Whether you’re a competitive tennis player or someone who just wants to play tennis for leisure and fitness, there’s one surefire way to get the best out of your favorite activity – choosing the tennis racquet perfectly.
As you walk into the store, you’ll encounter different brands that all convince you that they offer the best product. You compare prices and ask yourself, should I choose based on the brand or the cost of the tennis racquet? Well, neither of these two will work.
Aesthetics, brand names, and prices are just minor considerations. What you should be more concerned about is how the racquet will suit your physique and level of skill and how it will make you become a better player as you hit the court, It wouldn’t be a wise choice to purchase a racquet designed for advanced players if you’re still a novice.
Whether it’s a cheap one or an expensive one, branded or not, the best gears are always the ones that work for you, and not against you. To assist you in finding the right racquet, here are five major things you should consider.
1. Choose based on your skill level
Manufacturers make racquets specifically for different skill levels. No matter how expensive your racquets are, all money will go to the drain if you don’t know your skill level. To begin with, there are three major styles of the tennis racquets: power or game improvement, control, and tweener racquets.
So are you a beginner, an intermediate player, or an experienced one?
Beginners and intermediate players who want a little more power to their shots should go for lightweight racquets with a longer style, bigger heads, and a large sweet spot. These fall under the power or game improvement racquets. Shoot for racquets with heads as big as 100 square inches or above.
Experienced players go for control racquets, which have a more professional design. Control racquets are heavier with smaller heads which give players greater accuracy and maximum control. Tweener racquets, on the other hand, offer a great balance of power and control. and are designed for all skill levels.
2. Consider the grip size
If you aren’t sure as to what you should buy, consider choosing based on the racquet’s grip size. Racquets with the wrong grip size put you at risk for injuries like tennis elbow.
Though adult grips range from 4 to 5 inches, there’s no one-rule-for-all as to what grip size should suit you best. You really have to take the time trying out a few different racquets until you the one that suits you.
While it’s a no-brainer to pick the one you’re comfortable with, there’s a trick to ensure you’re choosing the right grip. Hold the racquet using your dominant hand and slide the index finger of your other hand in between the tips of your fingers and the base of your palm on the the tennis racquet. If there isn’t enough room for your index finger, the grip is too small; and if there’s a lot of space, the grip is too large.
3. Understand the racquet specifications and flexibility
The size and weight of the racquet affect your power and control, and that is why you should learn the basic racquet specifications.
The standard length of an adult racquet is 27 inches, but you may go for extended length racquets if you want added power. The only trade-off is that longer racquets are more difficult to aim and maneuver. Larger head size also transfers more power to the ball. But again, more power frequently leads to less control.
Aside from length and head size, the racquet’s flexibility should also be considered. Racquet flexibility is given a rating from 0-100, with 100 being the stiffest option. Most racquets fall under 45-17 on the scale. The lower the number, the less power but more control and spin. The higher the number, the more power but also more vibrations in the racquet.
4. Look at the string tension and pattern
Some people believe that the tighter the string tension, the further the racquetball will travel. However, the truth says otherwise. Racquets with a looser string tension allow the ball to travel further, but it should not be too loose for it can cause you to hit the ball “out” more frequently.
Aside from string tension, you should also look into the stringing pattern. The way the strings are aligned, either in an open or closed stringing, will affect your power, spin, and control. Open stringing allows you to hit the ball harder with top spin. However, these strings are more likely to break. Closed or dense stringing, on the other hand, offers more control for shot placement, which is best for beginners.
5. Know the differences of racquet materials
Racquet materials matter. Most racquets are made from either aluminum or graphite. Graphite is lightweight and powerful, and definitely perfect for any beginner. Aluminum, on the other hand, is heavier but cheaper in price. Though it is not as strong as graphite, aluminum still provides good power and comfort when hitting.
Mina Salva Cruz has always been fascinated by how sports can improve one’s overall physical and mental health in a more pleasurable way. She shares her insights by regularly writing for StrungOut, a one-stop-shop for tennis enthusiasts in Australia, providing high-quality tennis racquets, accessories, and sportswear from world-acclaimed brands since 1992.