Oh No – I need to buy a new tennis racket!

…it is difficult, but doesn’t need to be stressful

With new rackets from the major manufacturers come claims of new materials, new properties and fantastic performance characteristics. How can the normal player analyse and process these claims and make a purchase decision based on the information provided?

For example, so far in 2019 we have seen the launch of several new rackets such as:

Dunlop CX Series

Dunlop CX SeriesDunlop CX Series Tennis Racket with the claim “exciting new technology – Sonic Core made with Infinergy®, by BASF – a super elastic material, with the benefit of being very light, the perfect match to meet the demands of the modern day player.”

Wilson Clash Series

Wilson CLASH seriesWison Clash Series Tennis Racket with the claim “worlds first racket intentionally engineered to bend with any swing style and allowing players to swing freely and confidently with maximum ball pocketing and ultimate control. Mix that with Stablesmart, which is a unique frame geometry, designed through digital simulation, provides the best in class stability and power for the most flexible frame in tennis.”

Advances in technology which tennis equipment has seen over the last 30 years have improved the ability of the mid-level and lower-level players to strike the ball more powerfully and increase the amount of spin they put on the ball. Add into this the advances in training regimes, nutrition and professionalism, allied to the technological progress, have taken the top level players up an even bigger notch.

But, does any of that help when you’re starting to look for a new racket?

Let’s say that you equip your tennis bag in ‘economy mode’ and have two current rackets. For the time being we’ll ignore the previous models you carry around in your bag just in case disaster strikes and you break the strings or frame in your two current rackets during the same match!

So, lets say your current rackets are a couple of years old and the model is no longer manufactured – which is likely to be the case as ranges tend to cycle in that period of time.

You break a frame – it happens to us all sometimes – what do you do now?

Pulling out the 5 year old frames in the bag – they just don’t feel the same and swapping between your remaining new one and the old ones brings back those reoccurring injuries. Similarly, in the past when you have bought just one new racket you have the same problem swapping between the new and the now ‘old’ one. So, the conclusion is you need a couple of new rackets.

Choosing a new racket

Which brand, what racket do you buy? How do you choose?

There’s a black hole of information available for rackets, official and unofficial information and opinions. Wading through the nonsense to find the important information is a full time job at the best of times. You’ll end up scanning spec sheets, technology overviews and twisted words of reviewers leaving you with very little usable information to help you make the decision.

You will talk to friends and other players at the club and they’ll try to help, they’ll give you the best advice they can. But their style of play may be fundamentally different from yours. They might not suffer with the elbow or wrist issues you have – and frankly they might not be any better informed about recent progresses in technology than you are.

You might even borrow one (or more) of your friends rackets for a quick hit. But how do you compare the feel of some very different rackets when the string type and tension are very different not to mention that the grip size, weight, balance point and every other parameter you can think.

Once you have taken all this into account you can look on the internet and find the cheapest available racket of the type you think you might want and buy it. You’ll probably only get one at this point because you are not sure that you will get on with it – and you’ll hope that the same racket will still be around in a few weeks if you figure you like it and you want to buy your spare. Of course the spare might well be the same brand and possibly even from the same batch but it probably won’t weigh the same or even feel the same when you first play with it.

Oh dear! No wonder people put off the racket buying process for as long as they can – it’s a minefield and doesn’t come with anything close to a guarantee of success.

Visit your local professional racket specialist shop

Alternatively, you can visit your local professional racket specialist shop and start talking to the experts who are there to help you.

To start with you’ll get to explain what you play with now and why you like it (or possibly even why you did when you bought it but not so much any more). You’ll probably be invited to talk about your style of play, your standard and the sorts of people you regularly play with and against – who can resist that opportunity – talk about yourself and there is a benefit at the end of it! If you are lucky enough to have a truly local racket specialist shop then they will probably know you anyway and will definitely know some of the people you play with and against.

Then you’ll be invited to look at and handle a few rackets. Don’t underestimate the value of a racket that looks good, if you go on court knowing you have a seriously nice looking racket in your hand and everyone asks you about it – you’ll come off feeling good no matter what the result!

Having narrowed the choice down by discussing what you’re looking for from the racket and taking into account your budget we can then pick out some rackets for you to demo. Yes, you’ll be given a couple of rackets worth hundreds of pounds to walk out of the shop with and invited to go play some sets with them to see which feels the best.

It could well be that after a few days or a week with the rackets you go back in and have another chat. The rackets might have been great BUT… Or, they might have felt horrible. Or, if you are truly lucky, you might want to buy them now because they tick all the boxes for you.

Don’t worry it really doesn’t matter if the first rackets you demo didn’t feel quite right – as long as you can explain why then we can look to find you another demo that will hopefully tick all the boxes and address the short comings of the first demos.

Where to buy?

Having been in to see us a few times and managed to get out on court to try the rackets you will come out with the decision made! You will know the racket you want to take on court with you! When its comes to the time to buy you’re tempted to search around online for a price but your local racket specialist will look after you too, we understand that rackets are expensive things and will always offer you our best deal possi ble. Don’t forget though, you’ve just had demo rackets free of charge and a wealth of knowledge from us in-store – which has got to be worth something. Without the help you would still be floating in the no mans land of the racket world.

…and why!

Of course, it’s possible that everyone could spend the time choosing their new rackets in their local racket specialist shop, rely on their knowledge and expertise and willingness to provide trial rackets and then go online to buy the same racket just to save a few quid. But if you do – don’t be surprised if in a couple of years when “Oh No – I need to buy a new tennis racket!” happens – the local racket specialist isn’t around to provide the friendly, professional advice that gave you a couple of years of enjoyment.