With so many racquets on the market, choosing the right one can seem like a daunting task. However, once you know a little bit about the different characteristics of racquets and a little about your playing level and swing style, the task of choosing a racquet becomes much easier.
Racquets can be power-oriented, control-oriented or somewhere in the middle.
While reading the following, keep in mind that power and control are somewhat subjective. For instance, one player may choose a control-oriented racquet but also achieve a great amount of power from the same racquet. This is because the player can generate their own power and the racquet is meant to bring control to that players game. Another player may choose a power-oriented racquet but in so doing achieve more control success from that racquet.
Players can be beginners, advanced or somewhere in the middle. Each racquet has a specific purpose, a unique combination of specifications and is for a specific playing level and style. Knowing your playing level will enable you to find the corresponding racquet that’s right for you.
The answers to the following questions will help provide clues as to the specifications you need to match your game with the right racquet.
1. What is your playing level?
Are you a beginner, beginner-intermediate, intermediate, intermediate-advanced or advanced player?
Intermediate to advanced: this player typically will have solid technique, good hand-eye coordination, and a fuller or longer stroke and have the ability to generate their own power. This player might use a mid-weight to heavier racquet (depending on strength) with an average to smaller head size.
- Head Size: Midplus (average) to Midsize (smaller for more precision)
- Weight: 9.9 oz (lighter average for easier maneuverability) to over 11oz (heaviest for more stability on big swings)
- Balance: Balanced to head-light
Beginner to intermediate: this player might need more help with hand-eye coordination, maneuverability of their racquet and possibly the ability to generate power. This player might use a mid-weight to lighter racquet (depending on strength) with an average to larger head size.
- Head Size: Typically Midplus (average) or Oversize (larger for power, comfort and hand-eye coordination assistance)
- Weight: 8.1oz (lightest for easy maneuverability) to 10.6oz (heavier average for added stability on bigger swings)
- Balance: Typically balanced or head-heavy for power assistance
2. Do you need help with power or control?
Getting the right balance between power and control is key to figuring out what racquet you need. Some stronger players may need help with control whereas some players with less strength might need help with power.
Control: Do you find it hard to keep the ball in the court? Are you always hitting the ball long? Then you need help with control (a control-oriented racquet). Typically these racquets will have average to smaller head sizes and are balanced head light. A racquet with a smaller head size should provide more control potential, however it will require better hand-eye coordination to hit the sweet spot.
- Head Size: Midplus (average) to Midsize (smaller)
- Balance: Even Balance to Head Light (more control)
Power: Do you find it hard to get the ball over the net? Or make it travel further into the court? Then you will need help with power (a power-oriented racquet). Typically these racquets will have average to larger head sizes and balanced to head heavy. A racquet with a larger head size should require less effort to generate power. A head heavy racquet is typically overall lighter so that it still feels light but the weighted swing will plough through the ball more effectively.
- Head Size: Midplus (average) to Oversize (larger)
- Balance: Even Balance to Head Heavy (easier power)
3. What are the specifications of your old racquet (if you had one)?
Knowing your old racquet’s specifications provides a good starting place. Combined with what you’re looking for (what you want the racquet to help you with) you will have a better idea of which specifications to vary.
- Head Size:
- Control/Precision: going to a smaller head size may provide more control potential with a smaller sweet spot
- Power/Comfort: going to a larger head size may provide more power potential with a larger sweet spot
- Stability: moving to a heavier racquet may provide more stability on bigger swings but less maneuverability for players with less strength
- Maneuverability: moving to a lighter racquet may provide more maneuverability but less stability for players with bigger swings
- Control/Precision: moving the balance towards head-light may provide more maneuverability on a racquet with more weight
- Power: moving the balance towards head-heavy may provide more easy power. These racquets are normally average to lighter weight overall to mitigate the added weight in the head of the racquet.
4. Do you need help with consistency?
Do you find that you have a hard time hitting the ball exactly in the center of your strings? Or, have trouble maintaining a rally? This question is designed to determine what size of sweet spot you need. If you cannot hit the ball exactly in the same spot every time, or you find it difficult to maintain a rally, you may need help with consistency and thus a larger sweet spot, normally provided by choosing a larger head size.
5. Do you need help with spin potential?
This will indicate what type of string pattern you may need. A more open string pattern will help with spin and power. A more closed string patterns will help with control.
String patterns on racquets consist of mains (the strings that run from the throat of the racquet to the crown) and the crosses (the strings that cross the mains).
A typical example of an open string pattern:
- 16 mains
- 19 crosses
A typical example of a closed string pattern:
- 18 mains
- 20 crosses
While the count of strings can vary from model to model, generally more strings mean that it's a closed string pattern, while less strings mean it's an open pattern.
6. Do you have tennis elbow, or any other considerations?
Any specific concerns or limitations are important to note to better fit the racquet to your needs.
For example, an inhibited swing may be helped by a power-oriented racquet.
In the case of tennis elbow, there are multiple potential factors involved such as racquet model chosen, stringing, grip size and condition, technique and even habits outside of tennis. If you suffer from tennis elbow, for example, choosing a more flexible frame can minimize the ball impact that the arm has to absorb. However, the most flexible racquets can also be on the heavier side so make sure you're choosing a racquet that is flexible but also suitable for your strength.
|64 and below||Flexible||Low||High|
|70 and above||Stiff||High||Low|
You will find the flex rating (RA#) in the specifications tab on our racquet product pages.
Another consideration is choosing an appropriate stringing. Similar to choosing a more flexible racquet, a more flexible string should also provide comfort and relief for tennis elbow. Multifilament strings are generally recommended for this case. They are flexible and softer, although less durable especially for players with heavy spin. Polyester strings (especially a racquet strung with polyester on the main and cross strings) is not recommended.
Lastly, grip size can be an important factor in preventing tennis elbow. Too small and too big a grip size could facilitate "over-gripping" and the added strain on the forearm combined with other factors may lead to tennis elbow.
If you've met all the above conditions, you may also try using a tennis elbow support band to further help alleviate the discomfort while playing.
7. Do you have a brand preference?
There is no “best” or “better” brand from a quality standpoint. Although each brand has their own technologies and unique specification combinations, they typically make racquets in every category.
8. Are you taking lessons regularly?
Or are keen to play a lot more tennis in the future? This indicates whether or not you will be actively improving and strengthening your game. A player who takes lessons regularly will develop better technique, more complete strokes and more power. Thus they would need a racquet that is perfect for now but also has “growing potential”; it will last them through their progression.
At Merchant of Tennis, we offer a convenient demo program that allows you to try a racquet before you buy it. View the details of our demo program.
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