If you’re like most tennis players, it’s likely that you already have a rough idea of the type of racquet you’re after. You could be looking to upgrade to a more comfortable model, or it’s possible that you’re seeking more powerful shots and serves, or a little bit of both!
But what if you don’t know what model is going to be right for you?
The sheer amount of racquets available means that it’s often difficult to know where to start. So, in order to make this process a bit easier, we’ve put together a quick and easy to read guide on tennis racquets and how each feature affects the performance of the racquet.
After you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be left in the best position possible to find the racquet that’s right for you and hopefully without emptying your bank account in the process.
When buying a tennis racquet, keep these following features in mind:
The power of your shots and serves are directly related to your racquet’s head size. In other words, a larger head will allow for more power than a smaller one.
The head size also determines the diameter of what’s known as the sweet spot. The bigger the sweet spot of your racquet, the more forgiving your racquet will be for those off-center shots.
In general, a smaller racquet is a better fit if you’re a more experienced player that craves additional control, while bigger racquets are recommended if you are just learning the game.
In addition to different head sizes, racquets also come in various lengths. Most models will be between 27 and 29 inches long, which is also the maximum length for tournament and professional play.
The benefit of owning a longer racquet is that you can get extra reach for those heavy groundstrokes. The added leverage can also be a nice touch, which provides slightly more powerful shots than an average-sized racquet.
One significant disadvantage of using a racquet that’s on the longer side is that they can be heavier, and thus less wieldy to use than shorter models.
A stiff tennis racquet will bend less and will absorb less energy from the ball when it makes contact with the racquet. While a flexible racquet will absorb more, thus reducing the ball’s velocity.
It should be noted that in tennis racquets, there is an inverse relationship between control power. In other words, a stiffer racquet will let you make more powerful plays, but with less precision.
If you are just starting out, you could find that a less stiff racquet will be the right choice for you. Most new players do not require the additional power that a rigid frame can provide.
A stiff frame will transmit more shocks and vibrations to the wrist, elbow, and shoulder than a softer frame, which can be uncomfortable if your arms are not used to them and could increase the likelihood of injuries such as tennis elbow.
The string pattern relates to the racquet’s string density on the racquet’s head. You can find racquets that feature open and closed designs, with each having their own strengths and weaknesses.
Using a racquet with an open string pattern will deflect more force on impact than a racquet that has a denser string pattern. The type of string pattern of the racquet is similar in many ways to the frame’s stiffness in terms of string vibration and ball rebound. In general, the denser the string pattern is, the more resultant ball rebound there will be and vice-versa.
Additionally, the type of string pattern your racquet has influences the amount of spin you will see when you hit the ball. Open-patterned racquets will provide more spin than closed-patterned models, although you will sacrifice string durability.
Read our guide: how to string a tennis racquet.
Besides your racquet’s weight, the other factor that influences how comfortable your racquet is going to be to use is the grip or handle. Most manufacturers today incorporate shock and vibration dampening systems in the handle such as those seen by brands such as Dunlop, Head, and Volks.
Read our guide: how to regrip a tennis racquet.