Tennis Racquet Head Sizes
The head size of a tennis racquet refers to the area of the racquet’s head where the strings create the face or stringbed, measured in square inches or centimeters.
These days, the vast majority of tennis racquets will have head sizes that range somewhere between 85 – 110 in² (548 – 710 cm²). The most popular head sizes used today are 97, 98, and 100 in².
There are three different categories for racquet head sizes, which roughly speaking coincide with the different types of tennis racquets.
|Head Size||Measurement||Type of Racquet|
|Mid||85 – 97 in²||Control|
|Mid-plus||98 – 104 in²||Tweener|
For reference, here are a few examples of racquets that fit into each category.
A racquet’s head size is one of a handful of different attributes worth considering when buying a racquet, which impacts performance.
Let’s review how a racquet’s head size impacts performance.
When it comes to racquet head sizes, there are three primary considerations regarding performance:
- Hitting surface area
We’ll take a look at each of these individually.
Generally, the larger the head size, the more power a racquet will offer. Conversely, a smaller head size will deliver less power, which translates to greater control.
An easy way to understand why this happens is to think of your racquet like a trampoline. The larger the trampoline, the more spring, and energy return you get, allowing you to bounce higher when jumping.
In other words, a larger racquet head will allow the ball to sink deeper into the tennis strings, resulting in a more significant rebound effect and, all other things being equal, more power.
As a racquet’s head size shrinks, the power potential shrinks along with it. Consequently, players will perceive a greater sense of control with a small racquet head because the racquet doesn’t generate as much power.
Even a small bump in a racquet’s head size from 98 to 100 in² (632 – 645 cm²) can provide a noticeable impact on a racquet’s power.
For example, in 2014, Roger Federer made a substantial shift in his tennis racquet’s head size, moving from 90 to 97 in² to help increase his power and margin for error. The change allowed him to remain competitive as the game of tennis evolved over the years.
Topspin is another area that a racquet’s head size can influence.
As the size of a racquet’s head increases, the strings typically end up spaced further apart, which allows them to enhance spin by embedding more deeply into the ball.
However, it’s worth noting that different racquets use varying string patterns, i.e., the number of vertical main and horizontal cross strings, so a larger head size doesn’t automatically guarantee enhanced spin.
For example, a 105 in² racquet’s 16×19 string pattern will be more open or have more space between the strings than a 95 in² racquet using the same pattern. Here are some of the most common string patterns.
The 16×19 pattern is by far the most prevalent, which you’ll find used across a wide variety of head sizes – larger and small.
Beyond power and spin, a racquet’s head size also directly impacts the hitting surface area of a racquet.
Larger racquet head sizes increase the surface area, which provides players with a higher margin for error when swinging to make contact with the ball. As a result, larger head sizes are ideal for beginners.
On the other hand, a smaller head size will provide players with less surface area, and ultimately, a lower margin for error when hitting and therefore require greater precision.
Furthermore, larger tennis racquet head sizes provide a more prominent sweet spot, a small area toward the center of the strings. When struck, it sends less shock to a player’s arm and hitting feels relatively effortless.
It’s common for athletes to describe a similar feeling in other sports, such as when swinging a golf club or baseball bat.
All other things being equal, the larger a racquet’s head size, the more difficult it becomes to maneuver due to the extra mass at the top of the racquet and the minor addition of drag or wind resistance.
It’s common for manufacturers to combat this phenomenon by using lightweight materials and adding more weight to the handle for what we refer to as a head light balance.
When players are first learning, a highly maneuverable racquet can be beneficial because it makes it easier to learn proper technique. As a result, you’ll often find many racquets with larger head sizes that offer excellent maneuverability to cater to this audience.