The Evolution of Racquetball Technology
Just about every year, each racquet company releases a “new technology,” whether an improvement on a past design, a supplemental technology for combined performance, or a revolutionary introduction that completely changes racquet feel and playability. We at Racquetball Warehouse haven’t seen the latter for a few years but revolutionizing racquet technology is no easy feat. As the new product season quickly approaches, you will begin to hear the buzz and see the sneak peaks of new racquets on the horizon. But before that happens, let’s take a look at the recent evolutions.
Ektelon – O3 to EXO3 Technology
In 2005, Ektelon first introduced the O3 Technology, a truly revolutionary approach to racquet design. The O3 technology consists of large holes in the frame of the racquet rather than traditional grommet holes, increasing string movement by eliminating the friction between strings and grommets. The end result: a larger sweet spot and more lively string bed for more power and improved playability.
These round ports next evolved into the Speedport Technology, changing into rectangular holes for further increased string movement and improved airflow through the frame for a faster swing and improved maneuverability. Ektelon further changed the frames in 2009 to incorporate the EXO3 Technology. This technology removed more graphite from the frame and suspended the strings from “Energy Bridge Inserts,” further increasing the sweet spot and enhancing string bed movement while adding power to the frame. Ektelon continues to fine tune and improve this technology to maximize power and string bed response so stay tuned for the new line.
Head – Liquidmetal to d3o
Head has been all about material technology, introducing revolutionary materials into their graphite racquets to get the perfect balance of power and performance. They introduced Liquidmetal in 2004, a unique composite with a liquid atomic structure located in key areas on the frame to minimize energy lost in ball impact, transferring the maximum power possible back to the ball.
Head next introduced Microgel in 2007, a super low-density material with high stiffness to decrease weight and again maximize energy return and power while dispersing any negative energy throughout the frame. Most recently in 2010, Head took it one step further with d3o, a smart material that changes behavior under dynamic loading to stiffen when you swing your hardest and stay flexible when you want to make those touch shots. Combined with these space age materials, Head has added proprietary technologies – the Inner Grommet System for maximum string bed movement and Corrugated Technology at the throat to increase stiffness and energy return. Head has focused on creating racquets that cater to individual player’s strengths; keep your eyes open for what is new in 2011.
E-Force – Longstrings to Heatseeker
E-Force has more technology in their frames than any other company and is very proud of this heritage. The most notable technology unique to E-Force racquets is the hollow handle with vertical strings that extend the entire length from butt cap to head. This technology has continued to evolve over the years, now incorporating all mains, a unique string pattern, and dampened Zero Richter Tubes to create the largest, most powerful string bed in the market, so they say. Combined with the unique Dual Cylinder profile of their frames, E-Force has constantly pushed the envelope of frame technology to maximize power.
In 2009 E-Force introduced the Powerhouse Shaft, which visually increased handle length at the throat. This strategically placed graphite stiffens the throat, moves the flex point of the racquet closer to the sweet spot and increases whip and snap in your swing. In 2010, they introduced the Heatseeker, which combined existing tech with a new grommet technology and an improved graphite lay up to make the most stable E-Force racquet ever. Can they keep reinventing the racquet? We will see this year..
ProKennex – Kinetic Technology
ProKennex has been a quiet force in racquet technology, though Kane has loudly brought PK to the forefront in recent years. ProKennex invented the revolutionary Kinetic Technology, which has been featured in publications such as Popular Science, ESPN, and Time, and was proven in tests by MIT. The Kinetic Technology utilizes free-floating micro bearings that ‘load’ on ball impact and explode foreword unleashing kinetic energy to increase power while simultaneously absorbing shock and vibration from ball impact, producing some of the most arm-friendly racquets available.
ProKennex further advanced the Kinetic technology with an ionic coating that reduces friction to maximize the effectiveness of the micro bearings. Their other proprietary technologies of note are the Quad Technology that focuses weight in key locations around the sweet spot to increase stability, and the String Suspension Technology, which reduces string-grommet friction to increase string bed movement. What new technology will the #1 player in the world be using in the 2011 season?
What does it all mean?
Why should you care about any of these technologies and marketing stories? Because they are real, and they change how the racquets play. You cannot find the right racquet for your game if you do not know what options you have, and as new products are released this year it will only get more confusing. At Racquetball Warehouse we do our best to simplify racquets and to educate the players about what products they are using. We are really excited about new racquets coming out this year and we want you to share our excitement! Check the website often for sneak peaks, pre-sales, and exclusive offers and follow us on facebook for all of the latest racquetball news!