Tennis Rackets Five Things To Think About When Choosing A New One

Tennis Rackets

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to pick up a tennis racket more often and improve your game, you might be considering buying a new racket and, with the huge number and variety of rackets on the market, wondering where to begin. Hugo Allen, tennis coach and Managing Director of Connected Clubs, is here to help with five important things to consider when getting  a grip on which racket to buy.

As a coach, I am often asked by players how they should choose a new racket or indeed whether they should change from their existing weapon of choice. It is not an easy question to answer as selecting a tennis racket is a very personal choice and depends on your playing style.

You should also consider the level at which you play and any existing injuries you have. There are different schools of thought on preventing tennis elbow but personally I have found for my players that purchasing a slightly heavier racket can help.

The ranges manufacturers offer can also be confusing with some releasing two new ranges or more a year. In many cases new rackets are simply cosmetic updates of previous models so while there have been thousands of new rackets released in the last 10 years many are very similar to each other.

The most important thing to think about when choosing a racket is whether power or control is more significant to you. For players with a long fast swing a racket designed for control is best; for those with a compact swing a racket aimed at creating power will be best.

Weight & Swing Style

In general rackets designed for the most control will have a small head size (under 98sq inches), be fairly heavy (over 300g), have a thin beam and be head-light in terms of balance. A player using this kind of racket usually will not be struggling to generate power on their shots and the majority of pros use rackets which fall into this category.  Example of current rackets in this category include the Wilson Pro Staff range and the HEAD Speed rackets.

The next category of rackets, designed for a mixture of control and power, will suit the majority of recreational players. They will have an average head size (around 100sq inches), thicker beam and an even balance. Examples include the Babolat Aero range and the HEAD Instinct range. If you are unsure what to buy, picking a racket in this category from a season or two ago (you need not spend more than £70) is a safe option.

The final category are rackets designed to help players develop power and are lightweight. These will weigh less than 280g, an oversized head (greater than 102sq inches), have a thick beam have a head-heavy balance. An example would be the HEAD TiS6 racket and these are perfect for beginner players who want to have success quickly. Rackets in this category are very user friendly.

Try before you buy

The best way to choose a racket is to try it on court as all will have slightly different playing characteristics and the balance can vary significantly. Most good sports shops will allow you to borrow demo rackets and there are a number of online demo options. It is also important to consider the grip size and strings.

Tennis Racket

Photo courtesy of IndcenResor.com

Grips

In terms of grip size, most juniors go for grip 0-2, women for 1-3 and men 3 or 4. Many players also choose to use an over grip so take this into account. To check which grip size you need, take a ruler and measure from your bottom lateral palm crease to the top of your ring figure. To convert this measurement to your grip size use the table below:

GRIP 0 is 4 inches
GRIP 1 is 4 1/8 inches
GRIP 2 is 4 1/4 inches
GRIP 3 is 4 3/8 inches
GRIP 4 is 4 1/2  inches
GRIP 5 is 4 5/8 inches

Strings

The strings in a racket can make a big difference to how it plays, but will lose tension over time. As a rough guide, you should have your racket restrung based on the number of times you play a week. For instance, if you play twice a week, it is a good idea to have the racket restrung twice a year. Of course you may have to get it restrung more often if you break strings!

The majority of rackets come pre-strung from the factory with the exception of the most expensive advanced rackets. They are likely to be fairly poor quality strings and will have lost tension since manufacture so you may want to have it restrung straight away. In general the tighter you have your racket strung the more control you will get and conversely stringing it loosely will give you more power.

There are lots of different types of strings available and your coach or local sports shop should be able to advise you on the best string for you.

Style

The reality is that there are far more important factors than your racket which determine how you play! Roger Federer could play well with any racket and buying Federer’s racket isn’t going to allow you to win Wimbledon without a lot of hard work and talent. The most important thing is to choose a racket you like and if you base that solely on the colour, don’t worry too much.

Hugo Allen – Tennis Coach and point of contact training specialist coaching in Hertfordshire and London. MD of Connected Clubs Limited European distributors for the Billie Jean King Eye Coach, UK distributors for OnCourt OffCourt and the Heavy Trainer.

www.connectedclubs.co.uk        www.hugoallentennis.co.uk

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Hugo Allen

Hugo Allen is European Distributor for Billie Jean King's Eye Coach, UK Distributor for OnCourt OffCourt, Managing Director of Connected Clubs and a Tennis Coach/Referee.
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