Monday, April 22, 2013

Do vibration dampeners work?

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Legit Tennis Fanatic

Do you really want to find out if vibration dampeners work?

Well let's go into the inner workings and physics of how they operate--ha, yeah right! We're tennis players not physicists, so we're going to go ahead and skip all that scientific mumbo jumbo and tell you what we know. You see, there's a lot of debate on whether dampeners work: They don't reduce shock, they do nothing but change the sound of your racquet when hitting the ball, they solve tennis elbow, etc. Two things we know for sure: They DO rid of that annoying 'ping' sound when you hit the ball, and they do NOT solve tennis elbow-sorry hopeful victims!             
So the big question is do dampeners reduce string vibration? Let's point out the obvious--they call them vibration dampeners and shock absorbers for a reason. No matter how much scientific data states they do not reduce shock, we say they DO reduce string vibration even if it's only by a small percentage, but that leaves the frame to fend for itself. It's nearly impossible to prevent us players from feeling the shock that our racquets produce when hitting a ball. However, there are ways to reduce it like lowering your string tension or playing with a heavier racquet (wooden racquets never had this problem), but the quickest and least expensive solution is to use a dampener.

But many ask, how does it reduce shock if the dampener is only between 2 strings? Because that's where you're generally going to hit (unless you're a true beginner who regularly shanks the ball). Utilizing a worm shock absorber is best for covering a wider sweet spot but are less popular because they are more prone to breakage. What's great is even if you don't have a dampener, something as minuscule as a thick rubber band (a trend that Andre Agassi used) will do the same job.

So I guess the bigger (and more important) question is how does it feel to you? Try playing with and without a shock absorber, and feel the difference yourself. Our guess is the majority of you will prefer playing with one, but we encourage you to put more thought into your strings and tension first before depending too much on the use of a dampener. And whether you feel it reduces string vibration is up to your discretion but lets face it, we know the real reason players use dampeners is just to add some fun personality to your racquet.

(*fyi-If your dampener were ever to fly off during a point, remember it does not warrant a let and it's not the end of the world if you can't find it.)

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