Walk into any sporting goods store and you’ll immediately notice the wall of rackets along the back somewhere.
While an experienced player may know exactly what size, shape, and weight to look for, most players are simply overwhelmed with the massive amount of options.
To help with that, we put together a quick guide to point out some things to look for when choosing a racquet.
A Quick Video To Help Out
This video explains things well:
Pretty simple, right?
First, Consider The Construction
There are generally three parts of a tennis racquet: the grip, the head, and the strings. Advanced players customize each one of these sections to create a racquet that is tailor-made to their strengths, but most racquets will be premade.
When looking at the head of your racket (where the strings are at), you may notice that some are larger than others. An “oversized” racquet measures anywhere between 107 and 125 square inches, with some stretching up to 135 square inches. The oversized racquets deliver more power behind your shots due to a larger sweet spot, and also offer a more forgiving swing resulting in fewer mis-hits.
Midsized racquets give you more control while retaining most of the power of an oversized racquet. Since these are smaller than most (usually less than 100 square inches), it is perfect if you have smaller hands or are more advanced and want to put draws and fades into your swing.
Picking the right size grip for your tennis racquet is about more than just comfort: pick a grip that’s too small, and you’ll end up with tennis elbow; pick a grip that’s too large and you’ll still develop tennis elbow. How? A too-small grip over-torques your hands when you swing which puts more strain on your elbow, while a grip that’s too large forces your hand to remain static during swings and also puts a strain on your ligaments. The key is to find the grip that allows you to swing freely while also maintaining a high level of control and power.
A quick way to determine your ideal grip size is to lay your hand over, palm side up, with the fingers right next to each other. Then, measure the distance between your middle crease of your hand – most hands have three creases that run horizontally just above the thumb – and a point in between your middle and ring finger, up to the height of your ring finger (here’s a visual demonstration of this).
Typically, men will have a distance of between 4 3/8″ and 4 1/2″, women will measure between 4 1/8″ and 4 3/6″, and juniors will measure less than 4″. Measure the grips on potential tennis racquets to find the ideal grip. If you find yourself between grip sizes, size down; you can always adjust up a little bit with an overgrip.
Most beginners opt for a pre-strung racquet which will be relatively inexpensive. However, advanced players who are comfortable with their game will most likely want to choose their head and string separately as they learn more about their game.
There are several advantages to buying string separately, but the most obvious is the ability to tailor their racquet to their own skill set. Natural gut strings provide the most consistent feel across shots and is more appropriate for advanced players who rely on touch as much as sight in their game. A natural gut string is not very durable, so recreational players who don’t want to change ou their string as often will probably be more likely to choose a synthetic string which offers a good balance between playability and durability.
Every racquet frame will come with a manufacturer’s recommendation on tension, so it’s important to keep that in mind as you consider how tight to wind the strings. Like with head size, those who want more power out of their hits will want to stay near the bottom of that range, whereas those who want more power should string their racquets tighter.
One area that often goes overlooked by many players is the string pattern. An open string pattern refers to larger spaces between strings on the head of the racquet, generating larger squares that create a greater rebound off the frame. Conversely, a closed pattern means less space between strings that give the player more control over their strings. As with most customization options, the choice will largely be dependent on the skill level and individual style of each player.
Second, Consider Your Own Skill Level
Depending on how much you’ve played and whether you plan to play recreationally or in a competitive league, you should give strong consideration as to how you play now, not in a year from now. A good racquet that is appropriate for your skill level will allow you to learn the game the right way and develop skills that you can build on later. As you develop, your racquet can, and should, change with you.
Someone who is new to the game should consider a basic racquet that offers a nice balance between power and control. Pre-strung racquets with an oversized head are a great option to start out on since it allows you to get the mechanics of the game down before learning different shot types and serving skills.
Also, consider getting a larger racquet that enables you to cover more area on the court and a mid-weight racquet that gives you both control and power. As you develop your game, you can move up or down in size and weight accordingly. These types of racquets are generally called “game improvement” racquets and are designed for people who have shorter and slower swings that generate more power. They are very forgiving and perfect for beginners.
If you’ve got a little more time invested in the game, you might think about moving up to a “tweener,” or in-between, racquet. Despite the name, these are not designed for the pre-adolescent in mind wanting to join their local youth league, but for those who are more familiar with their own swing who are looking to retain a little more control to learn advanced shots.
Tweener racquets are usually heavier than the game improvement racquets (generally between 9.5-11 ounces), are usually misbalanced towards either the head or the grip, have a mid-size head between 95-102 square inches, and deliver low to medium power off the head.
These racquets are purely for the skill player who wants to shape their shots rather than muscle them across the court. They are usually the heaviest (11.5-13 ounces), have thinner shafts, more flexible beams, and smaller heads to create the ultimate in control. Advanced players are generally more comfortable developing their own power rather than relying on the racquet to do it for them, so advanced racquets focus on giving the player the ability to place the ball where they want it.
Hope This Helps!
Choosing a tennis racquet can seem a little complicated but it’s pretty simple when you know what’s most important. Hopefully, after reading this guide you’re feeling more confident in your ability to select the right product.
If you’re ready, make sure to check out my article on the top tennis racquets:
If you have any questions you can comment below and I’ll make sure to respond as quickly as possible.
Are you excited to try out your new racquet?