Choosing a tennis racquet for adults could be a daunting experience, especially when we’re new to the game. So what’s the best racquet for a beginner? The answer depends on a few factors, but the main focal point would be the weight, followed by grip size. Of course, some of us might want to use the same equipment as our favourite players. From Federer to Serena Williams, and everyone in between (yes, including Nadal, Djokovic, Osaka, and Barty). The reality is that the top pros are using customized racquets that meet their specific preferences, and usually, these racquets are much heavier than what us regular humans can handle. This is important because playing with a racquet that is too heavy, or too light, could be harmful.
Arm and grip strength play a big factor in this decision because we want to be able to maneuver the racquet with ease but also have enough weight to penetrate through the swing.
If you’re someone that feels confident in your dominant hand arm strength, I’d recommend trying a racquet that’s between 300 – 320 grams. Furthermore, if you feel like your arm strength is average, then 275 – 295 grams would be a good range to try. However, if you feel like your arm strength is below average and needs some strengthening, then 250 – 270 grams would be appropriate. In extreme cases, you can go below 250 grams but you may be needing to move up in weight sooner than later.
Now, when it comes to choosing a grip size, the general guideline is that, when gripping the racquet, you should be able to slide your index finger into the gap that’s left over. That being said, grip size is mostly a personal preference. For example, my hand is technically fitted for a 4 3/8 inch grip size, but I prefer using a 4 1/4 because I want to feel like I’m grasping the handle with better control and can hold the racquet more confidently. Whereas if I use a 4 1/2, I’d feel like the grip is simply too big and I’m not fully controlling the weight in my hand. I suggest using the grip guideline as a starting point, and adjust if needed.
Moreover, testing out a racquet is the best way to find the right one for you. Now that you have a general idea of the weight and grip size that would fit, you can go to your local pro shop and demo the racquet you’ve had your eye on. Grabbing a few different ones is a good idea so you can feel the differences in weight and grip size. If you’re a local Vancouver tennis enthusiast, you can stop by Tad’s Sporting Goods on Granville St. to demo some of the latest models of popular racquet brands.
For example, in the heavier range of the scale, a good starting point could be the Yonex Ezone 98 which weighs in at 305 grams. Other good examples of heavier racquets are the Head Radical (300), Wilson Clash (309), or the Babolat Pure Drive (300). All racquets have the specs printed on the frame (location of where on the frame varies by brand), so make sure to check or ask the pro shop employee to make sure it’s the correct weight. The cool thing about these models is that most of them have alternate versions that vary by weight. You can find a Yonex Ezone 98 which is 305 grams or you can choose one of the variations like the Yonex Ezone 98L, which weighs in at 285 grams. There are different versions of every racquet model so be sure to check or ask about the specs before buying or demoing.
Lastly, you may be wondering about the different racquet head sizes in square inches and string patterns like 18×20. To be honest, if you’re just starting out in tennis, I wouldn’t worry too much about this yet. Anywhere from 98 – 105 sq. in. should be good. The bigger the size, the bigger the sweet-spot is. Therefore, this theoretically allows more room for error, but that’s not always the case as everyone’s level of natural eye hand coordination varies. In terms of string pattern, don’t concern yourself with this for now, this is a feature you can experiment with when you’re moving on to your second or third racquet. For your first tennis weapon, focus on getting the appropriate weight and make sure the grip feels good in your hand.
Enjoy the process of finding the perfect extension of your hand because choosing a racquet shouldn’t be stressful, it should be fun and exciting. My last little tip here is if you’re not completely sure about the weight, lean towards the lighter side because you can always add weight to a racquet with lead tape, but you can’t take any off.
See you on the courts!