Tennis Racket Buying Guide

Whether you’re looking for a cheap or expensive tennis racket, we’ve got you covered. Read our tennis racket buying guide to help you choose the right one for you.

Tennis Rackets

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Choosing the Best Tennis Racquet

Choosing a new racquet can be difficult whether you are a beginner just starting out in tennis or an advanced player looking to replace your current racquet. There are dozens of brands, each with dozens of models organized into various categories. How do you determine what is best for you? We’re here to assist you.

First Things First

We’ll divide the hundreds of options on the market into easy-to-understand groups to help you sort through them. Tennis players frequently ask what is best for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, but each level has different playing styles and racquet needs, so we’ll divide our groups based on what the racquets can do for your game. The three categories are Power/Game Improvement Racquets, Tweener Racquets, and Player’s Racquets.

Power/Game Improvement Racquets

These racquets are usually loaded with technology that makes playing tennis easier for beginners, those looking to advance, or those who have fallen behind and want to get back on track. Power racquets are intended for players with shorter and slower strokes who wish to generate speed on the ball. They have bigger heads with a bigger sweet spot, longer for more leverage and reach, lighter weight for easier swinging, stiffer construction to put more power into the ball, and a head-heavy balance to maintain control on contact.

Racquets for Tweeners

Tweener racquets are very popular because they combine characteristics from the other two categories. They provide some of the power and ease of swinging a power racquet while adding more control and spin from a player’s racquet. These tweener racquets appeal to advanced junior players who may lack the strength to handle the added weight of a player’s racquet, fast-rising players looking for a racquet that will allow them to develop into advanced players, and even former high-level players who simply don’t have the same ability because other things have gotten in the way of their former glory days.

A tweener racquet has a medium weight in the 9-11.5oz range, a midplus head size, an open string pattern, and a middle-of-the-road balance that ranges from slightly head heavy to slightly head light. These racquets allow players with good form but not as much strength to swing away and generate spin and power as the pros, without sending balls all over the court as a power racquet would.

Player’s Racquets

There are two types of racquets for players: modern and traditional.

Players with games like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Carlos Alcaraz benefit from the modern style. The players’ heavy topspin, big power, and long baseline strokes are aided by the modern player’s racquets. A modern player’s racquet is essentially a heavier tweener. Both have midplus head sizes, open string patterns, and standard or slightly longer lengths. They differ in weight and flexibility, being slightly heavier and more flexible. This improves control and allows players to trade blows from all over the court with aggressive strokes and a lot of spin.

For elite players with versatile games, such as Denis Shapovalov, Jannik Sinner, and Andrey Rublev, the traditional player’s racquet is the racquet of choice. These racquets are precision weapons for all-court play. They are best suited for players who bring their power and require frame control. Smaller head sizes, heavier weights, flexible beams, and tight string patterns distinguish them.

Considerations for Technical Specifications

Now that we’ve covered the various racquet categories, it’s time to learn about the features that distinguish racquets even within those categories. How a racquet is built impacts how it plays, and even minor differences between two racquets in the same category can be noticeable.

Head Size

Power and head size go hand in hand. As previously stated, power racquets typically have oversized heads measuring 105 square inches or larger, tweener and modern players’ racquets measure 96-105 square inches, and traditional players’ racquets measure 90-98 square inches. Changing to a larger head size will always increase the racquet’s power if you have two racquets that are otherwise identical in construction.

Because of the larger sweet spot and lower chance of hitting the frame, most racquets sold are in the midplus size range, which is a good compromise for most people. Consider a smaller head size if you want more control. If you want more power, go up to the next larger size.

Weight and Balance

The next three factors will be added together to form a fourth factor, swing weight, which determines how a racquet feels when you swing it. Static weight is the first of these three factors.

Static weight: Weight of the racquet in your hand. Contrary to popular belief, because power/game improvement racquets are lighter, a light racket will be less powerful than a heavy racquet of the same design. A heavier racquet absorbs more shock and is more stable. Furthermore, when you make contact with the ball, it resists twisting, allowing you to generate more power and feel more in control. A lighter racquet allows you to generate more spin on your strokes while being more maneuverable for fast rallies at the net. More advanced players prefer heavier rackets, whereas younger and less experienced players prefer the maneuverability of a lighter racket.

Balance: Distribution of static weight. Power/game improvement racquets are typically head heavy to compensate for their lighter static weight, providing more impact stability. Head light racquets are the more traditional player’s racquets because they provide more maneuverability at the net and make groundstrokes easier to manage. Tweener and modern player racquets tend to be balanced or just slightly head light or head heavy. These have the most popular balance and give you the characteristics of both head light and head-heavy racquets.

Length

Were you aware there is a limit to a tennis racquet’s length in competition? You certainly do now. A racquet cannot be longer than 29 inches, though such racquets are extremely rare. A standard-length racquet measures 27 inches, and extended-length racquets can measure 27.5 inches. As a racquet’s length increases, the player gains more leverage on their serve and groundstrokes, giving them access to a little more power while making it easier to reach the ball. However, there is a drawback to these advantages: swing weight. Swinging a longer racquet will feel heavier.

Swingweight

Swingweight, as previously stated, is made up of three factors: static weight, balance, and length, and it determines how a racquet will feel when you swing it during your strokes. A heavier swing weight racquet provides more stability, power, and vibration dampening for added comfort, but it is more difficult to swing. Lighter swing weight racquets are easier to whip through your shots, but they get pushed around by faster opponents.

Swingweight is one of the few factors that can truly be classified as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Beginners prefer lighter swing weights of 305 and below in order to swing quickly and easily and generate pace. Intermediate players prefer swing weights ranging from 305 to 325, which provide a good balance of power and stability. Advanced players prefer high swing weights above 325 with much stability and power to counteract their opponents’ big games.

Frame Stiffness

Racquet stiffness influences many aspects of how a racquet performs on the court. Power, control, and comfort are all directly related to stiffness. A stiffer racquet generally provides more power because it does not bend on impact and directs more of the stroke’s energy into the ball. Because of the increased energy loss, a stiffer, more powerful racquet has less control and comfort. The racquet’s beamwidth or cross-section determines the racquet’s stiffness. A wider beam is more rigid, whereas a thinner beam is more flexible. The RA value of a racquet can also be used to determine its stiffness. A racquet with a RA of 63 or less is considered flexible, a racquet with a RA of 64-67 is considered medium stiffness, and a racquet with a RA of 67 or higher.

String Pattern

The number of strings that run up and down and across a racquet’s face is the string pattern. A racquet’s string pattern can be categorized as open or closed. Open string patterns have a higher spin potential and power. A closed string pattern provides greater control. One disadvantage of a more open string pattern is that the strings are less durable because they move across each other more frequently. A closed pattern will have 17-18 main strings and 18-20 crosses, whereas an open pattern will have 16 main strings and 16-18 crosses.

Grip Dimensions

The final consideration in selecting a racquet is the player’s anatomy. All racquets are available in various grip sizes to accommodate a player’s hand size. You can determine the proper grip size at home using a tape measure. Spread your dominant hand open; fingers close together. Measure the length between the tips of your ring and middle fingers and the lowest lateral crease of your palm. The proper grip size makes tennis more comfortable and lets you get the most out of your racquet.

Purchasing only the frame (without strings)

This is some of the most important information we can provide you before purchasing a racket. If you buy a racket with strings already attached, proceed with caution. Often, these strings will be cheap and of poor quality, having been strung at the manufacturer’s factory with little care and attention (a well-known tennis racket company confirmed this). We strongly advise you to purchase your racket without strings (also known as “frame only”) and then find a professional stringer to add the strings. Okay, this will cost you more, but we believe the difference will be significant and will significantly impact your game. Nothing irritates us more than seeing a player use an expensive new tennis racket with faulty strings.

When you think about it, the strings are the material that connects with the ball, so failing to consider them or spend time getting them right is a criminal offense. Why do you think the professionals on TV change their rackets so frequently during a match? They switch to a new racket with new strings because they believe their strings change even during a match and want the strings to remain consistent.

Purchase two rackets at the same time

Consider this: you’re in the middle of a crucial match, and your strings snap (which they will in time). What are your plans? Can you borrow a racket from a friend completely different from your own? Stop the game and accept defeat? We recommend that you always walk onto the court with at least two rackets of the same make and strings in the racket at the same tensions. If your strings break, you can simply pick up your second racket and continue playing.

Where should I shop – in a physical store or online?

We realize not everyone has the opportunity to purchase their perfect racket from a physical store; tennis racket shops are uncommon, and the chances of finding one near you are slim. However, the benefits of going to a physical store are as follows:

You can hold and feel various rackets. You can seek advice from the shop staff. They may allow you to take some rackets home and test them before purchasing.

Checklist Before You Buy

  • Consider your playing style, skill level and body shape, and then match this to the racket.
  • Determine the specifications of the racket that will best suit you, such as head size, length, weight, balance, and stiffness.
  • Determine your ideal grip size and then purchase a racket with that size or one grip size smaller.
  • Consider purchasing the frame without strings and having it strung by a professional after purchasing it.
  • Consider buying two of the same rackets simultaneously (you might even get a better deal).
  • Try out some rackets and then look for the best place online to buy them cheaply.