HEAD GRAPHENE 360 INSTINCT S Specs
Head Size: 100 in² / 645 cm²
Length: 27in / 68.5cm
Strung Weight: 10.6oz / 301g
Unstrung Weight: 10.05 oz/ 285g
Balance: 12.6in / 32cm / 4 pts HL
String Pattern: 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
Head have gone after quite a punchy colour scheme with the new Instinct range. The vibrant light blue in this stick is eye catching to say the least, it really does stand out on court.
Despite Head being one of the biggest names in tennis, this racket is not that commonly seen around many recreational tennis clubs.
In order to find out whether it was just the controversial new paint job putting people off, we took this new bat for a spin to see what’s what.
Head have implemented their Graphene 360 technology into this lighter version of the racket that Maria Sharapova endorses.
Whilst we liked comfort and spin that the Instinct MP generated on ground stokes, it lacked control and plow through.
Perhaps this lighter version of the racket will be more maneuverable and offer more control when ripping groundies than its bigger brother.
Where the Instinct MP is more designed for intermediate players, the Instinct S seems to be more suited to players wanting to take strain off of their body and juniors.
Also, if you are an improving player looking to develop longer swings and sound technique, you may desire more power from your racket during this stage of your development.
This will enable you to focus on your technical improvements and tactics rather than generating as much power yourself.
The 62 stiffness rating makes the Head Graphene 360+ Instinct S a plush racket to play with, whilst the new Graphene 360 technology helps promote crisp, clean contact with the ball.
Overall the Instinct S felt light and whippy to play with. The low swingweight and head light balance helped me generate spin with this racket, especially on my backhand.
GROUNDSTROKES – 7/10
Usually, a lighter racket is designed for players that are developing their strokes, transitioning from smaller more compact swings to longer swings.
A lighter racket is ideal for this sort of player as it takes strain off of the arm and allows you to focus on changing your technique rather than maneuvering a heavy, unwieldy racket.
The light weight and head light balance of the racket made the racket feel whippy and it was easy to generate my own power when hitting groundstrokes.
I really felt that I could brush up the back of the ball nicely and the open 16×19 string pattern made it easy to generate lots of topspin without putting too much stress on my body.
This is a great plus point for the Instinct S.
A racket than you can swing easily through the ball, helps you generate your own power and is easy on your body will really help when you start to get tired.
I personally found this when hitting with the racket, as I could still generate good power and spin with the Instinct S.
The Graphene 360 technology did add a certain crispness to my groundstrokes, especially when I found the sweet spot on the 100sq in head.
However, in a similar way to the Instinct MP, this racket lacked stability and plow through when striking forehands and backhands.
Although it was easy to generate my own power and spin, it was left lacking when I really wanted to lean on the racket and guide the ball where I wanted.
This was more of an issue with the weight of the racket for my playing style than anything else.
I didn’t really feel like I could take a solid, big cut at the ball and feel confident in the racket.
It felt a little bit too light for my liking in certain situations, like trying to rip heavy balls from behind the baseline, returning big serves and hitting low volleys.
Although the racket was comfortable and felt reasonably crisp when warming up, as I started to ramp up my shots and take bigger back swings, the racket lacked stability and did not feel as solid as I would like.
Whilst the Wilson Clash 100 managed to combine comfort and flexibility and remain stable when taking longer swings, the Instinct S left a lot to be desired.
It was comfortable to hit with, but when I loaded up to hit a strong attacking ball or needed to redirect a heavy incoming ball with interest, the racket didn’t perform as I’d have liked.
It was almost as though the ball was pushing me around, rather than me feeling in control.
I feel that this racket could have done with a bit more even balance to improve its plow through, even if it meant sacrificing a bit of maneuverability in the process.
Overall, the Head Graphene 360+ Instinct S is a good option for the type of player it is intended for.
If you’re a player looking to develop your swings, or are looking for a racket that you can swing without it taxing your arm, the Instinct S fits the bill.
VOLLEYS – 6/10
The lightness and head light balance of the Head Graphene 360+ Instinct S made it very easy to maneuver up at net.
It felt crisp when putting high, easy volleys away and allowed me to get my strings in the right position quickly when I was rushed.
However, as expected with a light weight racket with a relatively flexible frame, it was difficult to absorb power with this racket.
The Instinct S vibrated a fair amount when I was trying to make solid contact with an approaching volley, meaning I lost a bit of confidence in coming to the net.
Also, when trying to hit low volleys off my shoe laces, it lacked feel and I felt a bit disconnected from the ball.
It produced varied results from the same sort of incoming ball, some of these volleys dropped too short and some floated well long.
Overall, the Instinct S was not the easiest racket to hit low, difficult volleys with.
It could have done with a bit more stability and weight in the racket head to reduce the excessive feedback from the racket.
However, if you are just learning how to volley with proper technique or need a lighter racket to get into position easily, then the Instinct S has a role to play.
SERVE – 7/10
On serve, the Head Graphene 360+ Instinct S felt light and whippy in the hand.
It was easy to generate power and spin with this racket, especially when I started to tire towards the end of my hitting session.
This is a key benefit of the racket, as it is easy on the arm and the 100sq in head size gives good pop when hitting first serves.
However, again the Instinct S was left lacking when it came to stability and plow through on serve.
It really could do with a bit more weight shifted in to the top of the head for my liking.
Whilst the light weight is great for developing sound technique and does not cause any strain on the arm when you start to fatigue, in terms of my feeling on the ball across a set, it did not set the world alight.
Therefore, if you are struggling to generate racket head speed, or perhaps learning how to hit a kick serve, you would benefit from the light weight and whippy nature of the Head Graphene 360+ Instinct S.
RETURN – 7/10
By the time I had started hitting returns with the Instinct S, it was clear that this is a racket mainly aimed at intermediate players.
The lower swing weight of this racket meant that whipping through the ball and generating sharp angles was relatively easy to execute, although holding position and redirecting faster serves with this racket proved difficult.
The Instinct S was handy when sitting back and ripping a high, looping return thanks to its light weight.
However, when it came to taking the ball early and absorbing power, the lighter version of Sharapova’s racket did not feel solid enough to do this consistently.
OVERALL – 7/10
Overall, the Head Graphene 360+ Instinct S would not be my first choice of racket to hit with.
My longer swings and need for a solid feel mean that my game is much more suited to a heavier, more performance focussed racket.
However, if you are a player that is looking to make big strides in improving your game, especially your technique and learning the fundamentals of tennis, the Instinct S can definitely benefit your game.
This lighter racket is great for developing your strokes and it is easy to generate a lot of racket head speed.
Therefore, if you are a beginner, improving intermediate or junior player looking for a racket that is easy on the arm and will provide a good foundation for you to improve your technique, the Head Graphene 360+ Instinct S is an option worth considering.