How to Choose a Tennis Racket

Hey guys my name is Tim and I’m a tennis coach with Play! Tennis. This is just short video to try and explain how to choose a tennis racket, based on your skill levels and what you might be looking for in a racket.

There are few different factors that affect the way a tennis racket plays and feels. I’m going to cover three things that I think are important in choosing a tennis racket. They are racket weight, racket head size and string pattern.

Racket Weight

The first one I’m going to talk about is weight. Weight plays a huge part in how a tennis racket plays, especially because it directly affects players with differing skill levels. Now we all know that when we play tennis, we need to swing the racket to generate power for our shots. The common misconception is that a lighter racket always has more power. In a sense this is right, but it’s a little more complicated than that. The reason lighter rackets can have more power is because: one - they are easier to swing and therefore you can hit the ball harder; and two - lighter rackets usually have larger head-sizes, which I will go in to in a little while.

Heavier rackets can also generate plenty of power, but for the sake of keeping it simple, we will assume the lighter tennis rackets will help younger and less experienced players produce more power. Imagine a large truck that is driving at 100 km/h. If that truck were to hit a car, it would simply plot through that car due to the truck’s weight and its momentum. The same can be said for a heavy tennis racket. You can produce power but you have to build momentum by having a full swing. This requires consistent technique and is why heavier rackets are better suited for more experienced players.

Racket Head-Size

Like I mentioned before, another factor to consider when choosing a racket is head-size. A larger head-size produces more power but provides less control, whereas a smaller head-size produces less power but provides more control.

There are definitely certain benefits to each type of rackets. For example, a racket with a large head-size is generally easier to play with in the sense that it’s harder to miss the ball. Imagine having a fly swat ten times the size of what you normally have. You are definitely going to get that fly, but chances are you’re not going to hit it right in the middle of the swat.

Therefore, if we go back to the tennis racket, although it’s easy to hit the ball, it can be very hard to control because you would not always hit it in the middle of the racket. The opposite can be said for rackets with small head-sizes. Again, this is why rackets with smaller head-sizes are more suitable for intermediate to advanced players because you need an established technique to consistently hit the ball in the sweetspot.

String Pattern

The final thing to consider is string pattern. String patterns range from 14x16 all the way to 18x20. For the sake of keeping it simple, let’s talk about the two most common string patterns we see today. 16x19 and 18x20. These numbers can be quite confusing at first but it’s really simple. The first number (let’s use the 16x19 pattern) refers to the mains. This means there are 16 vertical strings (up to down) known as the mains or main strings. The second number means there are 19 crosses (the horizontal strings). A more open string pattern such as a 16x19 pattern essentially means that the tennis ball sinks into the stringbed more, and is gripped by the strings (the squares on the surface of the stringbed are larger). This produces more spin and power but less control. Now let’s talk about a more dense string pattern like the 18x20. The squares on the stringbed are small, so the ball doesn’t sink in as much and isn’t gripped by the strings as much. This gives you less spin and power, but much more control and durability. Because the ball doesn’t sink in as much, pretty much wherever you point the racket is where the ball goes, as it rebounds off the string bed. Also there are more strings to support each other, leading to more durability.

Summary

So let’s summarise all of this. Lighter rackets and larger head-sizes produce more power and spin, purely because the racket can be swung faster and there is a larger sweetspot. Lighter rackets range from anything under 280g, whereas heavier rackets are over 300g. Many rackets lie in between those values and are good for intermediate players. Heavier rackets have more control and require an established technique to produce consistent shots. I recommend that beginners to lower intermediates go for lighter rackets and large to medium head-sizes, and higher intermediates to advanced players go for heavier rackets with smaller head-sizes, provided they have a consistent and established technique that allows them to play consistently for hours.

Tim StottComment