Tennis players are often known to use a piece of equipment called racket dampener and in this piece below, we look at everything related to it, including what is it, why do players use it and what are the pros and cons associated with a racket dampener?
Have you ever noticed a small piece of accessory on the string bed of the racket of some players?
You may have even seen that on the rackets of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. So what is it? Is it a microphone, a camera or just the maker’s name?
Well, that device is called a vibration dampener.
It’s an important device for some players, but it isn’t mandatory to use them and a lot of players choose not to have them at all. Two of the biggest names in tennis, Roger Federer and Serena Williams never used vibration dampeners.
In this article, we will delve deep into the world of vibration dampeners, look at their advantages and disadvantages and check out some of the top brands in the market.
But first, let’s see what are vibration dampeners.
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What is a Vibration Dampener?
A vibration dampener is a small device made of rubber that fits on the string bed of a tennis racket to absorb the shock when the ball makes contact with the racket.
When a ball hits the racket, the strings vibrate and produce a high-pitched “ping” sound. Now fit a dampener to the racket and that absorbs much of the shock. It reduces the vibration and the sound that one hears now is not the “ping” sound but a low-pitched thud.
So depending on whether you like the ping sound or the dull thud, you can choose to either have or not have a vibration dampener installed in your racket.
The vibration dampeners were first introduced by Rene Lacoste in 1964. It was initially thought that these dampeners could reduce the shock of the ball hitting the racket from reaching the arms and the elbow and thus prevent injuries.
But in 2004, a study released in the Journal of Sports Sciences concluded that “string dampers do not reduce the amount of racket frame vibration received at the forearm.”
Thus, while the dampeners may still be marketed as an equipment that can reduce the shock to the wrist and elbow and prevent tennis elbow injuries, studies are yet to confirm those claims.
And until there is conclusive evidence that vibration dampeners do prevent injuries it should only be seen as a device that can cut down the ping sound.
Even the 2004 study mentioned above said:
“We suggest that string dampers remain a popular accessory among tennis players because of their acoustic effects and psychological support rather than any mechanical advantage.”
The study and its results can be found here.
Why Use a Vibration String Dampener?
A lot of players use the dampeners because the pinging noise can be annoying to them and thus it can affect their focus. For them, the dull sound produced as a result of placement of a dampener helps in their concentration as they remain focused on the ball.
Some people even say that they use vibration dampeners for a better feel. They believe that vibration dampeners reduce the impact of the shot to their arms and hence they feel better when playing strokes. But a lot of players don’t think it has any effect on the arms.
So overall whether to use a vibration dampener or not is a personal choice and as stated in the above section it is more to do with mental aspect of the game as its primary objective is to cut down the sound.
Tennis Racket Dampener Description
A tennis dampener is a small device that is designed to be attached to the strings of a tennis racquet to reduce the amount of vibration that is transmitted through the racquet to the handle during impact with the ball.
Tennis dampeners typically have a small, cylindrical shape and are made of a soft, flexible material such as rubber or silicone.
They are typically placed near the center of the strings, either on the bottom or top of the racquet, and are designed to fit snugly between the strings to provide maximum damping effect.
Some tennis dampeners also have a decorative design or logo on them, and may come in a variety of colors.
Types of Dampeners
There are usually two types of vibration dampeners: A “button” dampener and a “worm” dampener.
The button dampener is of the size of a button. It is the most common type of dampener used. The small size of these dampeners prevent them from interfering with the shot of a player.
The worm dampener is an elongated dampener that stretches across many strings. It is highly effective in reducing the sound, but the chances of these dampeners interfering when a shot is being played increases.
Players prefer dampeners that have better grip and won’t fall off when playing a shot.
Where to Place a Dampener?
According to the ITF, vibration damping devices can be placed on the strings of a racket, but these devices may only be placed outside the pattern of the crossed strings.
They can be placed on the bottom, right, left or top of the racket, but is most commonly placed at the bottom, in the middle of the cross strings near the throat of the racket.
How to Attach a Racket Dampener to Your Racket?
Now that you know what’s a tennis racket dampener, it’s good to understand how to attach one to your racket.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a tennis dampener:
- Locate the strings on your racket where you want to place the dampener. This is typically near the center of the strings, about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) away from the top of the racket frame.
- Hold the dampener in your hand and stretch it slightly to make it easier to place on the strings.
- Place the dampener on the strings and position it so that it is centered between two adjacent strings.
- Gently press the dampener down onto the strings so that it is securely in place.
- Repeat the process on the opposite side of the racket if you want to use two dampeners.
That’s it! You’re now ready to play with your new dampener.
Some players prefer to use dampeners to reduce the vibration and noise of their racket, while others find that it changes the feel of the racket and prefer not to use them.
Experiment to see which option works best for you.
Does a Tennis Dampener Have an Effect on Power, Control and Spin?
The answer to this is no. A dampener doesn’t affect the power or control of your racket.
Power and control of a racket depend on factors like string tension. High tension strings would produce less power and more control, while low tension string will generate more power and less control.
So the tighter the strings, the better control you have and the looser the strings, the more power your racket generates.
Vibration dampeners don’t really play a role in increasing or decreasing the power and control.
Same goes for spin. A racket that has more spaced out strings will provide better spin while a racket which has less space between each square of the cross strings will generate lesser spin.
Can a Dampener Prevent Injuries?
As discussed in the above sections, it hasn’t been proven if dampeners can prevent injuries. Tennis elbow is a painful injury that affects almost all tennis players during their careers.
Tennis elbow is defined as the swelling of the tendons of the elbow caused by overuse of the muscles of the forearm.
To prevent a tennis elbow players should train with experts and learn the techniques and movements that can prevent them from picking up the injury. The right kind of equipment customized to a player’s ability and body size is of paramount importance.
While some players believe that the vibration from the string can flow down the handle and into the arms, thus leading to injuries like the tennis elbow, it remains a contentious issue as there are many others who don’t feel the same.
Some Top Brands
Here is a look at some of the top brands that manufacture vibration dampeners and the top players who endorse these brands.
Head Djokovic Dampener
The button dampener, made of silicon and rubber, is used by Novak Djokovic and has an attractive look. Head also produces the Head Zverev Dampener endorsed by Alexander Zverev. The function of both the dampeners are almost the same, just the logos give a different feel.
The Babolat Custom Damp Fell Dampener
This one is used by Rafael Nadal. It allows one to choose the level of vibration dampening in the racket. There is a removable rubber piece in the middle of the device.
One can keep it for extra dampening and remove it for less dampening. Felix Auger-Aliassime also uses the Babolat Camp Dampner.
Tourna’s ODamp Vibration Dampener
It was formerly known as “Sampras Dampener” as it was endorsed by Pete Sampras. These dampeners are seen as easy to fit and are popular. Andrey Rublev is one of the modern players who uses the Sampras Vibration Dampener.
Wilson, Yonex, Luxilon, Gamma and Tecnifibre are among the many other top brands that manufacture and market tennis dampeners.
Final Word on Tennis Dampeners
While many believe that string vibration dampeners can help reduce the shock from traveling from the racket to the arms of a player when one strikes a ball, the theory is yet to be proven.
A study has concluded that vibration dampeners can only reduce the vibration in the string bed and thus cut down the high-pitched sound that the racket makes when the ball comes into its contact.
Players using vibration dampeners prefer the dull sound over the “ping” sound. While players who prefer not to use the dampeners prefer the ping over the thud.
However, almost all manufacturers market vibration dampeners as devices which increase comfort and reduce the impact on the arms.
While dampeners have little to do with power and control of the racket, there is more research needed to ascertain the claim that these devices can prevent injuries.