Tennis Racket Head Sizes Explained
There are a lot of decisions to make when buying a brand new tennis racket. The shape, brand, colour, weight, head size, balance, grip size and stiffness rating all play their part in how a tennis racket will feel in your hand.
One of the most obvious differences between tennis rackets is of course the head size. This can play a major role in how a racket feels and its overall playing characteristics as it ultimately determines the surface area you have available to hit the ball with.
Racket head sizes have gotten a lot bigger and more stable over the past few decades as racket technology has improved.
Using more sophisticated materials has meant that rackets can now be made more stable, have better shock absorption and can generate a lot more power and spin than more traditionally designed sticks.
However, is bigger always better? We delve into the ins and outs of tennis racket head sizes below!
How Tennis Rackets Have Evolved Over the Years
Tennis rackets from 30 or 40 years ago are virtually unrecognisable compared to the modern sticks you find on the shelves of your local pro shop today.
Gone are the days of wooden or heavy aluminum rackets, exclusively strung up with natural gut strings.
Nowadays, rackets are made from braided kevlar, carbon fibre and various other exotic materials that help to channel out excess vibrations, add stability, control and power whilst being much lighter and more maneuverable than their older siblings.
Most wooden rackets and even some of the first graphite rackets weighed in at over 400g, meaning tennis players at all levels had to have a lot of strength and skill to wield these rackets with any kind of precision.
Whereas nowadays racket weights range from around 250g up to 350g, so manufacturers really can accommodate for all needs.
With regard to head sizes specifically, wooden rackets would often only be 60 sq in or so, a far cry from even the smallest rackets on the market today.
This small surface area does give you a lot of control, as you can feel incredibly well connected to your shots and there is less of a ‘trampoline’ effect when the strings contact the ball.
However, there is also a lot less margin for error compared to using a racket with a larger head, as the sweet spot is a lot smaller and your timing has to be near perfect just to get a clean contact point.
Therefore, the fact that racket head sizes have increased by practically double compared to the early days of tennis being played worldwide has opened up the sport to players with a much wider range of abilities.
We now see a lot more power, spin and athleticism in the professional game thanks to more powerful rackets and strings, whilst at the recreational level players even into their 80s or as young as 2 years old can pick up a tennis racket and play!
Tennis Racket Head Sizes Explained
So, what difference does the head size of your tennis racket actually make? There are a few basic categories you should be aware of when considering which size to go for.
Mid Headed Rackets
Generally aimed at performance players who are looking for the last word in control and precision, small headed rackets (commonly known as mid rackets) tend to be the heaviest and stiffest options out there.
The majority of mid-sized rackets come in at 93sq in and under in terms of their overall head size, which is reasonably small by today’s standards. One of the original and most popular mid-sized rackets amongst the pros was the Wilson Pro Staff Original 6.0.
It had an 88sq in frame and was used by the likes of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. This was a heavy and control oriented racket back in the late 1990s but offered unbelievable precision which suited the predominantly serve and volley game in that era.
However, even though the game and modern technology has moved on, there are still some player focussed sticks out there with a head size of around 93sq in.
The Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Mid sports a 93sq in head, making it one of the most dialled in rackets on the market today.
As we have mentioned, the obvious advantage of having a smaller headed racket is the enhanced control and precision you get from the racket. You feel a lot more connected to the ball and the racket (if set up correctly) can basically feel like an extension of your arm.
This is ideal for players with a sound technical base that can consistently time the ball well, as they can benefit from the pinpoint accuracy and dialled in feeling that this typeof racket has to offer.
On the other hand, a racket with a small head will have a notoriously small sweet spot, which makes hitting with a clean contact a lot more difficult than when playing with a larger headed racket.
A midsize racket will also be less forgiving and thanks to the additional stiffness and weight that these rackets tend to come with, be harsher on your arm. These rackets are also generally pretty head light which helps to counteract their hefty mass.
This also increases their level of control and lowers the amount of power a mid sized racket can generate, which is ideal for a powerful, athletic tennis player that is not looking for any additional power from their racket.
So, mid sized rackets are great for players that are looking for the ultimate control focussed racket. One that will tell you exactly what is going on in the string bed and give you the most tactile feel possible.
However, if you are looking for a bit more margin for error and comfort without wanting to sacrifice too much control, a midplus racket may be the ideal choice for you!
A midplus racket strikes a great balance between control, forgiveness and playability. These tend to have a head size falling between 94sq in and and 104sq in, with the most popular configurations being 95sq in, 98 sq in, and 100sq in.
These are the rackets that the majority of club level recreational players will end up going for, right from beginner, through intermediate and even up to advanced level.
There is a great deal of variation that comes from this category of rackets, as this is where the majority of the tennis population likes to spend their money.
On the more control oriented end of the spectrum you will find rackets around the 95sq in mark. These tend to weigh upwards of 300g and are aimed at players that want a control oriented racket but still need a relatively arm friendly and forgiving stick.
These are effectively lighter and more supple versions of the most aggressive player’s rackets and offer a strong level of control and precision, without compromising on comfort.
As we edge towards the 100sq in mark, there can still be a fair amount of weight to the tennis rackets in this bracket, it is just that the slightly larger head size will offer a larger sweet spot, meaning these rackets are more geared towards power than control.
For example, Wilson and Head may have more control focussed rackets in their lineup, such as the Pro Staff and Prestige ranges, which will have some smaller headed frames in the midst.
Whereas, Babolat offers rackets more towards the 100sq in mark as they tend to be slightly more user friendly and edge on the side of power, forgiveness and spin potential over precision.
Even in this small range between 95sq in and 100sq in, there can be a great deal of variation in weight, balance and stiffness rating.
A heavier racket will tend to have more power and better shock absorption, whereas a lighter racket will be more maneuverable but feel less stable on contact.
When it comes to a racket’s balance point, look out for this (along with swingweight) when looking at two different rackets with similar head sizes and static weights. A higher balance point will indicate a head heavy racket.
This will feel heavier to swing and offer more power than a lower balance point racket, that will feel light and whippy to swing but may lack plow through from the baseline and on serves.
Above 100sq in gets you a power focused racket that tends to be more aligned to forgiveness and arm friendliness than control.
These rackets are ideal for beginners and improvers that want a bigger surface area to contact the ball and need a racket that is easy to swing and isn’t too harsh on the arm.
These rackets tend to be slightly lighter in weight too, generally sitting around the 280g to 300g mark, which makes them ideal for players that want to work on their technique.
You can still expect a decent level of control out of a racket up to around 104sq in, as technological advancements mean there are less vibrations that travel from the ball to your arm and rackets can retain a good level of comfort despite actually having relatively high stiffness ratings.
Between 105sq and 120sq in we enter the realm of oversized racket frames. These are specifically designed to offer great forgiveness, power and a consistent feel on contact thanks to the massive sweet spot.
These rackets also tend to be on the lighter side and will have beefier, thicker beam widths to offer more power and stability. At this level, shock absorption increases and flexibility decreases as the racket looks to remain as solid as possible through contact.
Oversized rackets again can be used by beginners or improver players, but are also favoured by those with wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries and are also great for players with more short, compact swings.
These rackets really pack a punch and do a lot of the work for you, meaning you can really focus on placing the ball where you like and relying on the racket to take care of the power.
Super Oversized Rackets
Super oversized rackets are few and far between these days as there are so many oversized and even larger midplus rackets that do such a great job of absorbing excess vibrations and offering a great platform to generate power.
However, there are still rackets out there that sit above the 120sq in mark and these are ideal if you are looking for the ultimate comfort, a very large sweet spot and a lot of power coming from your string bed.
Super Oversized rackets tend to be used by players that still like to play the game of tennis but may be suffering from chronic pain in their joints, so need a racket that will give them the maximum amount of output for even the smallest inputs.
Overall, tennis racket head sizes can make a big difference to how a racket will ultimately feel and perform. After all, the size of the racket does in the end determine how much surface area you have to strike the ball with and plays a major role in how big a racket’s sweet spot is.
On the lower end (sub 93 sq in), rackets tend to be very heavy, stiff and unforgiving. However, this is a sacrifice that very high level players are willing to make in the pursuit of the last word in control and precision.
Between 94 sq in and 104 sq in you will find the mid plus category of rackets.
These are very popular amongst club level players as they offer a broad spectrum of control, power, comfort and spin potential thanks to different technologies being used, as well as variations in swing weights, balance points, string patterns and stiffness levels.
Above 105sq in we have oversized and super oversized rackets, which are geared more towards comfort and power so are ideal for older players with those with recurrent injuries.
We hope this has helped with your understanding of racket head sizes and good luck on your search for your new tennis racket!
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