Buying a Tennis Racket
The following is a helpful guide to choosing a Tennis Racket for Beginner and Intermediate levels.
You want to start playing tennis, or look for a racket for your child, but what do you choose?
Rackets come in a variety of shapes, lengths, weights, material, head sizes, thickness and stringing patterns and it is all very confusing.
First - the DONTS for beginners
Do not buy a racket because it is cheap from a non-specialist shop.
Try the racket before you buy and make sure the grip and weight are right.
Do not buy an extremely light (under 9.5 ozs strung) and powerful racket. These are only suitable for a small minority of players who don't play often and lack the strength to generate a powerful swing.
Do not buy a heavy head-high low power racket intended for an advanced player.
The best place to get your racket is from a specialist sports shop. There will be a wide selection to choose from and an expert on hand to advise you.
It is a real challenge to know which racket to choose, but the important thing is to decide on the correct length. A few years ago all adult rackets were 27" but now they are available up to 32", although rackets in excess of 29" are illegal in most competitions.
Juniors should use as long a racket as he or she can handle. This will encourage smooth strokes and utilize a good weight transfer and larger muscles. Too small a racket encourages excessive risk and elbow action which will harm both the strokes and the racket arm.
Once a junior weighs at least 85lbs they usually need an adult racket. The standard guidelines for junior racket-lengths are
0-4 years 19"
4-5 years 21"
6-7 years 23"
8-10 years 25"
10-12 years 26"
Juniors outgrow rackets quickly so do not buy them an expensive one until they need an adult racket.
The correct weight of the racket depends on ability level. A heavy racket, at least 11ozs, will be best for a beginner as it is more powerful, stable and transfers less shock than a lighter racket.
One of the most important aspects in choosing the right racket is getting the right head size. These are measured in square inches. Rackets with larger head sizes between 107 sq ins and 135 sq ins supply more power, a larger sweet spot and are more stable for off-centre shots. These rackets are ideal for beginners.
The easiest way to work out which grip size you need is to hold the racket and slide the index finger of the other hand between the base of the palm and the tips of the fingers. If there is too much space between the index finger and the fingers holding the racket, the grip is too big. If there is no space, the grip is too small.
Adult grip sizes are from 4" to 4 ¾"
Apart from Juniors, the racket you buy as a beginner will last you into intermediate if you make the right choice. There are many good brands out there Prince, Wilson, Babolat, Yonex. If children are keen on tennis, they will probably have a favourite player and want to play with the same racket.
A lot of manufacturers are realising this now and bringing out mini versions of the rackets used by Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray.
For further information about choosing a tennis racket and tennis racket reviews.