When evaluating length, it is important to understand the trade-off between reach and maneuverability. A longer racquet will provide a bigger reach allowing you to hit a ball further away from your body.
The downside is that longer racquets are generally harder to maneuver.
Therefore; shots close to the body, net volleys and other hits can be more difficult when playing with a longer frame.
- A longer racquet results in more reach, more power and higher swing-weight
- A longer racquet will have less maneuverability
- The choice depends mainly on the player style rather than the player level. A strong server and baseline player will benefit from a longer frame more than a net player
4. RACQUET WEIGHT
The weight of a racquet is measured, without strings, in grams or in ounces.
A heavier racquet is more powerful, more stable and transmits less shock to the handler. Alternatively, a lighter racquet is easier to maneuver and will not exhaust the player’s upper body like a heavier one.
Keep in mind that there are ways to make a light racquet heavier (e.g. by adding lead tape) but it's almost impossible to reduce the weight of a racquet.
- A heavier racquet will have more power and stability
- A lighter racquet allows for better physical endurance
- Heavier racquets are suited to baseline players with strong deep hits
The balance point of a racquet is defined as the point along the length of the racquet where the weight is split evenly between the head and the handle.
An evenly balanced racquet would have its balance point exactly in the middle of its length.
Balance is measured unstrung as the distance in mm between the butt cap and the balance point.
When talking about balance a racquet falls into one of these 3 categories:
- Headheavy – Center of gravity is shifted slightly towards the tip of the racquet - Balance > 350mm;
- Headlight – Center of gravity is shifted slightly towards the handle of the racquet - Balance < 330mm;
- Even –weight is evenly distributed - Balance between 330mm and 350mm.
A headheavy racquet is generally used by baseliners.
A headlighter racquet can be the better choice for a classic volley player.
It is the dynamic measurement linked to the static measurements of weight and balance: it could be defined as the perception of weight given by the racquet when swung. It depends on the racquet size and weight and on the way the weight is distributed along with the racquet.
Swingweight is measured unstrung in kg * cm2 and it is normally expressed as a dimensionless value ranging from 270 to 310.
a head heavy racquet has a higher swing weight compared to a headlight racquet with the same weight.
A long racquet will have a higher swingweight when compared to a shorter racquet with the same weight.
The higher the swing weight, the heavier the racquet is going to feel.
It will be more fatiguing to handle but, at the same time, it will provide more power and stability and a higher acceleration to every hit.
- High swing weight means more effort is required to handle the racquet
- High swing weight provides more acceleration to every hit
- As a general rule, you want to play with the heaviest racquet you can swing, that won’t fatigue you over the course of a long match
7. FRAME STIFFNESS
When evaluating stiffness consider that power, control and comfort are at stake.
At the same time, keep in mind that stiffness is perceived in a different way by every player and is also affected by the strings installed on the frame.
A flexible racquet or felxible frame provides more control and comfort but absorbs more power as it deforms more when hitting the ball.
Conversely, a stiff racquet doesn’t deflect as much on impact providing more power, but less control.
A stiffer frame is generally less comfortable as it transmits stronger shocks to the upper limbs.
Stiffness is measured with the RA method which analyzes how flexible a racquet is when a static force is applied in one point of the racquet, normally located in the shoulder area.
The RA index ranges from 55 to 75 falling in one of these subranges:
- 55-60 low stiffness
- 61-65 medium stiffness
- 66-70 rather stiff
- 71-75 very stiff
The RA index points out a static measurement at a certain point of the racquet., It does not describe the overall stiffness of the racquet.
There are many different kinds of dynamic components (e.g. bending stiffness, torsion stiffness, compression stiffness) which play a role on the overall perceived stiffness.
- Perceived stiffness is determined by the frame of the racquet and the installed strings
- The RA value mainly indicates the stiffness in the shoulder area of a racquet
- The stiffer the racquet, the more power
- The softer the racquet, the more control, and comfort
- An advanced player, capable of providing power, might prefer the control and comfort of a softer racquet
- A stiffer racquet can help beginner/intermediate players provide more power
- Players with elbow/shoulder issues should look at softer racquets (≤ 66RA)
8. THE BEAM
The beam of a tennis racquet is the thickness of the racquet head. A thicker beam makes the racquet stiffer and sends more energy back into the ball at impact resulting in more power.
A thinner beam makes the frame more flexible and absorbs more energy creating a more precise feel, improving control, and improving comfort as less of the shock of contact is going to be transferred to the arm.