The information from the seller in the store should not be treated as the only true one, since perhaps he has never played tennis at all and does not know different nuances, or he may initially have a bias towards a particular brand.
Table of Contents
So let’s talk about sizes. There are six basic parameters when we talk about the size of a tennis racket:
1. Racquet length
The world standard for measuring racket length is in inches.
The standard length for an adult racket is 27 inches. Children’s rackets start at 19 inches.
2. Racket weight
The weight of children’s rackets is from 200 to 260 grams and grows with the increase in the length of the racket. On average, the weight of an adult’s racket is 285-300 grams for men and 260-285 for women.
3. Handle size
Handle size selection starts with 26 inches rackets. Sizes starts at 1 (4 1/8) and go up to 5 (4 5/8)
Average 3 (4 3/8) for men and 2 (4 2/8) for women.
4. Head size
Measured in square centimeters or inches. The average size is 645 square cm or 100 square inches. Experienced players and professionals prefer a smaller head size, amateurs and beginners prefer a larger one.
5. Racquet balance
It is indicated in centimeters or inches and means the distance from the butt cap of the racket to its center of gravity. The balance can be shifted to the handle, to the head, or be neutral. Usually professionals prefer the balance in the handle, amateurs – neutral and beginners or children – in the head. (In adult 27 inches rackets – 34 cm (13.5 inches is a neutral balance)
6. String pattern
This is a number indicating the number of main (vertical) and cross (horizontal) strings in a racquet. The two most popular are 16-19 and 18-20. In the first case, the cells of the strings will be larger, which will add power and torsion to your racket, and in the second case, there will be smaller cells – this is a stiffer option, it will add control over the ball and increase the durability of the strings.
How to choose the tennis racket size by age
You are a parent and looking for a racket for your child? What do you need to look for?
The first parameter is his age, the second is his height. Since at an early age the height of children can vary greatly, the smallest racket available may not suit them, despite the fact that according to the age criteria it should be suitable.
It is important that the racket does not drag on the floor when the child holds it. The child should be able to calmly touch the tip of the racket to the floor, but no more. Naturally, it should not be so short, reaching only to the knees.
All racquets are marked in inches along their length – this is the world standard for measurement, and all racquets are measured this way.
Let’s consider a player’s “career” from 2 to 10 years.
The smallest racket on the market is 19-inch long and is designed for players 2-4 years old. With this racket size, the recommended height of the child is from 89 to 102 cm (35-40 inch)
If a child who starts playing tennis is under 5 years old, you can safely take a 19-inch racket. It doesn’t matter what brand or color.
Next comes the 23-inch racket. Age 7-8 years. Children have been playing with such a racket for quite a long time. It is great for beginners and players who have been playing for about a year.
The last choice for children is 25-inch. Age 9-10 years. The selection criteria are the same, since all these rackets are very similar and at this stage other nuances are not so important. Children aged 10-12 who already play tennis quite seriously and participate in competitions already need professional type rackets.
Then comes the 21-inch racket, suitable for kids ages 5 to 6.
You don’t need to focus on height. We give the racket to the child’s hand and if he can calmly touch the floor with it, then the racket is suitable.
Professional racquets are not made of aluminium, like those rackets we talked about earlier – they are made of graphite or composite graphite.
On such rackets they are already beginning to indicate its weight, balance etc. But at this age, you should not go into details, we focus on the size of the racket and give the child the opportunity to choose the one that appeals to him more.
By about 12 years, we switch to a 26-inch racket.
The racquet is only 1 inch smaller than the standard size, and these are enough serious racquets. There is no need to rush to switch to a heavier racket if the coach has not recommended to you. You can injure a child. He will not be able to adequately perform the technique with a heavy racket – everything has its time.
Choosing a racket for an adult who has recently started playing tennis
Of course, if you know that you will definitely play tennis for a long time, then you can take an expensive professional racket that will last you for many years. But we recommend you to take something simpler, because professional rackets cost 150-200 dollars, and it would be a shame to waste a lot of money if you do not continue playing tennis after a few workouts.
Therefore, we recommend choosing an affordable racket with a size of 27 inches (this is already the maximum size).
The weight of the racket already depends on for a woman or a man it is, as well as how strong the player is (because if you overdo it with weight, it will be harder to control the racket and do the technique). On average, adult women can take a racket from 260 to 285 grams, depending on their abilities. For men, it is 285 – 300 grams. With this choice, you will not have problems with either injuries or technique.
Also, do not forget about the size of the handle (handle thickness). Sizes range from 1 to 5 (US) and 4 1/8 to 4 5/8 (European). Usually, the size of both the American and the European is indicated on the bottom end of the handle. On average, in amateur tennis, 2 (4 2/8) are suitable for women and 3 (4 3/8) for men.
Of course, everything is very individual and depends on what size of palm you have. Some are very large, some are very small. There are amateur women with such a small hand that they have to use children’s racquets, otherwise they are uncomfortable to play.
There is another option for choosing a handle. You squeeze the handle, and there should be about one centimeter (or the thickness of one finger) between the fingers and the base of the palm.
Choose the size of the handle, weight, model and forward to the court.
Choosing a racket size for a competitive junior or adult player with good experience
In the production of rackets, manufacturers have two main parameters, to get the perfect balance of a racket – weight and stiffness. These two parameters will affect the power, control and overall feel of your racquet.
Let’s first deal with two more global concepts – this is power and control.
When we talk about power, we mean how fast the ball comes off the racket, and of course the role of the player in this case is dominant. Not the racket that Player develops energy himself, not the racket. Brands often write names like “Ultimate Power” etc. on rackets because it’s such an advertisement. In fact, no one develops power except yourself, the racket itself cannot do anything.
Control means where exactly we want to send the ball with some force. The three main parameters are speed, spin and direction, and again, no one else can do it except you – the racket won’t do it. All rackets are approximately the same, and in the end only your technique will show how much you can control the ball and how powerful you hit.
Now let’s talk about the weight of the racket.
Obviously, we want to control our shot, which means we want to control our racket easily – so it should be light, right?
But do not forget, not only you hit the ball, but the ball hits our racket too. Accordingly, if the racket is too light and the ball comes too powerfully, then it will knock out our racket, and the impact force will be lost. Here is the dilemma.
If we want the ball not to knock out our racket, we will take a heavy racket to deliver a more powerful shot, right? Not really. In this case, we will not be able to accelerate it fast and will hit slower, because the racket is too heavy.
So, what should you choose – a light racket or a heavy one?
If we give the robot the same rackets of different weights, then the heavy racket will hit harder, since the robot will hit at the same speed. The problem is that we are not robots and we have a maximum hitting speed limit, so when we hit with a light racket we would swing the racket faster, and when we hit with a heavy racket, we would swing slower.
However, with all our strength, we almost never hit (only on the first serve, maybe) because we want to hit in the court. So a heavy racket is still preferable here?
If we hit with medium strength -yes, the speed will be the same with a light and heavy racket, but shots with heavy racket will be stronger. However, you may not feel that you do not have enough strength to control a heavy racket and because of this you will miss the centre of string pattern and gradually begin to hurt the elbow.
Therefore, it is necessary to choose a certain balance. Don’t forget that professional players hit very accurately, and they can afford to use a heavy racquet.
In theory, heavy rackets lead to fewer injuries.
Previously, people played with heavy wooden rackets which were slower, but the rackets, due to its weight, held back the shot, vibrated less and transferred the load to the elbow less. Over time, rackets became lighter, which means they became faster in processing, which led to inaccuracies in strikes – hence the injuries. We are not talking about professionals, theirs accuracy rolls over.
But keep in mind that if you are experiencing problems with pain in your hand, then you may need to pick up a heavier racquet instead. The arm hurts not because of the weight, but because you miss the center. A lighter racquet transmits more vibration on a miss, a heavier racquet dampens it. But maybe you would miss more often with a heavy racket, which will also increase the vibration in your hand? It is important to find a balance specifically for you.
Now about the stiffness of the racket. That is, about the rim stiffness and what it is made of. Usually rackets are made of graphite, but there are completely different technologies for its manufacture, which change its rigidity.
Professionals choose heavy but soft rackets. Softness appears due to the thin rim. Amateurs use a stiffer racquet with a thicker rim, and when they miss the center, the racquet dampens the vibrations.
You will feel whether the racket is soft or hard only when you miss the center. If you hit center you won’t feel a hard racket or a soft racket, because the vibration only starts when you miss and when you hit close to the rim, only then you will feel whether the vibration is damped (on a hard racket) or continues to vibrate (on a soft racket).
Professionals miss very rarely, they hit mostly with the center, and therefore they do not need stiffness. They need a lot of speed on the rim, and the thin rim gives them more speed and less drag. Amateurs often hit flat, spin the ball less, they have less speed on the racket, respectively, a stiff racket is suitable for them, because when they miss (and they miss very often), the ball will fly off better.
Choosing a Racket FAQ
My hand hurts – should I take a lighter racket?
If you are experiencing problems with pain in your hand, then you may need to pick up a heavier racquet instead. The arm hurts not because of the weight, but because you miss the center. A lighter racquet transmits more vibration on a miss, a heavier racquet dampens it. But maybe you would miss more often with a heavy racket, which will also increase the vibration in your hand? It is important to find a balance specifically for you.
Are male and female rackets different?
Technically – not. It all depends on the size. Usually women play with lighter racquets with larger heads.
Does racket size depend on player’s height?
Just for the kids. Since at an early age the height of children can vary greatly, the smallest racket available may not suit them, despite the fact that according to the age criteria it should be suitable. It is important that the racket does not drag on the floor when the child holds it. She can reach the floor, but no more. Naturally, it should not be so short, reaching only to the knee. That is, the child should be able to calmly touch the tip of the racket to the floor.
How to buy the first racket for the child?
Visit the store, say the height and age of the child. It is better to take the child with you. Then, when you decide on the size, let the child choose the racket that he likes best in color, that’s all, the choice will be over. And then the coach himself will tell you when it will be necessary to change the racket. Everything is very simple.
I hope that you are now a little enlightened and understand that not everything is as obvious as it would seem, and our feelings sometimes deceive us.
Make a choice in favor of your feelings, but do not harm yourself. Consult professionals.