Guide to Tennis Racquets
Our Guide to Tennis Racquets
This Guide is designed to help you decide which racquet is best for you or the player you are ordering for:
Length of racquet
Junior tennis racquets start at 17 inches in length, suitable for players aged 2 years and under.
The most common starting length is 19 inches, recommended for players aged 2-4 years. The next step is 21 inches, recommended for players aged 4-6 years. 23 inches is recommended for players aged 6-8 years and 25 inches for players aged 8-10 years. 26 inch racquets are recommended for players aged 9-11 years before transitioning to a full-sized tennis racquet.
Transitioning to the next size will be based on the age and/or height of the player, as well as their level of play.
The vast majority of ‘full-sized’ tennis racquets will measure 27 inches in length and will be used by most players aged 11 years upwards.
Some manufacturers also include +/plus racquets, which may be 0.25, 0.5 or 0.75 inches longer, typically added at the handle.
This +/plus option is not selected by many players but may offer more space on the grip for two-handed players, as well as theoretically providing extra reach and leverage (and therefore more power) but can be less manoeuvrable.
Modern tennis racquets range in head size from 93 sq.in. to 115 sq.in. The vast majority of racquets will be 100 sq.in, followed by 98 sq.in and 102 sq.in.
In general, racquets with smaller head sizes are recommended for more advanced players and larger head sizes for beginners and/or older players who are looking for a racquet that will be more forgiving on off-centre hits.
Theoretically, with all other things being equal, racquets with a larger head size will offer more power with less effort but also offer less control.
Racquets with larger heads will also be more head heavy than those with smaller heads and their swing weight will therefore often be higher than their static weight.
We generally recommend that players should use the heaviest racquet they can. However, by ‘they can’ this means that they have the physical strength to swing the racquet without becoming fatigued, particularly in terms of serving and overhead shots.
Modern full-sized racquets typically range between 255g (unstrung) up to 340g (unstrung) but professional players will often use heavier, customized frames that are not available to buy.
The most common weight for adult male players is 300g and for adult female players it is 270g.
More advanced players and/or those who have greater than average physical strength may be able to tolerate heavier frames.
With all else being equal, a heavier frame will theoretically allow a player to hit the ball harder and offer more control due to better stability throughout the swing path, including at ball impact. However, heavier frames are theoretically less manoeuvrable and will require more work by the player.
Lighter racquets may help players generate faster racquet head speed with less effort.
Tennis racquets will be head heavy, head light or evenly balanced, depending on the weight distribution. The balance point is usually measured while unstrung in mm or cm. Racquets with a larger head size and/or are lower in weight will typically be more head heavy.
For a full-sized 27 inch tennis racquet, a balance point of 343mm from the end of the handle will be even. Any balance point above this will be head heavy and anything below will be head light.
The balance will affect the swing weight, meaning that racquets that are more head heavy will swing heavier than those that are head light.
All else being equal, a more head heavy frame theoretically offer more power and so players who have a shorter and/or slower swing speed may benefit from that set up.
As players progress, they typically move to using frames that are heavier overall but more head light. More advanced players, who can generate power through their technique will invariably use head light frames.
It should be remembered that strings and accessories such as overwrap and dampeners will add weight to the racquet and affect the balance.
The cross-section of tennis racquets varies in terms of thickness and shape. All else being equal, a thicker beam will theoretically offer more power with less effort but typically less ball feel.
More advanced players who can generate power through technique will typically use thinner beams than beginners and intermediates.
Most tennis racquets have 16 main (vertical) strings and 16 cross (horizontal) strings. This 16X19 stringing pattern offers good potential levels of power, spin and control. This means it is suitable for the vast majority of players.
More closed stringing patterns, such as 18X20, offer less potential levels of power and spin but greater control. Therefore, these are only recommended for more advanced players who can generate power and spin through their technique.
The industry consensus is that the best material for modern full-sized tennis racquet frames is ‘full’ graphite. Manufacturers then add proprietary materials and use a range of technologies and construction methods to help improve performance in terms of power, spin, accuracy and ball feel.
Full-graphite frames are recommended for best performance for 25 inch, 26 inch and full-sized racquets, particularly once players progress to using green or yellow ball.
We recommend players use at least graphite composite/fused graphite for 25 inch and 26 inch racquets.
For 19 to 23 inch racquets, players will typically be using foam, red or orange ball and we recommend aluminium frames rather than fused.
Most manufacturers do not publish the stiffness/flexibility rating of frames. All else being equal, a stiffer frame will theoretically offer more power. Inversely, a more flexible frame will theoretically offer more feel.
Junior tennis racquets start below grip size 0 (less than 4 inches) in circumference, and increase to grip size 0 (4 inches) for 25 and 26 inch frames. For 17 to 23 inch racquets, there is no grip size option. We recommend grip size 0 for 25 and 26 inch racquets.
Full-sized tennis racquets start at grip size 0 (4 inches) in circumference and go up to grip size 5 (4 5/8 inches).
Grip sizes 2 (4 and 1/4) and 3 (4 and 3/8) are most common for adult males and grip sizes 1 (4 and 1/8) and 2 (4 and 1/4) for adult females.
Lighter frames will typically only be available in smaller grip sizes compared to heavier frames (and vice versa) based on the likely profile of players who will opt to play with them, e.g. younger players and adult females will use lighter racquets and have smaller hands.
For those players who use an overwrap, this should be taken into account when selecting grip size as the overwrap will add to the size of the grip.
The player needs to be able to hold the racquet handle comfortably and grip size is a matter of personal preference but typically there will be a gap between finger tips and palm that their index finger turned sideways will fit in snuggly.
Once you have a good understanding of which frame(s) will work best for you, you may next want to refer to our Guide to Tennis Strings.
If you have any queries, or for more specific advice and/or recommendations, please Contact Us to discuss with one of our friendly and experienced team, either in store, by phone or email.