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The BOLT Challenge: Build Confidence

What makes a BOLT better than other racquets? That is the first question people unfamiliar with its unique technology ask when I introduce them to BOLT. As a science guy, and the founder and designer of BOLT, I want to describe the tangible, quantifiable characteristics of BOLT Zipstrip spring-suspension design. How Zipstrips make the entire string-bed dynamically responsive to ball impact and how that leads to a huge sweet zone, nearly zero impact-shock, no vibration, superior stability, increased power and liveliness, delivered together with comfort and control, without compromise.

Major breakthroughs in racquet science do not happen every year. In the annual cycle of racquet marketing, it can be difficult to determine what’s really new. Historically, there hasn't been a transformative innovation in racquets in nearly two decades. Especially when compared to the racquet innovations of the late 60s through the 90s, including steel, aluminum, oversize head frame, and carbon composites, among others. Until BOLT.

Zipstrip design is a significant advance in the fundamental science behind racquet performance. Yet players' eyes often glaze over when I explain the revolutionary technology behind BOLT racquets in the common parlance of racquet marketing, i.e, the hot words: power, control, comfort. To some, it may sound like the same story they hear when a big brand launches a new model, with a promise of innovative performance, but does not consistently deliver on that promise.

That's why I propose The BOLT Challenge. Rather than discount what you think you've heard before (though, in the case of BOLT, the racquet does consistently deliver on its promise), give a BOLT a try. You likely will discover an added benefit to hitting with a BOLT over time. Confidence.

Tennis is both science and art. At least to many tennis enthusiasts—and tennis existentialists. Science is the technology behind racquet design. The intangible effect of effective science is art. The art, in tennis and BOLT, is confidence. No company can manufacture confidence. Confidence doesn't happen overnight, or in 10 minutes of play-testing a BOLT. Confidence comes from playing, from that first pop of a ball hit squarely in the sweet spot, going deep, landing in. Again and again. As that sound and experience happen over and over, confidence that it will happen over and over builds. Consistency of ball release on impact occurs because it is a BOLT, because of its patented string suspension design. Because the ball will have the same lively rebound regardless of where it impacts the strings. It is consistency that builds confidence. Confidence increases exponentially and parallel to improved performance. And vice versa. I've seen it—and heard it—every time I remove coaching from my observation of players' games and simply watch their reactions as they hit with a BOLT.

My BOLT Challenge is to reach players in a way that helps them understand how different string suspension on a racquet is from conventional racquet design—what a difference it will make in their games, how that difference will increase confidence in their play. I want players to know developing confidence is a transformative tennis experience. While those words are important to the BOLT mission, they are just as critically important for tennis, the sport and the industry. Innovation is vital to transforming the tennis experience, to moving the industry forward, past the era of static racquet designs, to a modern era of dynamically responsive instruments suited to today's players.

I've taught tennis and coached for over 20 years and am trained to watch how people play, their footwork, their movement, their strokes, how they see the ball. I referred to how I removed coaching from BOLT play-test sessions, meaning I watch players' reactions to hitting with a BOLT, from their first observation on picking up the racquet—is this lighter?—to their pleasure as they repeatedly pop the ball—wow—to their ability to answer their own initial query—what makes a BOLT better?—to their realization that what makes a BOLT better is that a BOLT makes them better. And playing better, counting on playing better, builds confidence.

The result of players play-testing a BOLT and me watching through a different lens, a non-coaching one, has been an eye-opener. It's allowed me to change my tack as I introduce the new BOLT racquet line launched this past year. Instead of trying to convince players how the technology behind string suspension works, I spare them the tennis-science lingo and let the play-test sessions prove BOLT is what I say it is. In other words, for me, seeing is believing. For players new to BOLT, play-testing allows belief in their abilities and becomes the key to confidence. And confidence is a key to better tennis.


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