Types of Tennis Racket: The All-Inclusive Guide
Choosing the best tennis racket is possibly the most important decision a tennis player could make.
It might seem like a simple task from the outset, but ensuring you have the most suitable frame takes some serious thought and time.
When a tennis player has a racket that’s absolutely perfect for them, the game will always be a well-played one, as the fundamental basic is well-established from the very start.
Although a very important and, therefore, seemingly scary endeavor, choosing the correct racket is a natural process, as long as you know exactly what to look out for.
This article will serve as your holy grail of tennis rackets, offering information on how to choose a racket, the categories of racket that exist, as well as how the type of tennis player can affect the decision.
At the end of the article, you’ll know exactly what to look for.
How to choose a racket
There are hundreds of different types of rackets on offer, so choosing the perfect one might feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.
However, there is no need to worry because there is a solid checklist that must be fulfilled, and if a racket doesn’t meet one of these requirements, you know it isn’t the right one for you.
The three main characteristics of a good tennis racket are weight, size, and balance.
It is crucial to tailor each of these aspects to the player, as each individual will vary significantly as to what they require.
By using the specifications described below and considering physique and skill level, a well-informed decision can be made.
It is important to note rackets should be compared to one another, as unstrung specifications, as strung specifications can sometimes distort the real discrepancies in the rackets.
With that in mind, each point below is referring to unstring specifications.
When the racket’s head is bigger, it will provide greater power, as there is a larger surface area.
Like a trampoline, the bigger the racket, the more spring it has, and therefore, the greater level of power that can be exerted.
The larger surface area also allows for a larger margin of error, which can be especially useful for newer players.
The sweet spot is the area in the center of the strings, where striking the ball is much more comfortable and generates better performance.
If the racket head is bigger, this sweet spot will also be bigger, and the player will reap those benefits mentioned above. Additionally, a larger head size will usually make a topspin much easier to generate, as the strings are positioned further apart, offering separation of space.
A smaller head size is considered to be below 100 square inches and is recommended for advanced players who don’t have too much of a hard time hitting the sweet spot with each strike.
These players, who also have the propensity to generate greater power within their swing, will have greater accuracy when using a smaller head size, allowing for consistently good shots.
That being said, playing with a racket with a smaller head size increases the risk of missing that beloved sweet spot and, therefore, can pose a disadvantage.
On the other hand, a larger head size is considered to be above 102 square inches, which is ideal for those players who haven’t mastered the art of power within their swing.
This greater surface area provides a larger sweet spot area, increasing the chance of hitting a good shot.
Also, this area allows greater forgiveness on off-center shots, which is perfect for those who have difficulty consistently hitting the sweet spot.
Oversize rackets, which are usually above 110 square inches, are the best option for truly novice players who struggle to create sufficient power to get the ball across the court.
The most popular and widely-used head size measures 100 square inches, which is the recommended size for competitive players to begin with.
The weight distribution determines the balance of a tennis racket; it can lie further towards either the head or the handle. Millimeters are the most common metric to describe balance points, and are measured from the bottom of the racket.
This length represents the point at which the racket can be balanced without tipping either way. Therefore, a greater number demonstrates a heavier racket towards the head, and vice versa.
343 mm is the approximate balance point for an evenly balanced racket that measures the standard length of 27 inches (686 mm).
Most rackets have a balance point of below 343 mm and are therefore considered ‘head light’.
Although this is indeed the case for the vast majority of rackets, different variations are worth being aware of.
For example, a racket possessing a 315 mm balance point will be more head-light than a racket with a 325 mm balance point. Even if every other specification is identical, the rackets will have a different feel. The player will play in another way.
On head light rackets, the weight is closer to the player’s hand, allowing greater room for maneuver on volleys and groundstrokes, increasing the overall level of control.
Conversely, on head heavy rackets, increased power is generated as greater momentum can be created upon the swing.
Tennis Nuts advises for social players seeking easy power from their racket should select balances of 340 mm or greater. In contrast, most other competitive players are best suited to rackets between 315 and 340 mm.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that this will also depend on the factors mentioned above and player preference.
If more power is required, it’s advised to select closer to the 340 mm point, or if more control is preferred, towards 315 mm would be best.
The length of a racket will significantly influence the level of power that is possible to generate.
A longer racquet will provide more leverage when swinging, allowing the player to create greater power.
A standard length for a tennis racquet is 27 inches (68.58 cm), so extended length is used to describe racquets up to 29 inches, the longest length allowed by tennis rules.
Not all power rackets will boast an extended length, but it is a feature that many manufacturers will adjust to factor in greater power.
Stiff frames are a common feature of power rackets.
The stiffness refers to the extent that a racquet bends when coming into contact with a tennis ball. Therefore, a higher rating will constitute a stiffer racket.
Almost counterintuitively, a stiff frame will not have as much of a flex when it meets a tennis ball. This causes the ball to rebound faster, with more speed and less effort required.
Performance graphite tennis rackets will weigh anywhere between 225g to 340g, with rackets on either end of the spectrum boasting their own sets of pros, as well as cons.
A heavier racket will provide more frame stability for those with the most powerful swing motion. Usually, a heavier frame will have a thinner beam, allowing for greater control over these powerful strokes.
Therefore, heavier rackets are the preferred choice among advanced and professional players.
More novice players will struggle to manage the sheer weight and can therefore tire out much quicker during a game.
A heavy racket comes in at over 300 grams.
A racket considered lightweight will weigh below 280 grams.
They are much easier to handle and maneuver, which is desirable at any point during a game.
Lightweight frames are usually paired with a thicker beam, to maintain structural stability.
Therefore, for newer players who are not particularly athletic or physically strong, these rackets can help generate power with greater ease.
Moreover, they are very suitable for younger players who are making their very first switch to adult rackets, as this weight is similar to junior graphite frames.
However, although offering an evident increase in power, a lightweight racket causes a lesser degree of control and accuracy and should be avoided by advanced players.
The rackets that fit between the lightweight and heavy categories (between 280 – 300 g) are the most popular because they provide a competitive specification suitable for players to use comfortably.
Within this weight range, a racket for every style of play is on offer, as they are also available in a wide array of head sizes, balances, and other characteristics that are crucial to consider when choosing the perfect tennis racket.
Tennis rackets can be made from a few different materials.
While this does not make any racket inherently better than another, certain materials will suit different players.
Therefore, it is important to consider the material, as it can make a difference to the player’s overall experience.
Wood tennis rackets were once all the rage for avid tennis players for a back and forth game.
Offering a more nostalgic experience, these tennis rackets aren’t nearly as widely used as they once were, and professional players have dropped this style all together.
Wood rackets are the heaviest type of racket possible due to the dense nature of the material.
Also, they tend to generally put less of a spin onto the ball, which would be unsuitable for advanced players attempting certain types of play, like the kick serve.
Metal tennis rackets are certainly more popular than their wooden predecessors, but they aren’t as popular as composite frames.
The first metal tennis racket debuted in 1967, and was the buzz of the tennis world when it was first launched.
The T2000 created by Wilson was fairly popular, as it was marketed as a racket that would generate much more power within the swing.
By this point, the wood tennis racket was practically obsolete.
For the amateur or social tennis players who are not looking to get into the sport on a serious level, a metal tennis racket would do a decent job. However, they are still relatively heavy as a frame and, therefore, more difficult to use and maneuver.
A lot of people think that a tennis racket restriction is a personal preference, while others take it more seriously and change them more often.
It also depends on how often you play and your play style. Aggressive players who play frequently will change strings more often.
Some advanced players want a restrung racket before every game becausetheir performance is affected by worn-out or low-tension strings.
There are always two things to keep in mind before restringing a tennis racket: first is the tension loss, and the other being string performance.
So, there is no exact scientific formula to tell you when to restring a tennis racket.
For more clarity and understanding, go check out this video on youtube.