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"The fact is I had no plans for the skis. They just happened. After that I had no plans for a tennis racquet. It happened."

— Howard Head

Experimental tennis racquet, 1976.
Artifact Detailsview larger

Head's larger metal racquet was manufactured by Prince after Head joined the company.

— Gift of Martha Head and the Howard and Martha Head Foundation

Howard Head
Ski and Racquet Revolutionary

Howard Head transformed skiing and tennis. Both sports enjoyed huge surges in popularity thanks to Head inventions that allowed for greater control and proficiency.

Head tried skiing for the first time in 1947. He was instantly hooked but found the heavy wooden skis clumsy. Applying his aeronautical engineering skills, Head developed—and marketed—laminate skis, lighter than wooden skis, and far easier to control. These lighter, more efficient skis made the sport less difficult for novices and experts alike.

Head's interest in tennis led him to another innovation in the 1970s, a metal racquet with a hitting area 20 percent larger than the conventional tennis racquet. The metal racquet minimized the twisting associated with wooden ones, while the larger hitting area ("sweet spot") maximized the energy of the shot. Despite initial criticism, amateurs and pros around the world took up his new equipment. He patented this innovative line of racquets in 1976, again changing a sport.

Name: Howard Head
Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1914–1991
  • Patented laminate ski, 1954
  • Patented oversized tennis racquet, 1976
  • Founded Head Ski Company, 1948
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