Using lead tape is a simple way of adding small increments of weight to a racquet. Depending on where on the frame the tape is applied – a clock face is the most used analogy – it can have a differing impact on the racquet’s performance.
The tape is usually either ½ or ¼ inch wide. A four-inch strip of the ¼ inch tape weighs one gram. There’s no rule against using longer strips, but it’s easier to work with whole numbers. If more weight is desired, it’s generally done by adding another strip right on top of an existing one.
The most common areas of a racquet face where players apply lead tape are:
3 and 9 o’clock
When players first experiment with lead tape, this is typically the location they start. The perks are more stability on off-center hits and extra pop. ADVERTISEMENT Putting tape here can affect swing weight and tip the balance more toward the head.
2 and 10 o’clock
The farther you move up the clock face, the more power you add. Putting the tape at these positions can raise the sweet spot, which is helpful for players who tend to make contact toward the upper part of the frame. Adding weight here will make the frame more head heavy.
The very top of the frame is where you’d put the tape if you’re looking for power and a more head-heavy balance. If you find that your racquet feels nice but is too whippy, putting tape here is a good option.
It’s not common to see tape at this position, but it’s a way to add to the overall mass of the frame without messing much with the balance or swing weight.
If you add tape to the head of the frame and want to maintain the same balance, the same amount of tape needs to put under the grip. Also, if a player simply wants a more head-light balance, along with added mass for better stability and shock absorption, then putting weight solely under the grip is the way to go.
Is your racquet unstable? Do you like to change the weight or balance? You don’t need to buy a new one. Just try adding lead tape and you’ll racquet will play differently.
I found this article on tennis warehouse which is quite good: Customizing Racquet Weight and Balance
Then I looked around some more and stumbled upon this text from a guy who calls himself “underdawg” which I think explains it all quite simply.
“Imagine you just bought a new racquet but now you decide that it would be perfect if you could just tweak one thing about it. Let’s say you want it to be a little more stable so your stick won’t twist when you’re playing big hitters. What do you do?
If you answered, “Get a new racquet!”, think again. Many problems (too much power, too little control, not enough spin, etc.) can be fixed by tinkering with different strings strung at different tensions. If your racquet isn’t stable enough or isn’t heavy enough for you, or if the sweetspot is lower or higher than you would like, or you’d like to get some more power, you can save yourself a lot of cash by experimenting with lead tape first.
Lead tape is just that…lead with an adhesive backing so you can stick in onto your racquet. Usually people put lead on the inside hoop of the stick, on both sides of the grommets. To do this, you usually have to cut the lead tape into 1/4 inch wide strips, so I recommend getting 1/4 inch wide lead tape so you don’t have to go through the hassle of cutting 1/2 inch lead tape in half. Of course, putting lead just on the head of your racquet can alter its balance, so you probably want to put some lead on your handle (under the grip) or inside your handle. Most sticks’ butt caps pop out with a screwdriver and you can put some lead tape in there. Heck, put it right on the butt cap! Once you decide on a set-up that’s right for you, you can put fishing weights in the cap and surround it with cotton so it doesn’t come out as a lot of people do. I just leave it under the grip.
One important thing to keep in mind is one should add lead in small amounts, play with the racquet, and then add more weight if necessary. Another is to have a goal in mind. If you think of the racquet face as a clock…
Add lead to the 12 o’ clock position for more power. Because torque = mass x distance (or something), even a small amount of lead here can make your racquet swing a LOT heavier. The good news is that this setup will give you some extra juice on your shots…if you can handle the weight. It will also move the sweet spot of your racquet up. The problem is that not many people can handle much weight at 12. I tried it on my old Pro Staff and it felt much too sluggish for my liking. Rafael Nadal adds lead here.
Or add lead to the 10+2 positions for more power without as drastic of an increase to heft. Weight there will also move the sweet spot of your racquet up a bit…this is a staple of Prince’s “Triple Threat” technology. So next time you mis-hit a ball, notice where you’re mis-hitting it. If you’re hitting a lot of balls near the top of your frame, some lead at 10+2 can move that sweet spot on up for you. A lot of modern racquets have sweet spots in the upper portion of the racquet face anyhow though. Pro Staff racquets have sweet spots that are slightly below center…
Or add lead to 3+9, like I usually do. This keeps the sweet spot in the middle and doesn’t add too much heft. But you do get some more power and the racquet becomes much more stable. This is the most common place to put lead. Pete Sampras used an incredible amount of lead here.
5+7 will move the sweet spot down and give you some extra heft/power, but not as drastically as the other options.
Lead at 6 will increase the weight of your racquet with minimal difference to the swingweight.
And adding lead at the handle can make your racquet more head-light (just as adding lead anywhere on the head makes it more head-heavy) without adding much heft at all.
The thing to keep in mind with lead is to experiment with small amounts and first and try different things until you find something that works for you. This can be an endless process unless you have a clear goal in mind. For example, I wanted my Head Flexpoint Radical Tour to be more stable, feel heavier, and add some juice to my shots. A few strips at 3+9+handle did the job nicely.
However, lead has its limitations. First of all, some sticks just don’t seem to take to lead as well as some other ones do. Second, you can’t completely change a racquet into something it’s not. For example, you’re not going to want to turn a 9 ounce racquet into a 12 ouncer…all that lead is just going to make your racquet feel dead.
So yeah, sometimes you need a new racquet. BUT if your racquet is pretty good and would be great if you could change one thing about it…try some lead tape.
All lead tapes are the same thing except Babolat which has Babolat written all over it. The Unique and the Gamma ones seem to smudge a bit so make sure you wash your hands when you’re done putting this on your racquet. You don’t want to eat lead.
In conclusion, lead tape can do a lot of things and is worth $3 or so to experiment BUT it’s not a miracle worker. Also if you want to make your racquet LIGHTER then lead isn’t really going to help you.”
By strategically adding weighted lead tape to a tennis racket, players can customize their racket to improve its performance and complement their style of play. Lead tape can alter four properties of a tennis racket: overall weight, weight distribution, frame twisting or torque and swingweight. Swingweight refers to how the racket feels when it is in motion. Customizing your racket with lead tape is a process; several applications and on-court play testing sessions may be necessary.
Cut strips of lead tape, peel off the backing and adhere the tape to the inside of the racket’s frame at the tip, or the 12 o’clock position, to make the racket more head heavy. If your racket is head-light and you are finding it hard to hit the ball deep in the court, tape in this position makes your racket swing heavier, you will have an increase in power and find it easier to hit with depth. One negative aspect to adding weight to the tip is that there is a significant loss in maneuverability.
Place strips of lead tape at the shoulders of the frame, or the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions, if you tend to hit the ball high on the strings, toward the tip of the racket. Lead tape in these positions makes the racket more head-heavy, but also raises the racket’s "sweetspot." This is the place on the stringbed where there is minimal frame vibration when the ball contacts the strings; the shot feels solid. Adding tape at the shoulders also helps reduce any twisting of the frame; torsional stability is increased. There is also a slight loss in maneuverability.
Add tape to the inside of the racket’s frame at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions if you tend to hit the ball off-center. In addition to making the racket swing heavier with a little more power, tape in these positions helps to keep the racket more stable. The "sweetspot" also becomes wider, which allows you to have more success when hitting off-center shots.
Place strips of lead tape at the throat area of the racket, or the 6 o’clock position, if you want to increase the overall weight of the racket without changing its balance. With tape in this position, the "sweetspot" will be drawn toward the throat of the racket. If you tend to hit the ball low on the strings, placing tape at the throat will help you hit more solid shots. Although not as noticeable, this also makes the racket swing heavier with some loss of maneuverability.
Add lead tape to the handle of the racket to counter weight a lightweight, head-heavy racket. Some rackets weigh less than 10 ounces and more of the weight is distributed toward the head. Additional weight at the handle end makes the racket heavier overall and has little effect on its maneuverability. This requires removing the grip, applying lead tape to the handle and then reattaching the grip.
In order to give their racquet the ideal feel, many tennis players today will use lead tape for tennis racquets. Tennis is the best game in the world because it teaches you discipline, endurance, and strategic thinking. For example, you have to hold your racquet in a particular way for a proper thrust. You cannot win the game if you do not exercise control over your racquet. Having a powerful swing is also important when it comes to playing tennis. Sometimes, the problem could be the racquet and not you. A good example is a racquet whose weight is insufficient or not consistent when having the same racquet in your bag. You can do something about such racquets e.g. adding lead tape to enhance their performance. Doing so comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. Here is some information on lead tape for tennis racquets.
Critical Information on Lead Tape for Tennis Racquets
Lead is soft and malleable. In fact, producers of this tape mold it into strips so that you can use them without much trouble. You can even cut them into small pieces with a scissor. It is important to note that you can use these cuttings to adjust the weight of the racquet to your preferred standard. In its pure form, lead is light blue in color, but it turns gray when exposed to air. That is why the color of the tape you use is gray. Buying lead strips should not be a problem for many because of their inexpensiveness ($10-$20). However, finding these tapes is another matter. You would have to look for them in tennis specialty stores, as ordinary sports shops do not stock them.
Benefits of Using Lead Tape to Add Weight to the Racquet
As mentioned earlier, this product has its advantages. For example, it adds power to a player’s swing. Remember, the force of a moving object increases in proportion to its mass. That is Newton’s second law of motion. Additionally, lead strips enhance the stability of your racquet as you use it. The added weight means that the racquet cannot swing off its chosen path. In other words, the wind or an improper thrust cannot affect it as much as it would have if it did not have the lead tapes.
Disadvantages of Using Lead Tape
Increased power to a tennis racquet is not always a good thing. Remember, a racquet is a tool in your hands. It will affect your arm as much as you affect it. To put it differently, adding weight to it harms your arm. Excessive weight might cause injury. More specifically, it may strain your wrist. Moreover, using lead tape may throw you off your game if the added weight is not symmetrical. If it is asymmetrical, then the racquet will lean on one side as you thrust it forward when it should not do so. Not only is the preciseness a disadvantage but to even attempt is also. The amount of tools you need to do this correctly include, scissors, scale, pen, ruler, lead tape, and regular marking tape just to name a few. Here is a complete set of what you need to add lead tape to a tennis racquet. Instead, however you could try out the best tennis vibration dampener available today, the one that allows you to accurately and instantly change the weight of your racquet without the lead tape mess.
It is clear that adding lead tape to your racquet has its set of advantages and disadvantages. Think about the merits and demerits of doing such a thing before you do it. If you can play tennis well without lead tape, then do not add one to your racquet. If you choose to put it on your racquet, then do so carefully.
POWERSORB tennis shock absorbers are simply a better way to control the weight and feel of your swing.
It is always difficult to find a tennis racket which feels exactly the way you want it to. Your chosen racket might be a little lighter in the head than you would ideally like, or it may simply not feel as solid and stable as you would wish. Fortunately, there is a simple method of adjusting the weight and balance of your racket, which basically entails sticking heavy tape around the frame.
Lead tape is most commonly used to adjust the weight and balance of tennis rackets, and it is normally stuck on various parts of the racket head, depending upon the desired effect. Lead is poisonous to humans and Tungsten tape is a less toxic alternative, but big brands like Babolat still make excellent lead tapes.
Why Tennis Players Use Lead Tape
There are several reasons why a player might wish to apply lead tape to their racket. Firstly, they might not like the balance. If a racket feels too light in the head, applying lead tape will make the head heavier, which can produce more power.
It can be beneficial to make the racket heavier in the head whilst only moderately altering the balance, as this can give a more solid feel and move the sweet-spot slightly.
This requires lead tape to be added to other parts of the racket to counterbalance that which has been added to the head. It is also possible to add lead tape in such a way as to purely increase the weight of the racket without changing the balance in any way, although this obviously requires care.
Interestingly, not all rackets of the same model are precisely identical, and different batches can have different playing characteristics. It may sometimes be helpful to measure the balance of each of your rackets and apply a small amount of lead tape where necessary to ensure that they all feel like the one you prefer.
Where To Put Lead Tape On A Racket
If you want to achieve a specific effect through the application of lead tape, you must apply it with precision. The following suggestions are just guidelines, described using a simple clock-face analogy where appropriate. The tape is normally stuck to the inside of the frame in the positions described.
Twelve O’Clock: putting tape here will unequivocally make your racket more head-heavy. It is possible to significantly change the balance in such a way as to produce more power by doing this.
Three O’Clock and Nine O’Clock: applying tape to either side of the racket head will still make it more head-heavy, but less dramatically so than putting it at the top. This should also make the racket head more stable if the ball is struck off-centre, and will offer some additional power.
Two O’Clock and Ten O’Clock: this intermediate position will make the racket more head-heavy, but not as much as putting the tape at the top. It will tend to move the sweet-spot towards the top of the racket slightly.
Throat: putting tape here will increase the weight of the racket without significantly changing the balance.
Grip: tape can be placed under the grip to make a racket feel less head-heavy, or simply to counterbalance tape placed on the head if the objective is an increase in weight rather than a change in balance.
Are Lead Tapes Dangerous?
Lead is poisonous if ingested, so it is sensible to wear gloves whilst applying the tape. However, unless you are going to swallow it or absorb it through your skin, it should pose no risk.
Tennis Lead Tape Alternative: Tungsten Tape
If you have concerns about using lead tape, you may prefer to use a tungsten version. Tungsten has the advantage of being even more dense than lead, so smaller quantities are needed to produce the desired effect.
Unfortunately, Tungsten tape is also a little less soft than lead, which makes it less user-friendly, and it can be more difficult to securely stick to the racket frame. Nonetheless, some players will prefer to avoid lead tape, and will therefore use tungsten.
If the tungsten tape is secured using head tape this can render any problems with adhesion less problematic.
The Best Lead Tapes For Tennis
Babolat and Gamma both make popular tapes. Many prefer Babolat because it is thicker, meaning less tape is required, but conversely Gamma can be easier to work with.
A brief glance at Amazon will show you that there are many other brands available, most of which are reasonably well-reviewed by customers. As long as a tape has good adhesive properties it is difficult to go too far wrong.
Lead tape is extremely useful for making subtle changes to the playing characteristics of your rackets. It can easily be applied and removed to allow you to experiment with different weight and balance changes. Keep in mind, however, that if you feel dramatic alterations are required it may be simpler to purchase a new racket!
I got a chance to play junior and professional tournaments across the world, and in 2015 I began playing as the #1 player for Pepperdine University, a great division 1 school. I’ve had the chance to play against great names of the new generation, like Christian Garin, Cameron Norrie, and Kyle Edmund. I’m extremely passionate about the mental and technical part of the game. Oh, and I had lunch with Brad Gilbert once.
When choosing a racket, it is important to understand the specs that are associated with it. This will give you a better idea of how the racket will feel before you even play with it. One of these.
Disclaimer: this article was written by one of our tennis friends, Mousheg Hovhannisyan. He has an extensive knowledge in this subject and we want to bring the best possible information for you. You.
Hi there! We’re Gui and Karue. At MyTennisHQ, we have all played junior, college, and professional tennis. We both feel like tennis has given us opportunities that we would have never had otherwise, so we started myTennisHQ with the intent of helping more and more people become familiar with the sport. Here, we’ll share as much knowledge and experience as we can, so we hope you enjoy it!
Tuning your own racket has become increasingly popular among tennis players. There is practically no professional today who doesn’t customize his racket. Sometimes a great technical effort is put into getting the maximum out of the racket.
Recreational players are also becoming increasingly interested in customizing their own racket . Maybe you know the feeling when you have already found the perfect tennis racket, but the final touch is still missing. With these tips & tricks you can personalize your racket like a pro.
Racket Customization with Lead Tape
Basically we work with additional lead weights to change the weight distribution of the racket. For this purpose we use lead tape with an adhesive backing. They are both easy to apply and easy to remove.
Racket customization is mainly used to adjust the playing characteristics of the respective model. First and foremost, you should ask yourself if you are satisfied with the performance of your racquet.
Racket customization is also helpful if you have several rackets of the same model and want to match them. In general, manufacturers are not able to produce all rackets to the exact gram.
You will always notice small deviations, but these can have a noticeable effect on your game. Especially if you Change your racket during a match.
In total there are four basic places where you can fix the lead tape. Each position of the weights changes the feeling of the racket in a different way.
For a better understanding, we imagine the racket head as a watch, where the area around the throat means 6 o’clock. To increase the swing weight, you now place the lead tape at 12 o’clock, which means at the top of the racket head. You have the option of placing the tape under the bumper guard or on the inside of the frame.
The first option is much more complicated because you first have to remove the strings to pull the grommets out of the frame. On the other hand, if you attach the lead tape to the inside of the frame, you will be done in less than a minute.
In general, we advise you to take two strips at a time and glue them to both parts of the frame, one above the grommets and one below. You can cut the lead tape to the desired length with scissors.
In general, the swing weight indicates how heavy the racket feels during the backswing. By adding lead tape to the tip of the racquet, the swing weight is now much higher. In this state, the racquet offers you more power and therefore more acceleration of the ball. However, you have to sacrifice maneuverability and control.
If you notice that your racket wobbles too much on contact with the ball, this option is interesting for you. With lead tape at 3 and 9 o’clock, you can significantly increase the stability of the racquet. More precisely, it is the torsional stability that reduces the lateral twisting of the racquet. In this case your racquet will only be a little bit more head heavy.
Move Sweet Spot
This is a combination of the two previous positions. In this case you fix the lead tape at 2 and 10 o’clock. The weights will now ensure that your racket offers you both a little more stability and slightly increased power.
In addition, the sweetspot moves further up to the tip of the racket. If you usually hit the ball outside the sweet spot, this adjustment may be a good solution for you.
With the following method you increase the weight of your racket without changing the balance point. Here you position the lead tape at 6 o’clock, i.e. in the throat of the racket. Although you increase the swing weight with the lead tape, the difference is quite small.
After looking at the four positions on the racket head, we are now looking at the the grip. In order to increase the maneuverability of the racket, place some extra weight in this area.
Basically there are two ways to make the racket more head light. Firstly, you can attach some lead tape directly to the grip pallet. To do this, you have to remove the replacement grip once and then rewind it around the pallet.
With the other option you put the weight directly into the inside of the handle. Small pieces of lead are best suited for this. The first step is to remove the butt cap, e.g. with a small screwdriver.
Then take the weights and wrap them in some cotton wool or a small cloth. In this way you prevent the lead pieces from making noise when you swing them later.
After you have placed the weights in the handle, fix them with glue or silicone. Finally, you put the grip cap back on. The racket is now ready to play.
A pro-stock frame is a frame made specifically for a pro-player, in most cases customized to the exact specs of the unique player it´s intended for. Every player is unique, and everyone has their own required specs that they want to use in their frames. Some players want a very soft frame, some like it stiff (in the flex..), some low overall weight but heavy swing weight and so on.
Do the companies then make frames with all those different specs? NO, they don’t! What they do is to make a so-called hairpin in a very light weight. If you would just add a pallet or mold the handle around the hairpin and install the grommets and a base-grip, the weight would be between 250-270 grams unstrung. Way to light for most players around the world on all levels of play. The hairpin is made in a special mold, that might look very much like the retail version. In some cases it´s actually the very same mold like the retail version of the frame it´s intended to look like, but in a much lighter package and in most cases with a lower stiffness rating in the flex. A stiff frame generates more power and a softer frame more control and feel. Most pros prefer the softer flex.
How to customize a tennis racket – baking the hairpin
When the hairpin is baked in the oven (yes, it´s just like baking a pizza 10-15 minutes in 300 degrees Celsius) and painted in the seasonal paint job, it´s either sent to a pro shop like RPNY, P1, Ring&roll etc for customization, or it´s customized in the so-called ”pro-room” in the brands HQ. Most brands have this pro-room. What they do there is to add lead at various locations, inject silicone into the handle and add a leather grip (in most cases). With these methods, they customize the weight, balance and swing weight (how heavy the frame feels to swing) and this totally changes the feel of the frame.
Good thing though is that it´s pretty easy to do this yourself! Swingweight is a bit tricky so we skip this (important) step but it requires a very expensive so-called RDC (racquet diagnostic center) machine and since I don’t have one I don’t care about it. [You can also use the manual method as suggested by Tennis Warehouse. Swing weight is key if you want to match your racquets (unless they already come matched in SW) so worth investing the time or getting a machine. – Jonas]
When customizing a frame, it´s important not to have a too heavy frame to start with. For example, if you have an old head Youtek Speed Pro with 335 gram unstrung weight, it´s already on the heavy side. If you customize it could be well over 360 grams and it´s only Del Potro that could swing it! Best is to find a so-called ”lite” frame that´s in the 270-290 grams unstrung range. Then you can do the full package with lead, silicone, and leather.
How to customize a tennis racket – Silicone in the handle
The first step for you is to know what weight and balance you want to have when the frame is ready-customized. Always when customizing calculate with unstrung weight and balance.
What you do first is to install the leather grip (yes, it´s mandatory to use a leather grip as base grip, no questions asked!). When it´s installed, you weight and see the balance. Use a digital scale to see the start weight of the frame with the base grip on. Then use a balance board to see the balance. When you have all the specs, you can use this page to see where to place the weights: http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/customization.php
For example, it can advise you to add 10 grams of lead in the top and 15 grams into the handle. When it comes to the handle it´s easiest to inject silicone with a silicone gun like in the picture. Most butt-caps have a trap-door that you open up and inject the weight you want to add. It will take some trial and error before you get it right, but install small amounts each time and weight it between. Don’t forget to place the trap-door on the scale as it´s about 3 grams.
How to customize a tennis racket – Lead in the head
When silicone is ready, it´s time for the lead. I see some talk about tungsten tape these days, but lead is easier to work with and tungsten also translates to ”heavy rock” on Swedish and it´s not cool on a tennis frame. Lead-tape it is and best is to buy a big roll of lead as it´s really fun to customize frames. Cut the lead tape to right weight and then fold it a couple of times. I often place lead from 10 to 2 on the frames as I like polarized (the weight of the frame polarized to the top and bottom) but you can pretty much place the lead wherever you want on the frame. I always remove the grommets in the top and place the lead-tape, the install the grommets again. There are millions of instructions on YouTube how to remove and install grommets so it´s not exactly rocket science, apart from Babolat grommets. They are a pain in the ass to install! Don’t know why!?
When everything is installed, it´s time to check weight and balance again and don’t forget to take note of the final specs in case you want to duplicate it on a 2nd or 3rd frame. I personally have fallen totally for the retail version of Babolat Pure Strike VS with some magic touch added. I add lead, leather and a small bit of silicone. I also use two overgrips (Wilson pro grip). First layer without overwrap and second layer normal wrapping. Strung at 48 lbs with Babolat RPM Blast 1.25 mm it´s an amazing combination of power, spin and control. Like a Babolat Pure Drive with the feel and control of a legendary Head Pro Tour 630 (well, almost..)
For this article, we used the new Head Graphene 360 Instinct MP. Starting weight was 298 grams with a 32 cm balance. When ready from the customizing it weights around 315 grams and a 31.5 cm balance. This frame is new and un-used and now for sale for 120 euros. I also have one more Graphene 360 instinct MP frame, new and unused. Not customized. Same price, 120 euros. Contact the Tennisnerd for more information.
Thanks, Henrik for the guest post! Do you ever customize your own racquets in this way? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Let me know in the comments below.
After my years of fiddling with lead tape, I would like to share what I know on tuning a racquet by altering the weight and balance.
First off, you should determine the swingweight of the racquet. Swingweight is different from overall weight. It is possible to have a very light racquet which swings heavy. Manufacturers do this by placing all the weight in the head and not much in the handle, so it will still perform. Avoid these racquets because the shock produced by these racquets can hurt your arm.
You can measure the balance of a racquet by balancing it on a rod or hanging it off the side of a table until it leans. Measure the distance from the balance point to the butt cap. Then subtract that number from 13-1/2 inches (the midpoint of the overall length). Let’s say you get 12-5/8. That would make it 7/8 inches away from the midpoint. Every 1/8″ is 1 pt head light, so you have a 7pt HL racquet.
Baseliners generally like a racquet between 3-6 pts. HL. Serve and volleyers generally like 8-10 pts. HL. But this is a matter of taste.
Let’s say you have a 7 pt. HL racquet and you want more power out of it. You can balance it to 4 pt HL by placing lead in several locations.
Putting lead at 12 o’clock will change the balance the most. It will also give you more spin because it pulls the tip around faster on strokes. It is said Federer puts about 3-5 grams of lead on the tip, Nadal 6-8 grams. They put it under the bumperguard. The average club player can just put it inside the rim to good effect. This setup is called a polarized setup. Think “pole” as being “top of the globe”, like “North Pole”. (However, Federer’s balance point is said to be around 8 pts. HL/ 32 mm from the buttcap)
Putting lead at 3 and 9 o’clock will change the balance less, per strip, but substantially also. This setup will give you more solid volleys, because the racquet will be less likely to twist on off centered shots. It will also make flatter groundstrokes more dependable for the same reason. Sampras was known to put gobs of lead along the side inner rim, which suited his flat loop forehand and volleys.
Let’s say you wanted an 9 pt. HL racquet instead. You will have to put weight in/on the handle to make this change. You can either remove the grip and place the lead horizontally or vertically down the handle. The problem is that it will make your grip size bigger.
To avoid this problem, you can put the lead tape near the top of the handle and layer it there. Or you can take off the butt cap, by removing the staples, or open the trap door of the buttcap. The handle is hollow, and from there, you can place cotton two inches or less, and put in a known amount of silicone or fishing weight, or poster tack. Measure the material first, so you will know or be able to arrive at the desired balance point later.
I have found that putting lead at the top of the handle works better, because you do not have a reduction in power as you do when putting weight in the bottom of the handle. It is also much easier to put lead at the top. When putting lead at the bottom, I have had too much reduction in power where the racquet feels substantially less responsive.
A mysterious racquet customizer, John Cauthen, advocated putting 50 grams of lead at the top of the handle. I have put 24 grams and feel the difference already. It makes the racquet much more maneuverable, yet produce a noticeable increase in power. Cauthen’s claim is that Agassi and Muster had their racquets customized in such a way and thus, rose to number 1 in the world when they did. I do not know if that is true, but I can speak from my own experience only.
Remember, a 4 inches of a 1/4″ wide lead is 1 gram. So if you want 3 grams at the tip, multiply that by 4 and so you will need 12 inches of lead. So if you wanted to do a polarized setup, take 6 inches on one side, and 6 inches on the other side of the rim at the top of the frame. It doesn’t take a genius to lay it in there, just put it in there nice and neat, then go out and try it.
If the swingweight feels too heavy, either reduce the size of those strips or counterbalance the weight you put at the top, with an amount in/on the handle. Then tune according to your taste. My taste is 8 pts. HL. with 24 grams at the top of the handle. What’s yours?
Note: I achieved 24 grams by using 3/4″ wide lead tape, using 8 inches length, wrapping the top of the handle twice. I found this tape at the Racquet Doctor for $1.75/ ft.
By Luke Kerr-Dineen
Lead tape, for a time being, was the go-to stuff for golfers making quick adjustments to their clubs. It was used to add weight to various places on the clubhead or putter, changing not only the club’s actual weight, but also how it feels. Fast forward to today, with the advent of adjustable drivers, woods and so on, the question begs: is lead tape even a thing anymore? Furthermore, with what we now know about lead poisoning, is it even safe to use?
Let’s tackle the second question first. Is it safe?
Lead tape (or lead foil as it’s sometimes called) is generally considered safe to use, as long as you use it properly. If you stick to putting it places where you’re not going to come into contact with it on a regular basis, you should be fine. Also, don’t store lead tape in your golf bag—it can rub off and get on other items, and then gets on you. When it doubt, check the instructions (if any) that comes with your lead tape and wear gloves when handling it.
Does it work?
Yes and no. Whether or not lead tape will significantly alter a clubhead’s CG or affect how it performs is a hot topic and very debatable. It’s likely you’d need an awful lot of it to affect any sort of change in how a club performs. But where lead tape will definitely make a difference is in a club’s total weight and swingweight.
Obviously, the more tape you add, the heavier your club gets. And some players simply like the way heavier clubs feel. When it comes to swingweight though, most golfers who use lead tape apply it to the clubhead to increase the clubs swingweight (making it feel heavier). It only takes a couple grams of lead tape to change a clubhead’s swingweight a single point and by adjusting how a club feels, it could change the way you swing it.
Some other golfers, including Jack Nicklaus and Sergio Garcia, have used lead tape under the grip to reduce the clubhead’s swingweight. This makes the club feel lighter and theoretically, can help a golfer gain some extra swingspeed. This is also known as “counter-balancing”—a topic we’ve saved for another post.
How can it be used?
Lead tape can be used almost anywhere on the golf club to affect its overall weight and swingweight. As mentioned, we’ve seen lead tape under grips and we’ve also seen it applied on the heels and toes of drivers and woods, in the cavities of irons, and the back of wedges and putters. I’ve personally been a longtime user of lead tape, having experimented with it just about everywhere, including about halfway up the putter shaft. Not sure if it did anything performance-wise, but I can say it made me feel like it did which I then attribute to my sometimes brilliant putting skill. So yes, the placebo effect is very real when it comes to lead tape.
Is lead tape allowed?
The USGA stipulates in Rule 14-3 that “Lead tape may be applied to the head or shaft of the club for the purpose of adding weight (see Decisions 4-1/4 and 4-2/0.5)”.