Tennis rackets buying guide
From avid beginner to keen player, a tennis racket that best matches your ability level and playing style is a key factor in enhancing your game.
Weight & length
The right racket weight depends on your ability level, and can make all the difference to your game.
- A heavy racket that weighs at least 11oz (310g) is likely to be the best choice for beginners, being more powerful, stable and more shock absorbent than a lighter racket.
- Mid-weight racketsweigh 9.8-10.9oz (250-265g) and offer a balance of control and power. Both these and the super-light rackets give more experienced players a faster swing.
- Super light rackets weigh 9-9.4oz (250-265g) and provide better shot control.
- Head light rackets are generally favoured by advanced or professional players, and weigh about 11-13oz (310-370g). These rackets rely on the players own power, and because of the lightweight head of the racket, greater control is provided over where the ball goes.
The part inside the racket (the area which you use to hit the ball) is known as the head, and the size is traditionally measured in square inches.
- 107 and 135 square inches: large rackets that give a player more power, a larger “sweet spot” and are more forgiving on shots that you hit slightly off-centre, making them ideal for beginners.
- 85 and 104 square inches: mid-sized heads are more suited to accomplished players who don't need the extra power of a larger head size, but still want the control.
- 95 to 110 square inches: give an ideal compromise between control and power.
Stiffness and flexibility
The more flexible a racket is, the more momentum is lost when the ball is struck. This can be beneficial to more advanced players who have a naturally higher and faster swing, as less power means more control over the ball making it easier to place your shots precisely. Flexible rackets mean you can put more spin on the ball, while transferring less shock to the hand, arm and shoulder.
The stiffer the racket, the more powerful it is, and the less power you need to put into the swing yourself, and offering better control of return shots.
The handle of the tennis racket is known as the grip, and different grip sizes can make a big difference to how the racket feels. If it doesn't fit properly, it can hinder your game as well as a chance of causing tennis elbow.
The easiest way to work out your grip is to measure the distance from the tip of your ring finger to the furthest main vertical crease in your palm. Measurements of grip are made in 1/8 inch increments, so if you're between sizes, buy a racket with a smaller grip.
The density of string, referred to as open or closed-string, affects how the racket performs and feels.
- Open-string: this method of stringing is typically used for power tennis rackets and generally increases the amount of power and spin you can put onto the ball. Open-strings don't last as long as closed-strings.
- Closed-string: often used for control tennis rackets, these need more power in order to rally the ball. However they're harder wearing and better for controlling where the ball goes.
Choosing a racket that's right for your game
If you're a novice player, a power tennis racket that has been tightly pre-strung will give you more power, compensating for a short swing. An oversized head and large sweet spots will also add to that power, allowing beginners to focus on their technique.
If you're more experienced or a regular player who doesn't need the extra power and you have a longer swing than a beginner you can probably handle a heavier racket. These rackets have a smaller head and are more heavily weighted in the handle, while absorbing more shock than a lightweight racket.
For players who are more serious and compete regularly, a high-tech composite racket is more lightweight while giving you more advanced power. The frames are made from lightweight graphite or graphite composites that provide more flexibility and control than a lighter racket.
What type of player are you?
- Power player: If you tend to hit the ball more aggressively, consider a racket with a small head and short length for better swing and shot control.
- Finesse player: If you have a slower swing speed and a short stroke, a power racket with its larger head and sweet spot will give you extra power, making you better able to hit the ball.
- Power and finesse: If you play with a mixture of both styles, consider a combination racket, giving you the best of both with long, slow strokes and fast, compact swings.