Tennis rackets vary according to head size, weight, length and frame stiffness. Wooden rackets were standard throughout much of tennis history, but today nearly all new tennis rackets are made from some kind of composite metal, like graphite or titanium alloy. Choosing the right type of racket can really affect your game, whether you’re a power server or baseline player. Consider experimenting with different racket types until you find the appropriate racket for your playing style.
Head size directly relates to power, and a larger head will give you more power than a smaller one made of the same materials. These days, racket head size ranges from 85 to 135 square inches, which is a big difference. Most players use racket heads that are between 95 and 110 square inches, as this offers a good balance between power and control. Smaller heads may be better suited to experienced players, whereas beginners and intermediate players will probably want a larger head. Rackets with large heads have bigger “sweet spots” and are more forgiving on off-centre hits. Small heads, on the other hand, offer superior control.
Weight is another important factor that varies according to different racket types. In general, heavier rackets offer more power, are more stable and transmit less shock. Lighter rackets, though less powerful, are easier to manoeuvre and swing quickly. Most rackets also differ in the weight of their heads and handles. Some rackets are head-heavy, while others are handle-heavy or evenly balanced. Wilson’s Hammer and Sledge Hammer designs, for example, place more weight in the head and less in the handle, which, some argue, offers more power without increasing the overall weight. Most pros use light, balanced rackets that weigh 312 to 369gr. This type of racket offers excellent control for players who can supply their own power.
Rackets vary a bit in terms of length, too, from 27 to 29 inches. This may not seem like much, but a longer racket can improve your groundstroke and serving reach significantly. Longer rackets generally offer slightly more power than shorter ones, and tend to be lighter than their standard-length counterparts. Longer rackets provide more dynamic swing weight, as well.
Tennis rackets also vary quite a bit in their overall frame stiffness. Stiff rackets offer more power because the racket bends less upon contact with the ball, thus depleting less energy from the ball. Very flexible rackets do just the opposite, and a lot of energy is lost. Power isn’t the only thing that stiffness affects, however. Stiffness also affects control and comfort, and a very stiff racket means less control despite an increase in power. Flexible rackets may be more comfortable for a player with arm or shoulder problems because stiff rackets produce more shock to the wrist upon impact.
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