If you play tennis enough, your racket can feel like part of your hand. It becomes an extension of your body, hitting, deflecting, becoming the tool it is meant to be. The comfort level you can experience with the right racket can affect your game and make you a better player.
The level at which you play is important to determine first. Are you a beginner looking to have something inexpensive to use on a daily basis or something nicer because you want to take the sport more seriously? Beginners should use a racket that is both comfortable and affordable. Don’t spend more for now because buying a professional level racket is a more serious investment. Why waste money on an activity that is not something you wish to spend very much time on? You shouldn’t.
There is nothing wrong with that, either. Serious tennis playing is not for everyone so choose the best racket for your particular activity level. There are game improvement rackets you can buy, those that are lighter and allow the player to swing it over and over with less stress on the joints, kind of a practice racket that lets you build up strength and endurance in your wrist and arm. Build up first then go for a bigger, heavier racket once you decide this is the sport for you.
A step up from these beginner rackets are ‘tweeners, a thicker, stronger racket that makes the most of what you’ve gained from the practice racket. They are balanced differently, with some that are more head heavy or handle heavy, depending on your need. Some have extended length but are still light when compared with full on player’s rackets. The point with these is to find the best fit for your hand as you build up your ability.
The next step, once you feel comfortable in learning and handling your lower level racket, is moving up to an actual player’s racket. This is a big step. These rackets, which are heavier and have smaller heads and thus there is less of a chance you hit the ball, are for serious players only. College level players, professionals or would be pros, should be using these types of rackets. The combination of these attributes means the racket does less to hit the ball than the previous rackets listed and thus it is the player that provides the impact and power to strike the ball and do the work. It is like the training wheels are off and it’s up to you now to do the job on the court.
All rackets have several features to consider when making a choice. The head size matters because with a bigger head you have more power and thus it makes it easier to whack the ball harder. It’s also easier to hit the ball. Most head sized range from 85-135 square inches, with the normal being between 95-110. In general, a smaller head size means more control and is made for more seasoned players in mind.
The next consideration is length of the racket from head to bottom of the neck or handle. Most are 27-29 inches, which is the limit for sanctioned tournaments. A longer racket will give you more reach on every swing of course and can sometimes mean more power than shorter rackets but that has more to do with weight. It can provide more leverage on serves but again, the skill level of the player and weight of the racket are more important. Weight and length go hand in hand.
The most important attribute is the aforementioned weight but also balance. This will let you know right away if this racket is best for you. It will feel right in your hands. Pick one up, swing it around a bit and sees if it feels comfortable or not. If it is unwieldy and hard to swing, it isn’t yet right for you to use.