If you’re in the market for a new tennis racquet then it can be helpful to understand how variation in racquet head size and length impact overall racquet performance. In this article we’ll review how each are measured as well as how changes in these tennis racquet characteristics impact performance and the types of players that might benefit from different sizes.
Tennis Racquet Head Sizes
The head size of a tennis racquet is the area of the racquet head where the strings create the face of the racquet, measured in square inches. Racquet head sizes are typically categorized as standard (85-98 sq in), midplus (99-105 sq in) and oversized (106-135 sq inch).
When it comes to racquet head sizes there are really two main considerations: power and hitting surface area. Generally speaking the larger the head size the more power the racquet will offer, while a smaller head size will provide less power and therefore more control for a player.
The easiest way to understand why this happens is to think of your racquet like a trampoline. The larger the trampoline the more spring you get, and therefore the higher you can bounce when jumping.
Similarly a larger racquet head will allow the ball to sink deeper into the tennis strings, which results in a greater rebound effect and all other things being equal, more power.
As a racquet head size shrinks the power potential of the racquet shrinks along with it. Consequently, players will have a greater sense of control with a small racquet head because the racquet doesn’t generate as much power.
However, beyond power, racquet head size also has a direct impact on the hitting surface area of a racquet. As a result, larger racquet head sizes provide more surface area, which provides players with a higher margin for error when swinging to make contact with the ball.
On the other hand, a smaller racquet head size will provide players less surface area and ultimately a lower margin for error when hitting.
Similarly, larger tennis racquet head sizes provide a bigger the sweet spot.
If you’re not familiar, the sweet spot of a tennis racquet is a small area towards the center of the strings, that when struck, reduces the vibration of the tennis racquet and provides a player with a relatively effortless feel when hitting.
Players will describe similar feeling in other sports, such as when swinging a golf club or baseball bat.
Which racquet head size is right for me?
Generally speaking larger racquet head sizes are great options for players who are just getting started with tennis.
As a beginner you’ll benefit from the added power generated from the racquet. Over time you’ll learn to increase your power through proper form and technique, but the added power when you’re a beginner can be beneficial.
If you’re new to tennis and looking for your first racquet, be sure to hop over and check our list of the best tennis racquets for beginners in 2019.
In addition, you’ll also benefit from the larger hitting surface area, as most new players will find themselves frequently hitting off center shots.
On the other hand, experienced players who have developed strong technique will likely benefit from the increased control associated with racquets that have smaller head sizes.
Many players will also find that racquets with smaller head sizes easier to maneuver, which can also be particularly useful for more advanced players.
Tennis Racquet Length
The length of a tennis racquet is another characteristic that will vary from racquet to racquet. Typically, tennis racquets with range in length from 27-29 inches.
Currently 29 inches or 73.66 cm is the maximum length allowed during both professional and non-professional competitive tennis.
When evaluating racquets three topics usually come up: reach, maneuverability and power.
The first and likely the most obvious is that a longer racquet will provide you with more reach, that is, the ability to hit a ball that is further away from your body. All things being equal this could be the difference of a player actually getting to and connecting with a tennis ball on the run or not.
Closely related to reach is maneuverability. Typically the longer the racquet the more difficult it can be to maneuver.
In particular, shots that are close to a players body can be made more challenging to hit with a long frame, and players may not be as quick to adjust their racquet when hitting volleys at the net.
Lastly, a longer racquet will provide players will more leverage or the ability to achieve greater force when striking a tennis ball, which helps increase the power of the tennis racquet.
Many players will also find the extra length advantageous when serving as it allows them to hit a bigger more fast serve.
Which racquet length is right for me?
The majority of tennis racquets on the market will fall on the lower end of the allowable length for tennis racquets, the most common being 27 inches.
However, it is fairly common for manufacturers to provide an extended version of their popular racquets, where they increase the length by a half inch.
Generally speaking there is typically very little variation in most racquets that are manufactured today, which helps when players move from racquet to racquet.
If you’re looking to determine the best tennis racquet length for yourself, it can be helpful to evaluate the pros and cons discussed above. As with most decisions for tennis gear, nothing beats getting on the court with a racquet you’re interested in and testing it out for yourself.
Still have questions about what racquet head size or length might be best for you? Feel free to ask any questions or comment below and we’ll be happy to help!
Serve EssentialsA step-by-step course to develop and improve your serve
- Part 1: Technique
A step-by-step guide to building your serve from the ground up.
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Practice essential drills to help bring your serve to life with ease.