How important is your tennis racket? Do you just select one because of the manufacturer or the price? If your answer to the latter question is yes, then you are in for quite a big shock.
Tennis rackets simply do not differ in their size, they have many different characteristics that can affect how good it can suit the player. Factors such as head size, string pattern, balance point, weight, string material, grip size, frame stiffness, string tension and string gauge, can all affect how the racket plays.
The biggest factor is how you want the racket to play, perhaps your biggest requirement is power or perhaps control, or a mixture of both.
The Factors To Consider Choosing A Racket
We will look at the characteristics that you will have to consider when choosing your next racket and highlight the pro’s and con’s.
A racket’s stiffness relates directly to the power that can be generated. A stiff racket generally means there is less bend and therefore more power. The benefits of a more flexible frame is that it is good for less energy loss and generates spin easier.
Stiff frames can add a lot of wear and tear to the player, especially wrist, arm and shoulder so a balance is advised. Flex ratings are between 0-100 and a medium stiffness frame is about 50 to 70.
The size of the head influences power, normally a larger head makes it easier to find the “sweet spot”. The head size can be between 85 to 135 square inches and comes in three categories: oversize, mid-plus and mid.
Most pro’s select a smaller head as it gives more control, but students often opt for oversize as it give more power.
String pattern comes in two varieties, open and closed. Generally an open string pattern allows for more power and control. But the downside is that an open string racket is not very durable and strings tend to snap as there are fewer string crossings. A closed string pattern has more cross strings and gives durability. It is normally the choice for a player who likes control.
Generally heavier rackets add power, give stability and delivers less shock to the arm. Lighter rackets are easier to swing and are good for maneuverability. No matter what weight you decide upon you will find nearly all rackets are head heavy to produce power, but unusually it is the weight of the handle and not the head that determines the weight category.
Picking a racket is a very personal thing and depends on your physique and the way you like to play. Perhaps before you part with your money it is a good idea to try out different rackets at your club, book a court and rent a couple of different rackets to see which one you prefer.