a tennis buddy holing a tennis racquet

Selecting the right tennis racquet is an important first step for playing tennis. But if you’re new to the game and selecting a tennis racquet for the first time, you’ll probably be confused by all the options in front of you. Many factors make one racquet different from others. Some features are helpful and some are not, based on your skill level and playing style. Here are the basics about tennis racquets that can help you choose the ideal one.

 

Head Size

A larger head generates more power than a smaller head, and it also offers a larger hitting spot and sweet spot. These features are ideal for people just starting out in tennis, since they provide more hitting power and more forgiveness. A smaller head is better suited to advanced players who look for better control. The head sizes of modern racquets range from 85 to 135 square inches, and size 100 square inches is widely used for beginning to intermediate players.

 

Weight and Balance

Generally, heavier racquets are more powerful than light ones, but you can generate more racquet speed to produce a powerful shot. What’s good for you depends on your personal preference and your hitting style. With modern technology, racquets are getting lighter and yet generate greater power. A great example is the lightweight Head-heavy racquet that reduces the weight from the handles yet maintains maneuverability and power. Heavier Head-light racquets are easier to maneuver, therefore they are more popular with advanced players who look for spins and precision.

 

Strings

String Patterns

  • Open Pattern (16 main and 19 crosses) adds more spin/top-spin to your shot.
  • Dense Pattern (18 main and 20 crosses) provides better control/precision to your shots. Strings last longer in a dense pattern.

String Materials

  • Natural Gut is the golden standard that provides supreme “feel” and control. The downside is that it is expensive and isn’t durable.
  • Synthetic strings can be made of Nylon, Polyester, Kevlar, or a combination of each. These synthetics are less expensive and much stronger than natural gut, although the feel of natural gut appears to be hard to imitate.

String Gauges

  • The thickness of the string is between 15 (thickest) and 18 (thinnest).
  • Thinner strings provide more “feel” and control, but do not last long as thicker ones
  • 17-gauge is the most popular in the market.

String Tensions

  • You will be asked to specify a string tension when you have your racquet strung. The common range is 55 to 65 pounds. Higher tension provides more control while lower tension provides more power.

 

Grip

Grip size is selected based on your hand size. The sizes are between 4 1/8 and 4 5/8, in 1/8” increments. You can find more details at http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/LC/Gripsize.html.

 

The best way to determine the right racquet is to try several demo racquets and play with them on the court. You will easily be able to access demo racquets in most tennis clubs and tennis equipment stores. You can also ask to your tennis coach or tennis partners for recommendations. It’s worth investing some time to choose the right racquet because it makes a big difference to your game.