The Evolution of Racquetball Technology

May 17th, 2011 by Ben

Just about every year, each racquet company releases a new ‘technology,’ whether an improvement on a past design, a supplemental technology for combined performance, or a revolutionary introduction that completely changes racquet feel and playability. We haven’t seen the latter for a few years but revolutionizing racquet technology is no easy feat. As we are quickly approaching the new product season, you will begin to hear the buzz and see the sneak peaks of new racquets on the horizon but before that happens, let’s take a look at the recent evolutions.

Ektelon – O3 to EXO3 Technology

Ektelon first introduced the O3 Technology in 2005, a truly revolutionary approach to racquet design. The O3 technology consists of large holes in the frame of the racquet, rather than traditional grommet holes, increasing string movement by eliminating the friction between strings and grommets. The end result: a larger sweet spot and more lively string bed for more power and improved playability.

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These round ports next evolved into the Speedport Technology, changing into rectangular holes for further increased string movement and improved airflow through the frame for a faster swing and improved maneuverability. Ektelon further changed the frames in 2009 to incorporate the EXO3 Technology. This technology removed more graphite from the frame and now suspended the strings from “Energy Bridge Inserts,” further increasing the sweet spot, string bed movement, and added power to the frame. Ektelon continues to fine tune and improve this technology to maximize power and string bed response so stay tuned for the new line.

Head – Liquidmetal to d3o

Head has been all about material technology, introducing revolutionary materials into their graphite racquets to get the perfect balance of power and performance. They introduced Liquidmetal in 2004, a unique composite with a liquid atomic structure located in key areas on the frame to minimize energy lost in ball impact, transferring the maximum power possible back to the ball.

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Head next introduced Microgel in 2007, a super low-density material with high stiffness to lower weight and again maximize energy return and power while dispersing any negative energy throughout the frame. Most recently in 2010, Head took it one step further with d3o, a smart material that changes behavior under dynamic loading to stiffen when you swing your hardest and stay flexible when you want to make those touch shots. Combined with these space age materials, Head has added proprietary technologies – the Inner Grommet System for maximum string bed movement and Corrugated Technology at the throat to increase stiffness and energy return. Head has focused on creating racquets that cater to individual player’s strengths; keep your eyes open for what is new in 2011.

E-Force – Longstrings to Heatseeker

E-Force has more technology in their frames than any other company and is very proud of this heritage. The most notable technology unique to E-Force racquets is the hollow handle with vertical strings that extend the entire length from butt cap to head. This technology has continued to evolve over the years, now incorporating all mains, a unique string pattern and dampened Zero Richter Tubes to create the largest, most powerful string bed in the market, so they say. Combined with the unique Dual Cylinder profile of their frames, E-Force has constantly pushed the envelope of frame technology to maximize power.

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In 2009 E-Force introduced the Powerhouse Shaft, which visually increased handle length at the throat. This strategically placed graphite stiffens the throat, moves the flex point of the racquet closer to the sweet spot and increases whip and snap in your swing. In 2010, they introduced the Heatseeker, which combined existing tech with a new grommet technology and an improved graphite lay up to make the most stable E-Force racquet ever. Can they keep reinventing the racquet? We will see this year..

Pro Kennex – Kinetic Technology

ProKennex has been a quiet force in racquet technology, though Kane has loudly brought PK to the forefront in recent years. ProKennex invented the revolutionary Kinetic Technology, which has been featured in publications such as Popular Science, ESPN, and Time, and was proven in tests by MIT. The Kinetic Technology utilizes free-floating micro bearings that ‘load’ on ball impact and explode foreword unleashing kinetic energy to increase power while simultaneously absorbing shock and vibration from ball impact, producing some of the most arm-friendly racquets available.

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ProKennex further advanced the Kinetic technology with an ionic coating that reduces friction to maximize the effectiveness of the micro bearings. Their other proprietary technologies of note are the Quad Technology that focuses weight in key locations around the sweet spot to increase stability, and the String Suspension Technology, which reduces string-grommet friction to increase string bed movement. What new technology will the #1 player in the world be using in the 2011 season?

What does it all mean?

Why should you care about any of these technologies and marketing stories? Because they are real, and they change how the racquets play. You cannot find the right racquet for your game if you do not know what options you have, and as new products are released this year it will only get more confusing. At Racquetball Warehouse we do our best to simplify racquets and to educate the players about what products they are using. We are really excited about new racquets coming out this year and we want you to share our excitement! Check the website often for sneak peaks, pre-sales, and exclusive offers and follow us on facebook for all of the latest racquetball news!

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Recap: 2009 CSRA State Doubles in Fresno, CA

September 29th, 2009 by Kyle

Let me start this off by thanking John Ellis, Larry Steiner (pres. CSRA), Michelle Stone, Jesse Serna, Steve Cook, Sierra Sport and Racquet Club, two random girls in Halloween costumes, the sponsors who make this event possible and of course the many others who helped out and made sure everyone had a good time.  Chris Crowther & Tim Doyle from E-Force made the trip up to the 2009 CSRA State Doubles Championships and ended up victorious against John Ellis and Jose Rojas to take the State Doubles Open title.  There was plenty of food and beer all day long which made the craziness of all day racquetball a little more enjoyable.  Ben did well with his new partner Geoff Arnold paying a lot more attention to his serves and focusing on shots a little more.  My little brother Casey and his partner Kody Fudenna went on to win the C doubles bracket and as a result are moving up to the B division in the future.

As for myself and Jon Berezay, what can I say…. I was excited to have Jon on my team for two reasons: 1) I know what he is capable of and when he’s hitting good, he doesn’t miss, 2) He is a very calming influence on me when in the heat of battle.  He knew exactly what to say when I was getting frustrated and carried me many times throughout the tournament.  We eventually ended up losing in the A consolation bracket but ended up winning our 24-/25+ age division by beating the team that won A doubles.  It was a big victory for us after losing the first game but coming back to win 11-9 in tiebreak.  After a long weekend of playing, my body felt worn out, my mind was exhausted and I was ready to get home.  Without the help of Jesse Serna (John Ellis’ trainer and friend), I would not have been feeling as well as I did on Sunday.  Thanks to his expertise and magic touch, Jesse was able to keep me loose and actually able to move through the end of the tournament.  Winning that last championship match was the one thing that could have rejuvenated me and sent me home smiling the whole way.  My folks, grandma and sister in law drove over to watch my brother and I play but on Sunday everyone left early except for my dad who stuck around until late Sunday afternoon to watch my last match and was really happy to get a win for him.  He just had rotator cuff surgery on his shoulder and was forced to watch all of our matches from the sidelines (which I know was very difficult for him).

Overall, the tournament was a great success and love the big family that California Racquetball is.  I look forward to working with the CSRA on growing the California State Championships into the grand events I know they could and should be.  Maybe next year we’ll try to entice Rocky Carson and Jason Mannino to show up and represent California Racquetball.  We’ll see if they have what it takes to take away the championship from Chris and Tim……..

-Kyle

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SS & XS grip sizes, what to use & how to choose…..

August 18th, 2009 by Kyle

Let me start this post with an interesting background story I heard recently.  Have you ever wondered who the moron is that came up with the super-small (SS) & extra-small (XS) grip sizes for racquetball racquets?  I was told that when racquetball began, racquets were available with large and medium grips which were originally modeled after tennis grips.  After a while, racquetball manufacturers ditched the large grip because it was too big and far less popular.  The medium grip size stayed and a small grip size was added.  Well as you can imagine, the medium grip size was soon too big for players and the Extra Small (XS) was added along with the small grip.  Finally, the small grip was too big and less popular so the Super Small (SS) grip size was added. This is how we have come to the current SS and XS grip sizes today.

And when you finally figure out which grip size is best for you, you then realize that sizing between manufacturers differs.  Some manufacturers have the SS grip as 3 5/8″ and others have it as 3 11/16″.  Ektelon & ProKennex grips are rectangular while Gearbox, Head, Wilson & E-Force all have smaller, rounder grips.  So what are you to make of all this nonsense?  First off, let me start off by giving you a general rule of thumb to decide which grip size is best for you and the logic behind it.  If you fall in the size small-large glove category, you generally will use a SS racquet grip size. If you wear a large-extra large glove, you should consider using the XS racquet grip size.  If you’re wondering why I mention the large glove size twice, it’s because large glove users are kind of on the bubble and should use what feels most comfortable.  I found a great article from Bell Racquet Sports that explains grip sizing perfectly:

Racquetball racquets are typically available in two grip sizes:

Size:               Sometimes Called:

3-5/8                Super Small*
3-7/8                Extra Small or 3-15/16″

*For the 2010 season, Ektelon has added a Super Small Rounded (SSR) grip size. It
is still the smaller grip size, but with a more rounded feel in the hand.

When you hold a racquetball racquet, you want your fingertips to wrap around the grip and be touching your palm.
Remember:
The SMALLEST grip size you can comfortably hold will facilitate the best racquetball wrist snap!

Wrist snap is absolutely necessary to achieve optimum power in your swing and will help you tremendously in your matches.  Another tip to get the best wrist snap is to hold your pinky finger off the end of the handle.  You’ll see baseball players do this when batting sometimes to give their wrists a little extra range as well.  Doing this in combination with a small grip, will generate maximum power.  Of course technique is obviously the main factor but these grip tips will definitely help your game.

-Kyle

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