There are hundreds of variations of tennis racket out there which people can play with, and it can be quite a struggle to discern what are the features and characteristics of each one is: DSI spin technology, graphene, 16x15 string pattern, the list of specs are endless. This however, is hopefully a guide to help you discern what all the characteristics mean, to help you make a more informed decision about rackets in general.
Important one this one. Generally, the lighter a racket, the quicker it is to swing. For beginners a lighter racket is definitely recommended. However, against harder hitting player, more weight in the racket makes the racket more stable, and imparts more momentum on the ball, resulting in a harder hit ball. Ultimately, it comes down to a balance between the stability of the racket, and being able to swing the racket freely.
Beginners- intermediates should be looking at rackets between 260-290g
Stronger intermediates should be using rackets weighing 280-310g
Advanced players should be using rackets 300g and above
Swing weight and balance
Not only is the weight itself important, but where the centre of mass in the racket is located is important. Rackets can be headlight or head heavy. Headlight rackets feel lighter than they are, which can allow the rackets to be swung quicker, without compromising stability. These are generally heavier rackets. Head heavy rackets generally impart more momentum on the ball than would be expected, but at the expense of tiring the arms of the player quicker.
In the end, this comes down to the preference of the player, it is just worth realising what each one means
Extremely important to how the racket feels. Babolat have developed a stiffness index , which indicates how much of the energy of the previous shot the racket absorbs. A stiff racket will have a high stiffness rating which will compromise feel and control, but ultimately allow a much harder strike on the ball. A softer racket is helpful for control , and in particular is much better for volleys.
Examples of softer rackets are Wilson Pro-Staffs and Head Prestige’s, with a stiffness of between 60-63.
Examples of the stiffer rackets are normally Babolats, with the Babolat Pure drive and Aero coming in at a stiffness of 70-71.
Again, another thing which comes down to the player, but generally, power players prefer a stiffer racket, finesse players a softer one.
Generally, most rackets sold have a 16 x 19 string pattern. This means they have 16 strings on the mains ( going up and down the racket) and 19 strings on the crosses( going across the racket) increasing the number of strings in the racket leads to a more controlled racket, with an extremely powerful sweet spot. Less strings leads to more spin, and a bigger sweet spot, but less control, and also makes string breaking more likely. Generally, players looking for a good all round game should stick to a 16 x 19, players looking for more control should try an 18 x 20, and players looking for loads of spin should try a 16 x15 or similar.
There are some weird couples out there. Indeed, every single week tennis corner, without exception provides us with couplings that would never be expected (and admittedly, some that are downright predictable). With this in mind I shall try and give some recommendations for rackets which are worth looking at. ( disclaimer: writer uses a Babolat Pure Strike 16 x 19)
Babolat Pure Drive (Most Power)
Wilson Blade 16 x 19 (Huge Sweet spot)
Babolat Aero (Huge Spin Potential)
Wilson Pro Staff (soft, plush feeling, the racket of the Roger)
Head Prestige MP (solid feeling racket, accurate)
Wilson Ultra (Highly customisable)
Babolat Pure Strike ( mixes almost power of pure drive with directability of the pro staff)
Head Speed (superb defensive racket, manoeuvrable and able to redirect opponents ball)
Wilson Burn 100