Do Something Every Single Day To Improve Your Squash!

Online Squash Coaching

Expand search form
Blog

How I Create My Racket Reviews

Knowing how something is tested is important. Having a consistent testing method is vital to ensure all opinions are based on the same criteria.

How I Create My Racket Reviews

Background

Before I talk about the process, I would quickly like to talk about how I developed my process. Back in the late 1990s I was squash promotions manager for Dunlop Slazenger. One of my responsibilities was the testing of prototype rackets. I did this myself, but also by sending them to selected Dunlop professional players and contracted coaches. I developed a report format that allowed me to collate the feedback so I could report to my boss and the product development manager. The process described below is an evolution of that report format.

Full Disclosure

Unless otherwise stated, all the equipment I review is supplied to me free of charge. I return any equipment supplied if the manufacturer asks me to.  If the manufacturer decides to allow me to keep the equipment, I then use the rackets in videos I make and also let local players use the rackets.  I DO NOT write preferential reviews based on whether I keep the equipment or not.

How I Create My Racket Reviews

Affiliate Sales: NO!

  • I DO NOT participate in any affiliate sales programs. Any links I include take you to the retailer or manufacturer directly.
  • I DO NOT receive money in any form, from ANYBODY to write reviews.
  • The reviews, whether they are video or text, are my honest thoughts and impressions.

The Difference Between Short-Term And Mid-Term And Long-Term Tests.

At the time of writing this article all my reviews have been conducted via mid-term tests.

  • Short-Term: This is less than 30 minutes to test a racket. This may occur because I have met somebody at a tournament and don’t have long to use and evaluate the racket.
  • Mid-Term: These tests are usually about 5 hours of use, although not in one session. I would estimate 5 sessions of about one hour is normal.
  • Long-Term: I consider a long-term test to be 3 months or above of regular weekly or even daily use.
Squash Tips, Drills and Training Advice

The Testing Process

I perform the following stages when testing a racket. Besides the initial “Bedding In”, I usually follow the order below during each session, although in all test sessions I will include some side-to-side shots.

“Bedding in” is approximately 500 side-to-side shots. This allows the racket strings to lose their initial tightness and “relax” into a lower but longer lasting tension.

It’s worth noting that how a racket plays for the first 15 minutes or so is almost always very different from how it plays and feels after longer use. I have always found that this initial period is the biggest change in a racket’s response. The difference between a week of use and a month is is much smaller than the difference between the initial first minutes and anything after.

How I Create My Racket Reviews
  • Straight DrivesTiming is hugely important on straight drives and this part of the hitting allows me to test the consistency of the rackets/strings response.  It also allows me to initially test the manoeuvrability in the back corners, which is affected by its weight and balance, but also by something that is impossible to define until you actually start hitting with it.
  • Volleys (straight & figure of eight), Service ReturnsMost volleys are played with a shorter swing and these volleys test how well the racket plays with those shorter swings.  There is less momentum is the racket and the frame has to do more work.
  • Short shots, Drops, Kills, NicksObviously, timing is important in all shots but as with the straight drives, any inconsistency in the timing of kills and drops can mean the difference between a nick and a tin.  These tests combine the timing of the straight drives and the ability to work with shorter swings of the volley.
  • ManoeuvrabilitySimply by standing close to the front wall and hitting fast volleys on my forehand then backhand allows me to feel how manoeuvrable a racket is. Again, the simple stats of weight and balance don’t give the full picture and you actually have to play shots with little time between them to really know if a racket is manoeuvrable
  • Off-Centre ShotsI purposefully hit the ball outside of the sweetspot to see how the rackets respond. You would be surprised at how big the difference between rackets can be. This test helps me understand how suitable a racket is for new players and beginners as they often don’t consistently hit within the sweetspot.
Online Squash Coaching
Video Squash Coaching from the comfort of your sofa!

Other Evaluation Points

Obviously, hitting the ball with a racket is the most important aspect of testing a racket, but there are others too.

  • VisualA careful look at the racket and assessment of its visual presentation is important. Nobody wants to buy and use a racket that doesn’t look good or has poor quality control.
  • Technical ReviewI also read and study about any technical innovations that the racket claims to have. In most cases it is exaggerated marketing.
  • Weight and BalanceThe very first thing I do is weigh the racket to within 0.5 grams and then measure the balance point. After this, I will put a new grip on because if the racket is new it will almost certainly need one and if the racket is used, who wants to play with somebody’s sweaty grip! I will then re-weigh and re-measure the balance.
  • PriceThe final non-hitting assessment is learning the price. While evaluating a product should be independent of the price, whether or not to recommend it often depends on its price.

What I Don’t DO

One thing I don’t do, and I don’t know if other reviews don’t do this as well, is I DO NOT read or watch any reviews of the product before I finish testing it. I’ll be honest and say I rarely read other reviews of the products I test anyway.

Final Thoughts

I am not claiming that the process I have described above is the “best” or “only” way a racket should be tested.

It’s a format that works well for me and it keeps the reviews consistent.  Due to no longer playing, the one thing the process is missing is use during real matches.  It’s always nice to use a product in a “real” situation but often your feedback is clouded by your performance.  That said, I would prefer to use all the rackets in actual matches, but I can’t.

Get Your Equipment Reviewed

If you represent a manufacturer and have a product that you feel my readers and viewers would be interested in, please send an email to: [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *