but not so tight as to cause damage to the net or fencing if hit hard. The tension of the strings must be adjusted for each player according to personal taste and ability. A skilled player can easily adjust the tension by hand while playing a match. A racketsmith can also adjust the tension after building a new racket. A loose string pattern may indicate that the tension is too low; a tight string pattern suggests that it is too high.
Tennis balls are made of two layers of leather or synthetic materials with a cotton or polyester thread running through them. The strings of a tennis racket are tied into knots at regular intervals along the length of a piece of wood called a handle. The number and size of these knots determine the tension of the strings, which in turn determines how much force they will hold under pressure from your shots. A player's grip influences the distance the ball travels when struck.
New materials have made tennis rackets larger, lighter, and more powerful in recent decades. So, what type of science goes into the development of new rackets? Tennis rackets were constructed of wood until the 1960s. They were typically long-handled with a tiny, teardrop-shaped head. The best known maker of wooden rackets was Dunlop. In the late '60s, some manufacturers began making rackets out of plastic. These early models were very lightweight and had little or no durability. It wasn't until the 1990s that more durable rackets were developed using synthetic fibers. Modern rackets can be oversize, weighing up to 50 ounces (1.4 kg), and capable of hitting balls at over 100 miles per hour (160 km/hr).
Tennis rackets are designed with different playing qualities based on their size and weight. A small racket is ideal for players who want to hit lots of shots per game or practice. A large racket is better for players who want to get deep in the court while still being able to hit plenty of strokes. Rackets also vary in stiffness. Stiffer rackets provide greater control when playing aggressive shots. Soft rackets are better for practicing defensive shots or those where power is important such as serve receptions.
The engineering design process starts with an analysis of the needs of the player using computer programs that measure physical characteristics of the arm and hand during play.
Racket frames for all sports were typically built of solid wood (later laminated wood) and catgut (strings of animal intestine). The strength and weight of the wooden frame, which had to be strong enough to retain the strings and rigid enough to smash the ball or shuttle, limited the typical racket size. In the early 20th century, hardwoods such as beech, maple, and sycamore became available in large quantities, and these were used instead. Today's rackets are mostly made from synthetic materials, although some wooden rackets do remain on the market.
During World War II, many American soldiers were given free tennis lessons by the English staff members at military clubs in major cities. As part of their training, they were asked to report any irregularities with the rackets they were using. It was found that many of them were made from endangered species or raw materials derived from endangered species. The army ordered that no more than 30 percent of the wood in a racket frame come from endangered sources. Since then, the rule has been relaxed, and today's rackets can contain up to 70 percent wood. Of that percentage, only certain parts need to be from endangered sources. For example, the shaft of the racquet cannot come from an endangered tree because it would make the string break too soon.
As long as 10 years ago, most commercial-quality rackets were made from wood.