The Three “Sweet Spots”
Quite often, we hear that the best place to hit the ball is on the “sweet spot” or as close to the center of the racquet string bed as possible.
There are actually three, different areas on the racquet face which provide three different results, and knowing them will help you become a better coach.
Node of the First Harmonic
Toward the tip of the racquet is the node of first harmonics. Hitting the ball here on groundstrokes results in less vibration , but less power and gives a “dead” feeling.
During the 1980s, German researchers examined the serves of the top players in the game using high-speed photography they could then slow down and watch. They noted that most of the top 100 players had the same basic service motions, but the players with the fastest serve all had the same thing in common — they hit ball in the node, not the center of the strings.
Because the tip of the racquet is moving faster than the rest of the frame, hitting the ball in the node will result in more pace on serves, and the big servers make contact near the tip of the racquet.
Because the forehand has evolved into a “sidearm serve,” with the wrist now snapping into the stroke, hitting groundstrokes slightly above the center of the frame is not completely incorrect.
Center of Percussion
Known as the “sweet” spot, the center of percussion (or center of the racquet face) provides the best “feel” on groundstrokes, and provides the most stability.
Just below the center of percussion is the area that provides the most power on groundstrokes. Hitting the ball in this area results in more vibration and gives less control; however big groundstroke hitters with control of their strokes hit the ball slightly below center.
Let your players know about these three areas on the racquet face and have them experiment during groundstrokes and the serve.
Many players will be surprised to find that the “sweet spot” isn’t that sweet on all shots, after all!