Buying your first tennis racket can be a daunting task in today’s market. With hundreds of different models from competing manufacturers all over the world, there are an overwhelming number of options. Here’s a quick and comprehensive guide to finding the right racket for a beginner.
Often, reviews will classify racquets into three categories: beginner, tweener, and advanced. These can be helpful, and if you’re not looking to get serious, then make sure you choose a racket in the beginner or tweener section. However, there are a few things you should consider when you’re looking to buy your first racket.
The material of the racket will have the most direct relationship on the price. Aluminum rackets are the cheapest, and a good place to start. Nearly every professional these days uses graphite, Kevlar, or titanium rackets, because they are stiffer, providing more control. It is easy to find an aluminum racket in the $15-$30 range, where a graphite racket will cost you at least $70. If you are a talented athlete, or expect your tennis skills to improve quickly, you might want to consider graphite. If you are just stepping on the court for the first time, or just looking to play casually, an aluminum racket will suffice just fine.
The power that your racket produces depends mostly on two factors: head size and flexibility. For a beginner, head size will be the more important of these two. A larger head size will provide you a larger sweet spot (the ideal spot on your strings to make contact with the ball) and more power, but will reduce your control over the ball. Although there is no industry standard, head sizes are typically divided into three categories: traditional (less than 100 square inches), midsize (100-106 square inches) and oversize (over 106 square inches). As a beginner, it will probably be some time before you are able to place most of your shots, so an oversize head, with a large sweet spot is probably your best choice.
The less a racket weighs, the more shock your arm receives when making contact with the ball. A heavier racket will reduce shock, but will tire your muscles quickly. Finding a weight that is comfortable for you is important. Most players use a racket between 10 and 11.5 ounces, so it is best to start in that range.
Balance refers to the distribution of weight in a racket. A head-heavy racket has more weight near the top of the racket, and will provide more power and less control. A head-light racket has more weight near the handle and will decrease power while giving you more control. A beginner should start off with a racket in the middle of these, no more than five points (5/8”) away from even.
The Wilson Tour Slam Tennis Racquet costs around $25-$30 and is a great choice for beginners. It has a 110” head size, weighs 11.5 ounces, and is only 3 points head-light. Any racket with specifications similar to this will be a good choice to bring to the court.