How to Choose a Tennis Racquet
If you are looking to buy your first tennis racquet then you came to the right site. Well, for tips at least. This guide is for players new to the sport - those who have no idea what to look for when choosing a racquet.
Beginners often base their racquet-buying decisions on looks and which style their favorite professional player uses. Quite simply, this is the wrong way to go about a rather important decision. How your racquet looks and who is using the same brand on the professional tour will not make you a better player. Your decision should involve the following criteria: player body type, strength and style of play. Follow this guide to help alleviate stress during your trip to the sporting goods store.
Racquet Head Size
The power a player generates from a tennis racquet goes hand in hand with the head size of the racquet. In other words, the larger the head size of a racquet, the more power the racquet can generate. Larger head size provides a greater area to hit the ball, but also has a larger sweet spot. This is ideal for beginners, as making contact with the ball is one of the most important aspects of the game in the early stages.
Beginners should select a racquet with a head size between 95 and 110 square inches. Although racquets vary in head size and range between 85 and 135 square inches, a racquet with a head size between 95 and 110 is good for beginners, because it provides a balance of power and control. As players improve and advance their games, a smaller head size can be used to gain more control. When just starting out, though, picking a racquet that balances both power and control is highly recommended.
Length of Racquet
Tennis players come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are built with long arms and short legs, others have long legs and short arms, and so on. Luckily, racquet manufacturers recognize that players are not built the same.
After years of playing with standard-length, 27-inch racquets, players are now offered racquets that range from 27 inches to 29 inches. While the additional length may seem small, in the world of tennis, an inch or two can make a significant difference in the outcome of a match.
Standing only 5 feet, 8 inches tall, Michael Chang needed any advantage he could get during a professional career that lasted from 1988 to 2003. Chang was one of the first players to select a long-body racquet. This was due to the fact that he needed extra length on the court. With the new style racquet, Chang was able to generate more speed on both his first and second serves, while also improving his court coverage. The additional length on his racquet helped Chang be ranked as high as No. 2 on the ATP Tour.
Weight & Balance
The weight and balance of a racquet are the most important factors when deciding which racquet to use. These two components determine how the racquet feels in your hand, and more importantly, how the racquet feels when you swing it.
In recent years, racquet manufacturers have reduced weight in the grip area of the racquet, while being able to maintain the weight at the head of the racquet. This new method for distributing weight and balance means that tennis racquets today weigh less than before, but also produce more power than ever before. There are three types of weight and balance distributions used in tennis racquets:
- A heavy, head-light racquet
- A head-heavy racquet
- An even balanced racquet
It is recommended for beginners to pick a racquet somewhere in between a heavy, head-light racquet and an extremely light (under 9.5 ounces with strings) racquet. The reason for choosing a racquet in between these two extremes is that a heavy, head-light racquet is the preferred weight and balance for an advanced player for control, while an extremely light racquet is used to generate the most power. By selecting a racquet that is not too heavy, but also not too light, you will see a balance in the power you can generate, and will also have control of the ball.
The stiffness of a tennis racquet impacts the power that a racquet can generate. The rule of thumb is that a stiffer racquet will produce more power than a flexible racquet. However, a flexible racquet provides more control. It is recommended for beginners to choose a racquet where the frame stiffness lies in between the extremes of the most stiff and most flexible racquets, because the player will be able to balance power and control.
Hot Tip: Demo a Racquet
Before buying a new racquet, pick one up and test it out. As you do so, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the racquet feel solid on impact with the ball?
- Are there any annoying sounds or vibrations?
- Does it feel too heavy on serving and overhead motions?
- Does one racquet feel more maneuverable than another?
- Which racquet seems to hit the ball deep, but not out?
Summing it Up
The four main areas to consider when deciding on a tennis racquet are tied to a common theme. For a beginner, a balance of power and control is ideal. The recommendations of this guide are ideal for a beginner to achieve both power and control, without having to give up one component of the game for the other. Consider head size, length, weight and balance, and frame stiffness before you buy your first racquet. And remember to demo some racquets to see what best suits your game!