Whenever it comes to buying a tennis racket the amount of racket specifications listed means that it can be quite a daunting task. What length should you pick? What headsize? What weight? What grip size? And why do the prices range from under £30 to £150?
Well I hope the following blog post can help you answer these questions.
Tennis rackets range in length from 19 inches to 27 inches. Rackets that are 27 inches long are designed for adult players and anything shorter is designed for junior players.
- 19 inch rackets are for children under the age of 4
- 21 inch rackets are for children aged 4-5
- 23 inch rackets are for children aged 6-8
- 25 inch rackets are for children aged 9-10
- 26 inch rackets are for juniors aged 10-13
- 27 inch rackets are for players aged 14 and over
The rest of this post applies to adult rackets. For junior rackets the length is the most important factor when purchasing a racket.
Tennis racket headsizes range mostly from 90 sq. inches to 110 sq. inches. There are rackets that fall outside of this range but they are quite rare. Racket headsizes are divided into 3 different categories:
- Control (90 sq. inches – 97 sq. inches)
- Mid Plus (98 sq. inches – 103 sq. inches)
- Oversized (104 sq. inches – 110 sq. inches)
Each category has it advantages and disadvantages and choosing which category you should pick depends on your personal preferences and playing style.
Control (90 sq. inches – 97 sq. inches)
A smaller headsize means you will have more control over shot placement but the trade off is that you will have less power. In order to make up for the lack of power generated from the racket players need to have long, fluid strokes. Therefore I would only recommend a control headsize for advanced players.
Fun Fact : Until 2014, Federer used a 90 sq. inch racket. He changed to a bigger headsize because he needed to generate more power.
Mid Plus (98 sq. inches – 103 sq. inches)
A Mid Plus headsize has an equal balance between power and control. For this reason it is the most popular range of headlines.
Fun Facts: The racket I use has a headsize of 100 sq. inches. Murray and Djokovic use this headsize range.
Oversized (104 sq. inches – 110 sq. inches)
Oversized rackets are excellent for generating power but the trade off is less control. This range of headsize is particularly suitable for complete beginners, pensioners and players with short, punchy strokes.
Fun Fact: Agassi and both of the Williams sisters favour oversized rackets.
Tennis rackets range in weight from around 260 grams to 320 grams.
If a heavy racket (more than 305 grams) and a light racket (less than 280 grams) are swung at the same speed then the heavier racket will produce a more powerful shot. An increase in power is the main benefit of a heavier racket and some players also believe that a heavier racket results in more control but this is difficult to prove.
However there are a number of disadvantages associated with using a heavier racket. If you have a history of tennis elbow or arm problems then a heavy racket is more likely to make your condition flare up (this is why I use a 265 gram racket because of a history of elbow problems). A heavy racket will also be more tiring on your arm during a match due to the extra effort required to swing it.
Grip sizes range from L1 to L5. A grip which is too small causes strain the elbow due to having to grip the racket tighter to prevent it from twisting in your hand. A grip which is too big makes it difficult to quickly change the grip on your racket during a match (i.e. from ‘chopper’ grip on serve to your forehand grip).
To quickly test if your grip is the right size, hold your racket using a forehand grip and try to fit the index finger of your other hand between your fingers and palm. If you can’t fit your finger into this gap then your grip is too small. If there is space between your inserted index finger and your palm then your grip is too big.
It is very easy to increase the size of a tennis grip using over-grips. Over-grips usually cost £1 each and each one added to your racket increases the grip size by 1 (i.e. L3 to L4).
My grip size is L4 and I’ve added 5 over-grips to it to accommodate my big hands!
If you have went shopping for a tennis racket then I’m sure you’ve noticed that adult rackets can vary massively in price from £20 to £150. Why is the case? Well there are a couple of reasons.
Cheaper tennis rackets (less than £40) are mostly made of aluminium while more expensive rackets are made of graphite or a composite containing graphite. This isn’t a rule set in stone though because Sports Direct sell Dunlop rackets made of graphite for less than £40.
Aluminium rackets are weaker and are therefore not suitable for people who play regularly. They are primarily designed for occasional players on holiday for example. Aluminium rackets are made using 2 pieces of metal instead of 1 solid piece which means that they cannot be re-strung if a string breaks. This is because a 2 piece design will warp during the re-stringing process.
We all know that the brand name on a product increases the selling price and this also applies to tennis rackets. If you buy a brand such as Babolat or Head then part of the price is covering the cost of sponsoring famous professional players. The manager of a well known large sports retailer in Belfast told me that their own personal brand of racket is made in the same factory in China as the most famous brands in the world. Worth bearing in mind!
If you are on a budget I would still strongly recommend purchasing a graphite racket because your racket can be re-strung which means the life of your racket is not limited to a string breaking. As previously mentioned, Sports Direct sells Dunlop graphite rackets for under £40. You won’t have a large selection of headsize or weight but the price is fantastic.
Well that’s the end of my racket selection guide. If you have any questions then you can comment below or email me.