The Tennis Racquet – Section 01 – Racquet Anatomy

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Just like the human body the tennis racquet has many named parts.  In fact many of the parts of the tennis racquet are named after human body parts.  Throughout the various courses on this site we will make mention of various parts of the racquet so it is important to know them.

The Racquet Frame

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Typical racquet frame.

The frame of the racquet is the outside of the racquet minus the strings.

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The frame of the racquet can be made of various materials. Aluminum racquet are generally for beginners. They are relatively heavy and tend to bend quite Aluminum racquets are not a good option for anyone beyond a beginner level. Most children’s racquets are made of aluminum because of there durability. Children can be rough on racquets and the more advanced racquet materials are far more fragile.  Several adult racquets are also made of aluminum, but most are now made of more advanced racquet materials.  Aluminum racquets are relatively inexpensive so they are a great option for someone who wants to try the sport but doesn’t want to invest a lot of money right off the bat. Recently, a many new racquets started being made from a very strong, extremely light material called titanium. Titanium is similar to aluminum. Either aluminum or titanium is an acceptable choice for beginners.

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Typical children’s aluminum racquet.

Most racquets are made from a high modulus graphite and/or carbon fiber. This makes the frame lighter which makes the racquet more powerful as a lighter racquet can be swung faster.

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Typical graphite racquet

Graphite also increases the stiffness of the racquet which gives greater racquet head stability. Graphite and carbon fiber racquets allow for the frame shape to be more aerodynamic. This also helps to increase the speed of the racquet through the air as the racquet will have less drag. A good example of a frame modification of racquets today vs old racquets is the throat of the racquet. New racquets all have the throat open whereas almost all old frames have the throat solid.

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An old pro staff next to a new pro staff.

A racquet with several materials is called a composite racquet. Most racquets on the market today are composite racquets.  It’s called composite when other materials like titanium, tungsten, Kevlar or boron is put into the frame. All these materials alter the characteristics of the racket. 100% graphite is very stiff so it is generally the preference of power hitters. Kevlar and boron make the racquets lighter which increase swing speed. Composite racquets tend to be more flexible which makes them transmit less vibrations making them great for beginner or intermediate level players who tend to mishit the ball more often.

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The new pro staff is made of braided Kevlar and graphite / basalt fibers.

Graphite based racquets have been the preferred materials in racquet since the mid to early 1980’s.  Before that time wood was the predominate racquet material.  Wood racquets were even more fragile then graphite as changes in temperature and other weather elements could warp the racquet.

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A warped wooden racquet.

One way to counteract warping was to put the racquet into a bracket.

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Wooden racquet with a bracket.

Frames vary in many ways, using the right frame for your type of game is a very important factor. Some frames vary in thickness. Generally the thinner the racquet the less power it has, the thicker the racquet the more power it has. Other factors influencing racquets are frame stability, how much power it can generate, the size of the the sweet spot (the power zone of the racquet), how much it will vibrate and how much control the racquet has.  Racquets will also be weighted differently. Racquet frames can distribute the weight across the racquet differently from frame to frame thus changing the balance. Some racquets are heavier at the top some are uniformly heavy and still others are heavier in the handle.

For a more thorough explanation of the racquet frame click here.

The Racquet Head

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The racquet head is the round part at the top of the racquet.

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The racquet head is inside the border.

Head size is the area of the hitting plane inside the head of the racquet and is measured in square inches or centimeters squared. Power is directly related to head size. A larger head offers a larger hitting area, more power, and a larger sweet spot while providing more forgiveness on off-center shots. Smaller head sizes offer more control and less power. Head size is a personal preference.

Head shape can vary from racquet to racquet. The most common shapes are Elliptical,

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An elliptical shaped racquet head.

Tear-drop

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A tear drop shaped racquet head.

and Square.

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A square shaped racquet head.

Elliptical is the most common head shape. Tear-drop shaped racquets have the longest main string length, when compared to other head shapes of the same surface area. Longer main strings length increase power. Additionally, a tear-drop shape racquet has the widest point of the hoop closer to the 12 o’clock position which moves the sweet spot higher in the hoop. Square head shapes are designed to have the center 4 to 6 main strings the same length and the center 4 – 6 cross strings the same length. This centers the sweet spot and increases the overall size. An elliptical shaped racquet…

The Racquet Throat

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The tennis racquet throat.

The throat of the racquet

The Racquet Handle

The racquet handle  is the part of the racquet that the hands are placed on.  Most racquet handles are octagon shaped with 8 bevels.

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The size of the grip can vary from 4 1/8th to 4 5/8th of an inch. Technically its the length between the middle crease of your palm to the tip of the longest finger. Grip size is a matter of personal preference but if the fingers and thumb don’t meet or the fingers wrap around the grip to touch the palm, the grip size is not optimum. If ever confused between two grip sizes always go for the smaller one, you can always take the help of over grips.

The Butt of the Racquet

 

The Leading Edge

 

The Trailing Edge

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