How to buy a Tennis Racquet

How To Buy A Tennis Racquet

New high-tech materials, larger heads and longer racquets have changed the way the game of tennis is played. It is essential that you choose the type and size racquet that best fits your game.

  • Matching your racquet to your ability level
    • Beginners
    • Intermediate
    • Advanced
  • Determining your racquet type
    • Defining your swing type
    • Power player
    • Finesse player
    • Combination player
  • Understanding racquet technology
    • Head size
    • Length
    • Weight
    • Stiffness and flexibility
    • Head shape
    • Grip size
  • How to choose right string
    • Pre-strung racquets
    • Unstrung racquets
    • Understanding string technology

Matching your racquet to your ability level

It is vital that the tennis equipment you use fits your skill level. You should buy a racquet that suits your size, swing and ability level.


  • If you are just starting to play tennis you should look for a basic, versatile racquet
  • An oversized, pre-strung racquet will provide the most versatility and has the largest sweet spot
  • Size ranges between 107 square inches and 125 square inches
  • A pre-strung racquet generally fits all types of players. These are strung by the manufacturer in the middle of the range of strength.


  • If you belong to a club or recreational team or play at least once a week
  • A lighter, smaller racquet if you’re a power player
  • A larger racquet if you’re a finesse player in need of some extra power


  • Play 2-3 times a week or compete in a competitive league
  • High-tech composite racquets provide superior power with lighter weight

Determining your racquet type

The type of tennis racquet you should purchase depends on the type of player you are. Use the guidelines below to determine your playing style.

Defining your swing type

  • If you have a long, loopy swing and aggressively hit the ball you are a power player who could benefit from more of a control racquet.
  • If you have a slow-to-moderate swing speed and a short, compact stroke you are a finesse player who could use a power racquet to help you hit the ball harder.

Power player

  • Heavy hitters are able to supply most of the power yourself
  • Look for a smaller racquet that provides for better control of your swing
  • The head size and length should be smaller in order to improve the control of your shots

Finesse player

  • Will want a racquet that is stiffer and longer with a larger head size to increase the sweet spot
  • More than half of all tennis players fall into this category

Combination player

  • If you have a long, slow stroke, or fast, compact swing, then you need a combination racquet
  • You need to find a balance between the longer, stiffer, more powerful racquets and the shorter versions that will give you additional control

Understanding racquet technology

Before you choose a tennis racquet, it is important to understand the many factors that control a racquet’s performance, and how each of them can impact your game.

Head size

The bigger your racquet’s head, the more powerful your shot. On the other side, the smaller the head size the more control you have. If you’re in the middle, there are mid-sized versions that offer you a little of both.

  • Oversize
    • Measures between 107 square inches and 125 square inches. Super oversize racquets come as large as 135 square inches.
    • Larger sweet spot means more power
    • More consistency from fewer mishits
  • Midsize
    • Range from 100 square inches to 106 square inches
    • Slightly larger sweet spot
    • Better control without giving up too much power
  • Traditional
    • For the stronger player who provides most of the power in a shot
    • The head size is smaller than 100 square inches
    • Much better control, but sacrifices power
    • Easier for smaller players to handle


The length of your racquet, the distance from the bottom of the handle to the top of the head, depends on how big you are and what type of game you play.

  • Long
    • More than half of racquets made today are “long racquets”
    • Measure between 28.5-29 inches
    • Provides greater leverage on a swing, and therefore more power
    • Easier to cover more area on the court
  • Traditional
    • The standard 27.5-28 inch racquet is for you if you prefer a more traditional look and feel
    • A combination of both power and control
    • Easier to handle if you are a smaller player


The weight of a racquet affects both power and control. With today’s racquets getting lighter, manufacturers have placed most of the weight, or mass, in the head to increase the power.

  • Heavy
    • Generally weigh more than 11 ounces
    • Supplies more power
    • Helps maintain control
  • Mid-Weight
    • Measures between 9.8-10.9
    • Offer a combination of control and power
    • Very versatile to fit most types of players
  • Super Light
    • Weighs between 9-9.4 ounces
    • Superior shot control
    • Easier for smaller players to handle

Stiffness and flexibility

Any time a racquet “flexes” it is wasting energy. Both of these factors only really impact advanced players. All manufacturers have different ways of determining and indicating their stiffness and flexibility ratings.

  • Stiffness
    • The stiffer the racquet, the more energy is returned to the ball
    • Better control of return shots
    • Dampens vibration and stress on the elbow
    • More power since less energy is wasted
  • Flexibility
    • Preferred by some players with higher and faster swing speeds
    • Offers less power and therefore greater control
    • Makes it easier to finesse shots

Head shape

The shape of the racquet head depends on your preference in the look of the racquet and your skill level.

  • Oval
    • The sweet spot resides in the bottom half of this standard-shaped head that is preferred by traditionalists
    • Excellent feel of the racquet
  • Tear Drop
    • The tear drop shape allows more of the racquet to act as the sweet spot
      • A sweet spot is the area on the racquet that allows for a solid hit and return. The larger the racquet, the bigger the sweet spot.
      • The tear drop-shaped racquet allows almost the entire face to become the sweet spot
      • New materials have strengthened racquet frames to add more consistency

Grip size

  • A properly fitted grip will improve your control over the tennis racquet, enhancing your performance
  • A grip that is too small will allow the racquet to twist in your hand and can eventually lead to Tennis Elbow
  • A grip that is too large will decrease wrist snap on serves and prolonged use can also cause Tennis Elbow
  • How to choose the right size grip:
    • Open your hand with your fingers extended and close together
    • Place the end of a ruler in the middle of your palm, inline with the bottom lateral crease of your palm.
    • Measure here from the middle of your palm to the tip of your ring finger
    • This is your ideal grip size
    • For the average woman, this size will be between 4 1/8″ and 4 3/8″
    • For the average man, it will be between 4 1/2″ and 4 3/4″
    • If you are between sizes, go with the smaller size and add an overgrip or heat-shrink sleeve for the perfect fit
    • Most overgrips will increase the size by 1/16 inch and heat-shrink sleeves will increase grip by 1/8 inch

How to choose the right string for your racquet

Once you have the type of frame that best fits your playing style and swing, you will need to determine the type of stringing that suits your game.

Pre-strung racquets

Most manufacturers offer pre-strung racquets in their less-expensive models.

  • Pre-strung racquets are geared towards recreational players
  • Very versatile for a beginning level player

Unstrung racquets

  • Primarily for intermediate to advanced players
    • These allow you to choose a racquet type and size and then tailor the string to your game
    • It allows the more advanced player to customize string and tension according to your playing style

Understanding string technology

  • Natural gut
    • Provides the best, most consistent feel
    • Best suited for more advanced players because of improved performance and feel on shots
    • Will need to be changed frequently; not very durable
  • Synthetic
    • Better suited for recreational players
    • Offers a good balance of durability and playability
    • Very little difference in performance for the average tennis player
  • String gauge
    • This is basically the thickness of the string and the big difference is in durability and playability
    • Thicker strings (15 gauge) last longer, while thinner strings (16 and 17 gauge) offer better feel but are less durable
  • String tension
    • All racquet frames come with manufacturer’s recommendations on string tension and it is best to stay within those limits
    • For more power, the racquet should be strung at the low end of the range, since lower tension equals more power
    • Higher string tensions offer less power but provide for better control
    • As a general rule, higher tensions are recommended for experienced players only

    ©2013 DICK’S Sporting Goods


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