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Sports Basement's Guide to Tennis Rackets


A close up of tennis rackets hanging on a wall.

Our Berkeley store's Team Sports Manager, Jared, is sharing his expert tennis advice (and his favorite resources) to help you choose a racket.

CHOOSING A RACKET

Here's the TLDR version (though we highly recommend reading Jared's advice below!):

  • Larger Head size = More Power   Smaller Head size = More Control
  • Thicker Beams= More Power    Thinner Beams = More Control
  • Open Stringbed = More Power    Denser Stringbed = More Control

RACKET SIZE

I usually recommend beginners start with “oversized” or “power” rackets since larger string beds provide a larger sweet spot for more forgiveness on off-center hits. They also tend to have more open string beds which help with power and spin. As a player gains more consistent contact in the center of the racket, a smaller stringbed can provide more precision and accuracy

RACKET WEIGHT

I suggest that a player use the heaviest racket they can use without getting tired. A lighter racket generates less fatigue and is more maneuverable while a heavier frame provides more 'plow through' and stability. As you advance your tennis skills and arm strength you may want a heavier racket for more stability.

STRING PATTERN

An open string pattern will deflect more on impact than a denser pattern, providing greater ball rebound. Strung at the same tension (in similar racquets) an open string pattern won’t feel as “tight” as a dense string pattern. Open string patterns also allow for more spin potential, as the wider string spacing provides more bite on the ball. Players seeking more spin will benefit from a more open string pattern. A trade off is reduced string durability as the fewer strings will accelerate wear.

A denser string pattern won’t deflect as much upon ball impact, resulting in less rebound energy so it’s better suited for hard hitters that don’t need as much help from the racket. More closely spaced strings will offer less spin potential but will last longer than a similar racquet featuring a more open string pattern. Players who don’t play with much spin and are seeking enhanced control will generally prefer racquets with denser string patterns, as will hard-hitting topspin players seeking increased string durability.

If you can’t decide what pattern you need or what string weight you’d like, just ask our tennis-stringing staff! They’ll string your racket so it’s the perfect density and string type for your skill-level and playing style.

STRING TYPE

There are several string types to match both your budget and your style of play:

Synthetic gut strings are a basic solid core string great for beginners and recreational players that are looking for a great value.  The pros are low cost and good all around performance.  The downside is that this jack of all trades string is not an outstanding performer in any particular category.
Multifilament strings are an affordable alternative to natural gut strings, utilizing a number of different fibers in the construction to create a soft feeling string that provides power and comfort. However these strings are not the most durable and may provide a bit too much power for big hitters.
Polyester strings provide stronger players with a low power, durable, and spin friendly string option.  The drawbacks are increased harshness and faster tension loss.
Natural gut is the classic tennis string made from cow intestine.  This expensive string choice is the best for comfort and tension maintenance.
Gauge is a measure of the thickness of a particular string. A thicker string is more durable and provides more control while a thinner gauge generates more power and spin.

GRIP SIZE

While frame stiffness and string type/tension are major factors in preventing Tennis Elbow (softer frames and strings provide more comfort), your grip size is equally important! The wrong grip size means your hand and arm muscles have to work harder to keep a good grip on your racket so getting the right sized grip is important. Here are a few common grip tests for finding your grip size:

The Index Finger Test (What I use for 99% of my customers)
Hold your racket with an eastern forehand grip (so your palm is placed on the same grip bevel as the string face) with your racket hand. You should be able to put the index finger of your other hand between your thumb and the rest of your fingers as shown below:
The Ruler Test
You can also take a ruler on your hand as shown below. Place the ruler at the bottom crease of your palm and measure to the tip of your ring finger. That measurement would be your grip size.

 Standard grip sizes tend to follow the chart below:

US Sizes

European Sizes

Sizes in Millimeters

4 inches

0

100-103 mm

4-1/8 inches

1

103-106 mm

4-1/4 inches

2

106-110 mm

4-3/8 inches

3

110-113 mm

4-1/2 inches

4

113-118 mm

4-5/8 inches

5

118-120 mm

4-3/4 inches

6

120-123 mm

Chart from Anthem Sports

If you find you’re in between sizes, it’s often better to size down and just make the grip size bigger with overgrip

While this guide is a great starting point for choosing a racket, we highly recommend coming into our store to get a feel for the rackets, chat with our tennis experts, and make sure that you are getting the right racket set up. You can even take one for a few practice swings on the court with our Tennis Demo Program

 

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