Shopping for a tennis racquet can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner. Tennis racquets may all look the same but every little thing makes them unique and completely different.
Start with length—when it comes to adult racquets there aren’t too many lengths to choose from, however even one or two inches can greatly affect your game. For example, a longer racquet (28” or more) gives you better leverage and more power and you can cover more area. A more traditional, or standard, length racquet ( 27” – 28”) provides a great combination of power and control and is easier to handle. Juniors can find a variety of sizes less than 27”. It’s a good idea for a beginner to start with a 27” or 28” racquet.
The weight of a racquet affects its collision with the ball—a light racquet allows more shock to be transmitted to your arm. A 12 ounce racquet may not sound too heavy but try holding it up for an hour; it can start feeling a lot heavier than. For a beginner anything between 10 and 11.5 ounces should be fine. However, if you are already in great shape and really strong you may be fine with a heavier racquet.
The next thing to look at it the head size: the bigger the head, the more powerful the shot; however, as with most other things, the smaller the head, the more control you have. Many tennis players will tell you that the most important part of the head is the sweet spot. The sweet spot in a tennis racquet is the area with the most power for the least amount of effort— in more traditional, oval shaped racquets it’s in the bottom half, in a tear drop shaped racquet almost the entire racquet can become the sweet spot.
Many beginners prefer oversized racquets because they offer a larger sweet spot. Oversized racquets range from 100 to 140 square inches. To give you an idea most pro players use racquets between 85 and 95 square inches.
You want a racquet that is relatively stiff. Flexing wastes energy so the stiffer the racquet the more energy is returned to the ball.
Tennis racquet materials
Tennis racquets used to be made out of wood and fiberglass. Today most contemporary racquets are made out of graphite. Graphite is strong, lightweight and provides good power and control. However, a pure graphite racquet may be too stiff. Graphite composite is great for beginners. Graphite racquets start at around $70.
Boron and kevlar are also extremely strong. They are lighter and stiffer than graphite. By themselves they will probably be too stiff for beginners, yet unless they are mixed with other materials they may be too stiff for beginners and may transmit too much shock and vibrations. These racquets will cost more.
If you’re looking for a cheap racquet with decent power and good feel, try aluminum. These are lightweight and completely affordable. You can get a good aluminum racquet for around $30.
It’s a great idea to try a racquet before you buy it. Find a store that offers demonstrations. See how it feels: is it too heavy, is it easy to control, how does it feel when it impacts the ball, does it vibrate? Use this as a guideline but also trust the way the racquet feels to you.
This article originally appeared on the Sports Agent Blog.