When purchasing or evaluating a new tennis racquet there are a variety of aspects that can be helpful to consider including weight, length, head size, frame stiffness and materials. Add to that the fact that there are close to 20 major racquet brands to select from and the choices can become overwhelming quickly.
In this article we’ll look at the three most common types of tennis racquets and help distinguish the differences between each type of racquet and why you might want to consider one over another. We’ve also compiled and hand-selected our list of the 20 best tennis racquets for 2018 to help you in your decision making process.
Power Tennis Racquets
As you may have guessed, power tennis racquets help players hit the ball more aggressively with less effort. As a result, these types of tennis racquets are often categorized and recommended for beginners who have not yet developed the proper technique, form and skill to generate their own power.
However, this type of tennis racquet can also be a great choice for smaller players or men and women who simply don’t have a ton of strength and struggle to generate the power they want.
Common racquet characteristics include:
- An oversized head
- Large in length
- Stiff frame
- Lighter construction
An oversized head often works well for two common reasons. First, the bigger the head the more power the racquet will provide – think trampolines. The bigger it is, the more “spring” it has, thus the more power it can provide. A larger head also provides a larger sweet spot and greater hitting surface allowing for a higher margin of error, something many new players will benefit from.
The length of a tennis racquet can also have a big impact on a racquets power. The longer the racquet the more leverage a player has when swinging, which allows the player to generate more power.
In addition, these types of racquets often have stiff frames. A stiff frame is one that doesn’t flex as much when it comes in contact with a tennis ball. Ultimately this allows the ball to rebound more quickly, with greater speed and less effort.
And lastly, lighter construction is another common characteristic of power tennis racquets, which helps make the racquet easier to swing and less stressful on your arm.
Helpful tip! Ready to find the perfect racquet? Click here to check out our 3 simple tips to help you find the perfect tennis racquet for your game.
Control Tennis Racquets
In many ways, control racquets (often referred to as players racquets) are the opposite of power racquets. With this category of racquets players forgo much of the power generated by power racquets in exchange for control and the ability to place the ball more accurately.
The key being that the player has developed the necessary technique, form and skill as well as a level of fitness required to generate their own power when needed. For this reason, control racquets are the category of tennis racquets that you’ll find many seasoned and professional tennis players using.
If you’re serious about your game it’s at this point that I’d recommend you consider all the different types of racquets as well as the pros and cons of each before you jump straight to a control racquet.
It can be tempting to purchase the type of racquets that professional players are using, but if you’re new to the sport you may find it hurts your game more than helps.
All too often players are swayed by what their favorite professional tennis player or peers are using rather than finding a racquet that compliments their playing style and skill level. Yes, this will take some extra time and maybe even a little extra cash to find the right racquet, but it will pay huge dividends in the long run.
While this type of racquet is geared towards higher level tennis players its characteristics can also be extremely beneficial for hard hitting players who are trying to reign in their game.
Common racquet characteristics include:
- A small head
- Shorter in length
- Flexible frame
- Heavier construction
In this case, a smaller head has the opposite effect of the power tennis racquets, which provides less “spring” and as a result less power. It’s also important to note that the smaller the racquet the smaller the sweet spot and hitting surface resulting in a lower margin for error. In other words, you have to be more exact with your strokes to get the most out of this type of racquet.
As for length, control racquets are typically a little bit shorter in length providing the player with less overall leverage when hitting the ball, but greater flexibility and control over the racquet head when swinging.
With control racquets you’ll also find that the frames tend to be less stiff and more flexible. This allows the ball to sit on racquet a bit longer when hitting and ultimately provides the player with a bit more control.
Lastly, this category of tennis racquet tends to be a bit heavier than the rest, which helps the player maintain a higher level of control when hitting.
Based on the core characteristics of a control tennis racquet it’s important to note that they tend to be harder on your arm. Not only are they typically heavier, but they rely on the player to generate the power, which should be generated through proper technique, form and footwork rather than simply swinging the racquet harder.
Tweener (In Between) Tennis Racquets
At this point there probably won’t be any surprises with this type of racquet. Tweener tennis racquets is a category of racquets that fall somewhere in between the power and control racquets. As a result, these racquets tend to be great all-around racquets that provide a wide range of players with a blend of power and control.
This type of tennis racquet is commonly the choice for recreational players as well as beginners and younger players who have outgrown their existing racquet and are looking for a bit more control.
Common characteristics include:
- Mid-sized head
- Mid-sized length, though typically airing on the longer side
- Mid-weight construction, though typically airing on the lighter side
Based on these characteristics tweener racquets are an extremely versatile group of tennis racquets with a wide spectrum of options to fit a variety of playing styles and skill levels.
Which tennis racquet should I buy?
This is one of the most common questions beginners will ask when getting started with tennis. Unfortunately, there is no quick or exact answer to the question. However the more honest you are with your skill level and the more you understand your style of play the more likely you’ll purchase the type of tennis racket that best compliments your game.
For this reason, I’d recommend to try and avoid the temptation of going out and purchasing a tennis racquet on a whim. Instead, if you can, try to borrow a tennis racquet from a friend when you’re getting started – just about anything will do. While there are a selection of cheap tennis racquets, most are relatively expensive, so you’ll want to purchase something that lasts for a while and more importantly a racquet that will help you have more fun and achieve better results on the court.
If possible work with a tennis pro or seek out the help of a pro at your local tennis club. They are uniquely equipped and experienced in helping players find the right tennis racquet. Not only will they be more knowledgeable than your average joe, but they can get out on the court with you to understand your style and level of play and thus help you match you up with the right racquet.
You may also find it helpful to review the different parts of a tennis racquet so you have general understanding of how each part impacts racquet performance.
When working with a tennis pro remember that not all pros are created equal, so be sure to seek out someone who has the credentials as well as experience and is willing to take the time to help you find the right racquet.
Also, be cautious about “club racquets.” Often times tennis clubs carry a limited selection of brands and styles of tennis racquets that are geared towards the types of players they most frequently see at their club. As a result, they’ll often be looking to push those racquets to clear out existing racquets and make room for new models.
A good pro might start with the racquets their club carries because they have them directly at their disposal, but will not limit themselves to these types of racquets if necessary to find the right fit.
As you can see there are a wide spectrum of tennis racquets available to cater to the many different sizes and types of tennis players. At first it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start, but hopefully this article has helped provide you with a bit of direction.
Have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below. We’d love 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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Learn the core principles that are common among all great servers.
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Practice essential drills to help bring your serve to life with ease.