The standard length for an adult tennis racket is 27”. Some manufacturers still make models longer than this, however they seem to have fallen out of popularity in the ten or fifteen years. It has been an ongoing debate for the past two decades as to whether or not an extra long racket can increase your game.
In the mid 90’s Michael Chang, a top competitor in professional tennis, began using an extra long 28” racket. He was claimed to be able to hit his serve 10 miles per hour faster with this added length. This sparked an oversize racket craze, and nearly all top brands started manufacturing a few longer models, some up to 34”.
There were several arguments in favor of longer rackets. The main reasoning was that a longer racket improved your serve. The main statistic referred to is that for every extra inch on your racket, you gain access to ten percent more of the service box that you were unable to hit to before. It also benefits shorter players (Michael Chang was 5’9”) by decreasing the swing radius, increasing the velocity on their serve. Another benefit of the added length was an increase in a player’s reach. Their racket was able to cover more area on the court with a couple extra inches.
The main counter argument was that an oversized racket was just that: oversized. Maneuverability and control are diminished with extra length. Many people also claimed that the extra length caused extra torque, which caused extra stress on their wrist, and arm, which could result in long term injury.
These days, the oversized racket is almost gone from the market. Some brands make extra long models, however usually 28” inches is the longest they bother making. It is possible to find rackets up to 32” inches, but most players don’t bother because they find them difficult to wield.
Racket length is most often brought up when talking about junior players these days. Over the past decade, the game has seen a large influx of children starting earlier and earlier, and junior tennis racket technology has improved accordingly.
It is important to find the right racket according to your child’s size. There are no industry standards, and most junior leagues don’t have equipment regulations, however it is crucial to pay close attention to the racket a child uses, in order to diminish the possibility for injury.
1-4 year olds usually don’t get on the court, but that doesn’t mean they can’t start playing. Le petit tennis makes an affordable 15” and 17” version of their kids rackets, and you can find inflatable balls to get kids into the game. 5-6 year olds will usually need a bit larger, 19” racket. 7-9 year olds are typically recommended a racket around 23”, while 10-11 years olds should use a 25”, 26”, or if their physically developed enough, and adult size racket. Ages 12 and up is usually when kids are able to handle a full sized 27” racket. However these are just guidelines, it is important to remember that the racket size should be proper to the child’s size. Generally, when the player is holding their racket at their side the head of the racket should hang above, or barely touch the ground. If possible, talk to a coach to get their recommendation on the proper racket length for a junior player.