How To Choose the Best Tennis Racquet

Learn What Features to Look for When Buying New

Photo of tennis racquet

Are you aware that you need a new tennis racquet, but afraid to make the choice? Maybe it's the price tag of a Head tennis racquet that's scaring you away. Maybe it's that frightening pro shop smell of stale palm sweat, miscellaneous equipment and tennis balls (you love it, though - admit it). Most likely, however, you're intimidated by the sheer number of options. Choosing a racquet can be tricky, whether you've been playing for three days, three weeks or three years. After three decades, you should have the idea. In the meantime, this article can get you started on the right path.

Are you a beginner? If you've only been playing for a few days or haven't played at all, you'll probably want a cheap racquet with an oversized head. The larger hitting area will likely make it easier for you to connect the ball with the strings instead of the frame (or missing the ball entirely), and there's no point spending a hundred dollars if you aren't yet sure you want to seriously pursue this sport. Give the sport a little time and then, if you desire, by all means buy a nicer one. At that point you'll probably want a smaller head, as opposed to the unwieldy oversize.

Intermediate and advanced players have a much better idea of their style of playing. Do you like to hit with a lot of spin? Do you rely on your strong, flat serve? Does your stroke involve a full backswing or do you hit the ball in shorter, compact motions? Do you approach the net all the time and want a racquet that will respond quickly at the net? Do you prefer to play your game from the baseline with large, steady ground strokes? Or are you one of those rare all-around players with a truly balanced game?

Guess what? We hate all-around players. Just kidding. Here's the deal: you'll find a tennis racquet out there marketed toward every possible kind of player. Big spin racquets, power-enhancing, some with more control, others best for serve-and-volley - you name it, you'll find it. But though the variety can be overwhelming, there are some guidelines that can help you sort through all of your options, saving you from a lot of frustration and elbow pain. Here are some tips for how to choose a tennis racquet and get on with your game.

  1. How big is the head? The bigger the head, the more power you can generate. Also, your chances of hitting the sweet spot will increase because the sweet spot is simply larger. These are the reasons why an oversized racquet makes sense for a fresh beginner. But as you improve and gain strength in your swing, you'll likely want to graduate to a tennis racquet with a smaller head, as it will provide greater control and maneuverability.
  2. How light is the tennis racquet? Perhaps you've developed the impression that a lighter racquet is a better one. It is rather amazing to visit a pro shop, pick one up and be blown away by how light it feels in your hand as you wave it effortlessly through the air. It feels like nothing! You might think, "This will totally make it easier for me to play - I won't be carrying around a club anymore."

    The truth of lightness is a little more complicated. Though counterintuitive, it's nevertheless true that a feather-light tennis racquet actually can stress your arm out more than one with greater substance and weight. You'll have to swing the tennis racket harder to achieve the power you took for granted with a heavier one. Your new hard swing will probably lead to compromised accuracy and control. Think twice before you buy an inconceivably light racquet if you're used to one that's on the heavier side. If you're used to a light racquet, but feel constant elbow pain, you probably should seek the greater substance of a traditionally weighted one. 

  3. How is the racquet's weight distributed? Is it head-heavy or head-light?
    • As mentioned above, racquet weight can be a little deceiving; you may be surprised that a racquet could feel so light and yet have a heavier head than a traditional one. But that's the truth: some are lighter, yet have heavier heads, the idea being to enhance power and spin. However, power tends to have an inverse relationship with control. Not only that, but you may find it more difficult, surprisingly, to maneuver this lighter version, because its weight rests more in its head. At the net, you might feel like you're wielding a broadsword. If your swing is abbreviated and you generate very little power, you might consider buying one of these. But remember, the lighter weight will mean that more shock is absorbed by your arm and wrist, stress that over time can lead to joint pain.
    • If your racquet is head-light, that's probably good news for your arm, since it means as a whole it is heavier and will not pass as much shock along to your arm. You'll enjoy greater maneuverability, enhanced net-play and recovery. Greater control is generally what you gain with this racquet - control of ball placement and of your own movement. But a weighted one is designed for a comfortably skilled or advanced player who has no problem generating power and spin. If power is an issue for you, then you shouldn't buy the most light-headed available. You'd probably feel like you were stuck in a nightmare out there on the court, swinging your tennis racquet fiercely at the ball but producing no power.
  4. The flexibility of tennis racquets also helps you determine which one to purchase. Those head-heavy racquets are usually stiffer (they bend less upon impact with the ball), which also adds to your power. However, stiffness will detract from spin potential and control. If you are a beginner who needs power and doesn't provide as much of it in your swing, then this can be useful. But keep in mind that stiffness can cause arm discomfort as well. Head-light racquets tend to be more flexible, catering to those players who are already powerful, but want to focus on control and speedy maneuverability.

Are any of us on the pro circuit? Doubtful. I'm guessing that most people reading this article are beginners or players with intermediate skill. But take a look at what the pros use. They're not oversized. They're not head-heavy. Instead, they tend to be more head-light with smaller heads. Now take a look at what beginners use. You'll see a lot more head-heavy and oversized heads.

There is no rule that applies to all players when it's time to choose a tennis racquet. They are made along the entire spectra of head-weight, overall weight and flexibility. Somewhere along those spectra, probably in the mid-regions, all of you intermediate players will likely find what is ideal for them. The most valuable advice I can give you is to try them in play before you buy them, if at all possible. Tennis clubs have pro shops where you can rent demos. Though the tension of the strings may not be tailored optimally to your play, these demos will still help you a great deal in choosing.

With all of the options and choices available, remember the best tennis racquet for you is the one that gives you the confidence to play your best.

Have fun!


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players from different skill levels could certainly use this article, thanks!

By Anonymous