Tips for Using This Guide
To help you get the most out of this resource, I’ve developed the following tips to consider while researching tennis racquets.
For extra advice, check out my guide on how to choose a tennis racquet, which covers all of the factors worthy of your consideration.
Know the Types of Racquets
Tennis racquets typically fall into four categories or types of racquets:
- Control (players)
- Modern players
Each type of racquet has its pros and cons but seeks to provide specific players with unique qualities to maximize their success on the court.
A variety of factors might influence the type of racquet that’s best suited for your needs, including age, experience level, technique, and strength.
Here’s a table highlighting some of the differences.
Keep in mind the above table serves as a general guide to point players in the right direction, but that there’s often quite a bit of overlap in terms of which racquet may be ideally suited for you.
Consider Your Style of Play
A player’s style (or the style they’d like to develop) can influence the type of racquet a player purchases. Consider the following two players:
- Player A: Scrappy baseliner who hits with a ton of topspin and runs down every single ball
- Player B: Serve-and-volleyer who hits a big serve and follows their shots into the net to close out the point quickly
As you might imagine, the tennis racquet that will work well for these players will likely differ, with each looking for specific characteristics that align with their game and help them perform their best.
Once you identify the style of play you prefer, you can look for racquets that perform well in the areas that matter most. For example, player B might look for a racquet that offers a smaller head size for optimal control and precision and a bit of extra weight for stability.
Luckily, we can evaluate each racquet across a consistent set of attributes, making comparison and narrowing down options easier. We’ll touch on those characteristics shortly in an upcoming section.
If you haven’t developed a specific style or preference, that’s not a problem. It’s not a requirement to select a racquet, but it can be a practical consideration when sifting through the options.
Keep You Current Racquet in Mind
If you’re in the market for a new racquet, I always recommend you first take some time to consider what you like and dislike about your current racquet, as it will likely be your main point of comparison.
Start by jotting down what’s working and what’s not working with your current racquet so you can use that information to help scout your next frame. For example, if you like the topspin for your current racquet but you’re looking for a bit of extra control and improved feel, you can use those data points to help guide your decision-making.
Furthermore, you can compare the specs of your existing racquet to the new racquet you’re considering. Here are a few examples of specs:
- Head Size
- String Pattern
I’d encourage you to avoid getting too hung up on specs because what matters most is the feel, but they can serve as a valuable point of context to narrow your options.
It’s okay you don’t have a racquet for comparison. Keep reading for tips that will help guide you regardless.
Develop Your Own Opinion
I’ve done my best to keep my selection of tennis racquets as objective as possible, which should help point you in the right direction and narrow down a few options for further research and consideration.
However, there’s no substitute for developing your own opinion by hitting with a racquet of interest and experiencing it first hand. I recommend demoing a minimum of two racquets before deciding on a racquet to buy, so you have multiple points of reference.
Many brands, online retailers, tennis clubs, and racquet shops offer demo programs, and it pays to take advantage of them. Often what you spend to demo is applied to your purchase if you end up buying with them, so it’s a win-win situation.
On a related note, I’d encourage you to avoid the temptation of buying the racquet that your favorite player endorses. Although it may be a great fit, you’ll do much better if you take a step back, learn about the racquet they endorse and compare it to available options before purchasing.
Of course, it’s okay if the racquet you end up with is the same as the one your favorite player endorses after doing your homework. However, skipping those steps is a recipe for disappointment.
Don’t Forget About the Strings
Strings significantly influence the performance of your racquet, and their importance grows as your skills improve. As an intermediate to an advanced player, you should pay close attention to the type of string you choose, the tension you string your racquet, and your stringing frequency.
Here are a few resources I’ve created to help you find the perfect set of tennis strings to go along with your new racquet.
Like finding a new racquet, experimentation is crucial to finding the right strings that will help you perform your best. However, the above guides should help make selecting a set you’ll love more straightforward.
When learning how to play tennis as a beginner, your strings won’t matter much. Your emphasis in learning will be on the fundamentals and technique, and you won’t yet have developed a fine-tuned sense for the differences between various strings and tensions. That’s not to say your strings don’t matter as a beginner, but you shouldn’t worry too much about them either.
Your Grip Size Matters
Every time you purchase or upgrade your tennis racquet, it’s important to ensure you’re selecting the appropriate grip size. Doing so will provide you with comfort while also helping reduce the risk of injury.
To help make it easy, I have a handy article that will walk you through exactly how to choose the perfect grip size. Check it out to learn more.
As a side note, keep in mind that not all grips by every manufacturer are created equal. Although there are general guidelines for grip sizes, factors like the shape or feel of a racquet’s butt cap will vary to some degree.
Once again, it pays to demo multiple frames to gain a first-hand experience of a given racquet’s feel.