What are bumper guards? The Bumper guard and their smaller counterpart, the grommet strip, is one of the key technical innovations for prolonging string life and protecting the frame from contacting the ground. Unfortunately, bumper guards and grommet strips don’t last forever and require replacement or repair from time to time.
The plastic piece that protects the head of your racquet from scrapping the ground and damaging the graphite frame beneath it, also protects the strings from making direct contact to the fame’s sharp edges. The more you restring your racquet the more the grommets wear out, especially when you use polyester strings. The stiffness of the poly burns through the grommets and over time makes the edges sharp, causing premature string breakage, particularly when the player hits the ball off-center.
While everyone replaces their strings and grips on a regular basis, most players neglect their bumpers and grommets. So how do I know if my bumpers and grommets need replacing? The most obvious and clear indicator is the visual condition of the racquet head. If the head looks to be exposed, it is time to replace the bumpers. Do your strings break near the frame of the racquet? String breakage due to normal wear typically happens near the center of the racquet. If you are breaking strings at the grommets, then it is probably time to replace your bumpers and/or grommets.
Replacing or repairing a bumper and grommet set is only around $15, and can be done at the time of a restringing. Maintain you guard(s) and enjoy the benefit of a longer and happier life for your racquet and strings.
Gerald Sarmiento is a USRSA Master Racquet Technician of 18 years and co-owner of the Courtware Pro Shops, which operates pro shops at Nassau Racquet & Tennis Club in Skillman, NJ and Warren Health & Racquet in Warren, NJ.