How To Choose Tennis Racquet

Taking the time to get the perfect tennis racquet can make a huge difference in how a player performs. With so many different options, players can find a perfect fit that allows them to take their game to the next level.

Some players are looking to grow with their racquet, while others are looking to learn the basics first before graduating to something better. The question is, how can a person choose their tennis racquet?

By following a few standard tips on navigating the buying process, tennis players can take some of the anxiety away from feeling like it is an impossible task to get it right the first time. 


Skill Level

Every person shopping for a tennis racquet should think about what type of level they are in the beginning. People who have never played a single point of tennis in their life should be looking for a beginner option. They are usually much more inexpensive, and they are sized completely differently from more competitive options.

Here are the best tennis racquets for all levels

Eventually, players who stick with tennis will want to graduate to a better racquet to up their game. This means getting a player’s racquet that might be more expensive, but capable of controlling powerful shots.

Head Size

MidplusMid-Plus (MP)OversizeSuper-oversize
85-95 sq. in96-102 sq. in103-110 sq. in>110 sq. in
Low PowerMedium PowerMore PowerMost Power
Best ControlGreat ControlLess ControlLeast Control
Small Sweet SpotMedium Sweet SpotLarger Sweet SpotLargest Sweet Spot

Even as recently as a few decades ago, tennis players opted for much smaller head sizes. These days, it is rarer and rarer for players to consider racquets with a head size under 100 in. ².

The game has certainly changed, as even professional players will use head sizes at 100 in. ² or slightly above. Generally speaking, most competitive players will have racquets the fall somewhere in the 95 in. ² to 105 in. ² range.

  • 85-95 sq. in = For advanced players
  • 96-102 sq. in = For intermediate/advanced players.
  • 103-110 sq. in = For beginners/intermediate players
  • 110+ sq. in = For beginners

The best thing to remember is that power is connected to head size. The larger the head size, the more power a person will have, with everything else being equal. Not only that, but there is more margin for error, as a larger head size offers a more prominent sweet spot. This means more forgiveness if a player does not always hit the perfect spot.

Professionals tend to go with a smaller racquet head because they get more control and can consistently hit the sweet spot. Starters will want a bigger racquet head size so that they get a bigger margin for error.

Length

  • Shorter racquets (<27 inches) are generally for younger players
  • Longer racquets (>27 inches) are generally used by shorter players to get more reach and power when serving
  • 90% of all racquets are 27 inches

Adults playing tennis are almost always going to opt for the standard racquet length of 27 inches. There are shorter options available, and they can go up to as high as 29 inches while still being legal. Junior tennis racquet lengths can vary in size depending on how old the player is, so keep that in mind as well.

Why would a player opt for a longer racquet? It provides a little bit more reach on groundstrokes, more leverage on the serve, and a little bit more power overall. Players who are a bit on the smaller side might opt for that extra bit of length to their play, while bigger players might feel like it is more comfortable for them as well.

A longer racquet also means a higher swingweight, which can be good or bad depending on how a player plays. It does require more effort to maneuver the racquet, but the good news is there will be more heft behind shots.

It is recommended to stick with 27 inches first, and then make adjustments after that. For the vast majority of players, 27 inches is going to be just fine to play with.

Weight

  • Under 10.6 ounces (300g) is considered a lightweight racquet
  • 10.6-11.3 ounces (300-320g)is considered normal weight
  • Over 11.3 ounces (320g)is considered a heavy racquet
  • Lightweight racquets are generally used by beginners
  • Normal/Heavy racquets are generally used by intermediate & advanced players

The basic weight of a racquet is going to determine how it plays. A heavy racquet is generally a more powerful option, and is more stable as well. There is less shock that transmits to the body then a lighter racquet, and players who can handle that amount of weight will feel pretty comfortable overall.

Heavier racquets do a pretty good job for baseline players who have fast strokes. The weight will give more depth to the shot, and pace for heavier strokes.

Going for something that is lighter is a lot more maneuverable makes it easier for players to pick up and play. Being able to whip the ball with spin can be pretty nice for players of all ages with a lighter racquet. It is much easier to add weight to a racquet with lead tape or other options as well, rather than take a weight off.

Balance

Make sure to pay attention to the balance of a racquet when shopping. There are three options out there, which include head light, head heavy, or even.

A head light racquet will have the majority of its mass towards the handle. A traditional performance racquet will be head light so that players can have a bit more maneuverability. On the contrary, lightweight power racquets are going to be heavy on the head size. That means the mass is located towards the head of the racquet, which some people really enjoy.

Finally, for a balanced feel, there is the even balanced option. If it is a racquet weighted evenly across, it will be a good blend of stability and maneuverability. The best way to feel out a racquet and see what works best is to demo them. It is really tough to make any decisions without picking a racquet up in all three categories.

Swingweight

The actual weight of a racquet is one thing, but swingweight is what will matter to a player a little bit more. This is how heavy the racquet feels when actually swinging it. Racquets with a high swingweight will be harder to pick up and use, but they provide a bonus amount of comfort, power, and overall stability.

Players will offer lower swingweights to have an easier way to swing the racquet, which allows them to learn the game the way they want to. It is very hard for advanced players not to play with a swingweight of about 310 or higher. In fact, advanced players opt for something in the 325 range and above to get that extra amount of stability.

Stiffness  

Stiffness (RA Rating)PowerControlComfort
<63 (Flexible)LowHighHigh
64-69 (Medium)MediumMediumMedium
>70 (Stiff)HighLowLow

A tennis frame needs to be relatively stiff to deliver a consistent ball each time. Even flexible frames, which are given a score of 63 and below, still have a level of stiffness that might not fit some players out there.

Most do not want a racquet that is too stiff, limiting the feel and control overall. Stiffer racquets are mostly for beginners and intermediate players, as it helps their game a little bit more.

However, advanced players who go for a stiff racquet will benefit if they have a control-oriented string. If it is their game, they will see a big increase in power and spin.

Comfort is something that is always a bit of a dilemma for tennis racquet shoppers out there. What might be comfortable enough for one player is way too stiff for someone else. With that said, a flexible racquet is generally more comfortable.

The only way to truly tell if a racquet is too stiff or not is to give it a try. It is one of the main things people try out when they decide to get a demo racquet.

String Pattern

String PatternPowerSpinControl
16×19Medium PowerMedium SpinMedium Control
18×20Less PowerLess SpinMore Control
16×18More PowerMore SpinLess Control
  • 16×19 = Neutral string pattern
  • 18×20 = Closed string pattern
  • 16×18 = Open string pattern

String patterns can make a pretty big difference on how a racquet plays. Generally speaking, the more strings a racquet has, the more control a player will be able to enjoy. That is because the ball stays on the strings and makes more contact overall.

An open string pattern will allow for easier access to spin and power. Modern players tend to go with more open string patterns, especially if they rely on a lot of topspin.

What are the most common types of string patterns out there for the modern tennis player? The majority of racquets are either 18×20, 16×19 or 16×18. There are some variations, but these are the basic open, neutral and closed string patterns.

String Considerations

Finally, although not officially part of the racquet, strings play a major role in how a racquet performs. It is important to have a tennis racquet that also has the right strings to go with it to play the game the way they want to. There are way too many people who get a racquet that fits them, but then uses a totally different string.

There are a lot of racquets out there that are more tailored for polyester options, while others are good for natural gut or multifilament. Tension is also something to keep in mind, as some racquets do better with high tension compared to others.

If possible, try to demo a racquet that has similar strings to what is preferred. A person can demo a racquet that is exactly what they like, but strings can make it play completely differently. Tension does not matter as much, but it can also be somewhat of an issue.

A Final Look At Picking The Right Tennis Racquet

There is a lot to consider with a tennis racquet, but overall, the process should be pretty fun. Players have plenty of choices, and there are some good demo programs online and in local stores that allow people to find exactly what they want.

Most people who do a little bit of initial research will start to gather the information that can really help them take it to another level. At the very least, it is a great starting point for people to try a few demos out and see which one works best. Maybe a person will not find exactly what they want initially, but through time, it becomes apparent what racquet helps a player get to another level.

Even if a person initially purchases a racquet they think is good, only to find out it does not fit their game, there are ways to correct that problem.

Selling a gently used racquet is fairly easy, and a person could use that money to buy another brand new one later on. Maybe a person will lose a little bit of money in the end, but not too much. It is better to have a racquet that fits the style of play than to have to settle for a less than stellar option.

If you are still unsure what tennis racquet you should choose, you can see my current recommendations in this post.

Fred Simonsson

I'm Fred, the guy behind TennisPredict. Apart from writing here, I play tennis on a semi-professional level and coaches upcoming talents.

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