For many, the topic of tennis racquet weight and balance can be a bit complex. In particular, it can be difficult to understand how weight and balance impact racquet performance and perhaps more importantly how to evaluate a racquet based on these components.
In this article we’ll help provide you with an overview of racquet weight and balance. We’ll also review how these aspects impact racquet performance, so you can make a more educated decision when purchasing a new racquet. If you’re in the market for a new racquet be sure to check out our 2018 guide to the best tennis racquets.
Getting Started With Tennis Racquet Weight
Typically, racquets will range from 8 ounces to about 13 ounces and while that doesn’t seem like a whole lot of options, there’s just about something for everyone in that range.
Generally speaking, lighter racquets are easier to swing and maneuver, but tend to provide less overall stability and control when hitting. As a result, these racquets can be great options for beginners or players who weigh less and have less strength.
On the other hand, heavier racquets will typically provide you with more control and help reduce vibration or shock when hitting. However, by their very nature, heavier racquets tend to be more difficult to maneuver and harder on your wrist and arm.
As a result, heavier racquets can be great options for experienced players who have developed their skills and technique to a point where they can generate their own power, but are mostly looking for control.
Strung Weight vs Swing Weight
One of the first questions that comes up as players start to consider racquet weight is the difference between “strung weight” and “swing weight.”
As the name implies, strung weight is the actual weight of a tennis racquet strung with tennis strings. Therefore, this weight would be measured by simply placing a strung racquet on a scale and calculating the weight.
Swing weight on the other hand, is a measurement of how heavy a tennis racquet feels when swinging to hit a ball. Similar to strung weight, swing weight has a direct impact on racquet performance, however swing weight is primarily a function of the distribution or balance of weight throughout a tennis racquet.
Over the years, manufacturers have modified racquet weight and balance to develop different styles of racquets that cater to certain types of players, while at the same time pushing the limits of overall racquet performance.
While racquet swing weight is an exact measurement calculated by a machine it’s most beneficial as a comparative data point. That is, if you play with one racquet that has a swing weight of 280, and another that is 325, then you should begin to quickly develop a sense for the different feel associated with each swing weight.
As a result, when evaluating different racquets you can take this measurement into consideration based on your preference.
Tennis Racquet Balance: Three Different Categories
Closely tied to racquet weight is racquet balance or more specifically, how weight is distributed throughout a tennis racquet. The three different categories of racquet balance are head heavy, head light and balanced.
Head Heavy (HH)
Generally speaking, tennis racquets that are head heavy will provide players with more power and stability. As a player swings a head heavy racquet and makes contact with a tennis ball, the extra weight helps provide greater force on contact and also helps keep the head of the racquet from moving or twisting, thus providing greater stability and more control.
Head Light (HL)
With head light racquets the weight of the racquet is greater in the handle allowing players to swing faster, which can also help improve stability on contact with the ball. In addition, with the extra weight in the handle, head light racquets can often help reduce vibration and overall shock to a player’s arm.
A balanced racquet is one where the weight of the tennis racquet is equally distributed 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 vibration and shock.
To illustrate how racquet weight and balance impact swing weight let’s take a look at three different types of tennis racquets. As you can see below, even with three racquets with rather big variations in strung weight can have similar swing weights simply by modifying the balance or distribution of weight throughout the racquet.
|Babolat AeroPro Drive|
Strung Weight: 11.3 oz
Balance: 4 pts HL
|Volkl Organix 7|
Strung Weight: 10.9 oz
Balance: 0 pts EB
Swing Weight: 318
|Wilson Five 103|
Strung Weight: 9.9 oz
Balance: 4 pts HH
Swing Weight: 314
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, which will naturally 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. Try to find a couple that have varying weights and balance. Our list of the best tennis racquets for beginners is a great place to begin if you’re just getting started.
Once you’ve identified a few different options, make sure you demo them so you can experience the differences first hand. Your local tennis or racquet club will likely have a selection of racquets to try out, or you can take advantage of one of the many demo programs that online retailers now provide.
As you begin to play with the various racquets, you’ll likely start to develop a preference for a certain type of feel. While there is no perfect answer 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 heavy after playing for a short while… it’s likely too heavy, so try switching it up with something a bit lighter.
As your game progresses, it’s likely your choice of racquet will evolve to help compliment your style of play and personal preferences, so don’t get too worried if you don’t get it perfect the first time around. Sometimes it can take playing with a few racquets for an extended period of time before you’ll be able to narrow it down to a racquet that you truly feel great about.
If possible, work with a tennis pro to help determine the appropriate racquet weight. They regularly work with a wide range of players so they’ll be able to help you quickly narrow down the options and also provide you with recommendations and feedback by evaluating your skill level and style of play.
Remember, racquets can be modified to a certain extent. If you find a racquet that seems to match most of your criteria but you think a few slight modifications could make it feel just right, then work with a professional to make some modifications. For example, weight can be added and different strings and string tensions can be used to create a dramatically different feel.
Still have questions about tennis racquet weight and balance? If so, let us know in the comments below. We’d love to help!
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