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Ultimate Tennis Racket Buying Guide - How to Choose?

The Ultimate Tennis Racket Buying Guide - How to Choose?

Here at Tennis HQ we have put together an extensive guide to help you find your perfect racket. Selecting a tennis racket can be daunting, especially if you are relatively new to the sport. There are tons of technical specifications to get your head around that can have a big impact on finding your perfect racket.

To enable you to help you buy we’ve designed our tennis rackets main range filters to match the choices to buying to the below catagories. This should make it even easier for you to find the right tennis racket

In this guide we will give you an general overview of the type of racket required for a beginner, intermediate or advanced player. Then we will guide you through the different racket specifications to help you tailor your racket selection to fit you and your game.

Which player are you?

The terms beginner, intermediate and advanced are very subjective, when we speak about players within each of these categories this is what we picture

  • Beginner - new to tennis, looking to become consistent when rallying, still learning more about the different strokes and how to play them 
  • Intermediate - playing on a regular basis, knows all about the different strokes and can play them, playing friendly matches and pushing to represent their club in some of the lower league teams or already representing their club
  • Advanced - Regularly competing or able to compete in external tournaments, representing their club in matches at a high level, very competent around the court, has a clear understanding of their style of play

Beginner Tennis Rackets

If you are at the very start of your tennis journey often you will be needing a racket that is easy to use, forgiving and can help you progress. The last thing a new player needs is to be deterred from the sport because they are struggling with the wrong equipment. 

A typical beginners racket will have the following characteristics:-

  • Larger head size 102 - 110 sq inches
  • Lighter weight 250 - 275 grams
  • Balance 340 - 350mm (head heavy)

Intermediate Tennis Rackets

If you have been playing tennis for a while, your technique is pretty solid and you are playing matches with friends at your local club, then you are going to need a racket that you can rely on to suit your game. Typically at this level you are going to need a racket that offers you more control than a beginners racket but is still manoeuvrable as you develop your shots further. 

A typical intermediate racket will have the following characteristics:-

  • Medium head size 98 - 102 sq inches
  • Medium weight 280 - 300 grams
  • Balance 320 - 340mm (Average balance to slightly head light)

Advanced/Professional Tennis Rackets

If you are playing at a reasonable level such as representing your local club in a higher league or regularly competing in external tournaments it is likely that you have a good idea about what sort of racket you need. Typically at this level players need rackets with a lot of control as they can provide the power themselves. They feel confident enough to opt for a racket that is heavier and less forgiving as the extra weight can allow them to access more power. 

A typical advanced racket will have the following characteristics:-

  • Smaller head size 95 - 100 sq inches 
  • Medium to heavy weight 300 - 320 grams
  • Balance 310 - 320mm (head light)

We have given you a typical overview of what to look for in a racket if you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced player. Now we will go through some more detailed things to consider when choosing the correct racket for your game.

Player Characteristics

If you are naturally strong as a person you may want to opt for a racket with more control. Rackets with more control typically have a small head size. On the flip side if you feel like you need a bit more power from the racket then you can opt for a racket with a larger head size. You may need to also think about your height, a taller player will have longer arms and will generally swing faster producing more power so that player might need to also opt for a small head size.

Swing Speed

Your swing speed is simply how long or short your swing is and how slow or fast your swing speed is. More advanced players tend to have a long and fast swing whereas beginners tend to use a shorter, more compact swing. The faster the swing the more power is generated so typically the more control is needed from the player's racket. 

Style of Play

Are you an attacking player or a defensive player? Do you like to dictate the point using speed and spin like Nadal or use the speed of the incoming ball to generate pace moving your opponent around the court to create space like Federer. If you like to play aggressively then chances are that you want to hit the ball harder and therefore a more powerful racket might be better for you. If you like to play high percentage tennis then you will want a racket with more control. 

There are many technical aspects to a tennis racket and some we have touched on already. We are now going to go through the main specifications to consider when selecting your next tennis racket. 

Head Size 

Head sizes range from about 95 -110 sq inches, the larger the head the more power the more power a racket generates. Rackets with a larger head size have a larger sweet spot, this is the optimal area to hit the ball. The larger the sweet spot the easier it is to hit the ball cleanly. A smaller head size offers more control and a small sweet spot, this is often the choice for more advanced players as the rackets are less forgiving.

Rule of thumb

Larger head size = More power

Smaller head size = More control

Racket Weight  

A racket's weight is a major consideration when choosing a tennis racket. Generally speaking the heavier the racket the more power it provides. If you think about a hammer, the heavier the hammer the more force is driven through a nail. On the flip side the lighter the racket the less power. Heavier rackets tend to be used by more advanced players, if the racket is too heavy for a player this can often lead to player fatigue and could even cause injury. Quite often a racket brand will provide the same model of racket in various weights so it's worth looking into to find the weight that is going to be suitable to you. 

Rule of thumb

Heavier racket = More power

Lighter racket = Less power


The balancing point of a racket is measured in millimetres. An adult racket is 27 inches long or 680 mm so the mid point is 340mm. If the balance point is higher than 340mm then the racket is head heavy, lower than this then it is head light. Head heavy rackets offer more powerful whilst head light rackets are more manoeuvrable. More advanced rackets tend to be head light. Balance is often down to personal choice to its worth trying out some rackets with different balance points to see what works for you. 

Rule of thumb

Balance more than 340mm = Head heavy

Balance less than 340mm = Head light

String Pattern 

A racket's string pattern is the number of strings in the main strings (vertical) and the number of cross strings (horizontal). The most typical string pattern is 16/19 which is 16 mains and 19 crosses. However there are variations to this. 18/20 string patterns have more mains and cross strings meaning the strings are closer together. This is called a closed string pattern and will typically create higher levels of control. With a closed string pattern the strings will not move as much during play and therefore the string longevity will increase.

Open string patterns are anything less than 16/19 they are not as common but essentially the less strings on a racket the larger the spacing between strings and the more power and spin can be produced. 

When we think about string pattern and the head size together we can see that on rackets with a larger head the strings will be spaced further apart and therefore the racket will produce more power and have more access to spin. 

Rule of thumb

Open string pattern (less strings) = More power and spin

Closed string pattern (more strings) = More control 

Beam Width

The thickness of a racket's frame is generally a sign of how flexible a racket is. If a racket has a thicker beam of 25mm or more it means that the racket is stiffer and more stable. A stiffer racket will produce more power as more energy is transferred back through the ball just like a tile floor when bouncing a ball. A racket with a thinner beam of 21mm or less will be more flexible and will absorb some of the energy just like bouncing a ball on carpet. A more flexible racket will provide more control and tends to be linked to more advanced, heavier rackets.

Rule of thumb

Thinner beam 18-21mm = More control

Average beam 22-24mm = Average control and power

Thicker beam 25-28mm = More power

Grip Size 

Grip size is one essential area that does not distinguish between different levels of players. There are 6 different grip sizes called grip size 0 to grip size 5. The grips size is the measurement of the circumference of the racket grip, this is measured in inches.

Grip Size 0 = 4 inches

Grip Size 1 = 4 ⅛ inches

Grip Size 2 = 4 ¼ inches

Grip Size 3 = 4 ⅜ inches

Grip Size 4 = 4 ½ inches

Grip Size 5 = 4 ⅝ inches 

Grips size is really important as the wrong grip size could lead to discomfort from your racket or even injury. The best way to determine your grip size is to measure the distance from the tip of your ring finger on your playing hand to the second line on your palm. You can also try out different grip sizes and see which feels best for you.

We would always recommend buying a racket with a slightly smaller grip size, this way if you want to add an over grip to your racket you aren’t creating a grip that is too large for you. An over grip is a great cost effective way to have a regular fresh grip on your racket as they are inexpensive and can be easily replaced once worn out. An over grip will generally add about half a grip size to your racket. 

Rule of thumb 

Choose a size down from your preferred grip size so that an overgrip can be used


When selecting a racket you will find that some rackets come prestrung and some rackets come unstrung. The reason that some rackets are sold as unstrung is because typically the players buying these rackets prefer to customise their strings and have them professionally strung to their specifications. Rackets that come prestrung are often strung with more basic strings at an average tension, this will suit beginners and some intermediate players.

Our advice is to have fresh strings added to your racket, this way you can guarantee that your strings in your new racket are high quality and at the correct tension. For more information on tennis strings please refer to our Ultimate Tennis String Guide.

Rule of thumb

Always get you new racket strung with fresh strings by a professional upon purchase if you are of an intermediate or advanced level

Second Racket 

If you watch professional tennis players you will notice that they often have multiple rackets in their bag for each match. The reason for this is that if their strings break or they feel like the tension has gone in the strings then they have back up rackets that are exactly the same so they don’t need time to adapt to a new setup.

As players and coaches we have seen so many players at local clubs break a string only to reach for their old racket in order to carry on their game. This is the same as changing your shoes half way through a run, the player is going to need time to get used to the new set up.

Our advice is to get yourself a second racket and have both rackets strung the same way. This way when the strings do break halfway through a match you have exactly the same racket ready to go as a backup. Make sure to rotate between your two rackets evenly so that the racket, strings and grip wear evenly making the transition even more seamless.

Rule of thumb 

When buying a new racket buy two of the same so you always have a back up 

We hope you have found this guide helpful and informative when selecting your new racket. If you have any further questions then please contact our team and they can advise you on your purchase.