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Abstract

Wooden racket paddles were modified with rubber and carbon fibre laminates and their differences tested in terms of flexural, damping, and coefficient of restitution properties. Four rackets types were designed: a wood reference, wood with rubber, carbon fibre 0°, and carbon fibre 90°. Seven expert and eight intermediate tennis players tested the rackets. To determine which of the four rackets suited the players best, we asked the players to compare the rackets two by two. After each pair tested, participants had to fill out a 4-item questionnaire in which different aspects of the rackets' performance were judged. The most preferred racket was the 0° carbon fibre racket, followed by the 90° carbon fibre racket, the wood racket and, finally, the 1-mm rubber racket. Thus, rackets with the highest stiffness, least damping, and highest coefficient of restitution were the most preferred. Interestingly, although experts and intermediate players overall judged the rackets in very similar ways according to force, vibration, and control, they were sensitive to quite different physical characteristics of the rackets.

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