Laboratory test
Sensors measure the force generated by the pendulum motion. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

The following eight rackets were tested:

1.    Adidas Greenpadel
2.    NOX equation WPT
3.    Dunlop Aero Star
4.    Wilson Pro Staff Elite
5.    HEAD Alpha Motion
6.    Bullpadel K3 Avant 21
7.    Kuikma Hybrid 990 Soft
8.    Babolat Counter Veron

The selection criteria were round or drop-shaped rackets for intermediate players from the major brands in the Nordic market. The various test rackets were procured during the month of December 2021.

The laboratory test includes the following components:

A.    Handling
B.    Touch
C.   Vibration
D.   Sweet spot
E.    Ball rebound
F.    Power
G.   Durability
H.   Frame breakage
I.     Face breakage

A.    Handling
The racket’s ability to be moved with more or less difficulty (the feeling of heaviness or lightness of a racket moving). Manageability is one of the most important aspects for a beginner or intermediate player and in general for players with limited muscle strength. The racket is mounted on a mechanical arm and can swing freely like a pendulum. A sensor measures the force that the racket’s pendulum motion generates in different directions. The higher the force, the more difficult it is to maneuver the racket.

The rackets swing freely in the testing rig to determine the handling characteristics. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

B.    Touch
The response (feeling) that the racket conveys to the player’s hand when the ball hits the sweet spot. The higher the touch, the harder the racket. For beginners, a soft touch is better, while intermediate players have different preferences. The racket is mounted on a test rig with sensors on the grip that measure the vibrations generated when the ball hits the sweet spot.

The testleader prepares the racket for a soft hit. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

C.   Vibration
The vibrations that the racket generates when the ball hits different points on the striking surface along the main axis of the racket (inside and outside the sweet spot). The more vibrations, the more strain on the player’s elbow. The racket is mounted on a test rig with sensors on the grip that measure the vibrations generated when the robot hits 90 different places on the surface, both inside and outside the sweet spot.

The racket is mounted on a rig to determine the characteristics with the help of a robot and various sensors. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

Sensors in the grip measure the vibrations. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

D.   Sweet Spot
Sweet spot is the area on the face of the racket that gives the least vibration and optimal results when hitting the ball there. The laboratory measures the homogeneity, location and size of the sweet spot. A larger sweet spot is more forgiving for players who do not always hit the ball optimally. For more advanced players, the size of the sweet spot is less important.

Measurement of multiple impact points determine the size of the sweetspot. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

E.    Ball rebound
The speed at which the ball comes out after a soft hit against the racket’s sweet spot. A bouncier racket makes it harder to control the ball, especially for less advanced players. To test this, the racket and the ball are mounted on tiltable rigs. The racket’s sweet spot meets the ball at a given speed. The angle of the bouncing ball (ball rig) is measured. The higher the angle, the more bouncy the racket.

The test simulates the ball rebound after a soft hit against the sweetspot. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

F.    Power
The ball speed that the racket generates during a harder strike in downward trajectory. Power is a combination of the hardness of the racket and the location and properties of the sweet spot. A higher power value helps more advanced players to get better power in aggressive strokes (smash, layup…) but also helps less advanced or weaker players to gain more power in the basic strokes. To test this, the racket and the ball are mounted on tiltable rigs. The racket hits the ball at a higher speed. The angle of the bouncing ball (ball rig) is measured. The higher the angle, the more power.

Test rig for the measurement of the striking force. Photo: Testea

The racket is about to hit the ball from a downward trajectory to measure the power. Photo: Testea

G.   Durability
The laboratory exposes the face to 500 pressure-impacts and measures the differences in the properties of the racket before and after fatigue. The properties of the racket are registered in the form of vibrations at different points of impact. Some rackets become harder and others softer after the fatigue test. Optimal is that the racket retains its original properties. The limit for passing is at 20 percent absolute change.

For the fatigue test, the face must endure 500 heavy impacts. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

H.   Frame breakage
The frame of a padel racket should be durable and able to withstand hits in the glass wall or fence. The laboratory exposes the frame to the force of a rounded steel body of 2.4 kg which is released from a height of 60 to 110 cm.

The frame gets exposed to the force of a 2.4 kg weight released from a height of max. 110cm. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

The steel weight hits the frame. Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

I.    Face breakage
The striking surface/face of a padel racket should be durable and able to withstand hard hits. The laboratory exposes the surface to the force of a rounded steel body of 2.4 kg which is released from a height of 60 to 110 cm.

The striking surface is exposed to accelerated hits with the steel weight. Photo: Testea

Damages on the face after impact. Photo: Testea

Summary of test results
The results from the various sub-parts have been graded and weighted together to a total grade in consultation with the laboratory.

·       Control (A, D and E) 20%
How easy the racket is to manage, the size of the sweet spot and what control it gives on the strike.

·       Comfort (A and C) 20%
What strain the racket puts on the wrist and elbow through vibration and weight.

·       Power (F) 20%
The ball speed generated by the racket.

·       Quality and endurance (G, H and I) 40%
The durability of frame and face and the resistance to fatigue.

Touch (B) has not been included in the overall rating as this is more a descriptive parameter of the hardness or softness of the racket.

The score gives equal weight to control, comfort and power, which suits a versatile player. There are of course different player types and requests for the properties of the racket.

 

 

 

 

Fun fact

How many holes must a paddle racket have?

All rackets in the test are perforated by holes over the impact surface. Many people believe that these are needed to reduce air resistance. The main reason, however, is to reduce the weight of the racket. Professional players who prefer heavier rackets for more smashing power often have significantly fewer holes in their rackets than our test objects. The rules of the International Padel Federation state that a racket must have at least one hole.

Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud

Fun fact

How many holes must a paddle racket have?

All rackets in the test are perforated by holes over the impact surface. Many people believe that these are needed to reduce air resistance. The main reason, however, is to reduce the weight of the racket. Professional players who prefer heavier rackets for more smashing power often have significantly fewer holes in their rackets than our test objects. The rules of the International Padel Federation state that a racket must have at least one hole.

Photo: Microfilm / Antonio H. Calatayud