Beginners and experienced players alike can have difficulty deciding how to choose a tennis racket that is best for them. Having the right racket can make or break your game, as it highly impacts every aspect of your swing.
So, if you’re wondering how to choose the best tennis racket for you, it’s time to read on to learn more. Our guide will guide you through each feature to consider before making a final choice.
Let’s get into it!
What to Consider When Choosing a Tennis Racket
There are several specific features you need to consider when choosing your tennis racket. Each of these features will affect your power, spin, and control and can help you get the best result from your swing.
1. Head Size
The first thing we need to consider in a racket is its head size. The head size is vital to your swing because it will determine the size of your sweet spot or the place where you can release the most power and accuracy on the ball.
Head sizes can vary significantly, but they are mainly categorized into three types:
Let’s take a closer look at each size in more depth.
Oversize rackets are measured at 105 inches or larger. These rackets are ideal for beginner players because they offer a larger surface area, giving them a greater chance of hitting a sweet spot.
An oversize racket helps lend more power to a newer player who is still working on their swing. It can also help with accuracy issues and is excellent for conquering the learning curve.
A mid-plus racket measures between 98 and 104 inches. As its name suggests, this size racket falls in the middle and can be a good option for an intermediate tennis player.
A mid-plus racket allows an intermediate player to hone their skills, as it lessens the available surface area. It will generate less power but will allow for more control.
Midsize rackets are the smallest of the three, ranging in size from 85 to 97 inches. Midsize rackets are considered advanced equipment and are best used by long-term players with excellent skills.
A midsize racket lets a player truly connect to the ball and have complete control of their accuracy and power. They allow an advanced player to generate precise accuracy, which can make for some impressive shots.
Your racket’s length is essential not because of how long it is, but because the length often determines the weight. A standard adult racket is usually between 27 and 29 inches, so there isn’t much variety in this area.
However, a longer racket is more likely to be lighter. Some players notice the additional reach. Shorter rackets will be a little bit heavier but are built to generate more power.
A frame is considered lightweight if it weighs between 9 and 9.7 ounces. Lightweight frames are suitable for beginners because they are easy to handle and offer a little more reach than heavier, shorter rackets. They’re excellent for practice strokes without wearing out new muscles too quickly.
A medium frame will weigh between 9.8 and 11 ounces, which is a wider range than the lightweight option. They offer an excellent range for intermediate players to choose from as they increase their weight to match their skills.
Heavy Weight Frame
A racket with a heavyweight frame is any racket that weighs more than 11 ounces. If lighter-weight rackets have more reach and are easier to control, why would someone ever go as heavy as these frames?
In short, heavier frames generate more powerful shots. When training, the goal is to increase both accuracy and power. A heavier frame allows a player to hit their ball hard for explosive strokes.
3. Weight Balance
While weight balance is connected to the weight of your racket, it does differ slightly. Your racket’s weight refers to the product’s overall weight, while the balance describes how the weight is distributed throughout the racket.
Racket weight balance is classified into three categories:
- Head Heavy
- Head Light
- Equal Balance
Each category is generally self-explanatory, but we’ll go into a little more detail.
With a head-heavy racket, the weight is more heavily distributed to the head. Tennis rackets with heavier heads provide players with a higher level of power. The additional weight applies a greater overall force, which drives the ball further.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, headlight rackets have more weight towards the handle and less weight towards the head. This weight balance is typically used in heavier rackets and helps with stability.
A headlight racket does an excellent job of absorbing shock and vibration, which may help an older player or someone who suffers from joint pain.
Equal balance rackets distribute the weight evenly through the racket; neither the head nor the handle end is heavier than the other.
Balanced rackets provide a nice middle ground and offer decent levels of both stability and power. They often fall into the midweight range, making them a good choice for many intermediate players.
4. Frame Stiffness
Your frame stiffness will determine how much your racket gives and flexes when you hit the ball. For beginners, this aspect of the racket is often irrelevant. However, as your skills improve, you may quickly notice the difference between the two rackets.
To determine the stiffness of a racket, manufacturers have to use specialized machines. The stiffness of a racket will usually fall between 50 and 85. A lower number indicates higher flexibility, while a higher number indicates higher stiffness. Most rackets fall somewhere in the middle between 60 and 75.
Your racket’s stiffness and flexibility can have a significant impact on power, control, and feel. A stiffer racket generates more power and can provide a crisp feel, while a more flexible racket can offer more stability.
5. Swing Weight
Your swing weight is determined through both your racket’s overall weight and its weight balance. It is measured in a unit called Racket Diagnostic Centre (RDC) and can impact both power and stability.
Generally, a higher swing rate will result in more power. Likewise, a greater swing rate will also give you more stability.
A racket that is more head heavy will have a great swing weight, while a racket that is headlight will result in lower swing weight. Swing weights generally range from 280 RDC to 420 RDC. Due to human error, it’s best to have your RDC determined by a professional machine.
6. String Pattern
Racket string patterns are described by a set of numbers, for example, 16×18. These two numbers refer to the two sets of strings. The first number dictates the number of main strings, which run vertically across the frame. The second number describes the cross rings, which run horizontally across the frame.
There are various patterns that these strings can be arranged into, but these are the most common groupings:
- Open string patterns
- Dense string patterns
- In between patterns
Open patterns, which are generally 16×8 or 16×19, arrange the strings with more space in between. The benefits of this pattern are more power, easier spin control, and a more forgiving feel.
A dense string pattern is just the opposite. This pattern, which is 18×20, places the strings closer together and offers more control, precision, and a firmer feel.
In-between patterns strive to give players a mix of both open and dense benefits. They may look like 16×20 or 18×19 and can vary significantly from racket to racket.
7. Grip Size
The grip size on your racket is the circumference of its handle. This size is one of the few factors that is less about skill and more about the size of a player’s hand. You must have the right grip size to properly and securely hold your racket.
Grip size is measured in inches. However, some companies use different sizing in numbers 0 to 5 or L0 to L5. The smaller your hand is, the smaller grip size you will need.
How to Measure Your Grip Size
Measuring your grip size is easy, and there are two methods of doing so.
The first method works by actually holding rackets. While shopping for a racket, hold one in a standard forehand grip. While in this position, your palm and your longest finger should be about one finger width apart, leaving around an inch of space in between.
It’s not an exact science, but you can try a larger grip size if this space is too small. If it’s too big of a gap, try sizing down.
The second method of measurement is done with a ruler. Measure your hand from the space on your palm where your thumb and ring finger intersects up to the top of your ring finger. This number will give you a rough idea of what size you should try.
For example, if your measurement is 4.5 inches, you’re likely a size four or L4 grip.
What If I’m Between These Grip Sizes?
Measuring your grip size can sometimes feel like trying to find a perfectly fitting pair of shoes. Sometimes, you just land between sizes.
If you’ve found that you are between sizes, you can either size up or size down. You can base this decision on the types of shots you make the most often.
For instance, if you’re a player who hits a lot of topspin, it’s best to size down. The smaller size will give you a better grip for hitting over the ball.
Alternatively, you should size up if you tend to hit more flatter shots. Doing so will give you a more comfortable grip.
Selecting the Right Racket for Your Skill Level
Now that you know a little more about the many factors that go into selecting a racket, you can start determining which features are essential for choosing one appropriate for your skill level.
We will sum it up for each skill level below.
Beginner Tennis Players
As a beginner tennis player, you want to make sure you have a racket that is conducive to the learning process. That is, it shouldn’t make your practice any more difficult than it already is.
A beginner’s tennis racket should have an oversize head and a lightweight frame. These components will allow you to control the racket easier while giving you access to a larger surface area.
Beginners should learn the basics of the game and begin practicing their swinging technique while generating more power from the racket rather than their swing. These dynamics are best for mastering muscle memory and strengthening muscles.
Intermediate Tennis Players
Intermediate tennis players should be at a point in their athletic career where they know the proper way to swing a racket. They may not be able to generate as much power yet, so they can still benefit from an oversize racket head. However, many intermediate players also graduate to a mid-plus size.
Additionally, intermediate players can also start playing with a medium-weight frame. Since they’ve been practicing for some time now, their muscles should be strong enough to handle a little bit more weight. The additional weight will help them generate more power while still maintaining control.
Advanced Tennis Players
By the time a tennis player reaches the advanced level, there’s a good possibility that they already know what they like and prefer in a racket. However, some basics can still help you determine what will benefit your game the most.
An advanced player will likely do well with a mid-plus or midsize head. By this point, an advanced player will have all but perfect their swing. They can control their sweet spot with smaller head size and aim for more precision over just hitting the ball over the net.
Advanced players also play well with medium to heavyweight frames. The heavier weight is great for generating more power, and a pro tennis player should have no issues muscling the additional ounces.
Rackets used by advanced players should be optimized for control, precision, and power, and those elements combine to keep them playing confidently.