I can’t even begin to describe how frequently I see this particular wear pattern on the headguard of racquets. Most frequently it is observed on the frames of junior players. I suspect if you are a racquet stringer you have seen it too.
In my shop I have several juniors who regularly wear through the headguards. The wear pattern is always the same, as pictured above. I attempt to explain the cause to the parents, but I am continually surprised at how many do not address the issue with the kids. In some instances the worn grommet is not caught in time and the racquet is compromised to the point where a new one is needed. Expensive propositions, especially in today’s economy.
The purpose of this blog is to clarify a common misperception. I will hear from players and parents alike that the head guard is worn from digging out low balls. 99.999% of the time this is simply NOT accurate. I have gone to the courts and watched the juniors practice. In so doing I have personally observed the act that I strongly suspected was causing this particular wear pattern. If I had a video of said act, I would post it. It is an act that simply is not necessary and can be avoided without impacting play in any manner.
Kids, (and some adults alike), use a technique to pick up lose balls that is the cause of head guard destruction. The best way to describe the act is the player approaches a lose ball on the court. Instead of bending down to pick the ball up (afterall we wouldn’t want too much exercise) they place the racquet head on the far side of the ball. They then scoot the ball to the heal of their foot and pop the racquet and foot up in order to get the ball to rise to a point where they can reach it without bending over. In the process of “scooting the ball to their foot” the racquet head is allowed to scrape the court. Over time and repeated transgressions; abrasion, wear and head guard obliteration occurs.
To me this is an easy problem to avoid. Don’t use your racquet in this manner to pick up the ball. Dr. Johnny suggests, “Just bend over, it won’t hurt.”