Head Graphene 360 Instinct MP Specs
|Head Size:||100 in² / 645 cm²|
|Length:||27in / 68,5cm|
|Strung Weight:||318g / 11,2oz|
|Unstrung Weight:||300g / 10,6oz|
|Unstrung Balance:||32cm/4 pt. HL|
|String Pattern:||16 Mains / 19 Crosses
Mains skip: 8T,8H
Updated with the new Head Graphene 360 technology, the Head Instinct has got an unmistakable lightning bolt blue color that will have you standing out on court. We tried out the 300g, 100 sq. inch MP, as we got to know the racket endorsed by Maria Sharapova a little better.
Despite its famous ambassador, the Instinct range is not one you see around too much, so we thought we’d check it out to see if we could figure out why you rarely see it.
Specs wise, the Instinct MP should appeal to a wide range of players. It weighs in at 300g unstrung, with a 100 sq. inch head, a slightly head light balance and a 320 swingweight, all reasonably standard in today’s day and age. This would suggest a modern players racket that is easy to swing and gives good access to power and spin. Again, all things that make a racket popular today.
This version has been updated with Head’s Graphene 360 technology, which reinforces different areas of the frame for more stability and power. In other Head rackets, I’ve found that the Graphene 360 tends to make the racket a little bit crisper and easy on the arm, so I’m hoping it will have the same effect in the Instinct.
I must admit, when I’ve tried Instincts in the past, I haven’t been a big fan. They’ve just been too pingy for my liking and always lack a bit of weight up top. They’re known for easy access to spin, but too often that has come at the expense of good plow through – a vital ingredient for creating power.
With the added stability of the Graphene 360 and a swingweight of 320, this latest version of the Instinct should make for a big improvement though. I’m not expecting the Instinct to change its whole profile, but just hope that the extra technology can add a little something to what it already has.
I got hold of this racket for quite a few days, so was lucky enough to be able to get a few sets of both singles and doubles in with it. I have to say, I did get a fair bit of stick for the color scheme when I turned up for my doubles match with it. I don’t know if it’s designed to appeal to a certain type of person, but I don’t get why some rackets risk alienating people with the colors.
I like the blue on the Wilson Ultras, but this one is just a little bit too much. Anyway, enough complaining about the colors of the racket, it was time to focus on what really matters – how it plays.
Groundstrokes – 7/10
One of the most noticeable things about this racket is just how comfortable it is to play with. Everything seems effortless with the Instinct from the swing through to the hit. This is, of course, something that is very important. Playing tennis shouldn’t be hard on your body. However, comfort is not the be all and end all, and I would gladly sacrifice some comfort for a little playability.
This Instinct and I didn’t really get along from the moment I started playing with it. It may have a 320 swingweight, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. I was craving some more weight in the head of the racket to create a little bit of plow through, but it just wasn’t coming. This meant that a lot of the racket head speed I built up was wasted as it didn’t translate into power.
The lack of plow through meant I was forced to rely on topspin as my primary weapon. The Head Instinct MP does offer you access to easy spin, but I felt it does sacrifice something in terms of control to get this. Everything just felt a little bit loose with this racket, and I just couldn’t get it to work for me on the groundstrokes.
I would suggest this racket is best suited to an intermediate player who doesn’t yet have fully developed swings. The racket is built for maximizing slower swings but does not have the necessary stability to control full, aggressive shots.
As a racket for an intermediate player, it does have something to offer though. When you’re still working on your technique, you want something that will be forgiving on your joints, and the Instinct does just that. It has good manoeuvrability and the open string pattern encourages good use of spin.
Earlier on in your tennis development, you tend to want a racket that is going to give you a little bit of a boost in terms of power. The Graphene 360 Instinct MP gives you this, but once you reach a slightly higher level you look for something that has more control to handle the power you generate yourself.
If your two main requirements are comfort and manoeuvrability, then this is certainly a racket to look at. The main quality I look for is control and I just didn’t find enough of it from the Instinct, so my score reflects that. As an advanced player’s racket, it’s a no for the Head Graphene 360 Instinct MP, but as an intermediate racket, it has a lot to offer. Therefore, I gave it a 7 out of 10 for groundstrokes.
Volleys – 6/10
Based on the performance of the Instinct from the back of the court, this was never going to be the racket’s strong point. Stability and control are key at the net; the ball is coming at you much faster and you must absorb that power. If you’re using a lightweight racket, then it’s going to have much more difficulty absorbing that power.
I really struggled with my volleying when I played doubles with this racket and it resulted in quite a heavy loss. For easy volleys it’s fine as it’s very easy to get into position and you can pop the volley away without difficulty. The problems come when you’re asked to hit a difficult volley.
For a more advanced player, the Head Instinct MP just doesn’t have the required stability to perform at the net, but, just as with the groundstrokes, it can do a good job at an intermediate level. It is very easy to get into position and would make learning the correct volleying technique nice and easy.
This is not going to be a racket you want to play high-powered doubles with, but it’s not the worst racket out there at the net. I would certainly say it is stronger from the back of the court though, and I have given it a 6 out of 10 for its volleys.
Serve – 7/10
I tend to prefer something a little bit whippier on the serve, and the Instinct is certainly that. When I’m playing with a heavy, less manoeuvrable racket, I can sometimes struggle to get the racket head speed I need on serve, so it was nice to have something as agile as the Instinct.
While I got on quite well with this racket during the swing, I did find it a little bit too loose for my liking on contact. It offers a lot of easy power and spin, but that doesn’t really translate into pure power. Once again, I just felt this racket was missing a little bit of weight in the head which could have made it more stable on contact.
This reinforced my belief that the Head Instinct MP would be much better suited to an intermediate player. When you are still developing your swings, especially the serve, it’s nice to get a little help from the racket, and the Instinct gives you that. When I slowed down my serve a bit, I found I got good spin, which led to a lot of consistency.
It’s certainly not a racket I would consider playing with, but I can see the benefits it would give some people. It is one of Head’s most manoeuvrable rackets, for sure.
If I was suggesting a racket for an intermediate player that was very easy to play with then I would certainly pick this one before something like the Head Graphene 360 PWR Speed. With the Instinct MP you get a much better balance of power, spin and control than the oversized rackets which I find a bit gimmicky.
I can’t say I loved the feel of this stick on serve, but it was much better than it was at the net. I gave the Head Graphene 360 Instinct MP a 7 out of 10 on serve. It did ok.
Overall – 7/10
It’s not a racket to play high-level tennis with in my opinion, but it can be a very useful tool for an intermediate player. With the Instinct MP you will get comfort, manoeuvrability and easy spin and power. On the flipside, it is lacking some plow through which really takes away from your control.
I played quite a bit of tennis with this racket and never truly felt comfortable with it. The set-up is too involved for the deadened feel that I prefer, and I struggled a lot at the net. That’s not to say that this is a terrible racket though. In the right person’s hands, I think it would do a good job, but you’ve got to enjoy a very responsive feel and not crave to much plow through.
Certainly, I think the Head Instinct is better suited to an intermediate player; someone who’s swings aren’t too fast. In this case, the Instinct MP will give you access to some easy power and spin and allow you to learn your strokes with comfort.
It’s another racket that’s difficult to grade because it was never going to suit me. If I was judging purely on the kind of tennis I play then I would probably give this racket a 6, but I know there are a lot of players out there who will enjoy playing with the Instinct more than myself.
To reflect this, I have given the Head Graphene 360 Instinct MP a 7 out of 10. I definitely wouldn’t say it is a great racket, but it’s not a bad racket and it will do a job for quite a few people out there.
Review by: Will