A racquet (or racket) is a sports implement consisting of a handled frame with an open hoop across which a network of cord is stretched tightly. It is used for striking a ball in such games as squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Collectively, these games are known as racquet sports.
The frame of racquets for all sports was traditionally made of laminated wood and the strings of animal intestine known as gut. The traditional racquet size was limited by the strength and weight of the wooden frame which had to be strong enough to hold the strings and stiff enough to hit the ball or shuttle. Manufacturers started adding non-wood laminates to wood racquets to improve stiffness. Non-wood racquets were made first of steel, then of aluminium, and then carbon fiber composites. Wood is still used for real tennis, racquets, and xare. Most racquets are now made of composite materials including carbon fibre, glassfibre, metals such as titanium alloys or ceramics.
Gut has partially been replaced by synthetic materials including nylon, polyamide, and other polymers. Racquets are restrung when necessary, which may be after every match for a professional or never for a social player.
Badminton racquets are light, with top quality racquets weighing between about 78 and 90 grams (with strings). Modern racquets are composed of carbon fibre composite (graphite reinforced plastic), which may be augmented by a variety of materials. Carbon fibre has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and gives excellent kinetic energy transfer. Before the adoption of carbon fibre composite, racquets were made of wood to their excessive weight and cost. The first badminton racquet was created by Mr Wilson after an attempt at creating a tennis racquet.
There is a wide variety of racquet designs, although the racquet size and shape are limited by the Laws. Different racquets have playing characteristics that appeal to different players. The traditional oval head shape is still available, but an isometric head shape is increasingly common in new racquets.
This predecessor to the modern game of squash, rackets, is played with 30½ inch (775 mm) wooden racquets. While squash equipment has evolved in the intervening century, rackets has changed little.
According to the current USA Racquetball rules there are no limitations on shape or weight of a racquetball racquet.
Racquetball racquets, unlike many other types, generally have little or no neck; the grip connecting directly to the head. They also tend to have head shapes that are notably wider at the tip, some even verging on triangular.
The 27 inch (22354mm) long racquets are made of wood and use very tight strings to cope with the heavy ball of Real Tennis. The racquet head is bent slightly to make it easier to strike balls close to the floor or in corners.
'Standard' squash racquets are governed by the rules of the game. Traditionally they were made of laminated timber (typically Ash), with a small strung area using natural 'gut' strings. After a rule change in the mid-1980s, they are now almost always made of composite materials or metals (graphite, Kevlar, titanium, and/or boron) with synthetic strings. Modern racquets are 70 cm long, with a maximum strung area of 500 square centimetres (approximately 75 square inches) and a weight between 110 and 200 grams (4-7 ounces).
Modern tennis racquets vary in length, weight, and head size. 21" to 26" is normally a junior's length, while 27" or 27.5" are for stronger and taller adult players. Weights of a racquet also vary between 8 ounces unstrung and 12.5 ounces unstrung. Head size also plays a role in a racquet's qualities. A larger head size generally means more power, and a larger "sweet spot" that is more forgiving on off-center hits. A smaller head size offers more precise control. Head sizes of recent racquets vary between 90 sq. inches and 137 sq. inches as the Pro Staff 6.0 (85 sq. inches) went out of production last year.
Throughout most of tennis' history, racquets heads were around 65 square inches and racquets were made of laminated wood. In the late 1960s, Wilson produced the T2000 steel racquet with wire wound around the frame to make string loops. It was popularized by American top player Jimmy Connors. In 1975, aluminum construction allowed for the introduction of the first "oversized" racquet which was manufactured by Weed Prince popularized the oversize racquet, which had a head size of approximately 110 square-inches and opened the door for the introduction of racquets having other non-standard head sizes such as midsize 90 square-inches and mid-plus size 95 square-inches. In the early 1980s, "graphite" (carbon fibre) composites were introduced, and other materials were added to the composite, including ceramics, glassfibre, boron, and titanium. The Dunlop Max200G used by John McEnroe from 1983 was an early graphite racquet, along with the very popular Prince "Original" Graphite. Composite racquets are the contemporary standard.
Longer racquets were introduced by Dunlop in order to give additional reach for shots such as the serve and volley where shorter players may be at a disadvantage. Midsize or mid-plus racquets are the general standard for professional players.
Stringing (material, pattern, tension) is an important factor in the performance of a tennis racquet. A few elite players use natural gut, but the vast majority of strings are a nylon or polyester synthetic. Some (American champion Pete Sampras is a prominent example) consider the natural string to be more responsive, providing a better "feel", but synthetic is favored for its much superior durability, consistency, as well as much lower cost. String pattern (the vertical/horizontal grid) is a function of the racquet head size and design. A tighter pattern is considered to deliver more precise control; a more "open" pattern to offer greater potential for power and spin. Modern racquets are marked with a recommended string tension range. The basic rule is that a lower tension creates more power (from a "trampoline" effect) and a higher string tension creates more control (the ball stays on the strings longer, for more "feel" and shot direction.) Double strung tennis racquets were introduced in 1977 and then banned because they permitted excessive spin . A modern version of a legal double strung racquet has been introduced .
Choosing the right racquet will often boost a player's game. Racquet manufacturers such as Head, Wilson, Prince, Yonex, and Babolat, just to name a few, constantly introduce new lines of racquets each year. Depending on the budget, there are plenty of racquets to choose from; however, choosing the right one for a player's game is the key. There are several guidelines such as grip size, head size, length, flex, string patterns, weight, and balance to take into considerations before making the investment. The best thing to do is to demo different type of racquets to feel the difference before deciding on which one to buy. Most tennis equipment shops provides a demo program for their customers.
Open string patterns are popularly thought to allow for more spin potential, as the ball can embed itself into the strings more, due to their wider spacing. However, recent scientific studies have found that stringbed properties do not directly affect spin potential of a racquet. A more open string pattern does make for higher deflection angles, which results in higher arch in ball's trajectory - this difference in deflection angle may give an impression of more spin.
One drawback of open string pattern is it reduces the string’s durability. Open string patterns place more impact stress on individual strings and also allow the strings to move more freely, increasing abrasion which causes string breakage.
In the form of Basque Pelota known as xare, the racquet (called an Argentine racquet) is constructed out of a curved wicker or wooden ring (hazel or chestnut), which holds a leather net attached around the inside that is Interlinked and somewhat loosely strung. The ball is not exactly struck, nor is it quite caught—the effect is somewhere in between : you have to catch the ball in the net then you send it back with a quick wrist stroke. This speciality of Basque Pelota was practised initially by the Basque clergy, who exported it to Argentina.