The sheer number of tennis racquets available on the market is astonishing. Combine this with the various tennis and athletic companies in the market today and it becomes overwhelming.
The complexity turns off potential buyers because it makes it difficult for them to decide what is the best tennis racket for their needs. Rather than being happy that there are so many choices, it simply ends up confusing us.
Today, this guide will shed light on many factors that you should weigh as you seek to buy a tennis racquet. While color and grip size are important, there are many other factors such as weight and strings.
You also have to factor in whether or not you want to be a player that emphasizes power or finesse.
All of these things influence the racket you choose, and we’ll help you figure all of that out today in addition to helping you find some racquets that will help you with issues like tennis elbow!
Racquet Factors Impact the Way You Play
The first thing that even any novice can look at in regards to determining if a racket is going to be one that gives you more or less power is the size of the head. The head is the “bouncy” part of the racquet that has strings and is linked to the grip.
The head is very important because this is where you are going to be hitting the ball from. The head size can vary for players depending on how they like to play. To explain let’s say you had two identical rackets beside one another.
Racket number one, however, has a larger head than racquet number two. As a result of this larger head size, racket number one is going to give you more power than racquet number two.
You also will find with this that you will have a bigger, more kind sweet spot. The sweet spot is the part of the racquet that is the perfect place to hit the tennis ball. It’s the most solid contact, which gives you the opportunity to play the best.
This makes sense given that racket number one has a larger head, therefore it also has a larger sweet spot. However, there are benefits to having a smaller head size that shouldn’t be discounted.
Just because racket number one has a larger sweet spot does not mean that it is more accurate. In fact, racquet number two will be more accurate than racket number one because it gives you added control.
As a result, these rackets are much more common in long-time players that know exactly how and where they want to place shots.
As for new players and even intermediate level players, the best bet is to go for the larger head size, unless you are just an exceptional athlete!
Weight, Balance, and Length
This section is all about how YOU, the player, feels with the racket in your hands. It is paramount to either play or at least swing a racquet before you try to buy one.
However, there are some ways to determine what you may need without having to do so. Just keep in mind that it’s not always very simple to go from one racket two another without issues.
Players, especially professionals, pick racquets that accentuate their strengths and mask their deficiencies, and so should you!
Weight & Balance
As weight and balance typically go hand-in-hand with tennis rackets, I am going to lump them together for our purposes here. This is what you feel when you go to the store and pick up a racket initially.
And it does determine a lot of the action that occurs on the court. To begin with, let’s summarize the basics. A heavier weight is going to be more powerful while a lighter weight is going to be easier to move.
This makes perfect sense. While a heavier weight of anything is harder to move, you also get the ability to hit something much harder once it gets there. With the lighter weight, you are able to move quicker but not as hard.
This is all a matter of preference, and you must take this into account. In addition to these facts, we must also realize that the heavier weighted racket is going to be better at shock-absorbing blows.
This is due to the fact that the racket is bigger and likely has more strings to help you out.
There is a lot of science that goes into making tennis rackets today (as is now commonplace in sports equipment), but there is no general consensus on which is the best racket. In the end, it comes down to your personal preferences and play style.
You have to figure out what works for YOU!
Head-Light Balanced Racquets
This type of racket is what the majority of professional tennis players use. These are very traditional in nature because they date back a long way, as far back as the beginning of tennis. As you would imagine, these types of rackets are a little heavier.
But they are known as a “player’s” racket. This simply means that they are rackets that give you complete control. This also means that you are going to be providing your own power.
In turn, we can see the reasons why professional players use this type of racket. So, just because something is heavier doesn’t always mean that it comes with more of a sweet spot!
Head-Heavy Balanced Rackets
The head-heavy balance racquet is something that has burst onto the tennis scene much more recently than the original head-light. The reason that the head heavy balance has become so popular is because it is paired with the lighter weight racket.
As a result, we are able to now have lighter rackets for people that have issues swinging the heavier ones.
While they are lighter, however, the mass at the top of the racket gives the user a chance for some power, which makes them stand a much better chance of playing well.
An even balance is something that splits the difference between the two above. These types are becoming more and more popular with players that are of the intermediate skill set.
As a result, those players are improving drastically because they have something that can be swung easily with power and control. So, we are seeing an evolution in how the game is played as a result.
Even balance is something that ranges in between the heavy and light balances, so you can see some that are right on the cusp on being head heavy or head light. This gives players many options to choose from, which is a great thing to have!
Also one more note here: these types of rackets are very good for a player that plays on different types of surfaces.
So, if you are lucky enough to be playing on clay, grass, and hard courts and want to keep the same feel, this is likely the type you’ll want to have.
Length is something that isn’t nearly as important as the weight and balance issues are, but it is still something that needs to be discussed.
The reason it isn’t quite as important is that tennis tournament rules mandate that the length of a racket can only range from 27 to 29 inches long. That’s not too much wiggle room, so it’s really not as big a deal as, say baseball.
The length affects the weight more than it does just about anything else. If you do see a racket that is longer than 27 inches long, it typically is going to be a little lighter than the 27-inch racquet.
The reason being is to help you maneuver just as well as the 27-inch racket. Now, there are some benefits of course to a longer racket.
You are able to have a little more power, get more reach on groundstrokes, and you are going to be slightly better on serves as well.
One of the things that is good about the length is that a change in length isn’t going to change the feel of your racquet all that much, so you should be just fine moving up if you feel you need it.
However, it ultimately comes down to how you feel, which makes the most difference in a sport like tennis.
This is the part of the racquet that determines the stiffness of the racket. This determines, in turn, how hard or easily the ball flies off of the head. This directly influences whether you have more power or more control, or possibly a mixture of both.
Generally speaking, a heavier or stiffer frame will give you the ability to generate more power. It also vibrates less and has a larger sweet spot. As you can see, the types are starting to meld together from earlier.
It gives you more power because it generates more velocity. So it is the momentum created by you and your racket that gives you the power. Obviously, smaller or less stiff frame will do the opposite.
Professional players don’t need quite as much power, typically, because they are very fit and are able to generate the power themselves.
In contrast to this, players that aren’t quite as skilled will need a stiffer or heavier frame in order to help them produce the necessary power.
Before we get into the stringing and its importance, we need to talk about pre-strung vs “premium”. Pre-strung rackets are those that are bought in a store and come already strung. This means that you can simply pick up and play.
These are typically much less expensive to buy. More often than not, this is what you see at the local supercenter.
Premium racquets usually do not come with strings, so you will need to purchase those separately and will likely want to have someone install them for you. So, with that in mind, this section will explain a little more.
Now that we know all of that, we can say a little about how the tensions affect your play. The lower the tension in the string that you have will give you more power. The inverse to this is that higher tension in the string gives a player more control.
This is why professional players go with higher tension. Longer strings as well as fewer strings also provides the user more power. Opposing this is obvious: if you have shorter strings and/or more strings, control ratchets up a notch.
Another thing that is interesting to know is that thinner strings give you more power. But beyond that is the fact that it gives you more spin as well, which is kind of opposite to what you would think.
So in the tennis world control does not equal the ability to make the ball spin.
Another common myth that is held in the world of tennis is the idea that a more flexible racket produces more power than a stiff racquet. This simply isn’t true. It’s, in fact, contrary to science altogether.
The theory says that when the racket flexes, the ball rebounds during the swing, thus making up for the lack of stiffness.
However, the ball is only on the racket for a fraction of a second, so the strings don’t have enough time to act in the manner that they are believed to do so. So the more flexible the frame is the more energy it absorbs.
This means you have less power. So it is for this reason that professional players are the ones that are more likely to use this type due to the uptick in control.
Here are a few of the terms that you may see during your search. Gauge refers to the thickness of the strings that you choose. They run from 15 to 18. There are also a number of different types of materials that strings can be made of.
Nylon is durable and holds up to tension well, but it doesn’t help you out very much with shock absorption. Nylon/polyurethane are premium strings that give you great feel and shock absorption. Natural gut strings are not synthetic.
They are made from cow intestine. It is the most comfortable string out there and are great for any arm problems (see more below for that). Moisture affects cow leather of any kind, so be aware of that.
The natural gut doesn’t last as long as synthetics because of this, however. Polyester strings are more for advanced players that want to tone back how hard they hit the ball without changing their swing.
They do lose tension quicker than the other types. The last type is the hybrid strings. Kevlar is the most popular hybrid. This is a type that should be used if you are prone to breaking strings. Hybrids last a while, but they are a bit touchy on the feel.
They don’t always feel the best, so just know that there is a trade-off with it.
Power, Control, and Well Rounded
This section is going to summarize the three main categories of tennis players and what kind of frame best suits them. A power player is someone that has a shorter swing than usual.
They can have some sort of physical limitations or they can just simply need help on serves. A control player has a much longer and slower swing, so that is why they would need a lighter frame that is more conducive to getting control.
Well rounded players are in the middle of this equation. This type of frame gives you more spin than either of the other two categories. These types are also helpful to young players and those that want a happy medium between power and control.
Tennis Elbow and How to Prevent It
Tennis elbow is a common problem among many groups of people. WebMD defines it as “a condition caused overuse of arm, forearm, and hand muscles that results in elbow pain.”
This means you can get tennis elbow from a myriad of exercises, including shoveling, playing golf, or playing tennis. Because it became a common occurrence in tennis players, the name tennis elbow stuck as a result.
WebMD goes on to say that it is typically an “abrupt” or “subtle” injury. These things occur to the best of us, and they do so from overuse typically. Any time you play a lot, this is going to be somewhat of a concern.
Another possible problem that you must account for is swinging very hard. What this does is create strain. When we strain, we are asking our bodies to go above and beyond what they are supposed to do.
Our bodies do not like this, and they will let us know that. So, when we strain more and more, this tends to happen. We see the body fight back and tell us that we need to stop.
There is a way that you can help yourself not develop a tennis elbow issue. The answer is one that is tough to swallow for many.
The number one thing that you can do, equipment-wise, is to make sure that you use a heavier, head light balanced racquet.
This is something that is growing increasingly more difficult for many as the market has exploded with racquets that are progressively less and less heavy.
These options are great, but they seem to be causing issues going forward because of their light nature. The theory is that lighter rackets cause you to swing harder. I think there is a lot of truth to this.
The fact that you are swinging harder is leading to the strain that we talked about above. It’s simply doing your body a lot of bad.
winging harder to make up for a lighter racket is all fine and dandy, but sometimes this isn’t even possible when you’re playing! If you are competitively playing, the ball isn’t just going to come to you perfectly each time.
So your wind up will be wasted or non-existent in most cases. At any rate, a heavier racket is going give you the best chance for good form, therefore it will help you reduce your risk of developing a tennis elbow problem.
It is becoming more and more difficult to find head light rackets, but the benefits are numerous and must not be ignored!
Tennis elbow is something that you need to stop as early as possible. Obviously, if you are already experiencing it, you can’t stop it from happening. But you can seek treatment for it.
You have to make sure to start remedying the situation, or you will end up with something chronic. There are some terrible stories out there of people that aren’t able to open doors any longer because of tennis elbow.
A number of things can help you deal with your symptoms. The number one thing is correcting poor form. If you aren’t playing correctly, this is much more likely to happen to you!
So make sure that you have a racket that fits you and your purposes and make sure that you warm up and stretch properly beforehand!
Medication and therapy is also available, but stretching and warm-ups go a long way in preventing further damage. And of course, the other tool you can use is rest and icing. People forget to take a break, even from their passions and joys sometimes.
If you’re hurting badly, take a break and come back another day.
Best Tennis Racket Reviews
1. Babolat Pure Strike 100
This is a great option for a player that wants to have the best of both worlds. This racquet gives you the ability to be an aggressive power player while still having more control than the typical racket.
It has a head size of 100 square inches, giving more forgiveness and a larger sweet spot than many out on the market.
This is a head light balanced racket, which means that it is more responsive when you are playing close to the net against your opponent, but not necessarily good for tennis elbow.
For a moderate price, you can have this great all-around racket! Note: this is an unstrung racket.
2. Wilson Energy XL Tennis Racket
This is a very reasonably priced racket, which makes it very popular. It has an oversize frame, which helps you generate more power, so this is also good for a beginner. It is pre-strung as well as being made of aluminum.
The head size is 112 inches and it has No Shox technology, which claims to reduce vibration in the racket by 27%. The one thing that is different than most beginner rackets is that it only weighs 10 grams, which is quite light.
This is becoming more and more the norm, but this is something to keep in mind if you decide to purchase it.
3. Babolat Pure Drive Lite
Babolat’s offer here is one that comes in a not-so-cheap price that changes depending on the size of grip you choose. It is made with Babolat’s FSI power technology which includes diamond-shaped grommet holes and more open string spacing.
While it has a new paint design and aesthetic, the Pure Drive Lite excels in offering you ultra-minimalism with high performance.
It has very cool features like an anti-twisting elliptical frame and something called Cortex Pure Feel which allows for better control with each contact of the ball.
If you’re familiar with Babolat’s quality, you may do well to check out the Pure Drive Lite by clicking the name above, for even more features.
4. HEAD MicroGel Radical Tennis Racquet
Head, a heavy hitter in the racket sport industry, makes it into the list with a higher-priced option. Its Micro Gel qualities allow for uniform distribution of the ball’s impact around the entire frame.
This gives a very solid and controlled feel which is unique in the industry. The head size is 98 square inches and the included string pattern is 18×20. The weight of this Head racquet is 10.4 ounces and it’s 27 inches long.
The MicroGel Radical (given its namesake from the ultimate tennis radical Andre Agassi), is made for the intermediate to advanced player.
Because of its standard size (length and head size) as well as its dense string pattern, it’s not an overly powerful racquet and that means more power will have to come from the player.
However, it is incredibly responsive and acts very predictably and reliably.
Ultimately, the name of game with this racquet is CONTROL. If you value this quality above others, this is your ultimate racquet.
5. Senston Tennis 27-inch Racquet
This deal includes a pair of racquets so the value quotient just increased by a mile! This pair of racquets is not trying to be the best on the market and you won’t see a pro using this racquet, but it does offer a great option for a beginner or recreational player.
This racquet offers a one-piece molded technology construction and it’s really durable! The open string pattern also enhances power and spin. The racquet length is 27 inches while the grip size is 2 (4 – 1/2 inch).
Two carry cases and two overgrips and vibration dampers are included as well!
6. Wilson Six.One 95S Spin Effect
The main focus of Wilson’s product here is the spin. This racket has been designed to specifically give the user more spin without making her or him change their swing. They claim to give the user 12 inches more court space.
Their new amplifeel technology reduces the harsh vibrations given by some lower-end racquets. This racket comes unstrung and is on the higher end of the spectrum, but is definitely something to look at for a player that is looking to get to the top.
This one is NOT inexpensive and does not make our list because of value. It makes the list because of pure performance!
7. Babolat 2019 Pure Aero
This option from Babolat is all about power. It is very pricey, but if you need the additional power, this is the racket for you. Just because it’s Rafael Nadal’s racket of choice, doesn’t mean it’s the best option out there, but …. it’s getting close!!
The guts of this beauty is the Aeromodular beam construction which is really all about reducing resistance through the air.
Babolat has partnered with an aerospace engineering company and this relationship has allowed Babolat’s high-end rackets to perform with reduced vibration and better shock absorption. The tech on this racket is insane!
You can read all about it on Amazon by clicking the name of the racket above. It weighs in around 11 ounces with the string and it’s 27 inches long.
It’s pretty darn close to the best racket in our lineup, but the price keeps it lower on our list of the “best” racket.
8. Head Titanium Ti.S6
Next on the list is a middle of the road racket. Head won’t make you break the bank too bad here for a design that has 115 square inches and is slightly head heavy.
This means that you’re going to have more power because there is more room to hit the ball on the face. However, it only weighs an astonishing 8 ounces.
This is considerably lower than the others we’ve seen on the list so far, so this racket has the potential to do a lot of damage even if its user does not use proper form. It is slightly longer than usual as it is 27 and ¾ inches.
This likely accounts for the lower weight. So, you will see yourself being able to have a little better reach if you decide to buy this racket! It does not come with a head cover so you’re on your own for a good carry case.
9. HEAD Gravity Jr. 26 (Strung)
A great choice for a young learning junior player comes in at number nine. Head gives the young player a chance to learn proper form at an early age with a 23-inch long offering.
It weighs just 7.6 ounces, which is astonishing considering the one we just saw above is only 8. So, basically, the only thing that makes this different from some of the adult rackets out there is the length of it.
This just helps the youth player learn how to handle the racket properly. The head size is 93 square inches, so not too much is given up in spite of the shorter length.
It comes in at the lower end of the spectrum, and it could be a good option for a young player.
10. Yonex EZone 98 Tennis Racquet
Another player in the racket sports industry makes its way onto the last spot on the list. Yonex gives us a very premium-priced racket that is meant for only the best of players.
This racket is specifically for aggressive and attacking players. The reason for this is that its “Ezone” gives players 7% more ball speed off the face of the racket. So by increasing your ball speed, you will see more power on shots from all over the court.
It comes in at 11.9 oz and is the regulation 27 inches long. So, if you need more power on your shots and you don’t mind paying for it, this is your answer!