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Control vs power: a basic guide to tennis rackets

We're not going to touch the subject of whether you write tennis rackets or racquets; instead, we're going to give you some useful information so you can make an informed decision when buying a racket.

The first thing you need to know is that rackets are on a gradient scale between power and control. The more power a racket has, the less control, and vice versa. The various features of a racket all work together to achieve specific amounts of power and control, though there isn't a "winning" combination because all players will need something slightly different. This might make it difficult to choose a racket, but don't worry, most players fall into a set of categories and almost all players of the same category require similar rackets. Try to place yourself in a category to have a guideline as to what type of racket you should buy.

Player type - the best tennis racket for you

The main player types and their likely requirements are:

Baseline: stays mainly at the baseline of the court. Baseline players have a longer distance for the ball to travel, so extra power could be useful.

Attacker (or serve-and-volley): comes close to the net and is more aggressive. There is less distance between them and the opponent, so they need to get the shot right in a short space of time - control is needed here.

Allcourter: balances baseline with "close-to-the-net" strategy. They need enough power for baseline shots and enough control for shorter shots. They can get this with a "tweener" racket.

Beginner: is usually not strong enough to perform powerful shots and doesn't have the experience to control accurate ones, which is why we recommend power rackets to start off with.

Tennis racket features summarised

Now you might have a better idea of where on the power/control scale you are, but what features of a racket will give you what you need for a perfect game?

5 aspects influence the performance of a racket:

Weight: heavier rackets are more powerful and stable, whereas lighter ones have faster swings and are more manoeuvrable. Although beginners need power, a lighter racket is recommended because carrying a heavy racket can be tiring if you haven't built up muscle yet. How the weight is distributed also matters. A head-light racket improves control and manoeuvrability in a heavy frame, and a head-heavy racket provides more power, stability and momentum in a lighter frame.

Head size: a big racket head offers more power and a bigger sweetspot, so it's easier to hit the ball right (ideal for beginners); the downside is less control and ball feel. A "mid" head size is 85-94 square inches, "midplus" is 95-105 and "oversize" is 106-118.

Flex: this ranges from flexible (45 - more control and comfort), to firm (75 - more power and feedback). Here it must be noted that ball feedback is only useful for those who can withstand it, as it can be uncomfortable.

Racket stringing: a racket can have strings closer together (18x20) or further apart (16x19). Dense stringing is longer lasting and offers improved control, while open stringing gives the ball greater rebound and spin.

Finally, beam width: the wider it is (max. 28mm, min. 22mm), the more power - and therefore the less control - you get.

On a final note, once you've chosen the perfect racket, you need to select the grip size. This is measured in inches and matches the length of your playing hand - from the middle crease to the end of your ring finger. If you're between two sizes, choose the smaller one as an overgrip can add the extra width you need. You can find tennis grips in the tennis accessories department and, if you want to keep your racket safe, we recommend you carry it in a racket bag.

If you're still left with doubts as to what racket to buy, get in touch with the Keller Sports customer care team. We're experts in tennis and will happily suggest a racket for you based on your desired specifications.



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