Are you on the hunt for a new tennis racket? Perhaps you’re in the process of purchasing your first ever racket.
When I first started playing, my racket selection was based not on performance but on which pro used it. It’s safer to say that as I have matured, I base my decisions far more on racket specifications.
This leads directly to what I want to discuss today. What difference does the racket you use make? Does it even make a difference?
Yes, tennis rackets do make a difference. Most rackets targeted at advanced players have a smaller head size and heavier weight. For a beginner, a size reduction can have a large impact as the sweet spot is reduced.
You may have spent lots of time already looking at racket reviews. I will share some invaluable information that will give you a better understanding of how different elements affect racket performance.
In this article I will be covering:
- Whether it matters what racket you choose
- The factors that make a tennis racket good
- Whether it is possible to be a good player using older rackets
So stick around to learn more.
Does Tennis Racket Matter?
Oops! I already spoiled it in the introduction. It certainly does matter. There are so many different components that make up a racket. Not one model is identical.
The greatest difference with the cheap rackets you come across in stores like Walmart is material. The majority of expensive rackets are made from carbon fiber material such as graphite. The typical department store rackets are usually made with aluminum or titanium.
Due to the materials used in the expensive rackets, they give a more consistent feel as opposed to their Walmart counterparts. By this, I mean the impact you feel on your arm will not vary as much from shot to shot.
As a generalization, cheap rackets weigh less. This is because it is easier to swing with a more lightweight racket. Making them light, they appeal to a broader base of the market that shops in department stores.
You will also come across many high-quality lightweight rackets in tennis shops. These are generally aimed at beginners.
The target market for the department store style rackets is seasonal players, not even beginners.
If you suffer from arm pain, something you will want to pay attention to is frame thickness. Wider frames are stiffer and give more power. The downside is that more vibration impact is transmitted to your arm.
Another critical element is grip size. A grip that is too large can make shifting between the positions tougher. One that is too small can (among other factors) cause tennis elbow.
A smaller grip size does make a racket more maneuverable but means the muscles in your forearm have to work harder.
Here is a video demonstrating how to find the correct grip size for you.
If you are someone who cares enough to research the difference between rackets, you likely take the sport seriously enough to buy from a tennis shop.
If you are unhappy with the strings, grip, or balls, you can change them as they are less expensive. With a racket, you can spend upwards of $300. This is why taking note of the specifications and their impact is so important when choosing a racket.
A racket should be treated like any investment. You get out what you put in. If you have no intention of playing seriously and just want to hit with your kids in the park, a standard department store racket will be fine.
What Makes A Good Tennis Racket?
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This is very true when it comes to how we view rackets and their qualities.
All players look for different qualities in a racket. This is usually based on a combination of ability and playstyle. It is impossible to put all beginners in a box and say they must have a comfort racket.
The choice a player faces is a tradeoff between power, comfort, and control. This tradeoff decision will remain present throughout their entire career whenever they buy a racket. Or at least with the technology that exists today.
There are three components that make up the balance between power and control:
|More Power||More Control|
|Larger Head Size||Smaller Head Size|
|Lighter Racket||Heavier Racket|
|Open String Pattern||Denser String Pattern|
Two things to consider looking for if you are a beginner are a larger head size and lighter frame.
Having a larger head size will increase the sweet spot and hit a clean shot. Having a lighter frame will make it easier to swing and maneuver.
When you are an intermediate player, you will begin to develop your own power and rely less on their racket. A smaller head size will give you more control as you hit the ball. The tradeoff is that it’s harder to hit it in the center of the strings.
What is considered good for a beginner player is unlikely to be considered good for an advanced player.
Can I Still Be Good With The Older Tennis Racket?
It is vital to bear in mind that a racket is a tool and nothing more than that. Of course, the racket you select will make a difference, but the biggest influencing factor is you.
The racket is a tool to support the player. The skill level of the player will always come first. It is not as if a bad racket will somehow make a good player lose their skill.
As much as I would like to think I stand a chance, Novak Djokovic would still beat me even if he is playing with a wooden racket.
Perhaps not as convincingly, though?
Djokovic’s ability is so high that even if he played with a wooden racket against a non-professional player, he would still come out on top.
Would he fare as well against Nadal with a wooden racket? Certainly not.
The majority of professional players have custom rackets. This means that even if they play with a certain model, the version you buy in the shop is likely not the same.
There are even rumors of some pro players using rackets from over a decade ago. The racket providers then apply a paint job to match the current model being marketed.
There is a lot to think about when evaluating the differences between rackets.
It can be overwhelming looking for a racket at times with so many options out there.
Luckily, the tennis community is so big that you can always reach out for help or read my blog.
What is your perfect racket?