HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT TENNIS RACKET
With so many tennis racquets on the market, choosing the right one can be intimidating. Should you purchase an ultra-light racquet? Is your game better suited to a heavier model? And what about all those high-tech features that manufacturers love to talk about? It's simple to say that a suitable tennis racket will compliment your playing style and help as you strive to improve your game. You want to arm yourself with a brand new racquet that will improve your winning percentage. But sometimes it's hard knowing just where to begin. We've compiled some helpful information to hopefully avoid any nasty surprises. That's where this guide can help you.
Most rackets weigh between 240 and 320 grams. A heavier racket produces more power and control, super-light rackets on the other hand come with better maneuverability. (Pre-strung rackets naturally weigh a few grams more than unstrung frames).
- Super-light (less than 240g) - for recreational players and casual play,
- Light (241 - 280g) - for beginners up to intermediate; they may, however, transmit more vibration to the wrist and forearm and feel uncomfortable when played with regularly.
- Mid-weight (281 - 300g) - for intermediate and advanced players; absorbing much of the vibrations it offers better hand protection,
- Heavy (over 301g) - for trained advanced and professional players, who can compensate for the heavy weight.
Tennis racquets with larger heads will increase power and resist torque from off-center hits. A smaller head size on the other hand usually offers more control.
If you're a beginner, you should play with a racquet that's light enough and easy to swing while powerful enough so it adds some power to your stroke. Go with a racquet that weighs between 255 and 283g, has an oversize head measuring at least 645cm2 (which will give you more power and improve your chances of making good contact with the ball), and has a beam width (the thickness of the frame) that's at least 25mm thick. A "wide" beam makes the frame stiff and therefore more powerful.
If you're an intermediate player, try a racquet that offers a blend of power and control, falling between the heavy, thin-beamed control racquets and the lighter and bigger power sticks. Most players need a racquet that isn't too powerful and yet isn't all about control because power won't mean a thing if you can't keep the ball in the court. All the control in the world does you no good if you can't get enough power on your shots either.
If you're an advanced player and can generate your own juice on the
court, it's a different story. You're looking for more control, and you
can get it with a racquet that's heavier (over 298g) and has a
smaller head and thinner beam.
- Midsize (smaller than 600cm2) - suited for advanced and professional players,
- Midplus (601 - 690cm2) - for intermediate to advanced players who have achieved a near perfect stroke technique,
- Oversize (691 - 740cm2)- perfect for beginners and recreational players, allows fast improvements on stroke power,
- Super Oversize (larger than 741cm2) - suitable for beginners and recreational players who lack strength and need a power boost.
- Stiff Frame (RA 70 or above) - for recreational players who play casually and won't suffer from strains due to high vibrations and regular play,
- Moderate Flex (RA 60 - 70) - for beginners and intermediate players who don't want to strain their forearms too much,
- Flexible Frame (RA 50 - 60) - experienced and advanced players who don't want to compromise maximal control opt for a flexible frame.
Most rackets are 680 - 690mm long, It wasn't too many years ago that every racquet was 686mm long. Now,
adult racquets come in lengths of up to 736mm (extra long). Everything
else being equal, extra-long frames are more powerful than shorter
models because the contact point is farther away from your body,
resulting in greater momentum on your swing and more pop on your shots.
The downside is that an extra-long racquet may not be as maneuverable as
a shorter frame. However, few players have found longer rackets effective due to the lack of maneuverability. Still, some recreational players or beginners might find the additional power of a longer racket useful.
A racquet's balance is either head heavy, head light, or even. To check a
frame's balance, measure it lengthwise and balance it at its exact
center. If the head dips down, the racquet is head heavy. If the handle
dips down, it's head light.
- Head Heavy (over 345 mm)
Head-heavy racquets give you more power on ground strokes but are less
maneuverable, which can be a problem when you're at the net. Players who
like to rally from the baseline tend to prefer head-heavy frames.
- Balanced (340 - 345 mm)
Evenly balanced frames offer a blend of power from the baseline and
maneuverability at the net. They usually appeal to all-court players.
- Head Light (less than 340 mm) Head-light racquets are easier to maneuver at net, but they won't deliver the power of head-heavy frames when you hit from the baseline. Serve & volley players, all-court players, and advanced players who take full swings generally like head-light racquets.
Grip sizes range from L0 - L5, the sizes increase respectively from smallest to largest. The most common men's grip size is L4, while L3 is most common among women's players (Most Junior frames are only offered in one size). If you are between grip sizes, go with the smaller grip as a slightly smaller racquet grip can be built up easily with grip tape. Too large of a grip can't be properly adjusted down without altering the properties of the frame.
The chart below is a general guideline only:
- 100 - 102mm = size 0 (kids, women with particularly small hands),
- 103 - 105mm = size 1 (kids, women with small hands),
- 106 - 108mm = size 2 (women, men with particularly small hands),
- 109 - 111mm = size 3 (men, women with slightly larger hands),
- 112 - 114mm = size 4 (average men's size),
- 115 - 117mm = size 5 (men with larger hands).