Of course, this guide serves as a companion to the video, which goes into greater detail in some areas.
Getting Started with Tennis Racquet Weight
Typically, racquets range from 8 to about 13 ounces or 226 to 369 grams. At first glance, that might not seem like much of a difference. However, believe it or not, there’s something for everyone in that range, and small changes in weight can have a big difference.
Depending on where you’re looking, you may find the weight of a racquet listed as unstrung or strung.
Usually, the weight printed on a frame will be the unstrung weight. However, many retailers often list the strung weight, since you won’t use a racquet without strings installed.
It’s worth noting that the weight of various strings can differ, so a website that lists a strung weight will assume an average weight for the strings, which may vary slightly from the strings you’re using.
All things being equal, a lighter racquet will be easier to swing and maneuver, while a heavier racquet will increase power.
Of course, in the world of tennis racquets, it’s rare for all things to be equal, which is where balance and swingweight come into play.
Lighter racquets are typically easier to swing and maneuver and offer up effortless power but tend to provide less overall stability and control when hitting. As a result, these racquets are great options for beginners or players who have limited strength and shorter, compact swings.
Generally, lighter tennis racquets feature stiffer frames, and larger head sizes, which results from the type of players tennis brands have in mind when designing these racquets.
In the middle of the weight range, racquets try to strike a balance and provide players with solid all-around maneuverability, control, and stability.
As a result, racquets that fall in the mid-weight range tend to be the most popular category of tennis racquets on the market that appeal to all players from beginners to advanced.
As mentioned, all things equal, the heavier the racquet, the more power it will offer. As a result, heavier racquets tend to feature smaller head sizes and flexible frames that allow advanced players to find power through full swings and proper technique while maintaining excellent control.
Heavier racquets also help reduce shock and vibration when hitting as there is more mass to absorb it. However, by their nature, heavier racquets tend to be more challenging to maneuver and harder on a player’s wrist and arm, which can cause new players problems.
Racquet Weight Charts
It’s important to find a racquet with the appropriate weight, which aligns with your level of play to help maximize your performance.
I’ve provided a rough overview of how you should think about racquet weight based on your level of play in the following chart, but keep in mind these are generalities.
9.6 – 11.5 ounces
Beg. + Inter.
11.6 – 12.6 ounces
To help further illustrate the types of tennis racquets that fall into each range, let’s review a selection of racquets per category.
Lightest Tennis Racquets
Excluding kids and junior tennis racquets, here’s a list of the lightest available adult tennis racquets as of 2020.
Note their head heavy balance to help offset their lighter weight.
Note: There are heavier older models available for purchase. However, we’ve limited our selection to current models sold by top retailers for simplicity.
Of course, racquets are always changing, too, so if you notice anything becomes out of date, please let me know in the comments.
Static Weight vs. Swingweight
One of the questions that come up as players start to consider racquet weight is the difference between “static weight” and “swingweight.”
Static weight refers to the weight of a tennis racquet measured by a scale, typically referenced as strung or unstrung weight.
As the name implies, strung weight is the weight of a tennis racquet with tennis strings installed. This weight is measured by placing a strung racquet on a scale to calculate its weight.
For reference, tennis strings will generally add roughly 15 -20 grams or a little over a half-ounce to a racquet’s static weight.
Unstrung weight, on the other hand, is simply a measurement of a tennis racquet’s weight without strings installed.
As you shop for tennis racquets, keep in mind that some websites will list the strung weight, while others will list the unstrung weight.
Also, it’s worth noting that the level of quality control for different racquet manufactures varies. For example, Babolat is upfront listing the unstrung weight on their racquets as +/- 7 grams. It’s a small difference, but good to be aware.
Swingweight is a measurement of how heavy a tennis racquet feels when swinging to hit a ball, which is a function of static weight combined with the balance or distribution of weight. Said another way, it’s how difficult a racquet is to swing.
All things being equal, a racquet’s swingweight will increase as the racquet’s weight is shifted toward the head of a racquet. If the weight shifts toward the handle, the swingweight will decrease.
One of the best analogies for thinking about swingweight is to consider a hammer. If you hold a hammer from the handle and swing, it will feel heavier in the way a racquet with a higher swingweight would feel.
However, if you flip the hammer and hold it from the opposite end and swing, it will feel lighter because the weight is in your hand, which is the same sensation you’d get with a lower swingweight. Wilson put this analogy to use with their popular Hammer line of tennis racquets.
Over the years, manufacturers have modified racquet weight and balance to develop different racquets that cater to certain types of players while also pushing the limits of overall racquet performance.
A machine like the Babolat RDC can accurately measure swingweight.
While racquet swingweight is an exact measurement calculated by a machine, it’s most beneficial as a comparative data point. If you play with one racquet with a swingweight of 280 and another that is 325, you’ll begin to develop a sense for the different feel associated with each swingweight.
When evaluating racquets, it’s worthwhile considering this measurement based on your preference.
Tennis Racquet Balance
Closely tied to racquet weight is balance, or more specifically, how weight distributes throughout a tennis racquet.
There are three categories of racquet balance to help classify various racquets, including head heavy, head light, and equal balanced.
Head Heavy (HH)
Head heavy racquets have weight distributed toward the head.
Generally, tennis racquets that are head heavy will provide players with more power. Maneuverability comes from the fact that these racquets tend to be lightweight.
As a player swings a head heavy racquet and makes contact with a tennis ball, the extra weight helps provide a greater force on contact. It also helps maintain a reasonable level of stability to prevent the racquet head from moving or twisting dramatically.
Head Light (HL)
With head light racquets, the racquet’s weight is greater toward the handle and is a common balance among heavier tennis racquets, which helps players maneuver them. Stability comes from the weight of the racquet and lower stiffness ratings.
Head light racquets that are on the heavier end of the spectrum absorb more shock and vibration. As a result, heavier frames tend to reduce shock and vibration, assuming an individual can comfortably play with the racquet for an extended period.
Equal Balance (EB)
A balanced or equal balanced racquet is where the weight of the tennis racquet distributes equally throughout. Balanced racquets try to strike a happy medium with enough weight in the head to provide power and stability, while at the same time providing enough weight in the handle to help prevent excess shock and vibration.
Midweight tennis racquets tend to be closer to equal balance because the weight class doesn’t require distribution toward the head or handle for the racquet to perform.
Racquet Balance Chart
To illustrate how racquet weight and balance affect swingweight, let’s review three different racquets as an example.
Babolat Pure Drive Team
Strung Weight: 10.7 oz
Balance: 4 pts HL
Prince Text. Warrior 100L
Strung Weight: 9.6 oz
Balance: 5 pts HH
As you can see above, even though the three racquets have significant static weight variations, they can have a similar swingweight by modifying the balance or distribution of weight throughout the racquet.
How to Measure a Racquet’s Balance
A racquet’s balance point is its center of gravity or the location along the length of a frame where it balances horizontally.
Balance boards are a popular tool for taking measurements. Here are the steps required to measure a racquet’s balance point using a balance board scale.
First, a tennis racquet is placed on the center of the balance board so that it rests on the balance bar with the handle pointed toward the scale or ruler.
Next, you slowly rotate the bar toward the left until the head of the racquet drops toward the table.
After, you slowly rotate the bar in the opposite direction until the handle drops on the scale, which provides a measurement.
Lastly, you measure the distance from the 27-inch reference mark to the racquet’s butt to determine its balance.
If the butt of the racquet falls to the left of the corresponding reference mark for its length, then it’s head light. If it falls to the right, it’s a head heavy racquet.
An eighth of an inch represents a point, which is the measurement most commonly used by retailers to express a racquet’s balance point, i.e., 4 points head light.
Alternatively, you may find a racquet’s balance point shown as a measurement, i.e., 320 mm or 32 cm, which is the distance from the butt, or bottom of a racquet’s handle, to the balance point. A balance board scale will also provide this measurement.
Using a measurement instead of points allows for a better comparison between different length racquets. For example, a 27-inch racquet and a 29-inch racquet can have a 4 pt head light balance, which can cause confusion, which a centimeter measurement eliminates.
How to Select an Ideal Racquet Weight & Balance
While there is no exact formula for identifying ideal racquet weight and balance, there are some steps you can take to help narrow your options.
First off, take some time to understand the different types of tennis racquets: power, control, and tweener. Doing so will help you learn about the common characteristics that tend to make up the different types of racquets and help limit the number of options.
Next, shop around for a few different racquets that appear to match the criteria for the type of racquet you feel is appropriate for your level and style of play. As you identify a few racquets, take note of their weight, balance, and swingweight. Our list of the best tennis racquets for beginners is a great place to begin if you’re just getting started.
From there, it’s ideal that you demo each racquet to experience the differences firsthand. Your local tennis shop or racquet club will likely have a selection of racquets to try, or you can take advantage of one of the many demo programs that online retailers now provide.
As you begin to play with the racquets, you’ll likely start to develop a preference for a specific type of feel.
You should be looking to find a racquet you feel comfortable with and one that doesn’t put undue stress on your wrist and arm. If it feels too heavy in your hand or your arm or wrist hurt after playing for 30-60 minutes, it’s likely too heavy, so try something a bit lighter.
As your game progresses, your choice of racquet will likely evolve to help complement your level, style of play, and preferences, so it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it perfect the first time.
Sometimes it can take playing with a few racquets for an extended period before you’ll be able to narrow it down to a racquet that you truly enjoy.
If possible, work with a racquet technician or tennis pro to help determine the appropriate racquet weight. They regularly work with a wide range of players, so they can help you quickly narrow the options and provide you with recommendations and feedback by evaluating your skill level and style of play.
Customizing Racquet Weight, Balance, and Swingweight
To a certain extent, players can customize tennis racquets to add weight and adjust the balance.
If you find a racquet that seems to match most of your criteria but think a few slight modifications could make it feel just right, then it’s worth exploring customization. If you’re handy, you may opt to customize the racquet yourself. Otherwise, you may choose to work with a professional to make changes.
A racquet technician is specially trained to handle racquet customization and can be particularly helpful when customizing more than one racquet to ensure an accurate match.
Tennis racquet weight, balance, and swingweight can serve as useful specs to consider when selecting a tennis racquet, but there’s no substitute for testing a handful of racquets first hand.
Hopefully, our guide has helped provide you with a baseline understanding and valuable insight into these variables, which can help you make a more educated buying decision.
Do you still have questions about tennis racquet weight and balance? If so, let us know in the comments below. We’d love to help!