Know Your Tennis Rackets

So, you’ve decided to take up tennis. You’re all set with breathable, comfortable clothes and shoes, and your lessons have been booked, but what about the star of the game? The tool that will help you win or lose. The racket. Tennis Rackets can be found in three basic types: control, power, and in-between. It’s helpful to understand how a racket is assembled before you start looking at types, however; since each type is determined by a racket’s construction.

Understanding Racket Anatomy

  • Head and Sweet Spot. The area inside the head frame, where the strings are, is called the strung surface. This area always contains a sweet spot—where the woven strings create the most power for the least amount of effort. The sweet spot is the tennis player’s favorite area of the racket.

  • Beam. The beam is the area on either side of the head. The beam does not increase the length or width of a racket, but it does increase the racket’s thickness.

  • Throat and Shaft. An open throat design has become the standard in rackets, nearly eliminating the traditional lollipop construction, a closed throat design.

  • Grip. At the end of the shaft is the grip. Racket grips range in diameter from 4 to 4-5/8 inches around. Grip size is purely a matter of comfort, there are no hard and fast rules for choosing one.

  • Butt Cap. The butt cap, which is found at the tail end of the racket, will not impact your play. Most manufacturers put their logo on the butt cap.

  • Overall Length. A longer racket gives the player more reach to the ball, and can give a little more power, especially on the serve. Added length does increase control difficulty—better timing and eye-hand coordination, to meet the ball with the sweet spot, is needed.

  • Weight. With the advent of space-age materials in recent years, rackets have lost a lot of weight. Nowadays their unstrung weights fall between nine and twelve ounces.

Control Racket (aka Player’s Racket)

These rackets focus on a player’s skill level. Power assistance is sacrificed for control and the ability to place the ball more accurately. A player using a control racket should have developed the necessary technique, form, fitness, and skill to generate their own power when needed. Control rackets are the primary type used by many seasoned and professional tennis players. While these rackets are geared toward higher level tennis players, their characteristics can also be beneficial for hard hitting players who are trying to reign in their game.

  • A small head (provides less ‘spring’ therefore less power)

  • Shorter in length (provides less overall leverage but greater flexibility and control when swinging)

  • Flexible frame (allows the ball to sit on the racket longer resulting in more control)

  • Heavier construction (allows player more control when hitting)

Because of the control racket’s core characteristics, it’s important to note they can be harder on your arm and shoulder. Not only are they heavier but because they rely on the player to generate the power.

Power Racket

These types of tennis rackets are often recommended for beginners who’ve not yet developed proper technique, form, and skill to generate their own power. Their design allows for more oomph with less effort. Also a great choice for smaller players, like women and children, who just don’t have the necessary strength to generate the power they want.

  • An oversized head

  • Large in length

  • Stiff frame

  • Lighter construction

In-between Racket

These rackets tend to be favored as ‘all-around’ rackets because they provide a nice blend of power and control for a wide range of players and skill levels. A great choice for recreational players as well as beginners and younger players who’ve outgrown their existing racket and are looking for a bit more control.

  • Mid-sized head

  • Mid-sized length, though typically airing on the longer side

  • Semi-stiff

  • Mid-weight construction, though typically airing on the lighter side