How to Buy a Tennis Racquet

New high-tech materials, larger heads and longer racquets have changed the way tennis is played. Learn how to choose the right tennis racquet for your game.

First, Match Your Racquet To Your Ability Level

Your tennis racquet should always suit your skill level.

Beginners should use a basic and versatile racquet. Oversized, pre-strung racquets offer the best versatility and have the largest sweet spot.

Intermediate players, who maybe belong to a club or recreational team, can try lighter, smaller racquets if they are a power player, or larger racquets if they’re more of a finesse player.

Advanced tennis players can look for high-tech composite racquets that offer superior power and lightweight feel.

Next, Define Your Swing Type

If you play with long, looped swing and aggressively hit the ball, you are considered a power player. You can benefit from a “control racquet.” These smaller racquets help you keep in control on the court.

If you have a slow to moderate swing speed and shorter, more compact strokes, you’re considered a finesse player. You should take advantage of a power racquet, which will increase the sweet spot and hitting power.

Combination players may exhibit a mix of the aforementioned  characteristics and should consider moderate swing tennis racquets.

Now, Learn About The Construction Of Your Racquet

Before you choose a tennis racquet, it is important to understand the many factors that control its performance.

Tennis Racquet Diagram

HEAD SIZE
The larger your racquet’s head, the more powerful your shot. However, the smaller the head size the more control you have. If you’re in the middle, there are mid-sized versions that offer you a little of both.

Oversize

  • Measures between 107 square inches and 125 square inches. Super oversize racquets come as large as 135 square inches.
  • Larger sweet spot means more power
  • More consistency from fewer mishits

Midsize

  • Range from 100 square inches to 106 square inches
  • Slightly larger sweet spot
  • Better control without giving up too much power
  • For the stronger player who provides most of the power in a shot
  • The head size is smaller than 100 square inches
  • Much better control, but sacrifices power
  • Easier for smaller players to handle

LENGTH
The length of your racquet is the distance from the bottom of the handle to the top of the head.

Long

  • More than half of racquets made today are “long racquets”
  • Measure between 28.5-29 inches
  • Provides greater leverage on a swing, and as a result, more power
  • Easier to cover more area on the court

Traditional

  • The standard 27.5-28 inch racquet is for you if you prefer a more traditional look and feel
  • A combination of both power and control
  • Easier to handle if you are a smaller player

WEIGHT
The weight of a racquet affects both power and control. With today’s racquets increasingly lighter racquets, manufacturers have placed most of the weight, or mass, in the head to increase the power.

Heavy

  • Generally weigh more than 11 ounces
  • Supplies more power
  • Helps maintain control

Mid-Weight

  • Measures between 9.8-10.9
  • Offer a combination of control and power
  • Very versatile to fit most types of players

Super Light

  • Weighs between 9-9.4 ounces
  • Superior shot control
  • Easier for smaller players to handle

STIFFNESS & FLEXIBILITY
When  racquet flexes it wastes energy. All manufacturers have different ways of determining and indicating their stiffness and flexibility ratings.

  • The stiffer the racquet, the more energy is returned to the ball
  • Better control of return shots
  • Dampens vibration and stress on the elbow
  • More power since less energy is wasted

HEAD SHAPE
The shape of the racquet head depends on your preference in the look of the racquet and your skill level.

Oval

  • The sweet spot resides in the bottom half of this standard-shaped head that is preferred by traditionalists
  • Excellent feel of the racquet

Tear Drop

  • The tear drop shape allows more of the racquet to act as the sweet spot
  • A sweet spot is the area on the racquet that allows for a solid hit and return. The larger the racquet, the bigger the sweet spot.
  • The tear drop-shaped racquet allows almost the entire face to become the sweet spot
  • New materials have strengthened racquet frames to add more consistency

GRIP SIZE

  • A properly fitted grip will improve your control over the tennis racquet, enhancing your performance
  • A grip that is too small will allow the racquet to twist in your hand and can eventually lead to tennis elbow.
  • A grip that is too large will decrease wrist snap on serves and prolonged use can also cause tennis elbow.

 

Finally, String Your Racquet 

Once you have the type of frame that best fits your playing style and swing, you will need to determine the type of stringing that suits your game.

Pre-Strung Racquets

  • Pre-strung racquets are geared towards recreational players
  • Versatile for a beginning level player

Unstrung Racquets

  • These allow you to choose a racquet type and size and then tailor the string to your game
  • It allows more advanced players to customize string and tension according to your playing style

Natural Gut

  • Provides the best, most consistent feel
  • Best suited for more advanced players because of improved performance and feel on shots
  • Will need to be changed frequently; not very durable

Synthetic

  • Better suited for recreational players
  • Offers a good balance of durability and playability
  • Very little difference in performance for the average tennis player

String Gauge

  • This is basically the thickness of the string and the big difference is in durability and playability
  • Thicker strings (15 gauge) last longer, while thinner strings (16 and 17 gauge) offer better feel but are less durable

String Tension

  • All racquet frames come with manufacturer’s recommendations on string tension and it is best to stay within those limits
  • For more power, the racquet should be strung at the low end of the range, because lower tension equals more power
  • Higher string tensions offer less power but provide for better control
  • As a general rule, higher tensions are recommended for experienced players only

TENNIS RACQUET SIZING CHART

tennis racquet size chart