What Racquet Should You Buy?
January 28th, 2021
Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in front of a wall of tennis racquets and had no idea what to do next. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Racquet shopping can be a daunting experience. Some racquets look small, some look huge, and some have some really aggressive adjectives written on them. There are different materials, different head sizes, different lengths, different grip sizes, all sorts of numbers, string pattern, string weight, racquet weight and like, 30 of them have Roger Federer’s name written on them. You could end up overpaying for something that’s completely wrong for you, or you might end up buying a junior sized racquet because it told you it was “Ultra-Elite” (I saw it happen once).
So before you run out of the store in tears, let’s simplify this and make it much easier.
- Below 95 square inches
- Smaller sweet spot
- For advanced players
- 95-106 square inches
- Balance and control
- For intermediate players
- 106-135 square inches
- Large sweet spot
- For beginners
Don't get too carried away...
- 9-9.4 ounces (255-270 grams)
- Easier control
- Less power
- 9.8-10.9 ounces (280-310 grams)
- a combination of control and power
- 11 ounces (330 grams)
- More power
- More control
Head Heavy - some racquets will have more weight in the head that will help generate more momentum. These can also be good for baseline players or players that want some additional power.
They are usually combined with a light frame to assist beginner players in generating power while keeping the racquet head on course.
Head Light - a head light and grip heavy racquet will provide the majority of the weight in the grip to allow for increased maneuverability and control. These racquets are usually preferred by net players who like to volley.
They're best suited to advanced players who can generate spin and power from the baseline on their own.
Sometimes you get the weight just right
Racquet length is pretty simple. A standard size for an adult racquet is 27 inches, but they are available between 26.5-29 inches. 29 is the maximum length allowed for a tournament player, but I'm sure your club league won't be getting out the measuring tape.
A longer racquet can provide greater reach on groundstrokes and can generate more power and leverage on serves. First and foremost though, is comfort.
Perhaps the most important factor so far when considering a new racquet is the correct grip size.
The grip size is the circumference of the handle, which includes the grip that the racquet is wrapped in. ("Grip" and "handle" both refer to the handle of the racquet. "Grip" can also refer to the actual grip tape that wraps around the handle. Tennis lingo FTW).
A thin little grip when you have hands like oven mitts is only going to cause injury, and vice versa.
Never fear, there’s an easy way to find the correct size.
Racquets come in a variety of grip sizes. They can be found on the butt cap of the racquet or inside the throat of the frame.
The size range includes:
To find the correct size for you, you'll need a ruler or measuring tape.
With your palm open, line your ruler up vertically along your ring finger. Place the bottom of the ruler along the first horizontal line on your palm. Measure to the top of your ring finger to find the correct size.
Make sure your grip feels comfortable but also secure when you swing the racquet. It's recommended to try a size above and below to get the best fit.
Strung or Unstrung?
A very telling sign that you're holding a higher end racquet (besides the price tag) is that it will be unstrung. Advanced players are usually pretty particular about their string type and string tension, so they'll opt to get this done to their liking instead of relying on the factory choice.
Beginner to intermediate players will be just fine with factory strings, and they'll likely last until you decide to change them (see our blog on when to change your strings).
Online or In-Store?
If you're sure of what you want and are familiar with your sizes and specs, then online can have some terrific deals that will save you some money, but unquestionably the best option is to hold the racquet in your hands and see for yourself how it feels. Better yet, if you have a dedicated racquet shop in your city that allows you to demo racquets, you can try it out and know for sure. Some racquets play much differently than you might think. The staff at a racquet specific store are also going to be much more helpful and educated than a big box sports store where they also sell crossbows and lob wedges.
Lastly, be sure to take note of how the racquet was strung, as this can play a big factor in why you might like it.
Here's where things are a matter of personal preference. A lot of players will be very loyal to particular brands, and some swear up and down they can't play with others. And some people just swear. It's the nature of tennis.
Certainly each brand has a subtle feel and unique difference from the others. Choose whichever you feel suits you best and feels comfortable to play with.
Still with me? I know, it's a lot to take in. Hopefully you haven't left us for pickle ball just yet.
What will make this much easier is identifying what sort of player you are. Beginner? Intermediate? Advanced?
Are you playing regularly? Are you improving rapidly and getting more competitive? Are you a base liner or a net player? Do you play doubles or singles? Don't buy an advanced racquet if you're brand new to the game, and don't cheap out on something too basic if you're starting to really make some improvements.
Consider all of these things with everything mentioned above and you should be able to make a much more informed decision.
If you take nothing else away from this, please, whatever you do, don't buy a racquet because of it's paint job.
What racquets do you like? Tell us in the comments below which racquet really stood out to you and made a difference in your game!
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