How to Choose the Perfect Tennis Racket for You - HEAD
Why is it so important to test rackets?
My name is Ralf Schwenger. I'm leading the R&D department for racket sport here at HEAD, and today I want to give you some insights and hints on this topic. Finding the right racket is on the one side very complex but it's also very interesting and exciting.
We all are different in our needs, our wishes, requirements for a racket. Should it improve our strength or should it reduce our weaknesses? Should it challenge us and make us become a better player? Or should it make the best out of us as we play right now? Most important is that you feel good and comfortable.
First let's have a look at the head shape and the head size. Of course nowadays there is a huge variety of different head shapes and head sizes available. A racket with a bigger head size in general is easier to play, is more forgiving, and has a higher power potential. On the other side a smaller racket is easier to handle and it will be more precise giving you better feedback.
The next thing I want to talk about is the racket weight and here an old coaching rule of thumb comes into play--and this says use a racket as heavy as you can handle without hurting the timing of your strokes.
If a racket is heavier it means that it's also more stable during ball contact that you can accelerate the ball faster and that the racket is also more forgiving. The downside is however you have to be able to move the racket in time to the hitting point, so if the racket might be too heavy you might tend to have to take the racket back and hit the racket further back. This, of course, would be a real downside. So racket weight is somehow something a blessing and a curse.
There are advantages for a heavier weight but also advantages for lighter weight--and do not only think about how fast you can hit the ball--also think about where you have to stand on the court. Maybe with a lighter racket you can move more in front and hit the ball early. As much as I personally like the feel of a heavy racket when hitting the ball, if it causes me to have to stand 10 feet behind the baseline and run from side to side, honestly my game will not benefit.
Let's talk about frame stiffness. A stiffer racket will provide you more power even on off-center shots. Contrary a more flexible racket will give you more feedback on where you have hit the ball.
Let's talk about string patterns. The densest string pattern helps you to play more precise with such a racket you can try to paint the lines. With a wider string pattern you will have more spin and you will have more power. On the other side you might have slight problems controlling high ball speeds.
The next term I want to talk to you about is the swing weight of a racket. Now what does a swing weight of racket mean? It means somehow how heavy the racket feels when you move it. Pretty interesting is that you by yourself can easily get a feel for the swing weight of a racket. Make sure that your underarm muscles are warm and that you have no injury, take a racket and try to move it with a high frequency from one side to the other, see and get a feel for the force that you need to apply, and for the speed, how many cycles you can make then take another racket, and do the same thing.
Last but not least, we've come to one of the most talked properties of a racket--the feel. With feel, we mean the feedback that the racket gives you at impact and slightly after. The challenge here is to find the right balance between giving you a feel and a feedback about how you have hit the ball and where you have hit the ball without being harmful or causing pain in your arm.
It is important to understand that each one of us experiences a racket in a very unique way. What might be the perfect racket for you might be the wrong racket for your buddy. It all depends on personal things like how do you swing the racket how do you play the game what kind of grip tightness do you have a lot of parameters.
So have fun testing rackets and exchanging the experiences, and in the end, find your personal holy grail.