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Finding The Right Racquet

September 3, 2018

I haven't talked about racquets in a long time so after switching to a different racquet recently (and seeing a massive improvement in my game), I think this is an appropriate time to share some tips on selecting the best racquet! 

 

My fascination with racquets started when I got into tennis in high school during the late 1990s.  I would be going back and forth with racquets to imitate the pros such as Patrick Rafter with this Prince Response, Andre Agassi with his Head Radical, Marat Safin with his Head Prestige and Pete Sampras with his Wilson 6.0 Pro Staff.  In case you're wondering, I still have all of these original racquets :) 

 

Through my demoing, I went from racquet to racquet blaming my poor performance on fallacies that were not related to me but the racquet itself (I found out later it wasn't the racquet haha).  So naturally I tested quite a few of them as I got more and more into tennis.  With this knowledge, I would like to share a few steps in finding a racquet that is best suited for your game. 

 

Weight

The overall weight of the racquet tends to stay in a range that is comfortable for you.  For example, no matter where the weight is positioned in the racquet (which makes the racquet feel heavy or light), I feel that any racquet that is unstrung and weighs around 300 grams (10.6 oz) is good for me.  +/- 10 grams is about what I'm comfortable with.  This helps me narrow the racquets I can try out.  

 

Balance

As mentioned, where the weight is distributed in the racquet is important as well.  The more it is in the handle, the lighter the racquet will feel.  I personally do not like too little weight in the head as the strokes do not feel as solid as racquets with more weight around the head rather than the handle.

 

String Pattern

This is what made me change my racquet as I noticed that all top players do not use racquets with open string patterns.  This helped me find a racquet that was similar to my old one but with a more dense string pattern.  I can now swing through the ball without fearing the lose of control as dense string patterns (more crosses and mains rather than fewer) gives you more control but less power.  The less dense string patterns are good for players looking for more spin and power.  

 

Beam Width and Flex

The width of the racquet frame tells you a lot about the power and feel of the racquet.  Thinner beams give you more control as they do not have as much of a spring action to the ball.  The most important factor I look into with the beam is flex.  I want to play for many years and a racquet that is stiff puts less of the impact on the racquet and more into your arm.  Be careful not to choose too stiff of a racquet if you play a lot and have issues with your arm.  

 

Grip Size

This has turned more into a preference rather than a rule as when I was starting out with playing, the grip size was supposed to be big enough for you to wrap your hand around while leaving a gap between your fingers and palm that was roughly the width of your index finger.  Nowadays with more aggressive swings, smaller grip sizes are used rather than bigger ones.  This depends on how you swing as players with a short and compact swing would benefit from a larger grip than smaller.  Grip sizes range from 4 1/8 to 4 5/8.  My grip size is 4 3/8.  

 

Your Playing Style

The way you play is also very important in selecting the right racquet.  For example, if you rely on a lot of spin, you should consider a racquet that is developed to generate effortless spin for you to really take advantage of that strength of yours.  Do you play a lot of doubles?  A racquet that is maneuverable at the net is equally important for you to find success at the net.  Make sure to see what playing styles fit the racquets you are looking at to ensure they fit your game!   

 

A Few Extra Tips

It's fun to try new racquets and see what new technology is out there.  However, do not base how well you play on just one set of hitting.  You will most likely play well with whatever racquet you use for the first time.  Give it a week, play some matches and be very observant of the performance the racquet is giving you.  I remember hearing the quote, "You will love the outfit the most at the store you buy it from."  Meaning, you hitting with a racquet the first time will be the most you will like it.  Buy wisely :)  

 

Here's a video on tips for racquet selection if it helps