I’m sure you’ll agree that having the perfect tennis racquetto fit your playing style will most certainly up your game.
We looked at material, construction, and features as our top criteria for selecting the best tennis racquet.
If you are ready to get playing towards the next Grand Slam, the Head Liquidmetal 8 is a combination of all features and was selected the “Best Overall” pick from our editorial team.
Tennis Racquet Comparison
|String Pattern||16 x 19||16 x 19||16 x 19||16 x 20||16 x 20||16 x 20||16 x 19||16 x 20||18 x 20||16 x 19|
|Grip Type||Head SofTac||Head SofTac||Perforated||Perforated||Perforated||Perforated||Head SofTac||Perforated||Head SofTac||Perforated|
Tennis Racquet Buying Guide
What is a Tennis Racquet?
The most important piece of equipment for any tennis player is their racquet. It is responsible for the player’s power, control, and overall comfort. The wrong racquet can affect performance and even cost them the match so it is important that time is spent ensuring the player has the right racquet for them. There are many different sizes and styles of tennis racquet. There are designs that are better for beginners and those that suit professional players as well.
This tennis racquet buyer’s guide will provide the information you need to match the perfect racquet to your skill level and other needs. Once you have all this information you will be able to navigate through the many different kinds of tennis racquets available.
There are several factors involved in finding the right racquet. These include:
- The material of the frame
- The size of the racquet head
- The length of the racquet overall
- String patterns
- Grip size
By taking all these factors into account you can narrow the choices down to the ones that will fit your needs, skill level and playing style the best.
The Material of the Frame
If you’re a beginning player, an aluminum racquet is a good choice because they are already pre-strung and are typically more affordable as well. This type of racquet is good for the player that plays recreationally a few times each month or even once a week. Vibration tends to be more of an issue with an aluminum racquet and the player may notice more of an impact to the arm than with other materials.
If you’re looking to join a tennis team or pursue professional tennis, a graphite racquet would be better suited to your needs. Graphite tennis racquets are lightweight but much sturdier and rigid than aluminum racquets are. They can last many years and offer the player much more accuracy as well. Graphic composite tennis racquets are made up of a combination of materials including titanium, Kevlar and fiberglass.
Players that try graphite composite racquets may find that they are more flexible than graphite and will bend more than a stiffer, graphite only racquet. A graphite composite racquet provides more control but they tend to not generate as much power as graphite only models. Stiffer tennis racquets are, as a general rule, more powerful but you will have less control over the ball. Another factor to think about if you participate on a team or professionally is that stiffer racquets are much easier for the opponent to anticipate where the ball will go when hit.
The Size of the Racquet Head
The power and control of your racquet is determined by the head size. There are three basic size ranges of tennis racquet heads: Standard which ranges from 85 sq in. to 89 sq in; Midplus which ranges from 99 sq in. to 105 sq in. and Oversized with ranges from 106 sq in. to 135 sq in. Smaller racquet heads are much easier to control but don’t have as much power as the racquets with larger heads. A larger head has the opposite problem of less control but more power.
When you are first starting out in tennis you should get a racquet that has a head between 100 and 115 sq in. This is a good size for having a bit larger sweet spot to work with and works you into learning where to hit the ball and how to control your shots better. As you increase your knowledge and performance you can opt for a smaller head if you choose.
Which Frame is Best?
There are three types of racquet frames: Control, Tweener and Power. How do you know which of these frames to focus on when it comes to getting your own racquet? We’ve outlined some information below that will make it much easier to tell what kind of frame is best for you.
Control Frame – a control focused racquet will give players more precision on ground strokes and more control overall. They don’t always have as much power as power frame racquets but if you are able to utilize your own power, the control focused frames will allow you to make some terrific authoritative, well placed shots. Control frames are perfect for advanced players, physically imposing players, players that have fast, loopy strokes, and players that have a faster pace but are looking for more control. Control frames are the heaviest of all of the racquets, typically weighing over 11 ounces.
Tweener Frame – “Tweener” is a term for players that are between the intermediate and advanced levels. A Tweener racquet is typically going to be a bit lighter in weight, stiffer and has larger heads than the advanced racquets. It’s a great racquet for players that are advancing to a higher level of play. They are also good for players who are looking to put more spin on the ball as it leaves the racquet. Tweener racquets usually weigh somewhere in the 10-11 ounce range.
Power Frame – If you’re looking for more power in your shots, a power frame is what you’ll want to go for. The power frame racquet has larger and much more forgiving sweet spots than standard racquets do. It’s also going to allow you to hit the ball much farther with shorter groundstrokes as well. The power frame racquet is great for players that have physical limitations, have shorter, more compact swings, and for those players that need a more forgiving frame. Power racquets are the lightest of all the racquet types, weighing somewhere in the 9-10 ounce range.
Features and their Purpose
There are several things that make up a tennis racquet. It’s the combination of these things that all come together to make the racquet what it is. Below we’ve explained what these other factors are and what they do when it comes to your racquet.
Balance – There are two types of balance factors in a racquet; head light and head heavy. When a tennis racquet is head light, it provides more maneuverability with heavier framed tennis racquets. When they are head heavy, your stability and momentum will be increased in a lighter framed tennis racquet. For the most part, which type you choose will depend on your objective.
Beam – The beam of your racquet is that spot that is at the base of the tennis racquet head and it goes down into the handle of the racquet. Beams are measured in mm and can be 22-28mm. A wider beam means that the frame produces more power; a thinner beam provides more control from the frame.
Flex – The flex a tennis racquet has is how much resistance it has to bending or deforming when it connects with the tennis ball. It is how a tennis racquet is measured for stiffness. Stiffness can range anywhere from 0-100 but most tennis racquets will fall between the 45-75 flex range with 45 being more flexible and 75 being stiffer. A lower flex number means that the tennis racquet will feel more comfortable in your hand, it will give you more control and it will bend more. A higher flex number transmits the vibration to your wrist more and offers players more power in their shots.
Grip Size – Figuring out your grip size is actually easy, using a tape measure, measure the distance from the middle crease in your palm to the tip of your ring finger. The most common grip size is 4 3/8” but a typical adult grip size can range anywhere between 4 1/8” to 4 5/8”. It is better to err on the side of caution and get a smaller grip if you’re not sure. You can always add an overgrip if your chosen grip size is too small.
String Pattern – There are two basic string patterns when it comes to racquets: open pattern and dense pattern. Believe it or not, even the string pattern of your racquet affects what your racquet does and how you play. An open pattern is 16 x 19 and has more space between the squares. Open pattern strings are less durable than dense pattern but they offer more power and spin. Dense pattern strings have smaller spaces between the squares and reduce the “trampoline” effect that open pattern strings can have. They also offer more control and last longer as well.
Length – A standard tennis racquet is 27” but longer lengths are available through many manufacturers. Extra length can provide extended reach but it can also alter how comfortable the racquet is to use. Most are in the 27-29” range. If you’re a beginner who wants to improve on your maneuverability, you will probably do better with a shorter tennis racquet.
String Material – There are several different types of tennis racquet strings:
- Natural gut
- Combination of both
Each type of string offers different benefits. Natural gut strings give the player better control but they don’t last as long as synthetic strings and require replacing more often. You don’t get as much accuracy and precision from synthetic strings and even though they are more durable, a more experienced player would not be very happy using a tennis racquet with synthetic strings. Combination strings are possibly the best choice seeing as they feel good to use and they also last longer which are both positive things.
How to Buy?
Buying a tennis racquet for your child is very similar to buying one for yourself, although the dimensions will be different. There is no such thing as one size racquet fits all children. There are many styles of tennis racquets that are great for kids but you will still need to be aware of how to measure your child and figure out which is the best one for them.
Tennis Racquet Length – There are a few different ways to gauge what length racquet your child needs. While age/height brackets are fairly accurate, not every child falls into those bracket categories. Most children’s tennis racquets measure between 19”-26” long. There are some that can be even smaller if you search for them.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that if your child is less than 4 years old and who are less than 40” tall should get a racquet of 19”. They can move up to 21” racquet when they get to be between 4 and 5 years of age and between 40” and 44” tall. Children in the 6 to 8 year old range and who are 45” to 49” tall can upgrade to a 23” tennis racquet. 9-10 years olds that are between 50” and 55” are a good match for a 25” racquet and over 10 years old who are taller than 55” will get the best performance from a 26” tennis racquet.
Tennis Racquet Grip – The grip of a child’s tennis racquet plays just as much of a part in how the child plays as the length of their racquet does. A racquet that has a grip that is too large will be too hard for the child to hold onto and control properly. Most children’s tennis racquets have a 4” grip but there are some children that won’t do well with the standard grip size. If the child is serious about playing, customizations are possible that can make the grip smaller. These customizations can be done at a tennis shop in most cases. If the grip is too small, an overgrip can be added.
Proper Measuring – Be sure to measure your child before you start hunting for the correct tennis racquet for them. You will start with the child’s height measurement and can compare that to the measurements listed above. If you have access to any racquets or want to go into a store that sells them before purchasing online, have the child place the palm of their hand on the bottom of the tennis racquet’s handle. They should be able to extend their arm comfortably while doing this. If they have to bend their elbow or they can’t reach the bottom of the handle the racquet is not the right size for them.
Replacing the Racquet – As your child grows, you should expect to replace their racquet several times. If they are endeavoring to become proficient players, this is even more important so they are not playing with an ill fitting tennis racquet. If they just enjoy playing for fun, there’s nothing that says you can’t start off with a racquet that is a little bigger to allow for a few years growth, but overall, if you start your child off playing tennis at 5 years old, you should expect to replace their racquet several times as they go from 5-10 years of age.
Tennis Balls – While a tennis racquet is the most important piece of equipment, you can’t play the game without tennis balls. There are essentially two types of tennis balls available: Pressurized and Pressure-less. Pressurized tennis balls are the more commonly used balls when playing tennis. The majority of advanced tennis players will choose pressurized, medium-speed balls that have extra-duty felt which means they don’t fray as quickly even when used on hard courts. This is a common problem with regular-duty felt tennis balls.
A pressurized tennis ball can have an air filled core and this core can lose air over time which will result in the ball losing most of its bounce. For this reason, pressurized tennis balls need to be replaced on a regular basis to ensure good play.
If you want a good tennis ball for practice and tennis pitching machines, choose pressure-less tennis balls. This type of ball gains more bounce over time and have a stiffer feel to them than their pressurized counterparts. They do hold up well to repeated use which is why they are a good choice for practice.
Tennis Shoes – A good pair of tennis shoes will provide cushion and support that is required in tennis. It is a demanding sport physically, and the wrong shoe can cause real problems regardless of how good the tennis racquet and tennis balls are. Make sure the shoes fit properly and spend the extra money for tennis specific shoes which will have the proper tread and padding that tennis players need. During a match is not the time you want to have to deal with improperly fitting shoes.
Tennis Clothing – Unless you are playing professionally, the only real requirements for tennis apparel is that it is supportive, comfortable and breathable. Shorts, skirts, sports tops and similar items are all good choices and don’t forget to get wrist bands, head bands, caps or visors and even sunglasses. Some tennis clubs and certain competitions have dress codes so if you are playing in those venues, be sure to find out what you need to have on hand.
Even though tennis isn’t a contact sport, there are specific safety considerations that a player needs to take into account when they play. We’ve outlined these below.
Form is Important – Even if you’re not a professional player, form is important to avoid injury. One of the first things every tennis player needs to do before ANY game, professional or causal, is to warm up properly. Warming up keeps the muscles limber and keep the body less prone to getting injured. Warm up your shoulders, legs and calves. Remember not to land on the balls of your feet while you’re playing and don’t arch your back while you’re hitting the ball. Your knees should be slightly bent and have “give” to them. Another injury that proper form and warm up will prevent is tennis elbow which is a common injury from overuse and improper form.
Follow Court Safety – When you’re getting ready to play a match, check the court for balls, sticks, rocks and other things that could cause a fall or bad sprain should you step on them. If you’re playing doubles, make sure that you’re far enough away from each other that you don’t accidentally hit each other with your racquets. When someone is serving, stay out of the way. Heat stroke is another real concern for tennis players since the game is mostly a spring/ summer sport. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, after and during the match and stop playing if you feel confused, weak, nauseous or excessively tired. Anyone exhibiting the symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion should seek medical help immediately.
Tennis is a fun, rewarding and challenging sport that people of all ages enjoy. Finding the right tennis racquet is an exciting part of getting started with the game. Using this information contained here will help you find that perfect racquet that will not only bring out the best player you can be but provides lots of exercise and enjoyment as well.
- Head Ti-S6 – http://www.tennisexpress.com/
- Head – http://www.head.com/tennis/?region=us
- Wilson – http://www.wilson.com/en-us/tennis/