Nowadays, tennis rackets come in many different sizes with varying specifications. As a result, it’s not always easy finding a suitable racket.
This decision can be even harder if you are a 12-year-old.
It’s around this age that junior players start to switch to adult rackets.
But how can you know which racket is best for a 12-year-old?
If a 12-year-old is between 55 and 62 inches tall, a 26-inch racket is a suitable size. If the child is taller, they will be better off with a full-size 27-inch adult racket. If they are tall enough for an adult racket, they will also consider the grip size.
You may be wondering if that one inch makes much of a difference.
The reason different racket sizes exist is to give players a racket that is proportionate to their size.
That extra inch could make a 1% difference. At the elite level, players are looking for the things that give them that slight edge over their opponent.
If the racket makes even the slightest difference, it’s worth it.
In this article I will be answering:
- What racket size is suitable for a 12-year-old
- Whether tennis racket sizes should be different for boys and girls
- What the ideal tennis racket grip size is for a 12-year-old
- What are the best rackets for 12-year-olds
If you want to learn more about racket sizes for 12-year-olds, read on!
What Tennis Racket Size Should I Select For a 12 Year Old?
When racket manufacturers advertise a racket as “suitable for a 12-year-old,” it is sometimes misleading.
The reason it is misleading is that no 12-year-old is the same. Therefore, the most crucial factor when determining the racket size is not age at all.
It is height.
Most manufacturers market rackets as suitable for a specific age group because it is typically warranted.
The problem is rackets, especially junior rackets, are not one size fits all.
Most 12-year-olds don’t know their own height without checking. It is thus easier to go into a shop and search for rackets based on age.
For manufacturers, it is simpler to chuck rackets into a blanket category. These ones are for 10-year-olds and these ones for 12-year-olds.
How did you land on this page?
Most likely because you were searching for a suitable racket for a 12-year-old. You probably weren’t researching what a suitable racket for a 5 feet 3 inches boy is.
The other issue is shopping online or in shops that are not tennis-specific.
It is easy for people to fall into the trap of buying based on age without considering height or other specifications by shopping online.
If a website divides its rackets by age, no one is there to stop and talk to you about which racket is most suitable.
Shopping in multi-sports shops also comes with risks. For example, suppose the member of staff assisting doesn’t know much about tennis herself. In that case, she could also fall into the trap of selling you a racket based on age.
It’s not the end of the world if you get the wrong racket. I would, however, recommend you talk to a coach or member of staff in a tennis-specific shop to be sure.
I coach a 12-year-old girl who is over 6 feet tall. Admittedly, you do not often come across 12-year-old girls this tall, but a 26-inch racket is not suitable for her.
Provided you are a beginner and not particularly tall or short for your age, you will be fine just picking a racket based on age.
If you are much taller or shorter than average, I recommend picking your racket based on height.
If you are roughly 55-62 inches taller, go for a 26 inch. If you are taller, go for a 27 inch.
Should Tennis Racket Sizes Be Different For Boys And Girls?
When they are 12-years-old, girls usually are taller than boys.
Surely this must mean you need different sizes based on gender?
The average height of a 12-year-old boy in the US is around 58 inches.
The average height of a 12-year-girl in the US is roughly 59 inches. These figures come within the 55-62-inch range I gave as suitable for a 26-inch racket.
Most 12-year-olds will fit into this range regardless of gender. There, therefore, isn’t the need to create separate age guides for boys and girls.
It is confusing enough as it is. The main reason rackets are divided into age categories is to supposedly make it simpler.
Creating a new system based on gender to account for that 1-inch difference will just create more work and lead to more confusion.
The best way to help people purchase the right-sized racket is to ditch the age measurements and go on height alone. This way, children will pick a racket based on their growth rather than how old they are.
For most, racket length will make little difference. However, if rackets were advertised purely on height instead of age, it would have saved the father of that 6 foot tall 12-year-old returning her 26-inch racket.
Most manufacturers today provide both a height and age recommendation. The problem with this is parents are then unsure whether to purchase on age or height.
Manufacturers and shops need to market junior rackets in a simple way that everyone can understand what to look for. It is also in their interest.
The more people who buy the correct size racket, the less returns they will receive.
Also read: How To Select A Racket For 8-Year Old?
Tennis Racket Grip Size For 12 Years Old
If you are using a 26-inch racket, this question is irrelevant. All 26-inch rackets come in the same grip size, which is 0 (4 inches).
Full-size adult rackets go from grips size 1 (4 ⅛ inches) to grip size 5 (4 ⅝ inches). The appropriate grip size is determined by the size of your hand, not height.
Having a grip size that is too small will increase the chance of the racket slipping out of your hand.
Having a grip size that is too big will cause more pressure on your hand as you stretch it more to hold the racket.
The easiest way to find the appropriate grip size if you have several rackets available to try is this:
- Hold the racket in your dominant hand.
- Check the size of the grip. This is normally found on the butt of the racket.
- Place the index finger from your non-dominant hand in between your fingers and the palm of your hand.
- If the gap between your fingers and the palm of your hand is roughly the size of your index finger, you have the correct size.
- If there is too much, or too little space between, try the next size up or down.
You might find your grip size is somewhere between 2. If this is the case, choose the racket with the smaller grip size.
This way, you can build it up slightly with an overgrip. Using an overgrip will increase the size by 1/16 of an inch.
The other way to work out your grip size is the ruler method:
- Take a ruler and close the fingers in your dominant hand together.
- Make sure the bottom of the ruler is in line with the lowest horizontal crease in your hand.
- Measure the length from the bottom horizontal crease to the top of your ring finger.
- If the length measures 4 ¼ inches, grip size 2 (4 ¼ inches) is the correct size.
Best Tennis Rackets For 12 Years Old
One of my topic picks for beginner/intermediate 12 year olds is the Wilson Ultra. It’s a lightweight racket, easy to swing and has a 100sq in head size.
This head size gives a good-sized sweet spot which is forgiving if you don’t make the perfect contact point.
For more advanced players looking for extreme topspin I like the Babolat Pure Aero. This racket is a great choice for players who are aggressive baseliners.
I am also a big fan of the soft feeling you get as you contact the ball.
Also read: How To Select Racket For 10-Year Old?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not the end of the world if you get a slightly too big or small racket.
It is crucial, though, to remember that points are won and lost on 1% margins.
The racket could make all the difference. A point is won by making just one more ball than the opponent.
What racket do you use to play at the moment? Perhaps you played tennis when you were 12, can you remember the racket you used?