Do pro tennis players use dampeners? This is an epic debate and an age-old question. Most people also want to know if vibration dampeners work or they are merely decorative pieces.
It may interest you to know that most pro tennis players use vibration dampeners to absorb shock and possibly improve their game.
According to New York Times, more than 50% of the pro tennis players (male and female) use dampeners regularly during their tour-level competitions.
According to the result, about 58 percent of the top 100 pro tennis players used dampeners on the men’s ATP Tour, only 42 percent did not use a dampener.
On the women’s WTA Tour, about 76 percent of the top 100 pro tennis players used dampeners, only 24 percent did not.
One major thing that we can learn from the statistics is that a majority of the top pro tennis players in the world use dampeners. Most of these pro players derive some benefits from using dampeners on their strings.
Even though most pro tennis players in the world are using vibration dampeners, it’s surprising that the most successful of them aren’t using vibration dampeners in their tennis racquets. For instance, neither Roger Federer nor Serena Williams is currently using dampeners on their strings.
This can make one conclude that dampeners do not actually improve strokes or help tennis games. To shed more light on this, let’s review what a vibration dampener really is.
Are Vibration Dampeners Worth It?
Vibration dampeners are also known as shock absorbers, absorbers, dampeners, dampers, donuts, damps, worms, etc. All of them essentially mean the same thing.
A vibration dampener is a small piece of rubber that is attached to the strings of a tennis racquet to reduce the amount of vibration generated in the tennis racquet after contact with the tennis ball occurs.
Dampeners are the most prevalent tennis accessories. However, from repeated use and observation, it has been found that the vibration dampeners only reduce the amount of vibration on the string but do not reduce the amount of vibration on the frame.
A very good point to buttress this fact is the sound difference that is noticed when a tennis ball is struck with a string-bed with and without a vibration dampener.
The sound from a string-bed with a vibration dampener is a little more muffled while the sound from a string-bed without a vibration dampener is more like a “ping.”
That said, whether you’re a veteran tennis player or you’re just a beginner in the tennis game, using a vibration dampener is not a must and doesn’t add a significant improvement to a game but is a matter of personal preferences.
Although the main reason for attaching a vibration dampener to the string bed is to reduce vibrations, most pro tennis players that added vibration dampeners to their rackets used it because it decreases the “ping” sound the tennis ball makes at impact. This is more of a mental purpose for most players than a physical purpose.
People usually have two common misconceptions with vibration dampeners, which are:
- Vibration dampeners help to prevent tennis elbow problems.
- Vibration dampeners help to reduce a racquet’s power level and improve strokes.
These are mere marketing ploys devised by most manufacturers as there is little or no evidence at all to support any of these misconceptions.
Most times, racket manufacturers build in dampening properties to the racket frames that dampen shocks better than what a vibration dampener does. Also, some vibration dampeners are so small that they hardly make any significant changes in the way a racquet can play.
Todd Snyder, a tennis teaching professional in Brooklyn, stated that though many top tennis players believe that vibration dampeners protect their arms, it’s nothing but wishful thinking.
As said above, pro tennis players use vibration dampeners based on their personal preferences. The decision to use a vibration dampener or not is subjective.
If a pro tennis player feels he/she performs better with a vibration dampener, then he/she should use one.
Where Do You Add a Vibration Dampener on The Racket?
According to laid down rules from the International Tennis Federation (ITF), tennis players can put a dampener anywhere outside the pattern of the cross strings. Hence, a player should place the dampener anywhere on the outer edges of the string bed – either to the right, left, top, or bottom.
Most times, players place the dampener towards the bottom of the racquet, where the first cross string and center main string meet. More so, there is no strict rule or restriction on the number of vibration dampeners a player can add to a racket.
While most players will use just one dampener because it has little or no significant impact on improving racquet play, others prefer to add two or more dampeners.
Types of Vibration Dampeners
There are two major types of vibration dampeners available on the market – the Button dampeners and the Worm (Snake) dampeners.
The Button dampeners are very similar in shape and size to the button found on clothing except that they are completely made of rubber. Button dampeners are the easier to install types and are used more frequently on the pro tour.
The Worm (Snake) dampeners, on the other hand, are worm-shaped and usually come in longer sizes. They are usually woven in between the most commonly used main strings – they weave in and out of the strings. Worm dampeners are a bit more difficult to install.
Vibration Dampener or Rubber Band?
Vibration dampeners are slightly different from rubber bands. Vibration dampeners are made of rubber. This makes them be very flexible. They absorb shock in a similar way as the tires on a car.
Rubber bands can also absorb vibrations in your racquet. They are more elastic and come in various sizes, which makes it possible for users to shape them the way they like.
There is really no significant difference in performance between a vibration dampener and rubber band other than just the look. Both vibration dampeners and rubber bands serve one primary purpose – to dampen vibrations in string-bed. However, rubber bands will become too stretched over time and may fall off the string.
Pro tennis players usually use the smaller size vibration dampeners that cover two mains and the bottom cross or a rubber band. Some of the best vibration dampeners out there include ADV Tennis, Tourna Sampras, 21k Sports, Wilson Pro Feel, Head Djokovic, etc.
Conclusively, the only known and proven benefit of a vibration dampener are that they dampen the vibrations of the string-bed and not the frame vibrations. It changes the way your racket feels when the string-bed hits the tennis ball.
While dampening the vibrations of the string-bed, they change the sound of the impact from a “ping” to a muffled sound. This is possibly the most reason why pro tennis players use dampeners – to muffle the sound from the racket on impact with a tennis ball.
To date, there is no concrete evidence that a dampener can improve your game, help your strokes, prevent tennis elbow, or reduce the effects of tennis elbow.
Therefore, vibration dampeners are, to a certain extent, a misnomer and do not prevent injury. If you prefer to hear a lower-pitched sound from your racket on impact, then add a vibration dampener to your racket’s string-bed like Novak Djokovic and Pete Sampras. Otherwise, you’re good to go like Roger Federer and Serena Williams.
More so, if you feel more comfortable using a vibration dampener, or you enjoy the beauty it adds to your racquet, go on with using a damper. You would find vibration dampeners in various colors, designs, themes, styles, and fun.
Whichever vibration dampener you choose, always remember that a vibration dampener doesn’t eliminate shock, which is the main cause of arm injury.
More so, a vibration dampener does not add spin, increase string durability, change tension, or eliminate or cure tennis elbow.