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Gear Guide

Choosing a Racquet 


For most players this can be the hardest but most exciting decision they get to make in tennis. There are several areas to consider: price, head size, weight, length, balance, string pattern, power and, importantly, racquet aesthetics - otherwise known as design, colour, name and brand.

Below we provide you with a guide on the various characteristics in an aim to help you grasp a better understanding of a racquet's attributes and hopefully assist you in your racquet selection.

RACQUET PRICE
Thump Sports stocks a wide range of racquets starting with junior racquets priced from $35 through to senior racquets with the latest technology priced at $400 and above. 

Senior racquets fit into 1 of 3 pricing groups which are determined by the nature and number of new technologies used. Racquets containing the latest technologies are priced at the higher level. These are followed by many of your favourite tennis pro racquets, commonly known as player racquets. Lower priced racquets are a mix of older stock or your basic frames.

RACQUET HEAD SIZE 
The tennis racquet head size fits into 1 of 3 categories: Midsize: 93 square inches or less - Midplus: 95 to 105 square inches - Oversize: 107 square inches or greater

A simple principle to follow is: the larger the head size, the greater the string elasticity, which in turn means greater power. Therefore the smaller the head size, the less power and greater the control.

RACQUET WEIGHT
An unstrung tennis racquet weight fits into 1 of 5 categories. 

  • Very Light: 9 ounces or less
  • Light: 9.1 to 9.8 ounces
  • Medium: 9.9 to 10.6  ounces
  • Heavy: 10.7 to 11.4 ounces
  • Very Heavy: 11.5 ounces or more

The lighter the racquet frame the greater the usable power and manoeuvrability. While a heavier racquet results in less usable power but greater frame stability and therefore control.

It is widely acknowledged that players should always try to use the heaviest racquet weight that they feel comfortable with. For example Rodger Federer, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi all used racquets heavier than 12 ounces as they assist with maintaining control in hard hitting rallies. Our advice: when possible test hit a range of racquets to find the best weight for you.

RACQUET LENGTH 
The tennis racquet length can be categorised into 1 of 4 sizes.

  • Standard: 27 inches  
  • Extended: 27.25 inches  
  • Extended X: 27.5 inches 
  • Extended XX: 27.5 inches or more

A racquet's length is measured from the top of the racquet head to the bottom of the grip. The length will help determine the amount of force behind ball impact.

Applying the simple principle of centrifugal force (where the speed of an object is greatest at its furthest central point) the longer the racquet, the greater the force. The downside to a longer racquet however is less control. This is why most customers will purchase a ‘standard’ length racquet.

The maximum allowable length of a racquet is 29 inches. However a standard length of 27 inches has been found by players to be the ideal length to generate the best balance of power and control.

RACQUET BALANCE 
The balance of a racquet can fit into 3 categories: 

  • Head Light= 1 point or more
  • Balanced= 0 points
  • Head Heavy= 1 point or more.

The balance point of a racquet is the distance from the end of the handle to its centre of mass. Whether a racquet is balanced, Head Light or Head Heavy players will notice a dramatic impact on how the racquet will swing and feel.

Head Light racquets typically increase in weight as the balance becomes more head light. Preferred by professional players, such racquets are commonly referred to as ‘players racquets’ as they are generally designed to offer control and feel for players who generate their own power.

Head Heavy racquets typically decrease in weight as the balance becomes more head heavy. The benefits of a head heavy racquet are found in its combination of manoeuvrability, stability and power off ground strokes.

Advances in technology over the last few years have seen the performance level between light and heavy balanced racquets converge.  What racquet weighting you should use depends on the style of tennis you want to play and what racquet feel you prefer.

RACQUET SWINGWEIGHT 
Given recent changes in racquet technologies and the convergence of head light and head heavy racquets, a racquet's swing weight is probably the most important factor in gauging a racquet's feel, manoeuvrability and performance. Swing weight is a measurement of weight, weight distribution and torque required to swing the racquet.

A high swing weight means that a racquet is harder to swing at high speeds but will generate more power than a low swing weight racquet when swung at the same speed.

Serve volley players will generally choose a racquet with a low swingweight. Inversely, baseline players will choose a high swingweight racquet.

RACQUET STRING PATTERN 
Generally there are 3 types of string patterns to choose from: 

  • Closed: 18 mains x 20 crosses 
  • Medium: 16 mains x 19 crosses
  • Open: 16 mains x 18 crosses

The simplest way to understand what mains and crosses are is to stand a racquet on its butt cap, the vertical strings are mains and horizontal strings are the crosses. Racquets with a closed string pattern provide players with control.  Open string patterns provide greater power and the ability to generate more spin.  Quite simply at ball impact, an open pattern allows strings more room to flex and bite the ball, hence creating greater spin.

RACQUET CATEGORIES 
Tennis racquets can be classified into 4 categories:

Control (Player Frames)
Head size: 85 to 98 square inches 
Weight: 310g or higher 
String Pattern: closed, medium or open 
Frame structure: thin
Frame flexibility: high 

For players who have long, fast swing speeds. Control racquets are heavy in weight, low in power but offer good stability and ball control.

Tweener (Even Balance)
Head size: 100 to 105 square inches or higher 
Weight: 270g to 310g 
String Pattern: closed, medium or open 
Frame structure: medium
Frame flexibility: medium 

For players who have long, medium swing speeds. Tweener racquets offer a great mix of power and control. Ideal for the developing club player or juniors progressing onto full length senior racquets.

Player development (Head Heavy)
Head size: 100 to 110 square inches or higher 
Weight: 225g to 300g
String Pattern: medium or open,
Frame flexibility: stiff to medium

For players who have slow to moderate, swing speeds. Player development racquets are the perfect choice for juniors going to their first adults frame or social players who need to feel the tip of the racquet. Excellent for developing good muscle memory. 

Player Enhancement (Head Heavy - Power)
Head size: 105 square inches or higher 
Weight: 225g to 270g
String Pattern: open 
Frame structure: wide
Frame flexibility: stiff 

For players who have short, slower swing speeds. Power racquets are light in weight, high in power and are generally heady heavy.

If you have any questions about tennis racquets, please send us an email at info@thumpsports.co.nz