Many newer tennis players find that they soon plateau or stop making large leaps of progress sooner than they had expected.
They do the same drills, improve their understanding and coordination, and refine their style, but it doesn’t translate to progress on the scorecard.
This is often because as a beginner, they purchase equipment which is “one size fits all,” but as they grow as players they remain comfortable with their equipment and refuse to consider an upgrade.
It's very important to constantly analyze and refine your game to ensure you always remain at the top of it. Your tennis racquet is the most important piece of your gear, so making the time, effort, and monetary investment of customizing a racquet that works for you is crucial to continuing to refine your game.
Coming up in this guide, we'll be taking an in-depth look at the tennis racquet and will discuss all the important features to consider to ensure you're always making progress as a tennis player – being stagnant is not an option!
Style of Racquet
A tennis racquet can primarily be categorized into 3 different types of racquet, based on what you are trying to accomplish with it. Do you want a lightning-strong serve, or the ability to place the ball wherever you want it? There are many features and variables that makes each racquet unique, making them fall into or between the three categories listed below. Be sure to keep tinkering until you find what works best for you!
This term is used to describe racquets that are geared more towards powerful swings. These racquets fit players’ needs who have a tendency to go for slower, more powerful swings that focus on speed and driving ability over fine-tuned placement. These racquets have the largest heads ranging from 107 to 135 square inches but are also lightweight at about 9 ounces.
In order to generate more power, the racquets have stiffer frames and are more head-heavy so that an even amount of weight is still distributed to the zone of impact. This maximizes the force applied to the ball, increasing the speed it can travel and minimizing the chance of the launch angle changing on impact. These racquets tend to be used more by beginners to help develop early skills and game mechanics before they can control their wrist and swing effectively.
Powerful control racquets are the kinds of racquets that are slightly more difficult to define. These racquets are in the middle between power and control racquet and can often lean one way or the other depending on the racquet. The heads on these racquets tends to be a reasonable middle at 95-102 square inches and they are slightly heavier, weighing 10 or 11 ounces. The additional weight is usually added to the handle, making it feel similar to a power racquet despite being heavier. This is because the closer the center of mass is to your hand, the less force it takes to move it.
In general, with a powerful control racquet you are getting a middle-of-the-pack racquet. These are a great choice for intermediate or advanced players because they allow you more control over your shots, which gets more important than raw power as you face better competition. They are also often used as stepping stones to go from power to control racquets without suffering from too drastic of a change.
Control racquets are the racquets most commonly used by more skilled players. They are often experienced enough to be able to generate their own power without much help from the racquet and can control their wrist to minimize any variance when hitting the ball.
They have much smaller heads ranging from as low as 85 square inches up to 98 square inches. The actual weight on these racquets is much higher as well at 12-15 ounces in weight. To balance this out, they have much more flexible beams and are balanced head-light to make it easy to swing despite the extra weight.
Head Size and Length
Head size and power go hand-in-hand, as the bigger the size of your racquet's head the more power it will bring. Along with that, it's also much easier to hit a bigger target, but you'll notice a big difference on off-center hits as a result.
Along with the size of your tennis racket, another thing to consider is the length of your racquet. Racquets come ranging in size from 27 to 29 inches. A standard racquet is 27 inches long, but many players opt to go for a slightly longer racquet as it gives them a longer reach along with slightly more power.
The stiffness of your racquet's frame plays more of a role than most people would expect. Generally, a stiffer frame will result in more power. A stiffer frame won't react as much when the ball hits it, and because of this, it retains more power than a more flexible frame would. It does come at a downside though because it will generate more impact shock which can affect racquet movement on impact.
A beginning player may find it easier to play with a stiffer frame, but generally more experienced players tend to favor a more flexible frame as they don't require the extra power and want to reduce any discomfort and improve control.
Something that many newer players overlook is the type of string pattern they use on their tennis racquet. The two types of string patterns are open and dense. An open string pattern will provide better ball rebound from impact as well as allowing for more spin potential. The truly negative downside to using an open string pattern is that your strings won't be as durable, and this will result in tears or rips in your string pattern more often.
Now that you know more about how a racquet can affect your level of play, you can choose and customize one to work for you.