No matter if just taking up tennis or getting more serious it, you’ll need proper equipment. Good, quality and suitable equipment is necessary not only for a good game of tennis, but primarily for your safety, because if you use improper equipment, you may suffer an injury.
This article will tell you more about the equipment you’ll need when playing tennis and it is mainly dedicated to beginner players. However, we feel that some a bit more advanced players can fit a few useful points
Tennis balls – simply got to have them. Why? For two main reasons: a) you cannot always rely on other players to bring them, and b) because it’s useful to have some at hand in case you have the time to warm up.
The basic things you need to know about tennis balls is that The International Tennis Federation (ITF) defines criteria for size, weight, deformation, bounce and color (yellow and white are approved by it) of modern tennis balls which are used on tournaments. There are other colors as well, and ITF itself recommends starting from slower tennis balls in order to effectively introduce the game. The slowest balls are marked with red, are unpressurized, oversized, made from foam rubber, and they provide better opportunity for longer volleys. Orange balls are unpressurized, but normal-sized. They also travel slower, but are perfect for larger courts. The green balls are normal in size, but half pressured, and are a step before transition to full-sized yellow ball. There are also different balls for different tennis surfaces, so you can either get tennis balls for the type of surface you usually play on, or get tennis balls suitable for all types of courts.
Some players also pay attention to the fuzziness of the ball, as fluffier balls take away the power from the shot (but are perfect if you are playing against a player who has a powerful swing and you want to slow it down – you’re welcome).
There are so many brands and options to choose from, especially online. To give you an idea of a cost, Tennis Express currently charges Prince Tour Extra Duty Ball Can (3 pcs.) $3.99.
Tennis racket is one of the first things you’ll need, as you cannot play tennis without it. Tennis racket should be chosen carefully and main things to keep in mind when choosing are the grip size, the head size, length, flex, string patterns, weight and balance. The correct racket type will, of course, depend on your skill level and style of play.
Choosing the correct racket will definitely influence your performance, but more importantly, it will prevent game-related injuries, one of the most serious being the Tennis Elbow.
There are approx. 20 major racket brands out there to choose from, and such a wide variety of choice can create confusion and become overwhelming. There is no quick or exact answer to the above-mentioned question. The best thing would be to test a few rackets before you commit to buying. Taking test swings in the store is a good way to help you decide, but ideal would be is to test different kinds of rackets on the court. Try borrowing rackets form your tennis buddies, or seek for an advice from a professional at your local tennis club.
No player is the same – different players of same skill level have different preferences and, luckily, there are quite a few adjustments you can do to find the perfect racket. For example, even though you are a beginner, big rackets with heavy heads can be too much for you, especially if you are athletic. In this case, choosing a smaller head-size while leaving other specifications the same might do the trick.
When it comes to adults, their grip ranges from 4” (approx. 10 cm) to 4 and 5/8” (approx. 11.7 cm), but the easiest way to find your grip size is to take a measure from the middle like of your palm to the top of your middle finger.
When starting, the best would be to choose head-balanced racket with a large head ranging from 106 sq. in. (684 cm2) to 118 sq. in. (761.29 cm2). The reason for this is that a larger head transfers more power to the shot. Rackets with larger head sizes also provide larger hitting area and sweet spot.
The size of a standard racket for an adult would be 27" (68.6 cm) to 28” (71.1 cm), and it is recommended that the beginners start with the 27”. After you move past beginner tennis, you may decide to choose a longer (e.g. 29”/73.7 cm) racket, as it provides greater leverage on serves, more reach on groundstrokes and delivers more power to the shot.
If you are a beginner, recommended would be to buy a lightweight 9-10oz (255.1-283.5g) racket. Lighter constructions help the racket to swing easier and they put less stress on the arm. Heavy racket is more powerful, more stable and transfers less shock.
As for balance, baseline players and beginners usually choose the head heavy rackets (evenly balanced), as the add power and stability (they are slightly weighted near the top). On the other hand, intermediate and advanced players usually choose head-light or balanced rackets, however, a balanced racket is always a good choice in case you are not sure what to get.
The way you align your strings can also influence the way you play. Strings can be open or closed. Open strings enable you to deliver harder shot with a top spin, but are more likely to break. Closed strings enable more control and are more suitable for beginners. The materials used for strings are usually nylon, or titanium in some advanced rackets.
More flexible rackets ensure more power and the flexibility of a racket is expressed on a scale from 0-100, with 100 describing the stiffest one. The lower the number, the less power, but more control and comfortable feel. The higher the number, the more power, but a lot more vibrations following the contact. Most rackets are between 45 and 75.
Rackets are usually made from graphite, aluminum, titanium, boron, Kevlar and carbon fiber. Graphite and aluminum rackets are suitable for beginners, as they are light-weight and more powerful. Boron and Kevlar rackets are extremely light, but also extremely stiff. Aluminum rackets are the cheapest on the market and also heavy, while the boron, Kevlar and carbon fiber are most expensive.
Main characteristic is a large (oversized) head, light weight, longer style, stiff frame and are balanced head-heavy. Thanks to these characteristic, the racket is perfect when you want to add more power to your shot while hitting the ball with less effort (shorter, slower shots). These rackets are usually meant for beginner players, who haven’t developed correct technique yet, and for intermediate players. It is also a good choice for smaller or players who don’t have enough strength to deliver powerful shots.
Control rackets are opposite of power rackets - they have small heads (less power, but more exact strokes), flexible frame (more control as the ball sits longeron the racket), are a bit heavier (maintain high level of control), and are usually shorter (less leverage, but greater flexibility and control over the head). These rackets are mostly used by seasoned and professional players, since the racket is designed for players who have developed the proper technique and reached high level of fitness that enables them to generate their own power for the shot.
Tweener rackets fall between the power and control rackets (thus the name) and are suitable for tennis players of all skill levels and the main features are good power balance, flexibility and control. They have mid-sized head and length, mid-weight construction, are semi-stiff and balanced anywhere from slightly head-light to slightly head-heavy. They are an excellent choice for recreational (intermediate to advance) players seeking for advanced maneuverability, but also for beginners and younger players who are looking for more control.
Since the grip on your racket will get worn out in time, replacement grips are something you’ll probably need. Also, overgrips can be used in case the racket grip is slightly larger for your hand than it should be, so you can make it a perfect fit this way.
You can buy them at any tennis gear store or online store (Tennis Warehouse, Tennis Express, etc.) and there is also a wide variety of manufacturers, pack sizes and colors. And for tennis players who want to add a more personal and more creative touch to their game of tennis, we highly suggest you check out these guys that we came across on Instagram. They are called Alien Pros and they pride themselves in making tennis more fun. We agree.
Vibration absorbers or dampeners can also come handy. They are inserted between the racket strings to dampen shock resulting from ball impact. Lead tape is something that is used for experimenting with the weight of the frame.
Since you will be carrying lots of things with you, having a quality tennis bag is quite important. Think about your requirements and choose the one that would suit you the most (are you carrying one racket or more, one can of balls or more, extra clothes, a lot of accessories?). Having a bag that is too small or too big and does not suit your requirements is basically wasted money.
Besides tennis gear, always find room in your bag for a water bottle (and a big one), as hydration is essential, high-protection, water and sweat-resistant sunscreen (you wouldn’t believe how many tennis players’ skin gets affected by the sun), and a towel. Basic first aid kit or an ankle brace is also handy when in need, plus our moto is to always be safe than sorry, so just think about squeezing Ibuprofen, some anti-septic cream and athletic tape in your bag.
Tennis apparel went through a lot of changes over time, so the variety of choice and advanced fabric and production techniques that we see today are unbelievable. To get more sense about what kind of tennis clothes and tennis shoes you should be looking for, check out our blog post Tips on What to Wear When Playing Tennis.
Last updated: JUL 6, 2017