Lead tape is the racquet customisers’ most useful tool. Take a look at a lot of pros frames and you can see it along the inside of the hoop. Applying strips to different parts of the frame can add mass, improve power and stability and alter the balance. It adheres easily and can be removed without any residual effects to the racquet. We normally use reels of 1/4 inch thick lead tape that weighs 0.25 grams per inch. Our favoured tactic is to cut four 5-inch pieces and sticking one on each side of the frame at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Line up the 2.5-inch mark of the strip (a ruler helps) with the middle cross string. That adds five grams to the head which can boost the power potential. Since many modern frames to are on the light side, double up the strips—one top of the other—for a 10-gram increase. This has the potential of making a frame feel a little too head heavy. You may want to create a heavier swinging racquet, but to keep the balance closer to the stock setup add the same amount of tape to the handle. Remove the grip and apply the identical number of lead strips lengthwise on the bevels. They’re so thin you can’t feel any difference once the grip is reapplied. I’ve also heard of using objects like fishing sinker weights instead of tape.
A large majority of modern frames come with cushier, lighter synthetic grips, replacing them with an old-school leather grip is an easy way to raise the weight; anywhere from 10-15 grams depending on the grips involved. It’s also a quick way to make a frame more head light. Whenever this is preferred to putting lead tape on the handle. Besides raising the weight, we also find it makes the grip firmer and allows for more feel at contact. Which is why it’s not always a success on stiffer frames that already provide plenty of feedback, especially on off-centre hits. In those situations generally opt for lead tape. And depending on the models, leather is generally slightly thicker than a synthetic, so use it on frames with some wiggle room in grip size.
This is another staple found in many pro frames. If the handle is hollow—which describes the large majority of current mass market racquets—you can shoot silicone gel into it to raise the weight, give the racquet a more head-light balance and provide an additional vibration filter. Insert it in stiffer frames that can be brassy at contact. However, silicone isn’t used very often as it’s a nearly permanent attachment—once it hardens it’s brutal to remove. Those are the three go-to techniques when it comes to adding weight or shifting the balance of a racquet. There are undoubtedly many others.