Tennis Racquet FAQ


 

 

Q. What’s the best type of tennis racket equipment for a beginning, intermediate and advanced adult player?

A: The two primary measurements of tennis rackets are power and control.  These are the yin and yang of tennis racket design.  The perfect balance of power and control for one player will be totally wrong for another.  As a general rule, however, you can say that beginning players have smaller, more hesitant swings that do not generate lots of power. Beginners rely on the racket to generate this power for them and therefore need a racket that has a high power rating. Shop for beginner tennis racquets.

Conversely, you can say that advanced players have bigger, more aggressive swings that generate lots of head speed and power.  They don’t need a racket with a high power rating since they are doing this work themselves.  What the advanced player needs is a racket that gives them more control over their shots. Shop for advanced tennis racquets.

Another basic tenet of racket design is that bigger racket heads give more power, and smaller heads give less power.  Power is affected by many other design elements as well, but you can use this basic principle to start your search for the perfect racket. Shop for intermidiate tennis racquets.  

 

Q. Advanced players: racquets and string for skilled players.

A: Advanced tennis players will probably prefer a racquet that offers more control over the ball and generates less power since their bigger, more powerful swings provide the racquet head speed necessary hit the ball over the net with authority.  Many advanced players prefer heavy racquets that are balanced “head-light” to improve maneuverability, but these racquets have less stability than racquets with more head weight.  As for head size, a general rule for advanced players is that midsize and mid-plus rackets are better suited for their needs and oversize rackets are better for beginning players.

When it comes to string, there is no single answer that will be correct for any two players.  Answer these questions and depending on your answers you’ll be led to the best string:

Do you want to increase power or control through your string choice?  One measurement to look at is called resiliency.  Low resiliency = less power.  High resiliency = more power.

Do you want more “feel” on the ball or less?  String thickness is measured by gauge; the lower the gauge, the thicker the string.  A 15-gauge string is thicker than a 16-gauge string and will offer less feel.  Thinner gauges (i.e. higher number) offer more resiliency and more feel but don’t last as long.  Thicker strings (lower gauge) last longer, and thinner stings (higher gauge) break faster.  Low gauge = less feel and longer lasting.  High gauge = more feel but shorter life.  

Q. How can I tell what is the best tennis racket for me and my style of play?

A: The Profiler will help you find the racket most suited to your game.  Get Profiled with our Racquet Pro Racquet Selector.  

Q. What type of tennis racquets do the pros use?

A: Since professional tennis players have big, powerful swings, they typically prefer racquets that give them more control over the ball and don’t generate as much power.  Midsize and mid-plus racquets are most commonly used in the professional ranks.  Here are some examples of pro players and the racquets they use:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  Men’s ATP Top Tour Players’ Racquets     Country     Racquets  
  Andre Agassi     (USA)     Head Flexpoint Radical OS  
  Mario Ancic     (CRO)     Yonex Ultimum RD Ti-80  
  James Blake     (USA)     Dunlop M-Fil 200  
  Juan Ignacio Chela     (ARG)     Babolat Pure Control Plus  
  Guillermo Coria     (ARG)     Prince o3 Tour  
  Taylor Dent     (USA)     Wilson nSix-One Tour 90  
  Roger Federer     (SUI)     Wilson nSix-One Tour 90  
  Juan Carlos Ferrero     (ESP)     Head Flexpoint Radical MP Tour  
  Marty Fish     (USA)     Dunlop M-Fil 300  
  Gaston Guadio     (ARG)     Wilson nSix-One 95  
  Robby Ginepri     (USA)     Babolat Pure Control  
  Fernando Gonzalez     (CHI)     Babolat Pure Storm  
  Sebastien Grosjean     (FRA)     Head Liquidmetal Prestige  
  Tim Henman     (GBR)     Slazenger Pro X1  
  Lleyton Hewitt     (AUS)     Yonex RDX 500  
  Dominik Hrbaty     (SVK)     Fischer Pro Extreme FT  
  Joachim Johansson     (SWE)     Yonex RDX 500  
  Gustavo Kuerten     (BRA)     Head Liquidmetal Prestige  
  Nicolas Massu     (CHI)     Babolat Storm  
  Carlos Moya     (ESP)     Babolat Pure Drive Plus  
  Rafael Nadal     (ESP)     Babolat AeroPro Drive  
  David Nalbandian     (ARG)     Yonex RDX 500  
  Andrei Pavel     (ROM)     Fischer Magnetic Pro Number One  
  Tommy Robredo     (ESP)     Dunlop M-Fil 300  
  Andy Roddick     (USA)     Babolat Pure Drive Plus  
  Marat Safin     (RUS)     Head Liquidmetal Prestige  
  Rainer Schuetler     (GER)     Head Flexpoint Radical MidPlus  
  Vincent Spadea     (USA)     Prince Tour Graphite  
  Paradorn Scrichaphan     (THA)     Yonex Ultimum RD Ti-80  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  Women’s WTA Top Tour Players’ Racquets     Country     Racquets  
  Kim Clijsters     (BEL)     Babolat Pure Drive  
  Lindsay Davenport     (USA)     Wilson nCode nTour  
  Nathalie Dechy     (FRA)     Head Liquidmetal Prestige  
  Elena Dementieva     (RUS)     Yonex RDX 500  
  Tatiana Golovin     (FRA)     Volkl Catapult V1  
  Anna-lena Groenefeld     (GER)     Fischer Magnetic Pro Number One  
  Daniela Hantuchova     (SVK)     Yonex Nanospeed RQ-7  
  Justine Henin-hardenne     (BEL)     Wilson nCode nTour  
  Ana Ivanovic     (SCG)     Wilson nCode nTour  
  Jelena Jankovic     (SCG)     Yonex Nanospeed RQ-5  
  Maria Kirilenko     (RUS)     Yonex RDX 300  
  Svetlana Kuznetsova     (RUS)     Head Liquidmetal Instinct  
  Elena Likhovtseva     (RUS)     Wilson nCode N Six-One 95  
  Amelie Mauresimo     (FRA)     Dunlop M-Fil 300  
  Alicia Molik     (AUS)     Dunlop 300G  
  Anastasia Myskina     (RUS)     Head Liquidmetal Instinct  
  Nadia Petrova     (RUS)     Babolat Pure Storm MP  
  Mary Pierce     (FRA)     Yonex Ultimum RD Ti-80  
  Dinara Safina     (RUS)     Babolat Pure Storm MP  
  Francesca Schiavone     (ITA)     Fischer Magnetic Pro Number One  
  Patty Schnyder     (SUI)     Head Liquidmetal Prestige  
  Maria Sharapova     (RUS)     Prince Shark MP  
  Serena Williams     (USA)     Wilson nCode n3  
  Venus Williams     (USA)     Wilson nCode n4  
  Vera Zvonareva     (RUS)     Fischer Magnetic Pro Number One  

Q. Why are tennis rackets made of graphite and titanium composites instead of wood?  Where have all the wooden tennis rackets gone?

A: Weight, strength and speed are the names of the game in tennis racket design.  Graphite, carbon fiber and titanium are the most common materials used in tennis rackets today (aluminum is still used in very low-end rackets as well).  These high-tech materials cost less, are stronger and more versatile than is wood, lending greater creativity to racket designers and a much broader selection of products for players.  

 

Q. What is the history of wooden tennis rackets?

A: Early racquets date back to the 14th and 15th centuries and were used in games that resembled squash more than modern-day tennis.  The heads of these racquets were more oval in shape and smaller than today’s racquets, and the handles were very long.  The game of tennis as we know it today and its equipment got started in the late 19th century in London, England.  In 1874, Major Walter C. Wingfield patented the rules and equipment for a tennis game played outdoors on grass lawns.  From 1874 to 1967, tennis rackets were made of wood and did not change very much in design, though their construction improved dramatically.

Rather than craft a tennis racket out of large pieces of wood, lamination allowed racket makers to glue layers of wood together.  The wood tennis rackets of the period were heavy (many weighed in at an impressive 14 ounces), lacked maneuverability (thanks to their weight and balance) and were low in power (the head size was only 65 sq. inches).

Then came the T2000 from Wilson in 1967 and everything changed.  Starting with aluminum and then switching over to today’s composites of graphite, carbon fiber and titanium, rackets have never been the same.  In 1976 Prince came out with the Prince Classic, distinguished for its light weight, oversized head, bigger sweet spot, higher power and general playability, especially for beginners and intermediates.  This essentially marked the end of the age of wooden rackets, as aluminum and high-tech composites took over the industry as the materials of choice.  But hold on to those old wooden tennis racquets you have lying around the attic, they may be worth some money as an antique.  

 

Q. How do you review and rate the best tennis racket string?

A: With over 450 different types of tennis string on the market, the average tennis player doesn’t know where or how to begin the search for the best tennis racket string.  Choosing the wrong string type and inappropriate tension can make a $250 racket feel like a wooden club even to the most skilled of players.  Here is a breakdown of the most common types of strings available:

Natural Gut: The undisputed champion of tennis strings.  Gives both power and feel.  Good choice for injury prevention and vibration dampening. Retains performance as it wears though is vulnerable to the ill effects of moisture.

Synthetic String with Solid Core: Offers a wide range of playability, power, or control. Its low cost is an attractive feature to players who go through lots of string.

Synthetic String with Multifilament Construction: Offers the most performance for the money.  Aims to replicate natural gut at a much lower cost.  Natural vibration dampening is a characteristic as it minimizes arm and wrist fatigue.  Use these with textured surfaces for increased spin capability.

Polyester and Polyester Hybrid String: Excellent durability and power. Can be hard on the arm, however. Frequently used as the mains in a hybrid set-up.  

 

Q. What string tension should I use?

A: Are you looking for more distance on your shots or more control over them? Generally, if you string at the lower end of your racquet’s recommended tension range, the same stroke will make the ball fly farther. Adjust string tension according to desired effect.  Low tension = deeper shots. High tension = shorter shots.

At any given swing speed, higher string tensions improve control. High tension = better control. Low tension = less control.  

 

Q. How do I know when I hit the “sweet spot” of the tennis racket?

A: The sweet spot is not called this my accident.  “It just feels good” is the answer most tennis players will give you to this question.  The sweet spot is the area of the string bed that produces the best combination of feel and power.  You know you hit the ball in this area when the ball comes off the racket smoothly and powerfully - you’ll know it when you feel it!  

 

Q. Do you offer any colored tennis racket string or string accessories?

A: Do It Tennis offers tennis string in a variety of colors, including white, natural, pink, blue, red, orange, silver, black, gold and yellow.  String accessories, like vibration dampeners, tape and grommets come in many of the same colors.  

 

Q. What’s the difference in a Do It Tennis used tennis racket and a new tennis racket?

A: Do It Tennis uses a proprietary rating system to evaluate used tennis rackets.  A used racket with a rating of “10” is in new condition, and a rating of “1” is in poor shape.  Here are the exact details:

                                                         
  10     This racquet has been used once. It has no scratches but there is ball fuzz on the strings.  
  9     This racquet has a few scratches on the bumper guard but no blemishes on the frame.  
  8     This racquet has scratches on the bumper guard and frame but is in good condition.  
  7     This racquet has scratches on the bumper guard and frame.  Also, some of the paint has been chipped off the racquet. The grip has been worn down a little bit.  
  6     This racquet has substantial wear on the frame. The bumper guard has worn off the top of the racquet and the frame shows some weakness.  
  5     This racquet has been used for a couple of years. The paint on the racquet has been worn off and the grip is completely used.  
  1 - 4     These racquets are completely worthless but if you can’t live without this racquet . . . go ahead and buy it. Just don’t call us to complain.  

 

Q. Should you change your racket grip when serving or slicing a ball?

A: Some players do and some players don’t.  If you hit the forehand with the Western Grip, you would need to use the Continental Grip when serving or hitting a slice. But if you hit the forehand with the Continental Grip to start with, then you don’t need to adjust your grip to serve or slice the ball.  Eastern Forehand Grip users would employ the Continental Grip to serve, and make no changes when slicing the ball.  

 

Q. How do I grip a tennis racket? How do I hold a tennis racket?

A: There are 4 widely used types of tennis racket grips.

     
  1. Eastern Forehand Grip: Most beginners are taught this basic, but classic, grip.  Start by placing your palm on the side plane of the handle on a parallel plane to the strings and grip the racket.  Keep your wrist straight but not stiff.  Hold the racket out to your side, even with the hip, and notice that the face of the racket is vertical but ready to tilt (by rotating your wrist) for slicing the ball.  With a classic swing style, the Eastern Forehand Grip works quite well for hitting topspin, lending versatility to this grip style.  It should be noted, however, that the Western and Semi-Western grips have become more popular among pros.
  2.  
  3. Semi-Western Forehand Grip: This grip style is replacing the Eastern Forehand Grip on the pro tour thanks to its ability to create topspin and return balls with a high bounce.  If slicing the ball is what you’re after, you may find this grip to be a bit uncomfortable. The reason is that the plane of the strings assumes a natural down angle because you grip the racket handle on the lower slant 45-degree bevel.  This forces you to hit the ball farther forward and more sharply upward in comparison with the Eastern Forehand Grip, resulting in natural topspin.  Look closely the next time you view a pro match on TV and you’ll notice how much topspin the players put on the ball.
  4.  
  5. Western Forehand Grip: Looking for a really big down angle to the racket face to create lots of topspin? Try the Western Forehand Grip.  You actually grip the racket on the bottom plane of the racket handle so you are forced to swing upward in a fast, sharp manner, far out in front of your body as compared with the Eastern Forehand Grip.  Some drawbacks to this grip are the inability to hit the slice and extreme difficulty to hit flat.  Also, hitting low balls is tougher than hitting high ones with the Western Forehand Grip.
  6.  
  7. Continental Forehand Grip: The Continental Forehand Grip takes your palm to the upper, rather than lower, 45-degree bevel (basically the opposite of the Semi-Western Forehand Grip).  Rather than tilt down, the racket face will tilt up, making it easier to slice the ball but difficult to place topspin on the ball.  One drawback is that hitting the ball flat means you have to meet it farther back, putting you in a weaker position.  Given the prominence of topspin in the modern game, the Continental Forehand Grip is less popular on the pro tour than it was when the US Open and Australian Open, in addition to Wimbledon, were played on grass - the ideal surface for the Continental grip.
  8.  

Q. Is a lightweight racquet a good idea?

A: Tennis elbow is a big concern when you discuss lightweight rackets.  Light, stiff and head-heavy racquets are bad for tennis elbow, so you should steer clear of them.  A heavy racket with a light head is best for avoiding tennis elbow while maximizing performance.  A light racket with a heavy head gives the opposite effect.  Sum it up this way:

Heavy racket, light head = GOOD  
Light racket, heavy head = BAD

Here is another way to look at it.  In a car accident between a heavy SUV and a small compact car, who comes out better? The heavy SUV, right?  The little car gets crushed.  Think of the collision between racket and ball the same way.  A heavy racket (i.e., the heavy SUV) will survive the impact better than a light racket (i.e. the compact car).

Here are three downsides to a really light racket.  First, you have to swing it harder and faster to generate the velocity needed to counteract the oncoming momentum of the ball.  These violent strokes are harder to control.  Second, when you have to reach for the ball you are out of position to wind up and take a full swing. The result is a weak shot when you use a really light racket.  Third, going back to the SUV and compact car illustration, a light, fast racquet will slow down on impact and transfer stress to the arm rather than power through the ball and carry the load, as do heavier rackets.  

 

Q. Do rackets with big heads give you a bigger sweet spot?

A: Generally speaking, larger head sizes give bigger sweet spots. That is one reason why oversized rackets are favored by beginning players.  As a beginner, you are less likely to put the center of the string bed on the ball every time.  An oversize racket with a larger sweet spot lets you get away with hitting the ball off the precise center of the racquet but still be in the sweet spot.  

 

Q. Should Your Racquet Be Head Heavy or Head Light?

A:  Tennis elbow is a big concern when you discuss lightweight rackets and weight distribution.  Light, stiff and head-heavy racquets are bad for tennis elbow, so you should steer clear of them.  A heavy racket with a light head is best for avoiding tennis elbow while maximizing performance.  A light racket with a heavy head gives the opposite effect.  Sum it up this way:

Heavy racket, light head = GOOD  
Light racket, heavy head = BAD  

 

Q. Are big rackets better for power tennis players?

A: Mid-size and mid-plus rackets allow the player to take the fullest, most aggressive swings and hit the ball hardest.  Larger, oversize rackets lend more power and, for the more advanced “power” player, prevent a full swing.  These large, powerful frames send the ball flying deeper into the opponent’s side of the court and run the risk of hitting the ball beyond the baseline.  

 

Q. Do extra-long rackets give you better coverage of the tennis court?

A: The standard racket length measures 27 to 28 inches.  This length is appropriate for not only beginning tennis players but also for intermediate and advanced players as well.  More than 28 inches in length for beginning players could prove unwise, as these rackets are more difficult to control.  The advantages touted for racquets longer than 28 inches are extended reach (cover more of the court) and greater leverage on the serve, thereby generating more power.  The main drawback for a longer racket is reduced maneuverability and a harder time controlling the placement of the ball.  

 

Q. What are the advantages of a two-handed backhand tennis swing?

A: When you hit the 2-handed backhand, you are meeting the ball farther out in front of your body than with a one-handed backhand, meaning you are better able to deal with topspin put on the ball by your opponent.  Also, you are stroking the ball closer to the ground, so it is a quicker return, forcing your opponent to react faster to your shot.  

 

Q. Can I get tennis elbow without a string dampener?

A: The cause of tennis elbow is not entirely clear, and only about 5% of the people who suffer from tennis elbow are actually tennis players.  One school of thought says it is the repeated act of the tennis swing that causes a muscle spasm and subsequent stress on the tendons around the exterior of the elbow.  Vibration dampeners do exactly what they say - reduce the vibration you feel come up your arm after hitting the ball.  These vibrations are not the cause of tennis elbow, though someone suffering from tennis elbow may be enthusiastic about a reduction of these vibrations felt when hitting the ball.  So while it is the impact of the ball on the racquet and motion of the swing that is causing the muscles and tendons to twist and tear around the elbow that is the cause of tennis elbow and not the vibrations of the ball hitting the racquet, vibration dampeners may make you more comfortable while playing if you suffer from tennis elbow by reducing the vibrations you feel.  

 

Q. What are the racket measurements to know when comparing tennis rackets?

A: Here are some important technical specifications to consider when racket shopping:

Balance: The midpoint along the racket as measured from butt to head is used as the starting point to measure balance.  If the racket is evenly balanced, its weight will be evenly distributed on either side of the midpoint, so that if you hold the racket parallel to the floor between your thumb and forefinger at this point, the racket will hang evenly.  If the racket is head heavy, more weight is at the head end and the racket will have more swing weight. If the racket is head light, more weight will be at the butt-end and it will have less swing weight.  Head heaviness or lightness is measured in points.

Beam Width: Think of it as the thickness of the racket.  Look at the racket from the side - its width is the beam width.  A thick beam width means stiffness and more power. A thinner beam width means flexibility and less power.

Composition: The materials that the racket is made of defines the racket’s composition.  Graphite, titanium, ceramics, aluminum and fiberglass are the principle materials used in modern-day racket construction.

Flexibility: The opposite of stiffness, flexibility describes how much the racket frame will yield upon impact with the ball.  The more flexible a frame is, the less powerful the racket.  If you want to reduce the shock that comes up your arm when striking the ball, look for a racket with high flexibility.

Head Size: Tennis rackets typically come in one of three head sizes: midsize, mid-plus and oversize. General industry guidelines say that a midsize racket will offer between 85 to 95 sq. inches of hitting area, a mid-plus racket will offer between 95 to 105 sq. inches of hitting area and an oversize racket will offer more than 105 sq. inches of hitting area.

Length: Length is measured from the edge of the butt to the peak of the head.

Maneuverability: A racket that has good maneuverability allows you to adjust its position quickly and easily in the middle of play.

Power Level: How much punch the racket packs is the power level.  A high power level racket will generate lots of pop on the ball but will place less emphasis on control, whereas a low power level racket will leave it up to you to do provide the power through a bigger, more aggressive swing while giving you more control.

Stability: As you come through the ball on your swing, you want the racket to stay on a true path and not deviate from it or wobble around.  The less the racquet wants to deviate from the arc of your swing as it impacts the ball, the more stable it is.  Head weight increases stability, as does a larger hitting area.

Stiffness: Just like it sounds, the stiffness describes how rigid the frame is.  This is an important factor relating to power.  If you want more power and less control out of your racquet, select one that has greater stiffness.

String Pattern: This is the number of mains (strings going up and down, from handle to head) and crosses (strings going left to right) that create the string bed.  A tighter, closer string pattern is known as a dense string pattern and it puts more strings in contact with the ball.  If you want more control over your shots and are not concerned so much with power, you want a dense string pattern.  An example of a dense string pattern is 18 mains x 20 crosses.  In contrast, an open string pattern generates more power but less control.  An example of an open string pattern is 14 mains x 18 crosses.

String Tension: Each tennis racket has a suggested range of string tension.  The manufacturer has tested the frame and determined the optimal range of tensions to set the strings for best play and longevity of the frame.  As a general rule, if you string at the lower end of your racquet’s recommended tension range, the same stroke will make the ball fly farther. Adjust string tension according to desired effect.  Low tension = deeper shots. High tension = shorter shots.

Swing Speed: How fast you swing the racket is your swing speed.  If you have a fast swing speed, you generate more power and so you don’t need the racket to do this for you.  A high-powered frame will send the ball flying and your shots will go long.  If your swing speed is slower, you may need a racquet that generates more power.  Of course, adjusting string tension will also impact how the ball comes off the racquet and can be used to fine-tune your “power setting.”

Swing Weight: The swing weight of the racket is how heavy the racket feels when you swing it.  The more weight you have distributed to the head of the racket, the higher the swing weight will be.  If you have more of the racket’s weight close to the handle, the swing weight will be lower.  Also, extra-long racquets have a higher swing weight since there is more weight further from your hand due to the longer frame.

Weight (Unstrung): Refers to the racquet weight prior to stringing. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the head size the lighter the racquet. This seems counter-intuitive but nonetheless it’s true. Larger head-size racquets are typically lighter than smaller head-size racquets. This is a reflection of the preferences shown by the typical users of mid, mid-plus and oversize frames. Advanced players prefer heavier frames with lower power ratings that favor control and shot placement. Beginner players prefer lighter frames with higher power ratings that favor power and the maneuverability that comes with a light racquet.  

 

Q. If I am a power swinger, should I be adding lead tape to the racket head?

A: Lead tape can add weight to the head of the racquet and thereby re-balance the racquet to suit the needs of the player.  The added weight can give the racket more power to drive through the ball on each shot.  

 

Q. My tennis racket handle is too small.  Should I be buying a new racket or can I use tennis racket replacement grips?

A: The best thing to do is build up the thickness using over grip.  Do It Tennis has a wide variety of grip to choose from.  If one over grip still leaves the handle too small, you may have to buy a new tennis racket.  The reason why it is not recommended to use more than one over grip is that the handle becomes too round and the slant bevels of the handle get lost.  This impedes your ability to properly hold and swing the racket.  

 

Q. What is mass and swing weight?

A: Mass is better referred to as strung weight or stationary weight of the racket.  As it sounds, this is the total weight of the racket when strung and laying still.

The swing weight of the racket is how heavy the racket feels when you swing it.  The more weight you have distributed to the head of the racket, the higher the swing weight will be.  If you have more of the racket’s weight close to the handle, the swing weight will be lower.  Also, extra-long racquets have a higher swing weight since there is more weight further from your hand due to the longer frame.