How to choose a tennis racket

There are different approaches to choosing a tennis racket: you could simply opt for the cheapest, the prettiest, or the first one you happen to see. Or you could try and find one that suits your physique and game. Since you're reading this article I guess you fall into the latter category. So let's identify the different factors that give a racket its particular characteristics, and which ones are going to be the most important for your particular style of play.

The following guide is not just relevant to Wilson tennis rackets, but indeed to the approach to buying any racket, since we're talking generalities rather than recommending specific models in this article.

Now, before we get too technical, ask yourself what you want from your new tennis racket - more power? touch and control? Are you primarily a baseline or net player? Or do you need all-court versatility?

Racket weight

Rackets vary in weight from around 220g to around 340g. Generally speaking lighter rackets promote more powerful shots (because it's easier to generate more racket head speed), while heavier rackets give you more control as there is less chance the mass and energy of the ball will throw your swing off course.

So if your shots are lacking in power, opt for a lighter racket, whereas if you're able to generate plenty of pace but struggle to control where your shots land, consider going for something a bit heavier.

Racket balance

Closely related to this is the issue of a racket's balance. In an effort to reduce racket weight and thus improve manoeuvrability, Wilson started experimenting with head-heavy rackets with their Hammer technology. The theory is that they can reduce overall weight in the handle area, while retaining weight in the hitting area without compromising a racket's power - ideal for younger players and females in particular. The best way to evaluate this is to try out different rackets to see how they feel.

Racket length

Most adult rackets are 27 inches long, but you can get ones up to 29 inches in length. Longer rackets offer greater reach and leverage, but can be more unwieldy - and for this reason they tend to be slightly lighter than standard length equivalents. In my opinion, most players should opt for standard length rackets unless there is a compelling reason why you need something longer (if you're exceptionally tall, for example). Obviously if you're a junior, go for something manageable, that you won't be scraping the ground with on every shot.

Head size and sweet spot

The most dramatic advance in racket technology in the last couple of decades has been in the area of head size - compare the wooden rackets of the 1970's with a modern racket and you'll see what I mean. A larger head and correspondingly larger hitting area translate to more power and room for error, which is what most beginner to intermediate players need. More accomplished players tend to opt for smaller heads which give them more control.

String tension

String tension is another factor that has an effect on the power of shots produced by a tennis racket - the looser strung your racket is, the more power it can generate, whereas tighter strings give you more control. Strings also tend to lose some of their tension over time as they become stretched, so a racket may become more springy as it ages.

Now, I'm aware that most recreational players do not have a bag full of identical rackets all strung at different tensions like the pro's do, nor do we get our rackets restrung every other week, so to a large extent this is a moot point. But perhaps it's handy to bear in mind next time you do need to get a restring.

Stringing patterns

You may not know this, but some rackets have more strings than others! "Open" string patterns have the strings spaced wider apart, resulting in greater deflection of the strings on contact with the ball. This allows you to put more spin on the ball, and hit with greater power, but at the cost of some control (as with looser strings).

"Closed" string patterns are more dense, so the ball doesn't sink as far into the strings on impact, giving you more control. The other benefit is the strings don't move around as much and thus don't wear out as quickly.

Racket grip

It's important to ensure your grip size is correct, to minimise the chances of your racket spinning around in your hand as you make contact with the ball. Ideally your fingers should wrap most of the way around, with just a small gap between your fingertips and the ball of your thumb.

To thicken up a grip that's too small, try wrapping an extra overgrip around your racket's handle (just make sure it's tight and secure or the racket may move under it as you hit the ball).


As you can see, there are a lot of compromises involved in choosing a racket that suits you, and what's right for you will not necessarily be right for someone else. Hopefully this article has given you some idea of what to look for so you can make an informed decision.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to impress others, have more money than you know what to do with, or are skilled enough that you know for a fact that you will play better with a racquet that has specific characteristics that this one lacks, buy another racquet. If you just want a decent racquet that reliably does what a raquet should do, you don't need to pay more than this. Because of advances in technology, this plays better than most of the racquets that were available, regardless of price, ten years ago, so if you're not happy with your game, you won't be able to blame this racquet.