Finding the right tennis racquet, that matches up with your experience level, and game style is essential in reaching your potential. The technology invested in tennis equipment over the past two decades is staggering. Companies have state of the art facilities dedicated to testing, measuring, and fine-tuning all racquets and gear. Coupled with data on swing speeds, flight angles, compression, and more, and it is evident that there is technology that will benefit all types of players. But how do you know which one is right for you?
Below is the first part of a two-part series that will help you find the perfect new racquet for your game. Today’s post is about understanding the variables. We will look into the primary five different factors of racquet differentiation.
- Beam Width
- String Pattern
The headsize of a racquet can have an impact on swing speed, power, and control. Generally, the bigger the headsize, the more power it provides. However, it also slows down the swing speed a bit, and thus makes timing and control a little more difficult. Some rules of thumb:
Larger Headsize=More Power
Smaller Headsize=More Control
- 85″-97″=Mid Size
- 98″-104″=Mid Plus
- *100″ is the average
The weight of the racket is one of an essential aspect of the frame. Professional and top-level junior and collegiate players tend to use heavier rackets than a beginner or intermediate play should. These top players will also customize their equipment further by adjusting where the weight is located (head heavy, head light, etc.). Generally, a lighter racket is easier to swing and therefore, can create more power but tend to have less support and sacrifices a bit of control.
Lighter Weight=More Power
Heavier Weight=More Control
- Light=9-9.7oz, 255-275g
- Mid=9.8-11oz, 275-310g
- Heavy=11oz+, 310g+
*The weight of the racket measured in Grams or Ounces
Thickness of the sidewalls of the racket frame. Beam width is often overlooked by recreational players, but does play a crucial part in the playability of any frame. Generally, beam width will affect power.
Thicker Beam=More Power (Clash, Ultra)
Thinner Beam=More Control (Blade, Pro Staff)
The number of main strings and cross strings on a racket. String pattern tends to be more important with more experienced players and has less impact than the previously mentioned factors for beginner, intermediate, and recreational players.
- Main Strings: ⬆️⬇️ (listed 1st)
- Cross Strings: ⬅️➡️ (listed 2nd)
Open String Pattern (Less Strings) = More Power & Spin (i.e. 16×19)
Denser String Pattern (More Strings) = More Control (i.e. 18×20)
Stiffness: How much the racket frame flexes on contact. Stiffness is very much a personal preference area and is probably the most noticeable difference between many racquet types.
Less Stiff=More Control
More Stiff=More Power
Measure Stiffness using the Stiffness Index (SI) Test. The more the racket flexes, the higher the #
- Clash- ~11.1mm (most flexible)
- Pro Staff- 6.4mm
- Ultra- 4.2mm
A final area to consider is grip size. Grip size represents the diameter of the grip, and having the proper grip size for your is essential. Grip size is easily measured by any tennis pro, pro shop manager, or retailer. Grip size is a standard measurement and not affected by technology.
Understanding how Headsize, Weight, Beamwidth, String pattern, and stiffness affect the result of your shots, can be invaluable to finding the perfect. No two rackets are the same and it is the combination of these areas that will change the results you receive from each racquet technology.
Finally, despite all the advance testing and technology put into the development of a racquet, there is no substitute for personal preference. Get out on the court and playtest a variety of rackets to one that feels right for you. If it feels good, it will give you confidence and confidence will make you a better tennis player.