Tennis Racquet Buying Guide
How to Choose the Right Tennis Racket
You want a tennis racket that makes you the best player you can be. It should help you overcome your weaknesses and fine tune your strengths. It should be consistent and reliable from the first serve to the last point. However, there are lots of questions: What is the best Tennis Racket Size? What is the best Tennis Racket Weight? What about Racket Grip Size? Fortunately, at Tennis & Golf we can simplify finding the best tennis racket into a few simple steps:
How much power do you hit with? <<LINK>>
How Much Experience do you have? <<LINK>>
Is Endurance, Physical Discomfort or Vibration an issue? <<LINK>>
What Grip Size & Tennis Racquet Strings? <<LINK>>
Demo Your Choices <<LINK>>
Questions? Contact a Tennis & Golf Racket Expert <<LINK>>
Tennis Racket Step 1: How Much Power Do you Hit With?
Before even considering your skill level, Swing Power is the primary factor in choosing the best tennis racquet for you. Having a tennis racquet that complements the strength of your swing inherently makes the game more enjoyable and satisfying for the novice as well as the expert.
At Tennis & Golf we classify tennis rackets on a scale of 1 to 10 based on the power they provide. Tennis rackets with a Power Rating of 7 to 10 provide the most power and we simply call them Power Rackets. Tennis Racquets with a score of 1 to 3 Provide the least power, but provide greater control of the ball so we call them Control Rackets. Tennis Rackets with a score of 4 to 6 give some power plus good control and we call those Mid-Range Rackets.
<<TENNIS RACKET POWER RATING GRAPHIC>>
To determine how much power you hit with, take your current racket and from the baseline hit 20 balls with a simple natural swing. Don’t try to hit the ball long or special or anything. Just hit the way you naturally want to. When you swing the tennis racket and strike a tennis ball, how far does the ball go? Is your ball frequently Short of the target? Or is your ball Long, bouncing at or past the baseline?
Short Ball Into the Net or just beyond - Need Power Rackets
If you are hitting the ball short then a Power Racket with a score of 7 to 10 will make your shot go longer, possibly all the way to the baseline, depending on how powerful the racket is. Power Rackets give you power to hit the ball longer and with more pace without having to change anything in your swing. Power rackets use larger head size and increased stiffness to improve energy transfer from your swing to the ball but can sacrifice control. The lower the Power Rating the more control you have.
Medium Ball - Lands on or near the service line – Need Mid-Range Tennis Racket
Your natural swing places the ball in a good spot but you want to have some additional energy from the racket to get the ball deep when you need to without having to change your swing too much. Medium Power Rackets increase racket flexibility to improve control and provide feel of the ball but still give the added punch of power when needed.
Long Ball – A Ball that lands on or near the baseline or beyond. – Need Control Tennis Racquet
If you have no problems hitting the ball to the baseline or beyond or if you have a strong swing that naturally creates power, then a control racket is for you. Control rackets typically have smaller headsize and more flexibility increasing your Control of the ball.
Tennis Racket Step 2: How Much Experience do you have?
The USTA breaks down experience on a 7 point scale for the National Tennis Rating Program or NTRP. If you know your rating - great. If you don’t have one yet, no problem. Once you are ready to join a league or play regular matches you can easily get a ranking on the USTA website (LINK?)
There are four basic racket elements to consider when thinking about your Experience Level
Headsize – Increased head size means a larger sweet spot and more power - great for beginners.
Length – Longer tennis rackets improve your reach and power. Also a nice quality for beginners.
Weight – Heavier rackets create more power but can take a toll over a long match.
Balance – The heavier the head of the racket, the more power there is but less control.
<<TENNIS RACKET GRAPHIC>>
Tennis Rackets for Beginning Players – NTRP Rating of 1.5 to 3.0
A larger headsize (105 inches and above) increases the sweetspot and improves consistency when striking the ball. Plus the increased headsize adds more power, like having a trampoline on your arm, which helps the beginner with a tentative swing. A longer racket, 28” to 29”, can improve reach if timing is an issue and helps both at the net and with baseline strokes by adding power. However, if you have a slow stroke, a shorter tennis racket may work better. Beginners want to lean in the direction of a lighter weight racket that is a little head heavy or evenly balanced. The decreased overall weight will help the slow swing get added speed while head heavy and balanced rackets add a power boost.
Intermediate Players – NTRP Rating of 3.0 to 4.5
Intermediate players have good consistency in their swing and want a tennis racquet that provides accuracy and control while also augmenting their skills and style of play. It is important for the intermediate player to consider the weakness in their game and to pick a tennis racket that makes up for those short-comings
For example, decreasing headsize adds greater control and placement but is less forgiving for the player that has an inconsistent contact point. Shorter racquets and tennis racquets that are head light (more weight at the grip) also increase control of the ball while decreasing the power in the racket. Therefore, for the intermediate player with a strong swing but a poor contact point might want a larger head size but will go with a shorter, lighter racket or one that is head-light, to help improve control.
Advanced Players – NTRP Rating of 4.5 to 7.0
Advanced players have a specific style of play that the right racket should meld with seamlessly. All the variables must be considered and finding the right racket here is really best determined by a personal consultation with a Tennis & Golf expert and then taking several rackets out for a spin with our Racket Demo Program.
However, these basic scales work when considering which strengths you want to augment and what weaknesses you want to strengthen.
Tennis Racket Step 3: Is Endurance, Physical Discomfort or Vibration an Issue?
If you are concerned about your endurance and strength in a match then you should consider a tennis racket that is lighter overall. The logic here is simple, a lighter racket takes less strength to swing. However, with a lighter racket you may find that you are swinging harder at the end of the match so it can be tricky to find the right balance. Going to a shorter racket or one that is more balanced or head heavy can increase your power late in the game, while still utilizing a lighter overall racket.
If you have arm discomfort or if racquet vibration is an issue, you might want to consider the two brands that feature specialized vibration control. Volkl V-Feel and Wilson Triad rackets offer arm friendly technology that channel uncomfortable vibrations away from your grip decreasing the stress on your grip, wrist and arm.
Tennis Racket Step 4: Grip Size and Tennis Racquet Strings
Grip size starts with choosing what is likely the best grip for you - and to do that we recommend you use our Height and Grip Size chart. This is a good starting point in determining what size grip to start with, however be ready to change if the grip feels to large or too small.
<<GRIP SIZE CHART OR LINK TO GRIP SIZE PAGE>>
When in doubt, try a step smaller, particularly if you think your hands are small for your height. Making a grip a little larger is easy - simply put on a overwrap. There are several overwrap choices out there so try a few out and see what texture and style you like best. Remember, you can’t shrink a grip that is too large. So always go one step smaller if you are concerned about having the right size grip.
Tennis Racquet strings come in two basic patterns 16x19 and 18x20. The first number refers to how many Mains there are, these are strings that move from the grip to the end of the racket. The second number is the number of Crosses across the racket. As a general rule 16x19 tennis racquets provide more power and spin but break easily due to increased friction on the strings. 18x20 tennis racquets have improved control and durability.
The choice of String Pattern and the Type of String for your Tennis Racquet depends on your level of experience, preference and style of your game. Check out our String Facts <<LINK>> for a more in depth description of the choices you have.
Tennis Racket Step 5: Demo Your Choices
Once you have narrowed your choices, it is time to demo your choices using the Tennis & Golf Racket Demo program ((LINK)). Call up your hitting partner, go hit the neighborhood courts and try every shot and serve you have with each demo racket. Make sure to focus on the weaker parts of your game. A good racket should make you better no matter swing you use. Try each racket when you are fresh at the start of your session and then again at the end of your workout when you are tired. Our last piece of advice, don’t demo your rackets at a match. Finding the right tennis racket should be a pleasant journey and trying demo rackets in a match is a recipe for frustration.
Tennis Racket Step 6: Contact A Tennis & Golf Racket Expert
We are happy and ready to assist you with your tennis racket selection. Feel free to give us a call or have an on-line chat with one of our Tennis Racket Experts.