Backspin, forehand, love… All tennis terms you may have heard watching the U.S. Open or other tennis tournaments on television. Professional tennis players are sure to learn these terms and know the precise meaning of them. But as a beginning tennis player, it isn’t all that important. Playing tennis provides great physical fitness and is a fun activity for all ages to play. But if you’ve never played the sport before it can be a bit confusing. The most important piece of equipment you will need is a tennis racket. Depending on your style of play, body size, length of arms, strength of hands, skill preferences, and many other variables, the size, weight, and characteristics of your tennis racket will be different. Here are some tips to choosing the right one for you and some important things to remember.
- Components of a tennis racket
- Head – Term for the oval-shaped portion of the racket
- Beam – Outer edge of the racket
- Strings – Webbing of the racket which impacts with the ball
- Sweet spot – The central portion of the head, ideal area for hitting ball accurately
- Grip – Where the hand(s) is placed to hold racket in hand
- Butt Capp – Lower portion of the grip, generally an area for equipment logo
- Shaft – Intermediary between the head and grip
Unless you’re an established tennis player, you probably don’t have too many quibbles about what your first type of racket is. “Something that works” is the response usually heard. But there is actually quite a bit to knowing which racket works best for your size, strength, and skillset. For now let’s just go over a brief overview of what to look for in your first tennis racket.
- Oversized head – An oversized head gives your racket a larger head and sweet spot. You’ll have a larger area to work with then hitting the ball and lesser chance to miss than with a smaller head. The surface area of an oversized racket ranges from 105 to 130 square inches.
- Lightweight – If you find an older tennis racket at a second-hand or thrift store, you’ll be surprised at how heavy the racket is. It’s most likely made of wood and while still good rackets, heavier rackets are tough to get used to. Graphite, aluminum, and titanium are ideal for a beginner because they are lightweight racket materials and easier to maneuver than heavier rackets.
- Length – 27-29 inches is ideal for a beginner racket. While the longer the racket the more leverage a player has on a swing, but a player also has less control over the accuracy of the hit.
- String Tension – A pre-strung racket is best unless you know how to manually string a racket. Advanced players configure their racket tension accordingly, but as a beginner you should find a racket with tight stringing unless you desire differently. You’ll find greater accuracy with your shot placement.
Keep these tips in mind when getting your first tennis racket. You don’t have to spend a fortune on one either. $40-$50 can buy you a good quality racket which provides all the characteristics you want in a beginner’s racket. Your local sporting goods store is an ideal place to find one, but better yet see if you can get a friend to loan or sell you a used racket that isn’t in too bad of shape. Once you get your hands on a preferred racket, it’s off to the courts for some intense shuffling and drop shots just over the net!
Jerome Manson is a sports enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and studying various teams’ successes and failures. When he isn’t analyzing the X’s and O’s, Jerome is playing tennis or blogging about professional tennis for selectaticket.com.