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Does size matter?

Published: 31 Jul 2007 - 02:41 by nmc8

Updated: 26 Sep 2008 - 07:29

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I am currently looking at changing my existing squash racket ( Dunlop M Fil Tour) which is described as having a 470 sqcm head area plus the usual stiff frame and extra wide throat for stabilty and the head light discription that manufacturers use without further explanation.

I have looked at the new Dunlop Areogel Ultimate which is discribed very similarly except that it has a head area of 500sqcm and weights 10g lighter.

The ads etc talk about more power due to the bigger head area and better control - is this true and if so why as the frames are almost identical.

Can someone please enlighten me.

PS The reason for change is due to struggling to get any real sense of control on drops and volley kills as well as feeling an overall lack of power.

Many thanks,


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From Adz - 01 Aug 2007 - 18:33   -   Updated: 01 Aug 2007 - 18:34


Many thanks for the compliment



Well it wasn't as long as some of my posts and I kind of got carried away once I'd started to write.



Grip size can be altered by reshaping the grip (ray mentions it in another thread somewhere!). You'll find that some grips are longer than others, some thinner, some squarer. It comes down to the way that a manufacturer chooses to create the grip. In theory it shouldn't make too much of a difference as you can adjust the grip size and shape to suit your needs, and I guess in theory you could lengthen the grip up the shaft on the prince racquets in order to create a higher grip position. You'd need to find a light but firm material to do this with, but it is possible.

Having different length (shaft and head) racquets will definately make a difference to you game. For one thing, a choked grip on a stubby handle will make the racquet CLOSER to the wall from your hand.... getting that tight pick-off shot wrong could get expensive as that extra cm in shaft/head length is the difference between clipping the wall and smashing into it!

Whatever you end up with needs to be comfortable and suitable for YOU! As I've said in other posts, I never could get on with Prince racquets (O3 Silver as exception), but that was more due to a balance and feel issue than a grip size/shape/length issue.

Interesting idea though!


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From nmc8 - 01 Aug 2007 - 15:46


Many thanks for such a detailed answer very useful. Just to add another dimension to this - I have found that the grip dimensions and shapes vary ie the Prince O3 Tour seems short and stocky while the Dunlop M Fil seems longer and more rectangular in shape. The dunlop grip seems to suit me better as I play with a thin grip using only one overgrip. Also I find that the longer Dunlop grip allows me to lenghten or shorten the racket depending on the shot I wish to play. However the rackets are the same lenght therefore by definition the the Prince has a longer shaft and head - does this matter?


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From stevo - 01 Aug 2007 - 15:35

Great post Adz, although I did laugh when I read this

"and I can't be bothered to write that much today!"

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From hamburglar - 01 Aug 2007 - 10:31

Our local pros has lots of different racquets in his bag. Not only would a good pro be able to suggest something based on your likings, but you might get to try out some good sticks too.

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From nickhitter - 01 Aug 2007 - 07:37   -   Updated: 01 Aug 2007 - 07:38

As usual Adz, you knowledge and expertise is spot on.  great post.

I will only add that the reason that the new aerogel ultimate is marketed as having more control is because it has a denser string pattern (16x19) compared to the ice elite that was it's predecessor (14x18) (although there is an aerogel elite too! don't know quite why they've made two nearly identical models.....)

Also, Stiffer rackets are 'on paper' better, as theorectically, a stiffer frame makes for both more control and more power. however in practice in makes the racket less forgiving and vibrate more ( prince o3 tour - very stiff!)  so there's a lot of good players (even pros)still like to use a more flexible racket like the hot melt pro.


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From Adz - 01 Aug 2007 - 00:01

Hmmm, have heard a lot of people talk about extra head size increasing power, but never heard of extra head size increasing control.

I'm open for corrections on this one, but my understanding is as follows:

Head Size

Generally racquets range between 460cm2 and 500cm2 (with 500 being the maximum allowed size). You find that those advertised with a smaller head tend to suggest that they have excellent control, and those with a larger advertised head size tend to push the power element due to a larger trampoline area on the racquet face. Although this is a generality, other factors make a difference to this.

Summary: A larger head gives a larger trampoline area (sweet-spot), thus giving greater power. (However, other factors will also effect this)

Head Shape

Fundamentally there are two basic head shapes - Round and Teardrop. A round head racket tends to have an oval shape sweet-spot in the center of the racquet head. A round head racquet has a wider throat section which in turn give a wider string-bed in the lower half of the racquet face, thus giving a larger trampoline area for higher power in the lower face. In contrast, the teardrop racquet has a narrower throat section giving less power in the lower sections of the face, but this in turn is compensated by a longer main string, increasing the main trampoline effect and thus giving a greater power in the top section of the frame face.

Summary: A round-head racquet will have greater power in the lower half of the face, whilst a tear-drop racquet will have greater power in the higher half of the face.

Stringing Patterns

There are various types of stringing patterns on the market, and to go into each in depth would take far too long (and I can't be bothered to write that much today!). Basically, the more string lengths in a racquet face, the greater the control on the ball, but the less cut into the ball and the less power due to a denser string network in the sweet-spot. Variations include fan stringing, wider spaced crosses, wider spaced mains, O3 ports, power holes (wilson's version of O3 ports), a bridging throat section (where the strings continue below the throat).


This is the biggest factor next to racquet balance/weight when chosing the right equipment for you. Strings basically have guage (thickness), tension, texture and elasticity. Put these four elements together and you find out about the correct string type.

Guage is one of the most important factors. A thinner guage gives better cut into the ball for touch, and generally has a higher elasticity for improved power. The downside to this is that the endurance of the string is lower and they are more likely to break than thicker strings of the same construction.

Tension is the most important factor in stringing. Using the perfect string with the wrong tension will ruin the restring completely. In general, a tighter (higher) tension will give better touch, but lower endurance of the string. A lower (looser) tension allows the string to have greater elasticity and thus increases power. Having strings too loose will have the opposite effect and actually lose you power due to lowering the strings elasticity.

Textures can be different on some strings. The surface can be rougher allowing greater touch and control on the ball, but this in turn means that the string crosses will have greater friction and be more likely to erode against each other and the string will break.

Elasticity is how well the string stretches and returns back to normal length. Tension needs to work hand-in-hand with guage to achieve peak elasticity. Too tight for the guage and you will have already taken away some of the elastic potential of the string, too loose and you will not have activated the potential at all - think of an elastic band; stretched too tight and you lose some of the recoil, stretch too lose and you have no recoil at all!

Racquet weight and balance

Power, control and swing speed generally come from the frame weight and balance. A heavier racquet will give greater power than a lighter racquet of the same type and stringing. This is due to having a greater power in the swing (where power comes from speed and weight). Of course this once again depends on the balancing of power to weight ratio in the racquet. Too heavy will lower the swing speed and thus lower the power. And too light will lower the weight of the swinging object and also lower the power. Racquets generally fall between 110g and 170g (unstrung), although the maximum allowed weight is 255g. The majority of racquets professionally used fall between 120g and 150g unstrung, as these allow for the greatest power to weight ratio.

Balance of racquets comes into play during the manouver of the racquet head during the swing. A lighter head racquet allows for quicker head movement and can help to improve reaction time. A heavier racquet head, although slower to move, will give greater power to "flicked" shots versus the greater speed of the lighter head. In a fully swung drive, unless hugely biased in the balance, head light and head heavy racquets make little difference as the entire racquet (e.g. not just the head) comes into play in the weight vs power ratio.

Summary: Heavier racquets generally give more power but less speed vs lighter racquets, as in turn do head-heavy rackets.


So to answer the original question....... The smaller head Dunlops have a concentrated oval shaped sweet-spot giving balanced power and control in the center of the racquet face. These racquets have been supported by the PSA for a long time due to the suitablility for all standards of play. They are very forgiving with shots not struck on the sweet-spot, and thus are very suitable for lower standards of player. Most mid-ranged dunlops tend to be of an even balance, although variations are available in some models and higher level racquets.

The larger head size will give greater power due to enlarging the sweet-spot of the racquet and thus increasing the trampoline area in the center of the face. These racquets tend to be favoured by Amr Shabana and Jon Power due to the greater power generated as and when needed (they don't play an all-out power game like John White, but do tend to rely on bursts of power when needed). This is in comparsion to the likes of Lee Beachill who tended to play a more balanced game without many heavy hit shots.

The overall weights of the racquets tend to vary slightly by around 10g to 15g, but this inturn can be counteracted by playing with an extra grip on the racquet, or a thicker guage string!

Sadly the only way to really tell for certain which racquet suits you is to get on court with one and try it out. However I will try to summarise for each extreme:

Touch player:

  • Lighter racquet
  • Smaller headsize
  • Thinner string guage
  • Head light balance
  • Denser stringing pattern


Power player:

  • Heavier racquet
  • Larger headsize
  • Thicker string guage (because you'll break thinner ones too easily!)
  • More elastic strings
  • Less dense stringing pattern
  • Head-heavy balance


I hope this helps, and if anyone disagrees with anything I've written above then please feel free to share your opinions for the benefit of myself and others. Also in closing I do want to stress that the notes written above are based in generality. Changes in any individual area can greatly effect the performance of the racquet to counteract all other characteristics (like increasing the weight of a small head, dense strung racquet will make it more suited to power play than touch etc).



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From nmc8 - 31 Jul 2007 - 16:01


I have recently returned to playing serious squash after an long layoff (19 years) and for the last 6 months have been finding my feet again. I have had a few lessons with the club pro and all well but technology has moved on a bit since I last swung a racket, and as I have read in many postings here you should try different rackets and string combinations till you find what suits you.

Part of my problem is understanding what different head sizes, stringing patterns,head light/heavy actually adds to a racket.

I think I have got my head around stringing so it is now down to the best racket(s) that suit my game.

As you said it is an expensive game going out and buying lots of rackets just to find one that suits therefore I want to understand what each component brings to a racket and then narrow down a selection from there.



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From hamburglar - 31 Jul 2007 - 09:45   -   Updated: 31 Jul 2007 - 09:45

sounds like a lesson with a local pro would help a lot more than a change in racquet. may be cheaper than a new racquet as well

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