Learning how to play tennis is hard. Really hard. But not having the right tennis racket to practice with can make life on the court even more challenging. This is true for the pros, like world champ Serena Williams, as much as it is for someone new to the game. A good tennis racket—especially when you’re a beginner—can help level up your play, while the wrong one can expose your weaknesses and cause you injury down the road if you’re not careful. That said, it’s important to find one that matches your skill level.
As a beginner, the main goal is to find something that helps you get used to the power you need to hit the ball. This means choosing a racket that’s comfortable and easy to use, which is often determined by the amount tension in the strings, racket size, and grip.
Ask a pro: The best tennis rackets for beginners have these 3 core components
1. Soft strings
The strings are the most important part of the racket since they help determine the strength of your shot. Tighter strings give you more control of the ball, while softer and looser strings allow you to have more power in your swing. If you’re just starting out, opt for a racket that has the latter. Softer strings absorb more impact so your arm doesn’t have to overwork itself just to hit the ball powerfully.
“The softer the strings, the better for beginners, as beginner players will be using muscles, tendons, and ligaments they are not used to using, especially in the wrist, forearms, and shoulder,” says Jose Tolentino, tennis coach and assistant director of NGTA Tennis Academy. “This is important to minimize stress and avoid potential strains and injuries.” (Pro tip: Look for strings that are multi-filament or hybrid multi-filament strings.)
2. Lightweight body and big frame
The racket size should be large and in charge, particularly the frame and head. “For beginners, I would recommend a racket with a head size between 100-110 sq. in. and 280-300 grams in weight,” says Tolentino. “The larger head size provides a larger sweet spot, which will allow a novice player to hit the ball with more accuracy during the player’s learning stages.” But just because it’s larger doesn’t mean it should be heavier. Instead, it’s best to stick to a lightweight racket as you learn the basics, since more weight can quickly tire out your arms.
3. Correct grip size
And lastly, it’s important for you to have the proper grip or handle size. This will affect how well you control and hold onto the racket. “If the grip is too small it can cause the racket to twist in the player’s hand, which can cause wrist and elbow issues,” says Tolentino. On the flip side, if the grip is too big, it can limit your wrist movement and make it difficult to put speed and spin on the ball.
FYI, grip size is measured in inches and U.S. sizes are as follows: 4″, 4-1/8″, 4-1/4″, 4-3/8″, 4-1/2″, 4-5/8″, 4-3/4″, with 4-3/4 inches being the largest size. Now that we’ve covered the basics on what to do look for, here are some of the top rackets to use for tennis newbies.
The best tennis rackets for beginners
Yonex, Vcore 100L — $245.00
Apart from its high quality, this Yonex Vcore 100L checks all the right boxes for beginners, according to Tolentino. It has a 100 sq. in. frame and a seven percent larger sweet spot than the brand’s previous models to help increase your shot frequency and accuracy. The graphite material of the frame is also a nice touch since graphite is naturally lightweight and absorbs shock well.
Head, Titanium Ti S5 Comfort Zone — $89.00
If you want something that’s pretty easy to use from the beginning, look no further than the Head Titanium Ti S5 Comfort Zone. All around, it’s a super forgiving racket that allows you to focus on building power. It comes pre-strung and has an oversized frame of 107 sq. in. The length is also a half inch above the standard length of rackets at 27.5, which gives you a bit more reach to hit the ball farther away from your body. But please note, grip sizes are limited.
Wilson, Blade 104 V8 — $249.00
One of Wilson’s more innovative rackets is the Blade 104 V8. It’s designed to be flexible thanks to the FortyFive° and DirectConnect technology. These designs allow you to feel more connected to your swing by using a carbon fiber handle that connects to the end cap. This helps to give your more stability when your hand locks in to hit the ball.
Dunlop, SX600 — $229.00
The large head is just one thing that makes this racket a home run. The 16×18 string pattern helps give you more spin. Also, players who have a shorter style swing will love it since it can be used to deliver high power shots. But the elastic material is really the selling point here since it cuts down on vibrations by up to 37 percent. The only down side is that you must purchase the strings separately.
Yonex, Ezone 100L — $245.00
Another one of Tolentino’s recommendations is this Yonex Ezone 100L. Though it has the same size sweet spot as the Yonex Vcore 100L, this one is built to help increase power. Specifically, it has unique hole grommets (aka, the holes where the strings connect to the racket) to help maximize your power and comfort when hitting off-center shots.
Babolat, Pure Aero — $239.00
If you’re a bit farther along in your tennis lessons, this racket is perfect to help take your game to the next level. Although it’s more of an immediate level racket, it still has a few qualities that beginners can take advantage of. For example, it has the 100 sq. in. head frame to help you hit the ball more accurately. Also, the FSI Spin technology amps up your ability to put rotation and power behind the ball.
Wilson, H2 — $119.00
Whether you’re playing recreationally or taking regular lessons, this Wilson H2 is a pretty safe bet for comfort. A lot of that has to with the lightweight frame that makes it easy to swing as well as the C-Matrix Technology that increases stability.
Head, Gravity S — $229.00
If you don’t want something that’s going to weigh you down every time you swing, the Head Gravity S is here to the rescue. The graphite Graphene 360+ technology in this racket is designed to give you a more clean feel as you follow through your swing. Plus, it’s lighter weight to avoid long-term discomfort for your wrist and arm.
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