Racket (sports equipment)

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Squash racket and ball
Racquetball racket and ball

A racket or racquet[1] is a sports implement consisting of a handled frame with an open hoop across which a network of cord is stretched tightly. It is used for striking a ball in games such as squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Collectively, these games are known as racquet sports.This predecessor to the modern game of squash, rackets, is played with 30 1⁄2 inches (770 mm) wooden rackets. While squash equipment has evolved in the intervening century, rackets equipment has changed little.

The frame of rackets for all sports was traditionally made of laminated wood and the strings of animal intestine known as catgut. The traditional racket size was limited by the strength and weight of the wooden frame which had to be strong enough to hold the strings and stiff enough to hit the ball or shuttle. Manufacturers started adding non-wood laminates to wood rackets to improve stiffness. Non-wood rackets were made first of steel, then of aluminium, and then carbon fiber composites. Wood is still used for real tennis, rackets, and xare. Most rackets are now made of composite materials including carbon fibre or fiberglass, metals such as titanium alloys, or ceramics.

Gut has partially been replaced by synthetic materials including nylon, polyamide, and other polymers. Rackets are restrung when necessary, which may be after every match for a professional or never for a social player.

Spelling[edit]

Racket is the standard spelling of the word in the United States. Racquet is the standard spelling in the UK;[2][3] used more commonly in certain sports (squash, racquetball, badminton) and less commonly in others (tennis).[4] Racket is the preferred spelling in tennis.[4] While some writers, especially those outside North America, prefer the French-influenced racquet, racket is the predominant spelling by a large margin.[4] Similarly, while some believe that racket came about as a misspelling of racquet, racket is in fact the older spelling: it has been in use in British English since the 16th century, with racquet only showing up later in the 19th century as a variant of racket.[4]

Etymology[edit]

The origin of the term "racket" is unclear. According to a popular belief first published by Malcolm Whitman in 1932, the expression comes from the Arabic term rahat al-yad, meaning "palm of hand".[5] Modern research however reveals this thesis in a highly questionable light.[6] Instead, the term is more likely to be derived from the Flemish word "raketsen" which is itself derived from Middle French "rachasser", meaning "to strike (the ball) back".[7]

Badminton[edit]

Badminton rackets

Badminton rackets are light, with top quality rackets weighing between about 80 and 100 grams (with strings). Modern rackets are composed of carbon fibre composite (graphite reinforced plastic), which may be augmented by a variety of materials. Carbon fibre has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and gives excellent kinetic energy transfer. Before the adoption of carbon fibre composite, rackets were made of wood to their excessive weight and cost.

There is a wide variety of racket designs, although the racket size and shape are limited by the Laws. Different rackets have playing characteristics that appeal to different players. The traditional oval head shape is still available, but an isometric head shape is increasingly common in new rackets.

Rackets[edit]

This predecessor to the modern game of squash, rackets, is played with 30 12 inches (770 mm) wooden rackets. While squash equipment has evolved in the intervening century, rackets equipment has changed little.

Racquetball[edit]

According to the current Racquetball rules[8] there are no limitations on the weight of a racquetball racket.

  1. The racket, including bumper guard and all solid parts of the handle, may not exceed 22 inches in length.
  2. The racket frame may be any material judged safe.
  3. The racket frame must include a cord that must be securely attached to the player's wrist.
  4. The string of the racket must be gut, monofilament, nylon, graphite, plastic, metal, or a combination thereof, and must not mark or deface the ball.
  5. Using an illegal racket will result in forfeiture of the game in progress or, if discovered between games, forfeiture of the preceding game.

Racquetball rackets, unlike many other types, generally have little or no neck, the grip connecting directly to the head. They also tend to have head shapes that are notably wider at the top, with some older rackets looking almost triangular or teardrop shaped.

Real tennis[edit]

Real tennis rackets and balls

The 27-inch (686-mm) long rackets are made of wood and use very tight strings to cope with the heavy ball of real tennis. The racket head is bent slightly to make it easier to strike balls close to the floor or in corners.

Squash[edit]

Standard squash rackets are governed by the rules of the game. Traditionally they were made of laminated timber (typically Ash), with a small strung area using natural gut strings.[9] After a rule change in the mid-1980s, they are now almost always made of composite materials such as carbon fiber or metals (graphite, Kevlar, titanium, and/or boron) with synthetic strings.[9] Modern rackets are 70 cm long, with a maximum strung area of 500 square centimetres (approximately 75 square inches) and a mass between 90 and 200 grams (4–7 ounces).

Table tennis[edit]

Table Tennis racket with 3 different sizes of the celluloid ball
Main article: Table tennis racket

A table tennis racket is used by players in the game table tennis. The racket is made from laminated wood covered with rubber on one or two sides depending on the grip of the player. This is called either a paddle, racket, or a bat, with usage differing by region. In the USA the term "paddle" is common, in Europe the term is "bat", and the official ITTF term is "racket."

Tennis[edit]

A modern tennis racket, with carbon fiber-reinforced polymer frame.

The parts of a tennis racket are the head, rim, face, neck, butt/butt cap, handle, and strings.

Modern tennis rackets vary in length, weight, and head size. 21" to 26" is normally a junior's length, while 27" or 27.5" are for stronger and taller adult players. Weights of a racket also vary between 8 ounces (230 g) unstrung and 12.5 ounces (350 g) strung. Rackets originally flared outward at the bottom of the handle to prevent slipping. The rounded bottom was called a bark bottom after its inventor Matthew Barker. But by 1947, this style became superfluous. Head size also plays a role in a racket's qualities. A larger head size generally means more power and a larger "sweet spot" that is more forgiving on off-center hits. A smaller head size offers more precise control. Current racket head sizes vary between 85 sq. inches and 137 sq. inches, with most players adopting one from 95-105 sq. inches.

This picture illustrates one of the ways tennis rackets can be held.

Throughout most of tennis' history, rackets were made of laminated wood, with heads of around 65 square inches. In the late 1960s, Wilson produced the T2000 steel racket with wire wound around the frame to make string loops. It was popularized by the top American player Jimmy Connors. In 1975, aluminum construction allowed for the introduction of the first "oversized" racket, which was manufactured by Weed. Prince popularized the oversize racket, which had a head size of approximately 110 square-inches and opened the door for the introduction of rackets having other non-standard head sizes such as mid-size (90 square inches) and mid-plus size (95 square inches). In the early 1980s, "graphite" (carbon fibre) composites were introduced, and other materials were added to the composite, including ceramics, glass-fibre, boron, and titanium. The Dunlop Max200G used by John McEnroe from 1983 was an early graphite racket, along with the very popular Prince original graphite. Composite rackets are the contemporary standard.

Longer rackets were introduced by Dunlop[10] to give additional reach for shots such as the serve and volley where shorter players may be at a disadvantage. Mid-size or mid-plus rackets are the general standard for professional players.

A United States tennis racket from the 1970s

Stringing (material, pattern, tension) is an important factor in the performance of a tennis racket. A few elite players use natural gut, but the vast majority of strings are a nylon or polyester synthetic. Some (American champion Pete Sampras is a prominent example) consider the natural string to be more responsive, providing a better "feel", but synthetic is favored for its much superior durability, consistency, as well as much lower cost. String pattern (the vertical/horizontal grid) is a function of the racket head size and design. A tighter pattern is considered to deliver more precise control; a more "open" pattern to offer greater potential for power and spin. Modern rackets are marked with a recommended string tension range. The basic rule is that a lower tension creates more power (from a "trampoline" effect) and a higher string tension creates more control (the less 'trampoline effect' the more predictable the power and angle of the departure from the string bed.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  2. ^ "Racket". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Racket". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Racket vs. racquet". Grammarist. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Whitman, Malcolm D. (2004 (org 1932)). Tennis : Origins and Mysteries (Dover ed. ed.). Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. ISBN 0486433579. 
  6. ^ Gillmeister, Heiner (1998). Tennis : A Cultural History. Washington Square, N.Y.: New York University Press. p. 5. ISBN 081473121X. 
  7. ^ Gillmeister, Heiner (1998). Tennis : A Cultural History. Washington Square, N.Y.: New York University Press. p. 123. ISBN 081473121X. 
  8. ^ USAR OFFICIAL RULES OF RACQUETBALL
  9. ^ a b "Grays of Cambridge: History" - makers of rackets and founded in 1855 by Henry John Gray, the Champion Racquets Player of England. "In those days, the rackets were made from one piece English ash, with a suede leather grip and natural gut. ... The 1980s witnessed a period of re-structuring and consolidation. The Cambridge racquets factory was forced to close in face of the move to graphite rackets, and production was moved to the Far east."
  10. ^ An evolutionary history of tennis racquets

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