How Do I Choose a Tennis Racket?
"How do I choose a tennis racket?" This is a question that I get asked all the time in the store. I think it's such a common question because when it comes to picking the right tennis racquet there are HUNDREDS of variables and HUNDREDS of different options. The thought of picking the perfect tennis racquet can be a daunting task and something you want to be sure about considering it is a large investment. Read along with me today while I help you try to find the right racquet.
What Tennis Racket Head Size Should I pick?
Picking the right head size is a very important part of picking the right tennis racquet. Head size can determine the amount of control, power, and forgiveness you get from your frame.
If you are a beginner with a shorter and more compact swing as your playing style, you are going to want to choose an oversized tennis racquet. An oversized racquet has a head size of anything larger then 107 square inches. This oversized head is going to allow the racquet to do more of the work for you. The larger head size is also going to give you a larger sweet spot so it will be more forgiving. It is also going to give you some good power so you aren't having to generate as much of your own power.
Every company will have oversized tennis racquets that you can choose from. The Ultra 108, Clash 108 and Triad 3 fall in the category of oversized for Wilson Racquets. Babolat only has the Pure Drive line to offer if you are wanting oversized head size, the Pure Drive 110 and Pure Drive 107. The Pure Drive line is a power machine so it's ideal for someone that is looking for more power. Yonex offers their Astrel line for tennis players that are looking for a more generous head size. Head has oversized options in most their line, they have an oversized tennis racquet in their Instinct, Extreme and Gravity line.
If you are a beginner and intermediate player with a medium to full swing that doesn't need the racquet to generate all the power for you then you are going to be looking for a tweener racquet. Tweener racquets are a racquet that have a head size of 100 square inches - 106square inches. Tweener racquets are going to be a smaller racquet head than the oversized so it will not be as forgiving but because of the smaller head but it will give you more control. If you are athletic and are able to generate good swing speed then I would always recommend getting as close to 100 square inches as you can.
For advanced players chances are you have no problem generating power, you are going to want a tennis racquet that will give you control to allow better ball placement on the court when you are playing tennis. To get more control from your racquet you are going to want to go with a smaller head size, something under 100 square inches. The Pro Staff, Blade, Pure Strike, V Core, Ezone, Radical, Prestige, CX line all have racquets that will be more focused towards advanced players and will give you more control.
What Racquet Weight Should I Pick?
Picking the right weight has a lot to do with getting the best tennis racket for your game. The rule of thumb is that you want to go with as heavy of a racket as you can handle because it puts more mass behind the ball where you don't have to generate as much of your own power. Going too heavy can hurt your arm because it can cause you to hit the ball late; however, going with light racquet can hurt your arm as well because you need to generate so much more swing speed and you do not have as much mass behind the ball.
If you are a young junior player that might be going into their first adult racquet you are definitely going to want to go with a lighter racquets something around 9.5oz unstrung would be ideal. Lighter racquets are going to resemble the junior racquet you were playing with.
If you are an older player or someone that has a shorter more compact swing you will also want a light racket that falls somewhere around 9-9.5 oz unstrung because it allows you to swing more quickly without fatiguing your arm.
Most women are going to want to with a slightly heavier racquet then 9-9.5 oz unstrung. The most common weight for women is going to be 10.1 oz unstrung. More advanced female player will play with a weight of 10.6oz unstrung or heavier.
Men will be most comfortable using 10.6oz unstrung and more advanced players will use 10.6oz unstrung and heavier.
How To Choose a Tennis Racket that is Arm Friendly?
Tennis Elbow... the dreaded term! A condition that is extremely painful and will take you away from the game that you love. So how can you prevent getting tennis elbow? You want to make sure you go with a flexible racquet and something that will be arm-friendly.
The most flexible racquet on the market is the Wilson Clash. This racquet is unlike any other Wilson Racquets on the market. They designed the Clash to flex in a way that no other racquet on the market will and it will absorb the vibration of the ball more than ever before.
If you are not a fan of the Clash that isn't a problem because there is still plenty of racquets that you can choose from. The most important thing is to look at is the frame stiffness of the racquet to decide whether or not it is arm friendly. A good rule of thumb is to go with an RA stiffness somewhere in the 60s. An RA stiffness in the high 60s and above will signify a much stiffer racquet and will be harder on your arm. If you are looking at a racquet that has a RA stiffness in the 70s you are definitely going to want to look at a more flexible racquet. The Clash has an RA stiffness of 55 which is unheard of and unbelievable. I do want to reiterate that there are other flexible racquets other then the Clash and we can help you find the right racket!
Stiffer strings make a big difference as well on making a tennis racket arm friendly and preventing tennis elbow. It doesn't matter if you are playing with the Wilson Clash because if you are putting 4G in from Luxilon at a high tension it will still destroy your arm. Make sure your string choice compliments your tennis racket and if you want something arm-friendly stay away from those stiffer strings!
How To Choose Your Tennis Racket Grip Size?
A question that I get asked on a daily basis is "How do I know what grip size I am?" Picking the correct grip size is extremely important because it can help improve your game. Grip sizes start at a size 0 or also known as a 4 0/0" (note this small grip size is not available on all racquets. A lot of time a grip size 1 or 4 1/8" is the smallest that is available) and go to a 5 or 4 5/8".
Picking the proper grip size is an important factor when it comes to improving one's overall game. If you hit the ball more flat you will want to go with a larger grip size. Years ago before the game started focusing so much on topspin a larger grip size was common. If you are wanting to hit the ball with more topspin you will want to go with a smaller grip size.
To measure your grip size for a player that hits more flat you would hold the racquet in your hand and want a fingers width of space between your ring finger and your palm. If you are wanting a racquet aimed more towards top spin then you would want only a pencil's width of space between your ring finger and your palm.
Should I Pick a Head Light or Head Heavy Racquet?
Head heavy and head-light, what does it mean? This term is used to explain where the weight is distributed on the racquet. Head heavy rackets like the name suggests has more racquet weight distributed towards the head. A head-light racket means that more of the weight is in the handle of the racquet.
A head-heavy balance racquet allows you to have more weight behind the ball if you hit the ball more flat on your groundstrokes. A head-heavy balance racquet also allows you to hit volleys with more power. However, because of the higher swing weight, a head heavy balance racquet does not allow you to swing through your stroke as easily which in return makes adding topspin more difficult.
Head heavier racquets are getting harder to find though. As I talked about earlier people are going with a smaller grip size because it's better for topspin, same rule applies with where the weight is distributed on the tennis racquet. A head-light racquet means that most of the weight is distributed in the handle of the tennis racquet which allows it to be more maneuverable.
Most companies have started to focus on designing tennis racquets that are head-light because it is easier for the consumer to follow through on their swing which in return allows more topspin to be put on the ball. It is very hard to find a tennis racquet that is not head- light so you will have plenty of options to choose from when you are looking on our website or store.
If there is a racquet you find and you love everything about it except the way the weight is distributed we can always customize it by adding lead tape under the replacement grip to make it more head-light for you.
What Racket Should I Pick if I Want More Power?
Power racquets are a great thing! There are not many times you might be getting a little tired and need the racquet to do some more work for you and help generate more power. You can achieve getting more power in a few ways.
The easiest way to get more power is by dropping the tension at which you string your racket at. The lower the tension the more power you get because the string act like a trampoline against the ball.
The second way to get more power is to go with heavier racquets. The heavier your frame is the more mass it puts behind the ball which in return gives you more power. A heavier tennis racket can fatigue your arm so I suggest trying one out before buying! However, as I said before the same rule applies for lighter rackets so just make sure you don't go too light!
Longer racquets will also give you more power because they provide more of a lever arm increasing swing weight which in turn transfer to more plow through. A longer racquet will give you more reach as well. A longer racquet might be a good idea if running isn't necessarily your favorite thing to do when you play tennis because it will take out a few extra steps that you normally would have to take. Overall longer racquets are not the best tennis racquet in my opinion because it can really fatigue your arm and cause you to hit the ball late.
The average racquet length is 27". However, there are quite a few longer racquets on the market like the SW102, Blade 104, Triad Three, Pure Drive +, Pure Aero +, VCORE 98+, VCORE 100+, Ezone 98+, Ezone 100+, Dunlop LX 100. Most of these racquets are going to be a half-inch longer than the normal 27-inch racquet. The SW102 is a full inch longer and the Big Bubba is the maximum length allowed at 29 inches.
Frame stiffness equates to power as well. A stiff racquet will give you more power however it will be harder on your arm.
Each major company has their own line of power racquets that they have created. Wilson has the Ultra, Babolat has the Pure Drive, Yonex has the Ezone, Dunlop has the FX line and Head has the Instinct. Out of all the brands of power racquets, the Pure Drive line is going to be the most popular.
What Racket Should I Pick if I Want More Spin?
If you are going out to play tennis for the first time in 20 years you are going to notice that the game has completely switched to a game of heavy topspin. Of course, your skill level will determine how much topspin you are able to add to the ball. Adding spin is something that will take beginner and intermediate players a while to master but the ultimate goal is to get to that one day!
There are lots of racquets on the market that will aid you in adding spin to your game. Of course, you need to master the mechanics and the technique as the racquet is not magic. But if you have the form down and are looking for something to help out a little bit more I would recommend a few different racquets as well as a few different items to look for in the tennis racquet.
While it is a personal preference about the tennis racket you are playing with you will find that there are going to be a lot more modern players' racquets when you are out on the tennis court. A modern player's racquet can be categorized as racquets with smaller head sizes and smaller grips. While head sizes have to do more with control the smaller grip will give you more spin. Modern players' racquets will always have a smaller grip size because you can maneuver it in your hand better to put that spin on the ball.
Another thing to look for in a racquet that you want to aid you a little bit with spin is a more open string pattern. Spin-oriented racquets will always have a more open string pattern because it allows a little more bite into the ball. Take the Blade, for example, the Blade 98 overall are control racquets; however, they have a 16x19 string pattern and an 18x20 string pattern. The 16x19 is a little more open so that Blade will allow you to place spin on the ball easier then the 18x20.
There are racquets like the Pure Aero that have grommets that don't hug the string as much which allows the string to move more in the racquet and bite into the ball. There is a reason the King of Spin, Nadal, uses the Pure Aero.
The Yonex Vcore is also another great racquet if you are looking for a spin-oriented racquet. The grommets on the Vcore are placed more inside the frame which allows the racquet to be more aerodynamic.
What Racquet Should I Pick if I am Wanting More Control?
The easiest way to categorize control racquets is extremely simple, just look at the head sizes. The smaller the head sizes will give you less power but will give you better control.
An advanced player will typically choose control racquets because it will allow better ball placement. An advanced player typically won't need help generating power and they will know how to apply spin to the ball. What they will need is ball placement so make their opponent during tournament play run and tire themselves out.
The balance point of a tennis racket refers to where the exact spot the racket will balance evenly on a scale. A head light balance point could give you control because it would help you hit with top spin which would allow you to place the ball better on the court.
What String Pattern is Right For You?
Choosing the best string pattern for you and your game is going to depend if you want more power or control. The tighter the string pattern the more control you are going to get and the more open the string pattern the more spin you will get.
Will Your Racket Come Pre Strung?
A question that a lot of customers ask me is "Do the Rackets come Strung?". The higher end rackets will not come strung. This is because there are so many options when it comes to stringing a tennis racket that allows you to personalize it to your game and your playing style that the companies don't want to assume the way the consumer wants it.
If you do find pre strung racquets these are typically junior rackets. A junior racket is different from adult rackets, you do not want to use this! The main difference between a junior racquet will be the racquet size. A junior racquet will be a shorter racquet then adult racquets. The racket size of a junior racket ranges from 19" to 26" while adult rackets start at 27".
There are a few rackets that are pre strung that fall right around the $100 price point. These are great if you want a good quality racket (these are all still full graphite).
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