Another episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast is here! In this episode, I'll tell you everything you need to know about using a vibration dampener on using a vibration dampener on your tennis racquet. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the gray media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app.
One of the great things about tennis is that it’s a sport that doesn’t really require a whole lot of equipment to enjoy. Just a racquet and a tennis ball. You don’t even need a court since hitting up against a wall can actually be fun and entertaining. At least I think it’s fun and entertaining.
But like plenty of sports, just because you don’t need a lot of equipment doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of equipment out there to be had. Once you get a racquet, there are all kinds of ways to trick it out including different strings, different grips and wraps, lead tape to change the weight distribution, and vibration dampeners.
So just what is a vibration dampener? Well, a vibration dampener is that little thingy you often see players have embedded on the strings of their racquets down near throat of the racquet. It can be a little rubbery thing, about the size of a quarter, or it can be a longer rubber band looking thing woven in and out of several strings. Or it can even be an actual rubber band which is what Andre Agassi used to use. I’ll include images of all of these types of dampeners in the show notes for this episode so you can see just what I’m talking about. Vibration dampeners can be colorful and cute but just know that they’re not some kind of decoration for your racquet. They actually change the way it feels when you hit a tennis ball so you shouldn’t just add one to your racquet because you like the way it looks.
So why would you use a vibration dampener? First, you have to know that every time you hit a tennis ball with the strings of your racquet, the racquet and the strings vibrate and some of the shock of this vibration is transferred up your arm. This might bother you or it might not. If it does, adding a vibration dampener to your string bed can reduce, or dampen, string vibration. Some people believe that using a dampener to reduce the vibration that travels to your arm when you hit the ball can also reduce the chances that you’ll get tennis elbow or that your tennis elbow will get worse. Other people say that a dampener doesn’t reduce enough vibration to have any significant impact on your tennis elbow. In my opinion, it’s up to you and what feels right or better.
Because a vibration dampener will definitely change what happens when you hit the ball. I myself don’t use one but I have tried them in the past. When I first started using my current racquet, I tried one because I could hear a really annoying ping sound every time I hit the ball. The dampener definitely removed that ping. But I didn’t like the way it felt when I hit the ball because a dampener can definitely reduce the “feel” you get with your racquet. You just can’t feel the ball on your strings the way you can without the dampener. So it’s a trade-off. And I was willing to put up with the ping sound to keep the feel.
Now, you may want to know, is there a specific place where a dampener has to go? Yes! According to Rule 4 of the USTA’s Official Rules of Tennis, a vibration damping device “may only be placed outside the pattern of the crossed strings” of a racquet. So where’s that? Well, imagine that your racquet is sitting on its butt end, with the head of the racquet pointing up. The vibration dampener is usually placed beneath the last horizontal string on the racquet. Again, I’ll have a photo in the show notes so you can see exactly where this is. Just FYI – that is not the only place a vibration dampener can be placed. It can also be placed at the tip of the racquet or on the sides, as long as it is not inside the area where the strings cross. I’ve never seen anyone use a vibration dampener anywhere but near the throat of the racquet but you never know what you’re going to see on the tennis court. Because I have seen a player intentionally wear two different shoes in a match. So yeah, anything’s possible.
Also, a vibration dampener may touch that outside cross string so you can’t claim a rules violation just because of that. And you can use as many vibration dampeners on a racquet as you want although I’ve personally never seen anyone use more than one. But, again, you never know.
If you decide you want to try a vibration dampener, it’s easy enough. They’re very cheap. You can even try the rubber band vibration dampener if you have one laying around the house and are trying for the Andre Agassi vibe. I’ll put a link in the show notes to a post I wrote that shows exactly how you tie one of those onto your racquet. Anyway, just give the vibration dampener a try and see what you think. If you don’t like the feeling you get with it, no problem – you’re not out too much money.
Here's a photo showing you different kinds of vibration dampeners you can use, including the rubberband vibration dampener, and where they should be applied:
To find out how to apply a rubberband as a vibration dampener, check out this post: The Rubberband Vibration Dampener.
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Thanks for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!
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