A Guide on How to Choose the Right Tennis Racket

Published on 09/26/2023 · 13 min readTennis Expert Brandon M. overviews everything you need to know to select the right racquet for your game, whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player.
Brandon M., Tennis Expert
By Tennis Expert Brandon M.

Photo by AtlasStudio

TL;DR: When choosing a new tennis racquet there are hundreds of choices from dozens of brands. Racquets can be broken down into four categories—game improvement, tweener, modern players, and traditional players racquets—with each category having a range of specs that help define them. Taking evaluation of your ability with the strengths and weaknesses of your game can help you determine which category of racquet is best for you and then can fine-tune that pick with specs that best suit your game.

Having played tennis for 30 years, plus 15 years of tennis racquet sales and multiple years coaching, I have extensive knowledge of how having the proper racquet can help make the game of tennis easier and more fun. I've reviewed dozens of racquets over the past few years so that I know what racquets will work best for each style of play and how they compare to other brands in the category.

What Is a Tennis Racquet?

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A tennis racquet is an essential piece of equipment for the game of tennis. Without a racquet you cannot possibly play tennis. Racquets are most commonly made of graphite/carbon fiber and consist of a frame with a handle and special tennis strings which are under tension to create a trampoline effect and get the ball back to your opponent.

What to Consider When Buying a Tennis Racquet?

Photo by Vova Shevchuk

What is my experience level?How long you have been playing tennis and your skill level is going to be a major factor in what type of racquet is best for you. There are different ability rating systems used to help make leagues and tournaments evenly matched and these also help our experts determine which racquet would work well for you. A player who has 30 years of experience and plays in 5.0 USTA tournaments is going to need a much different racquet than a first-timer looking to play casually with their friends.

What is the best part of my game?

Do you like to play from the baseline and hit hard groundstrokes with lots of spin like Rafael Nadal, or do you serve and volley like Pete Sampras? Do you typically play doubles or are you a lone wolf on the singles court? Each of these playing styles is going to necessitate a different style of racquet to best complement how they play the game.

What would I like a new racquet to do for my game?

Are you looking for more power on your serves or are you finding that you struggle to keep the ball in the court? Are you looking for help getting your racquet on the ball more quickly at the net or do you struggle against big-hitting opponents because your racquet lacks stability? Being honest about the weakness in your game and what you feel you could work on goes a long way in helping choose the right racquet for you.

How much should I expect to pay for a tennis racquet?

A quality tennis racquet generally costs $150-300. These racquets are going to get you more technology, customized stringing, and many more choices to find the best racquet for your game. Most racquets below that range are mainly targeted at casual players and most serious players quickly outgrow them as they improve.

What Are the Different Types of Tennis Racquets?

To help you break down the hundreds of options on the market we are going to separate them into easy-to-understand groups. Tennis players tend to ask what is best for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, but within each of those levels there are different playing styles and needs for a racquet, so we are going to separate our groups into what the racquets can do for your game. These four categories are:

  • Game Improvement Racquets
  • Tweener Racquets
  • Modern Player’s Racquets
  • Traditional Player’s Racquets

Power/Game Improvement Racquets

These racquets tend to be loaded with technology that makes playing tennis easier. Game improvement racquets are designed for players with shorter and slower strokes who use the racquet to generate pace on the ball. They feature oversized heads with a larger sweet spot, lighter weight for easier swinging, stiffer construction to put more power into the ball, and a head-heavy balance to maintain control on contact.

Benefits:

  • Easy to swing
  • Large head size with a forgiving sweet spot
  • Stiff construction to give added power for shorter strokes

Be Aware:

  • A very powerful response can be hard to control as a player improves their games
  • Large head size, extra length, and head-heavy balance can make these feel unwieldy to some players

Tweener Racquets

Tweener racquets enjoy huge popularity because they combine attributes of the other two categories. They give you some of the power/easy swinging of a game-improvement racquet but add more control and spin from a player’s racquet. The technical features of a tweener racquet are a medium weight, mid-plus head size, open string pattern, and middle-of-the-road balance. These racquets buttress the games of players with good form but are lacking in strength. Tweener racquets allow them to swing away and generate spin and plenty of power, just like the pros, without sending balls all over the court as they would with a power racquet.

Benefits:

  • Help players develop longer, faster strokes by being relatively lightweight
  • Offers improved control over game-improvement racquets
  • Moderately low swing weight gives great maneuverability
  • A wide range of abilities can play with a tweener racquet

Be Aware:

  • Not as stable as the two player’s racquet categories against hard-hitting opponents
  • A huge variety of racquets fit this category so digging into technical specs is necessary to find the best fit

Modern Player’s Racquets

Modern player’s racquets are best for players who play a modern, aggressive game. The heavy topspin, big power, and long strokes from the baseline that these players use are aided by their racquets. A modern player’s racquet is really a heavier tweener racquet. They have the same mid-plus head sizes and open string patterns. They differ in their weight being slightly heavier and also a bit more flexible which aids in controlling the aggressive shots.

Benefits:

  • Gives intermediate to advanced players the ideal combination of power and control
  • More powerful and maneuverable than traditional player’s racquets to suit the modern aggressive game

Be Aware:

  • Require fully-developed strokes to get the most out of their performance
  • Can be too powerful for advanced players who desire pinpoint placement

Traditional Player’s Racquets

Traditional player’s racquets are precision weapons for all-court use. They are advanced racquets best for players that bring their own power and need control from their frame. They feature small head sizes, heavy weights, flexible frames, and tight string patterns for ultimate control.

Benefits:

  • The heavy weight is stable against hard-hitting opponents
  • The thinner beam and tight string pattern create pinpoint accuracy

Be Aware:

  • Heavier tennis racquet can be taxing during long matches
  • Smaller head size offers smaller sweet spot and requires consistent strokes

Features to Look for When Buying a Tennis Racquet

Using the Babolat Pure Aero VS Racquet. Photo courtesy of Brandon M.

Now that we have covered the different categories of racquets, it’s important to learn about the aspects that separate racquets within the categories. The way a racquet is constructed has a huge impact on the way it plays and even small differences in the specifics between two racquets in a category can be noticeable.

Head Size

Head size and power go hand in hand.

  • Game improvement racquets tend to have oversized heads of 105 square inches and larger
  • Tweener and modern player’s racquets are considered mid-plus with a range of 98-105 square inches
  • Traditional player’s racquets are midsize and 90-98 square inches.

If you have two racquets of otherwise identical construction, going to a larger head size will increase the power of the racquet. A larger racquet head will also allow for more room for error on off-center shots because of the larger sweet spot and fewer chances of hitting the frame.

Weight and Balance

Photo by Sylvie Bouchard

The next two factors are going to combine to make up a third factor—swing weight—which determines how a racquet feels when you swing it.

Static weight: Static weight refers to how much the racquet weighs in your hand, measured in grams or ounces. A light racquet is going to be less powerful than a heavy racquet of an otherwise similar design. A heavier racquet is also more stable and absorbs more shock. A lighter racquet makes it easier to generate speed on your strokes, letting you generate more spin, and it’s also more maneuverable for fast volleys at the net.

  • Game improvement racquets generally weigh less than 280 grams
  • Tweener racquets are between 275g and 300g
  • Modern player's racquets 295-315g
  • Traditional player’s racquets over 310g

Balance: Balance refers to how the static weight is distributed in relation to the head of the racquet. A racquet can be described as balanced, head-heavy, or head-light.

  • Power/game improvement racquets tend to be head-heavy to compensate for their overall lighter static weight, giving more stability on impact.
  • Traditional player’s racquets tend to be very head-light to make their heavy static weight more manageable.
  • Tweener and modern player’s racquets tend to fall in the balanced or just slightly head-light or head-heavy balance point.

Swingweight

Through a complex calculation of static weight and balance, brands come up with swing weights, or how easy a racquet is to swing. Racquets with a high swing weight offer more stability and power, but they are harder to swing. Lighter swing weight racquets are easy to maneuver but can lack stability.

  • Game improvement racquets generally have swing weights below 300
  • Tweener racquets are between 300-315
  • Modern player's racquets range from 310-325
  • Traditional player’s racquets are over 320

Frame Stiffness

Racquet stiffness plays an important role in multiple aspects of how a racquet performs on the court. Stiffness is directly related to power, control, and comfort. A stiffer racquet generally gives more power because it doesn’t flex as much on impact and keeps more of the energy of the stroke going into the ball. A stiffer, more powerful racquet tends to have less control. Playing with a stiff racquet can also lead to conditions such as tennis elbow. Stiffness will be listed with the term RA.

  • An RA value of 63 and below is considered flexible
  • 64-67 is medium stiffness
  • 67 or above is a stiff racquet

String Pattern

Photo by Simon Kadula

The string pattern is the number of strings that run up and down and across a racquet face. A racquet can be described as having an open or closed string pattern. Open string patterns tend to increase spin potential and power. A closed string pattern offers better control.

  • An open string pattern generally has 16 main strings and 18-20 cross
  • A closed or tighter string pattern will have 17-18 main strings and 18-20 cross

Grip Size

Photo by Bricolage

The final aspect of choosing a racquet is determined purely by the player’s anatomy. All racquets come in multiple grip sizes to fit a player’s hand size and personal preference. Determining the correct grip size can be done at home with a tape measure. Lay your dominant hand open with your fingers close together. Measure the distance from the tip of your ring finger to the bottom lateral crease in your palm. Getting the correct racquet grip size makes playing tennis more comfortable and allows you to get the most performance from your racquet.

How to Choose the Best Tennis Racquet for You

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Choosing the right tennis racquet can be daunting. After learning about the different racquet categories and technical specs you can take stock of your game and get an idea of what would be best for you. Below are three shoppers that I’ve helped find a new racquet on Curated and they represent the most common groups of shoppers that come to us for advice. For each shopper I’ve highlighted what they should look for as well as examples of racquets that would work well for them.

Brenda: Beginner tennis player looking to take lessons and enter a local league

Brenda is looking to pick up the game of tennis after joining her local club. She plans to take lessons for a few months before joining a league. She wants a comfortable racquet that will help her learn the game and help her compete with her friends in the league.

Features Brenda should look for:

  • Game improvement racquet
  • Oversized head of 105 sq in or larger
  • Swingweight below 305

Racquet examples: Volkl V-Cell 3, Head Boom Team L, Yonex Ezone 105

Chris: Intermediate player looking to upgrade his big box store racquet

Chris has been playing for 3-4 years and plays a couple of times per week with friends. They aren't in organized leagues or tournaments but do play competitively amongst each other. Chris has a racquet he bought for $80 from a national sporting goods store and he wants to upgrade. He feels like he has consistent groundstrokes but could use more power and stability from his racquet.

Features Chris should look for:

  • Tweener racquet
  • Midplus head size 100-105 sq in
  • Swingweight between 305 and 315
  • Stiffness of 65-70

Racquet examples: Volkl V-Cell 4, Babolat Pure Drive Team, Dunlop FX 500 LS

Alyssa: Advanced player looking to change up her 10-year-old racquet

Alyssa is a former college player who plays 5.0 leagues and tournaments. She’s been playing with the same racquet since college and wants to move into a more modern racquet. She hits with big groundstrokes and hard serves. She likes to hit with good amounts of topspin and plays aggressively both in doubles and singles.

Features Alyssa should look for:

  • Modern player’s racquet
  • Midplus head size 98-100 sq in
  • Static weight of 300-310g
  • Open String Pattern
  • Swingweight 312-325

Racquet examples: Yonex EZONE 98, Volkl V-Cell 8 300g, Head Auxetic Speed MP, Wilson Blade 98 16x19

My Closing Thoughts on Choosing a Tennis Racquet

Photo by Olena Yakobchuk

To summarize, there are a huge variety of racquets on the market with dozens of tennis racquet brands offering similar racquets. Choosing the correct one for your game can be daunting, yet hopefully, after reading this guide you feel more comfortable wading into it.

If you’re still not sure which racquet is best for you, I and the rest of our Curated Tennis Expert team are here to help you! All you have to do is fill out a quick survey that will connect you with me or another expert. From there, we'll send you personalized racquet recommendations for free! Your expert can fine-tune your choices based on experience, playing style, and budget while also helping you choose the best string and string tension to suit your needs. Once you’ve found the perfect tennis gear, you can check out and purchase right from our site and have your order delivered to your door with fast and free shipping.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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Written by:
Brandon M., Tennis Expert
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Brandon M.
Tennis Expert
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