How to Choose a Tennis Racket?
Selecting the best tennis racket is one of the most crucial decisions a tennis player can make.
Whether it’s your first ever racket or you’re a seasoned player looking to switch up your specifications a little bit. Every last detail must be taken into consideration, as there truly is no one size fits all racket out there.
Every player is different, whether physically or technically, so the racket selection process reflects that complexity; much care should be taken during this decision.
👉 This article will be your holy grail go-to guide on how to choose a tennis racket.
From breaking down the components of a racket to discussing different brands, this guide truly does have all you need to make the most informed, rational decision.
How to Choose a Tennis Racket?
- Head size
#1: WeightThe racket’s weight will be a great indicator of how powerful a swing you can achieve. Weight is also the most vital determining factor of how the racket will feel and handle in your hands, therefore indicative of comfort. Thirdly, weight goes hand in hand with racket stability; if there is more mass at the point of contact with the ball, the less chance there is the racket’s stability will change. With this in mind, the heavier the racket, the more powerful and stable it will be. 🚨 REMEMBER: The ideal tennis racket weight will allow the player to swing with equal power and ability on all the main points of contact. Whether a low ball or a high ball, a front hand or back hand swing, a perfectly weighted racket will mean that the player can accelerate and hit all different types of shots without tiring or getting fatigued too quickly. This can quickly sap the fun out of any game 🧐. There is a tendency for novice players to opt for a lightweight racket, because they feel much easier to play with. Therefore it seems like a sensible, natural choice. However, the risk of this is that it hinders the true development of the player, as it doesn’t allow them to develop their strokes properly. Therefore, they are doing themselves a disservice by choosing what seems like the rational option. Adult males who envisage playing on a regular basis should choose a reasonably heavy, head light racquet that sits somewhere between 30 – 320 grams and balanced between 5 – 12 points head light. Adult females, the weight would be between 290 – 310 grams, 3 – 8 points headlight, with a 16 × 19 string pattern. These recommendations clearly demonstrate that multiple factors that characterize the player, for example, gender and body type, are important to consider. It must be remembered the level of skill that the player is at should not be a determining factor for racket weight, so a lightweight racket is not necessarily ideal just because a player might be new to the sport.
#2: Swing WeightSwing weight measures how heavy a racket feels when swung. Therefore, rackets with a higher swing weight are much more difficult to swing. However, they offer more comfort, power, and stability upon impact. Similarly, those with lower swing weights are easier to swing, but at the price of less stability and comfort, particularly when playing at a greater pace. Advanced players will favor higher swing weights, as it aids the redirection of their opponent’s pace. Furthermore, it will enable them to achieve greater levels of power. Beginner and intermediate players are better suited to a lower swing weight because it allows for easier acceleration, which helps to position the racket effectively. Still, it also makes generating higher stroke speed required for effective pace and spin more possible. A low swing weight measures around 305 and below. A medium swing weight will be between 310 and 325, and a high swing weight comes in at 325 and above, most suitable for advanced players.
#3: Head SizeThe head size is a major determining factor in the size of the sweet spot. This is known as the region where the contact with the ball is optimal for both power and accuracy. Naturally, the bigger the head size, the bigger the sweet spot, and therefore the greater potential to hit the ball each time. 👉 A large head size will be approximately greater than 102 square inches and, for the reasons stated above, are ideal for newer players who suffer from a lack of consistency. There are such things as oversize rackets, measuring above 110 square inches, which are a perfect option for players who aren’t yet able to generate sufficient power to get the ball across the court. A small head size is deemed to measure below 100 square inches. They are recommended for the more advanced players, who don’t have so much of a problem with accuracy and consistency. There is a risk with smaller head sizes, and that hitting the sweet spot is much more difficult with this nature of racket, so the probability of hitting a perfect shot dramatically reduces. 👉 Hence, they are ideal rackets for advanced players who aren’t too put off by this risk.
#4: BalanceThe balance of a racket is identified by whether its weight is distributed more towards the head or the handle. The two points usually being measured in millimeters. This length, measured from the bottom of the racket, illustrates the point at which the racket can be balanced without tipping either way. Therefore, a higher point indicates the racket is heavier towards the head. 🚨 A standard-length racket (27 inches / 686 millimeters) will be evenly balanced at a balance point of approximately 343 millimeters. Although most rackets have similar balance points of below 343 millimeters, therefore headlight, it’s still helpful to know and compare the extent of the balance. For instance, a racket with a balance point of 315 millimeters will be more headlight than a one with a 325 millimeter balance point. Therefore, even if all other specifications are identical, they will feel much more different to play and hold. On more headlight rackets, the weight is closer to the hand, which improves the ability to maneuver on ground strokes and volleys, and allows the player more control. However, it’s more challenging to create head speed on swings, so opting for a headlight racket may cause a struggle for power. It is advised that only advanced players should pick balances of 315 millimeters or below. On rackets that are more head heavy, the larger weight in the head can help build momentum on swings and therefore cause greater power. That being said, the accuracy with which a player can direct a shot could become worsened, as it’s harder to achieve with this type of racket. Amateur tennis players seeking effortless power from their racket should choose balances above 340 millimeters. For most other competitive players, including beginners and intermediates, rackets between 315 and 340 mm will be suitable depending on the factors mentioned above, as well as taste and preference. If more power is required, rackets towards the 340 millimeter point are best, whereas if more control is needed, a 315 millimeter point would be preferable.
#5: LengthThe racket length is measured by the distance from the grip end to the end of the racket head. There are two options when selecting the racket length; most tennis rackets have a standard length of 27 inches (68.6 cm). 👉 However, there are also rackets that measure up to 29 inches (73.7 cm). These are known as long body rackets. A standard-length racket is typically much easier to maneuver compared to a long body racket, which also offers the benefit of greater control. If these two aspects are important to the player, then a standard-length racket would be the best choice. A longer racket will offer a wider reach due to its nature. The added length also increases the leverage when hitting the ball. PRO TIP: More power can be generated with a longer racket as a rule of thumb.
#6: Frame StiffnessThe stiffness of the frame influences the level of power and control the player has and the comfort. The unit used to measure frame stiffness is known as RA. The spectrum ranges from very flexible (0 RA) to very stiff (100 RA). Most standard rackets fit within the range of 50 – 70 RA. A flexible frame measures less than 70 RA. For players who prefer to use a racket that allows greater control, then this frame is best. Frames with greater flexibility will deform more upon contact with the ball compared to a stiff frame. Therefore, more energy is lost, meaning less acceleration. However, the energy loss can be compensated with the player’s power; this is more advantageous the more advanced the player is. For beginners, it is recommended to use a stiff frame, measuring more than 70 RA. Here, the racket aids contact with the ball by giving more acceleration to the ball. As a result, less force is required from the player. Concerning comfort, stiffer rackets are typically more uncomfortable to use than flexible rackets to a certain extent. Very stiff frames will transmit greater impact shock to the wrist, elbow, and shoulder than a medium stiff frame. It’s important to recognize that comfort is relatively difficult to measure; each player will have a different idea of comfort. That being said, players with any physical ailments, for example, arm problems, are better off considering frames with an RA of 66 or less.
Types of Racket
There are many different types of racket, which all have different qualities, characteristics, and specifications.
Each type has more suited to a certain level of player, so it is very important to keep this in mind.
👉The main ones to be discussed are:
- Power rackets
- Tweener rackets
- Modern player rackets
- Traditional player rackets.
#1: Power Racket
A power racket is a term used by manufacturers to describe power-oriented frames.
In most cases, these models feature oversize to super-oversize heads, which measure between 107-135 square inches.
They also tend to be lightweight (8-9.5 ounces), longer (27-29 inches), stiffer, and are balanced either evenly or head heavy to retain enough weight in the contact zone.
🚨 DON’T FORGET: These types of racket are designed for players with shorter, slower swings who want to desire power from the racket.
#2: Tweener Racket
Tweener rackets obtained their name from being a category of rackets that lie (be) between power and player’s rackets.
They have become an extremely popular type of tennis racket, as they borrow the lightness and power of a power racket and mix this with the control of a player’s racket.
Often light to medium weight (9.5-11 ounces), balanced anywhere from slightly head light to slightly head heavy, and have mid-sized (98-104 square inches) heads, their power level ranges from low-medium to medium-high power.
👉 Tweener racquets tend to allow spins due to the light and fast feel combined with a healthy midplus head size.
#3: Modern Player Racket
The modern player’s racket symbolizes the move to a heavy topspin playing style and an advanced level of tennis.
These rackets tend to be lighter and faster than traditional player’s rackets, offering midplus head sizes.
Their form makes them perfect for attacking the ball at an aggressive angle, helping achieve maximum spin.
The power level is virtually identical to tweener rackets, and the string weight usually lies somewhere between 11-12 ounces.
Head sizes of modern player’s racquets are often between around 98-100 square inches.
#4: Traditional Player Racket
Professionals, high-level club, and college team players are the groups of players that would typically use this type of racket.
These models are usually characterized by heavyweight (11.5-12 ounces), smaller heads (85-98), thinner, more flexible beams and have a head light balance to allow maneuverability.
Therefore, these are low-power rackets, designed for those players who can generate their own power, and thus prefer a racket that offers better control.
🚨 REMINDER: Most player’s rackets measure a standard length. However, there are a few extended length variations.
To fully comprehend the anatomy of a tennis racket, it is useful to break it down into each component, so you are fully aware of the functionality and aims of each part of the racket’s make-up.
The head of the racquet is the region, including the strings and the frame surrounding them.
The vast majority of racket heads measure somewhere between 95 – 110 square inches. A larger head allows for greater power but sacrifices control.
Similarly, a smaller racquet offers more control but decreased power.
The racket’s throat is located between the bottom of the head and the top of the handle.
A racket can have either an open or a closed throat, with the open throat becoming the dominant design adopted by most players worldwide.
The shaft is the racket area below the head, consisting of the throat and the handle. It extends down to the butt at the end of the racket.
When a player holds a tennis racket, they hold it from the handle.
Measured in circumference, most handle sizes range from approximately 4 to 4 ¾ inches.
Although seeming like nothing, it’s important to understand that every inch counts. If the wrong-sized handle is picked, this could result in an injury.
The grip covers the racket’s handle. Replacement grips can be added to change the feel, improve traction, or slightly increase the size of the handle.
The grip acts as the cushion that allows the player to grip the racquet firmly while preventing any injuries. The grip also connects the handle to the butt.
The butt is found at the very end of the handle and is slightly wider to ensure a solid grip; it also contains the butt cap at the bottom.
The butt cap can be opened on many rackets to add weight and change the balance, and is where the manufacturer’s logo is usually located.
This refers to the thickness of the racket’s head and is measured in millimeters.
A wider beam racket typically means more power but less maneuverability and vice versa with a narrow beam racket.
Therefore, advanced or stronger players will usually tend to seek a narrow beam racket. In contrast, beginners will probably choose something with a wider beam to give them more assistance when creating power.
viii. Bumper guard
The bumper guard wraps around the entire edge of the racket’s head. It’sa form of protection against and grazes against the floor.
These are little pieces of plastic that are located all around the outer edge of the racket and through the holes of the frame. They are there to protect the strings from any damage that can happen during play.
Although the racket’s frame is paramount, the strings should never be left behind.
When considering strings, there are a plethora of qualities that should be looked at, including the type, the tension, the gauge, and the pattern.
All of these qualities put together can dramatically change the feel of the play. Therefore it shouldn’t be bypassed in the racket selection process. 👍
Types of string
There are two types of strings: natural gut strings and synthetic strings.
Novice tennis players may not detect a significant difference, but more advanced players will be more sensitive to different strings and the qualities they offer.
As suggested by their name, natural gut strings are made from the gut or intestine of cows. Comfort, feel, and power are three aspects of these strings that are noteworthy and give them a good reputation.
The main downside is they’re relatively pricey compared to synthetic strings. The most common material used in the fabrication of synthetic strings is nylon, but they also come in polyester and Kevlar.
👍 Synthetic strings are attractive due to their affordability and greater variety than natural gut strings.
The string pattern indicates how many main and cross strings your tennis racket has.
The number of main strings is always given first, followed by the number of cross strings.
For instance, a 16×19 string pattern means that the racket has 16 main strings and 19 cross strings. 16×19 or 18×20 are the most common string patterns.
The number of strings will also help to distinguish between an open and a closed string pattern.
An open string pattern, such as 16×19, signifies that the racket has fewer mains and crosses.
Therefore, the distance between the strings is larger. An open string pattern generally offers solid acceleration and high spin.
Known as the trampoline effect, the strings give more slack, allowing the tennis ball to penetrate deeper into the racket’s string bed.
However, in this case the strings undergo a lot of stress, therefore reducing their durability. Additionally, this string pattern limits the control of the stroke. Open string patterns are advised for beginners.
The string gauge indicates the thickness of the racket’s strings. It is measured on a scale from 13-22, with 22 representing the thinnest and 19 the thickest.
The majority of strings have a gauge of 16, 16L, or 17. Therefore, thicker strings offer more durability, therefore, are longer-lasting, whereas thinner strings provide a greater possibility to generate a spin.
With this in mind, beginners are more suited to thicker strings for durability. In contrast, the greater technique possessed by advanced players pushes them to use the spin potential offered by thinner strings.
Novice players should not assume that thinner strings automatically provide a fantastic topspin. Through proper technique and racket head speed, this is achieved, which is enhanced by thinner strings.
Finally, an important quality to consider is string tension, or how tight they fasten to the frame’s racket.
A benefit of string tension is that it offers more power, and a higher tension will offer better control. Tensions can vary in range from around 40 to 65 pounds.
You will find that most rackets and strings come with a recommended tension range, with the lowest and highest recommended limits being specified.
✅ PRO TIP: If you’re unsure of what tension to use, it is recommended to start in the middle of the recommended tension level and adjust based on it.
As you develop as a player, you’ll start to possess the capability to differentiate between differences in tension.
Selection by Skill Level
An intelligent way to make sure you’re selecting the perfect racket is to filter them by skill level.
Not all players at every skill level will require the same characteristics from a racket, due to varying techniques and needs.
A proper racket can help maximize your playing potential.
For true tennis beginners searching for a new racket, the exact specifications of the frame are less significant than making sure the racket feels comfortable and not too heavy.
It can be fairly tempting to begin with either an expensive racket that’s jam-packed with impressive features or to copy the model used by a favorite player.
However, this strategy can hinder progress and technique because it’s highly likely that the racket chosen doesn’t align with the player’s skills.
First, a beginner should check when selecting a new racket is the grip size.
Using a proper grip size lowers the risk of developing hand or arm ailments and offers a more solid grasp.
Most often, beginners fare better with rackets boasting a head size larger than 100 square inches because s larger head offers a lower margin of error and increases the size of the sweet spot.
The disadvantage of using a bigger head is the lack of control this often brings with it.
However, for a novice, this is a trade-off that will likely improve performance during the learning curve.
Another significant factor worth thinking about is the weight of the racket. For beginners, it’s a brilliant idea to keep rackets under approximately 11 ounces (312 grams).
Generally starting at about 8 ounces (227 grams), there are plenty of rackets that will be appropriate. If you err on the smaller side, it’s recommended to start with a racket that sits at the lower end of this weight spectrum.
Lighter rackets are easier to maneuver and can help prevent injury from using heavier frames.
Once the beginner stage is merely a spot in the distance, you will begin to enjoy greater control over shots and will be more competent at generating power.
👉 For players at the intermediate level, smaller head sizes and heavier rackets have likely become desirable elements that are tempting to experiment with.
Beginners who opted for a larger head size at the start are better off moving to rackets within the 98 to 100 square inch range, in order to gain extra control as an intermediate player.
Typically, intermediate level racquets are characterized by medium head sizes while maintaining solid maneuverability and sacrificing some power.
However, for those who have been playing for some time, you can likely generate more power yourself than when you were a beginner to make up this difference.
Players can also try moving up to heavier rackets if it feels comfortable. A heavier racquet will offer greater stability upon contact with the ball.
For players who have been playing tennis competitively for years, you’ll likely have already established the type of player you are.
Advanced players enjoy greater strength, better stamina, and more control compared to lower level players. For players at this level, heavier racquets and smaller head sizes are very manageable.
However, just because it’s possible to use smaller and heavier racquets doesn’t mean it’s necessary.
Ultimately, the racquet you should be playing with is the one that feels the most comfortable to you.
For players at this level, improving your game will happen by matching your style of play to the type of racquet you’re using and modifying the specifications to maximize performance.
Many advanced players will prefer a control racket or a modern player’s racket.
Control rackets are optimal for players who possess the technique that allows the generation of plenty of power.
Tennis Racket Brands
Founded in 1975 in Lyons, Babolat is a French-owned company that has become one of the “big three” in popularity, with Wilson and Head neighboring it.
Babolat rackets sit in a price range between around $30 to just above $200.
Originating in the early 1900s, Wilson is America’s sweetheart of sports brands.
Some of the most successful players in the world have played with a Wilson racket at some point in their career, most notably Roger Federer and his renowned black RF97. The price of a Wilson racket will start at $30 and can reach as high as $300.
Newer to the market than some other brands, Head originated in America in 1950. Although having a younger history, Head is now one of the most popular brands on the market and a very popular choice among professionals.
The cheapest Head racquets sit at $80, whilst the high-end choices will set you back $230.
Paving the way for the Japanese market, Yonex is the best-selling, most well-loved Japanese tennis racket brand.
Like Head racquets, frames at the bottom of the price range cost about $80, while their high-end racquets will cost upwards of $240.
Tecnifibre-made rackets start at higher prices because their product offering does not include inexpensive aluminum frames.
At the lower price point, $120 is estimated as the going rate. Tecnifibre’s most expensive racquets will cost around $200.
Average Tennis Racket Price
Money should be no problem when buying a racket. 🙏
Prices vary dramatically depending on the material and brand, but it is crucial to note that there are options for everyone.
On the low-price end, pre-strung rackets will start at around $20. As expected, the more high-spec the racket, the bigger the price tag.
For a top of the range, fully customized racket, this could set you back a hefty $1000. On a general level, the more money spent, the higher the quality racket you’ll obtain.
However, other factors can determine how much a racket will cost, including new technologies and any endorsements this brings with it.
Beginners can purchase their first racket for just shy of $100. Intermediate or advanced players are more likely to pay up to $250 for a racket, with racket customization boosting costs further.
In conclusion, choosing a tennis racket is not a decision to be made lightly.
Every last detail and component must be considered in order to find a racket that is optimal. From brands to string types, stiffness to the level of play, no stone should be left unturned in the search for a good tennis racket.
The main aspect is that it feels right and comfortable for the player; anything that feels uncomfortable, tooheavy or insufficient in any other way is not the one.
In summary – when you choose a tennis racket; read racquet reviews, speak to people at a local tennis club, and don’t underestimate how much difference strings and string tension make to how a racquet performs.