How Do You Choose A Tennis Racket?
Posted on November 23 2018
How To Pick The Perfect Tennis Racket
First things first, there are a lot of good rackets out there. To say that any one racket is the best racket out there is just a million miles from the truth. There may well be a racket that is the best racket out there for you though, and what makes it the best racket for you will not be the marketing and gizmos.
In my opinion, the most important thing about choosing a tennis racket is knowing your own tennis. This might seem like a pretty simple thing, but many players don’t really take the time to think about their game in too much depth. I myself spent many years playing tennis just going on court and playing, without truly understanding what my game was.
If you don’t take some time to reflect on your game sometimes, then you’re missing out on a lot! Most importantly, if you don’t understand your game, you have nothing on which to base your tactics around. It’s amazing how many players go out there and simply hit the ball as they see it without any plan, but if you take a step back and analyze your game you can add so much to it.
Another great benefit of taking some time to understand your game is the ability to pick out the perfect racket for your game. The ability to analyze small details of your tennis will lead you to better understand what your racket offers you. Are you a counter puncher? Do you like a dampened feel from your racket or maybe a super spin friendly, whippy racket?
Once you understand your game you can start to make an informed decision about what kind of racket will best suit your game. The problem is, you then enter the world of tennis marketing jargon, where everyone is trying to sell you a new racket every year. The amazing technology of last year is, of course, obsolete now, and you’ve got to have the newest wonder material in your racket.
This is the phase when you can get carried away and end up buying a racket that is not suited to you. The answer is, don't bother reading about all the technology, for the most part, it’s going to be marketing. Sure, once in a while the racket technology takes a step forward, but you’re not going to know if that’s the case by just reading the blurb.
What is far more beneficial, is reading, or watching an actual tennis racket review. Like virtually anything, there’s a ton of info on tennis rackets out on the internet, so why not do what you do with everything else and read a review?
Sure, tennis is a very individual sport, and no two tennis players are the same, but you’re sure to find something that can give you a great rundown of the main strengths and weaknesses of a racket.
So, you’ve figured out what your games all about, and you’ve read a couple of reviews, so what’s the next step? Well, this is a pretty big decision, tennis rackets are an expensive investment, and they can make a big difference to your game, both positive and negative, so the answer is not to buy it right away!
As someone who’s got this decision both right and wrong, I’ve put together my step by step guide on how I go about picking a tennis racket.
Pick it up!
So I’ve done my research and I’ve narrowed my search down a bit based on the specs of the rackets and some reviews. The thing is, there’s no substitute for doing something in real life, and a review can’t make you feel the racket in your hands. This is one of the most important things for me because if a racket feels wrong in your hands now, the chances are, it’s never going to feel right.
In an ideal world, we’d all demo every single racket (which we are lucky enough to get to do), but unfortunately, people don’t have time for that. This means that we’ve got to cut our list down to a manageable number of rackets to demo. The feel of the racket is all important, and so it is the perfect way to make this selection. Give it a swing or two, think about the balance, the weight, does it feel right?
I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been impressed with the look of a certain racket, only to pick it up and think “how on Earth does anybody play with that?” What we seek in a tennis racket is a very personal thing and nobody is going to be able to know what might suit you.
Tom, another member of our Tennis Bros team always jokes with me that my ideal racket is a board for example. That’s because I love a very stiff racket and generally string it very tightly with some strings that are designed for control. That’s just how I like it, but to many people, including Tom, that sounds like tennis hell.
Go to a shop and get your hands on the rackets! From here you have a chance to narrow down your choice to a reasonable number of rackets to demo.
This is probably self-evident, but it can’t be underestimated. This might not please the impulse buyers out there, but there’s no way of getting around it! This is where your newfound analytical skills are going to come in. Does this racket give me enough spin? Is it stable enough for me, I spend a lot of time at the net so I want something that gives me good control on the volleys?
Treat it like an experiment. Put it through every test you can think of - slices, topspins, drop shots, overheads, everything. This should give you a pretty good idea of what these rackets are all about, and I find at this point that I can completely discount a few rackets.
My other Tennis Bro, Lawrence wrote a great article about this and he likes to categorize his demos into three groups at this point:
- I’m never touching this racket again.
- More time needed.
- I’m winning Wimbledon next year (his delusion knows no bounds).
I think these categories are pretty accurate. You might question group 2 and say that surely a 2hr practice is enough to make a decision, but I’ve had experiences where this is far from the case. I recently tried the Wilson Ultra 100 CV and after day one, I felt like the balance and feel were nice, but it just wasn’t that impressive. But I played a couple more times with this racket, and in the end, I nearly bought it.
So maybe you started out with four demos and you found one to be group one, two to be group two, and one which was THE one, the love of your life! How many people do you think have gone out and bought THE one, only to find out a week later it’s not exactly what they thought? A lot!
The answer is, try those three rackets again, as many times as you can in fact!
Weapons vs Weaknesses
We practice what we preach at the tennis bros, and we like to think about our games in great detail. One of the questions that comes up most often, especially regarding rackets, is do I buy a racket that improves my weapons or one that minimizes my weaknesses?
The answer is: there is no answer! Ideally, we would all negate our weaknesses and accentuate our strengths at the same time.
I can only tell you my most recent answer to the question, and that was to minimize my weakness. My forehand is my big weapon, and I can do anything with it. My last racket, the Head Touch Speed Pro felt unbelievable on this side. I was in love with the racket, and mainly because of my forehand. On my backhand side though, which is my weakness, it just lacked something. I didn’t hit through the ball as much as I could, and it often lacked power.
I’ve now switched over to the Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20 and I love hitting backhands with it! I’m driving through the ball, getting power, and using it as a weapon. The downside? My forehand doesn’t feel quite as good, but the thing is, it was so much better than the rest of my game that I could afford to lose a bit of performance on that side.
This is just one small aspect of buying a racket in a short blog, but it just goes to show the importance of understanding your game when buying a racket. The better you understand your game, the better you will play, you will have more astute tactics, and you can pick out better rackets. It’s win, win, win.
Choosing a racket is a very personal thing, what you look for will differ greatly from what I look for. However, we can all use the same process to find the ideal racket. Understanding your game, benefiting from the research others have done and demoing rackets is a good way of ensuring you find a racket that is going to suit your game.
Buying a tennis ball collector, or tennis grip is a pretty easy decision, but your tennis racket is the most important part of your tennis equipment, and, it follows that you should spend a good amount of time making that decision.
Get to know your game and then check out The Tennis Bros for some helpful reviews, and you’ve taken the first step towards finding your new tennis soul mate. The rest, as they say, is up to you!
Get out there, feel the rackets, play with the rackets, and play with the rackets again. The more you play with a racket, the less likely it is that you find you’re really not suited to it a couple of weeks down the line.
Good luck finding your dream racket!
Thanks to The Tennis Bros for a great guest blog!