Whether you’re looking for your first racquet, upgrading your current racquet model, or changing to something different, it can be an overwhelming process. But it doesn’t have to be. I’ve compiled these tips to help you properly demo a tennis racquet with customized stringing. Stringing is a key component!
Test Driving a Demo Racquet — The Strings are the Engine that Drives the Racquet
Although the vast number of tennis racquets offered by various brands can be daunting, keep these tips in mind.
- Most racquet manufacturers make suitable frames.
- The strings, string pattern, and string tension impact your performance, no matter what frame you choose.
So, take a deep breath! All you need to do is find the right racquet that suits your game within a brand’s product lineup. Then consult with your stringer regarding your unique needs and goals.
Easier said than done, you think? Let’s take a look at three categories that would cause you to start the demo process.
3 Categories Requiring Tennis Racquet Demos
Category 1: First Time Buyer — The Beginner
Category 2: Need an Overhaul — The Recreational or Competitive Player
Category 3: Time to Upgrade — The Competitor
Each category presents unique challenges, and the players within these categories have different needs and goals.
So, let’s get into it!
4 Tips for the First Time Buyer — The Beginner
You might think this is the most challenging time to choose a racquet. After all, you’re new — you don’t know a lot about tennis, or the gear involved in the game. So how do you know which racquet is best for you? You’re starting from square one.
But this can be a good thing. Remember, most tennis manufacturers design good racquets. With some guidance, especially from a racquet technician, you can successfully find the racquet that meets your needs.
Tip #1: Choose the Headsize
It’s essential to take into consideration the size and age of the player. Players who are small and still building strength, for instance, will have different needs and challenges than larger, more powerful players.
- Petite or older-aged player: Consider 107-120 square inches for more power with less effort and a larger sweet spot.
- Young adult or middle-aged player: Consider 100-110 square inches for more control.
Tip #2: Determine the Proper Weight
Go with the heaviest racquet you can swing comfortably and still play a couple of sets without getting tired.
Although a light racquet may feel good when you pick it up in the shop, extra weight provides more stability and absorbs more shock, protecting your arm when you’re on the court.
Tip #3: Choose a Frame Type
Attributes of a Stiff Frame:
- More Power
- More stress on your arm
Attributes of a Flexible Frame:
- More control
- More comfort for your arm
Tip #4: Choose a String Pattern
For more power and easier spin production, stick with an open pattern (16×19) or (16×18).
Frames with more strings (18×20) will feel “boardier” and provide more control, but take more effort to produce power and spin.
Tip #5: Choose a Swingweight
What is Swingweight or Dynamic Inertia?
Swingweight or dynamic inertia is the measurement of how weight is distributed in the frame. This is what you’d feel as you swing your racquet.
- A frame with a high swingweight will provide stability and more power but is less maneuverable.
- A frame with a low swingweight will be more maneuverable and allow for higher racquet head speeds but is less stable and powerful.
Tip #6: Arrange for String Setup & Tennis Racquet Demo
Since you’re new to the game, you probably won’t have strong preferences and will learn to adapt to the racquet. After hitting with each of the demos a couple of times, you’ll figure out which racquet works best for you.
3 Tips for the Recreational or Competitive Player
You play recreationally or competitively, and maybe you’re. . .
- Playing with a racquet that was given to you but isn’t ideal for you.
- Playing with a racquet that you bought but isn’t quite right for your game.
- Becoming more serious about the game.
- Noticing discomfort in your arm or recovering from an arm injury.
- Changing your game and want to add power, control, or spin.
- In a slump and need a new racquet to make playing tennis more fun.
Whatever your reason, an overhaul could be the right solution! Here are some steps that will help guide you in the right direction.
Tip #1: Consult with a Certified Racquet Technician or Stringer
These tennis experts have the training and experience to assess your needs.
Tip #2: Decide on a Goal for Improving your Game
Then compare that goal with your current racquet and string setup.
Tip #3: List your Preferences
Consulting with professionals and analyzing your goals should have helped you develop some preferences, which will help narrow down the racquets you select to demo.
5 Tips for the Competitor
You play competitively and have been using your racquet for 2+ years or restrung it about 25+ times. Now it’s time to switch to the latest model of your current frame or something comparable.
Tip #1: Consult with a Local Tennis Dealer
Ask if they sell racquets similar to your current one. If you’re loyal to a specific brand, that will narrow the selection process.
Tip #2: Compare Specifications when Choosing Demo Racquets
Tip #3: Request a Tennis Racquet Demo in your Grip Size
A grip can be increased or decreased by using overgrips and altering how it’s wrapped.
Tip #4: Have the Demo Strung with a Similar String and Tension as your Current Racquet
The Strings are the Engine that Drives the Racquet
Most demo racquets will not have your strings and tension. Using the racquet as-is will skew your demo experience, adding variables that will make it difficult for you to compare against your current racquet.
Tip #5: Play with the Racquet
Never go by your first impression. Play with the demo racquet at least 3 to 4 times. Playing only once won’t allow you to make a thorough assessment.
3 Steps to Play-Test a Demo Racquet
For the following steps, always start by hitting with your current racquet first then switch to the demo(s). This will allow your muscle memory to feel immediately how the demo racquet performs.
Step 1: Have someone feed you balls, hit on a ball machine, or hit against a wall. These scenarios allow you to break down all your strokes, get in lots of repetition, and experience how the racquet behaves in your hand.
Step 2: Hit with someone and play some structured points. This will allow you to tailor game-like situations to assess what the racquet would feel like in competition.
Step 3: Play a set or a practice match. This will help you determine if you can trust the racquet in pressure situations.
Do you Still Have Questions about Tennis Racquet Demos?
There are many resources online. Take some time to research specific questions.
If that’s not your thing, I’d be happy to help you figure out your next move when searching for a new racquet.