By strategically adding weighted lead tape to a tennis racket, players can customize their racket to improve its performance and complement their style of play. Lead tape can alter four properties of a tennis racket: overall weight, weight distribution, frame twisting or torque and swingweight. Swingweight refers to how the racket feels when it is in motion. Customizing your racket with lead tape is a process; several applications and on-court play testing sessions may be necessary.
Cut strips of lead tape, peel off the backing and adhere the tape to the inside of the racket's frame at the tip, or the 12 o'clock position, to make the racket more head heavy. If your racket is head-light and you are finding it hard to hit the ball deep in the court, tape in this position makes your racket swing heavier, you will have an increase in power and find it easier to hit with depth. One negative aspect to adding weight to the tip is that there is a significant loss in maneuverability.
Place strips of lead tape at the shoulders of the frame, or the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions, if you tend to hit the ball high on the strings, toward the tip of the racket. Lead tape in these positions makes the racket more head-heavy, but also raises the racket's "sweetspot." This is the place on the stringbed where there is minimal frame vibration when the ball contacts the strings; the shot feels solid. Adding tape at the shoulders also helps reduce any twisting of the frame; torsional stability is increased. There is also a slight loss in maneuverability.
Add tape to the inside of the racket's frame at the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions if you tend to hit the ball off-center. In addition to making the racket swing heavier with a little more power, tape in these positions helps to keep the racket more stable. The "sweetspot" also becomes wider, which allows you to have more success when hitting off-center shots.
Place strips of lead tape at the throat area of the racket, or the 6 o'clock position, if you want to increase the overall weight of the racket without changing its balance. With tape in this position, the "sweetspot" will be drawn toward the throat of the racket. If you tend to hit the ball low on the strings, placing tape at the throat will help you hit more solid shots. Although not as noticeable, this also makes the racket swing heavier with some loss of maneuverability.
Add lead tape to the handle of the racket to counter weight a lightweight, head-heavy racket. Some rackets weigh less than 10 ounces and more of the weight is distributed toward the head. Additional weight at the handle end makes the racket heavier overall and has little effect on its maneuverability. This requires removing the grip, applying lead tape to the handle and then reattaching the grip.
- One inch of 1/4-inch wide lead tape weighs 1/4 of a gram.
- If you are experimenting with the effects of additional weight, start with 3 to 5 grams at a time.
- Avoid using strips of tape longer than 6 inches. Instead, layer the strips.
- When applying tape to the racket's frame, add equal amounts of tape to each side of the frame.