So you've gone out and bought the newest version of your favourite players racket, but is it actually the same as yours? Yes and No!
Yes, it's the same frame, No it's not the same racket!
All of the pros get their rackets customised, to some extent.
What does customised mean?
Well there are many different things you can do to customise your racket. To start with, restringing your racket is a form of customisation. You are choosing strings and a tension specific to you to enhance your game.
The type of customising you ask for depends on what you are looking to get out of your racket. The main things done during racket customisation are adding weight, changing grip size or for the pros, putting on a specially constructed grip pallet to suit their hand.
So you can see why my answer above was Yes and No. The frame is the same but what they get done to it is very different.
When customising your racket you are personalising the racket to suit the individuals specific requirements. Some players need the grip size changed, generally increased but occassionally decreased. You can increase the grip size, simply by adding an overgrip. This may not be enough or for some players they don't like using overgrips, therefore you would remove the original grip and apply a permanent sleeve (the thickness would depend on how much bigger you need to make the grip) and then put on a new grip.
Other players want to add weight to their rackets to either generate more power or to help gain more control. The position of the weight and the amount of weight applied will depend on what was asked of the technician.
Whenever you add weight you change various features of the racket. Features like balance, swingweight and overall weight. That is why only a qualified technician should apply weights to your racket. Applying weight incorrectly or without the proper knowledge can lead to arm or shoulder injuries and make the whole experience an unpleasant one. Junior players (up to age 16) should not have lead weight applied to their rackets, despite what some coaches may say.
You should always go to a qualified technician to get any customisation work done to your racket. They will have the correct equipment required to do the job properly. There is a lot of equipment required to customise a racket.
Customising isn't just for the pros, it should be considered by any player with 2 or more of the same racket and here's why!
If you bought 2 of the same racket, a spare in case you break a string (always a good idea to have a spare), chances are the 2 will differ in weight and it could be by as much as 7 grams.
As the frames are mass produced they are made with manufacturing guidelines that allow a difference in weight to be plus or minus a few grams, generally 5. You might have seen this on your frame, so a racket that weighs 300g could be +/- 5 from this. This isn't much of a descrepancy, but if your first racket weighs 297g and your second weighs 304g, both within the allowed limit, you now have 7g difference between the 2 frames, that's quite a bit. You should weigh yours and see.
This is where a racket technician comes in, they will match the frames exactly for you, using the equipment they have so that both rackets will feel and play exactly the same.
You've spent enough on them you should at least make sure they are the same.
Racket customisation is for everyone!