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Sports & Gaming

Tennis Racket Guide: How to Choose a Tennis Racket

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 5 min read

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The only equipment you need to play a tennis match is a tennis racket, tennis shoes, a tennis ball, and a tennis court with a regulation net. Your racket is like an extension of your arm that you will use to reach and guide the ball strategically against your opponent. Rackets come in many weights, shapes, and sizes (not to mention the various types of string and tension available), so it’s important to choose the best racket for your game.

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How to Choose a Tennis Racket

Power and control are two of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a racket. When it comes to choosing the right racket, your racket head and grip should be the right size and weight for your skill level so you can wield it easily and nail your sweet spot every time.

6 Factors to Consider When Buying a Tennis Racket

For tennis players, choosing the right racket can greatly impact your game. There are six factors to consider when choosing the best racket type for your skill level:

  1. Head size. Racket head sizes are available in standard, midplus, oversize, and super oversize. A larger head size means more power for the player. A larger racket head also offers a larger sweet spot area, resulting in a lower margin for error. However, the larger the head size, the less the player can maneuver the racket, which means less control. A bigger racket can sometimes mean an increase in weight and a decrease in aerodynamics, so the player’s own strength will have to make up the difference. A smaller head size will lose some of that power, but make up for it in control. Midsize racket heads range from 80 to 93 square inches. Midplus, the next size up, range from around 94 to 105 square inches. The oversized racket follows next, ranging between 105 and 115 square inches. Lastly, the super oversized racket is a racket head that is 116 or more square inches.
  2. Length. A standard adult racket length is 27 inches (with 29 inches as the maximum length allowable for tournament play). An extra inch or two in your racket size can make all the difference in providing leverage for your serves and more reach for your groundstrokes. However, longer rackets have higher swingweight, which means less maneuverability. For children between the ages of four and 10 (or for heights between 40 and 55 inches), racket lengths are usually around 19 to 26 inches.
  3. Weight. You can choose between head-light rackets or head-heavy rackets. Each is defined by its swingweight, or the level of resistance your racket encounters while swinging around a center of rotation. A heavier racket has a higher swingweight, which means less acceleration (but an increase in power, stability, and shock reduction). A lighter racket means a lower swingweight, which means you can whip it faster to generate sharp angles and intense topspin (but less power). A lightweight racket weighs between 240 and 265 grams, and is great for juniors or beginners who are trying to transition to an adult-sized racket. A medium-weight racket is between 270 and 295 grams, and is ideal for a balance of power and control. Head heavy rackets are over 300 grams and provide the most power. When choosing a racket, keep in mind that you’ll be swinging it in many directions throughout the whole match, so pick the one that best suits your strength level and playing style.
  4. Grip size. The right grip size depends on the size of your hand, and what you’re comfortable holding. If a grip is too small, the handle will twist and move around in your hand, requiring more strength to keep it steady (which can lead to an inflammation of the tendons by your elbow, commonly known as tennis elbow). If the grip is too wide, you won’t be able to hold it securely enough to swing properly—this can also contribute to tennis elbow. To get your grip size, hold out your dominant hand (or the hand you use for your forehand). Using a ruler, measure from the crease of your palm to the tip of your ring finger. The measurement you get is the size of the grip you should use. However, if you are in between grip sizes, opt for the smaller size, then add an overgrip on top of it to give you the extra centimeters you need. You can always increase a grip size if it’s too small, but it is much more difficult to decrease a grip size if it’s too big. In the United States, standard racket grip sizes are expressed as four and an eighth inches (the smallest adult grip size), followed by four and a quarter inches, four and three-eighths inches, four and a half inches, and four and five-eighths inches. European measurements are the same sizes but labeled one through five. For junior tennis players, the grip size is only four inches.
  5. Tension. Even if you find the perfect racket, you likely won’t be able to just pick it up and start playing. The strings of the racket are just as important as the racket itself—the tension of the strings can change how you hit the ball. Every racket usually has a recommended tension level for the stringbed printed on the side. Tension level, however, is a matter of personal preference and depends on your style of gameplay. Lower tension means the strings are more flexible and will allow the racket to generate more of the power. Tighter tension means stiffer strings, which will grant you more control but force you to provide more of your own power.
  6. Stiffness. Some rackets provide a bit more give than others, which can drastically change how you hit the ball. Rackets are ranked on a scale of stiffness, as low as 50 for more flexible rackets, and over 80 for stiffer versions. Most standard rackets you can buy at a pro shop or online rank between 60 and 75.
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