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I am in the market for a new tennis racquet and have been out of the loop for a while. When I bought my last racquet the oversized heads were all the rage but now they seem to have returned back to a more standard size.

What are the key differences to my game with different racquet sizes?

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All other things being equal:

  • A larger frame generates more power.
  • A larger frame is more resistant to twisting.
  • A larger frame has a larger sweet spot.

Smaller frames are known for control oriented play, ie serve and volley. With advancements in racket technology, many players are able to use larger frames without having to sacrifice control.

You should demo a few rackets, and discover what you like. If you a happen to prefer an oversize frame, then you should not be reluctant about the purchase, simply because it's an oversize frame.

  • a larger frame won't necessarily be more resistant to twisting - that will depend more on the weight and distribution of that weight (a.k.a "stability" of the racquet) and where on the stringbed they make contact - sweet spot or not. It also depends on how firm their wrist is when they make contact. – jamauss Jun 7 '12 at 16:41
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    According to the Racquet Service Techniques, a USRSA members-only publication (otherwise I'd provide the link), a larger racket is more resistant to twisting, all other factors being equal. So if 2 identical players are side by side, gripping the racket the same, holding rackets of identical weight and balance, the bigger one is more resistant to twisting - per the USRSA. – Richard Krajunus Jun 7 '12 at 16:53
  • That may be true - but if a player came to me asking what they can do to reduce the racquet from twisting in their hand - telling them to try a bigger head size probably wouldn't be in the top 3 things I tell them to try. – jamauss Jun 7 '12 at 22:06
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A few things to keep in mind in addition to Richard Krajnus's answer:

  • stiffness of the frame. This can also contribute to the amount of vibration the racquet produces when making contact.
  • beam width (generally ranges from about 18mm to 25mm) - this can contribute to how much you feel the ball on contact. A thinner beam is generally preferred by more advanced players.

Don't overlook how much the strings play a role in your experience also. I would say that more has changed in strings than in racquets over the past 5-10 years. Definitely demo a few racquets to get a feel for what specs you like best in a racquet.

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Most of the basics have been said by Richard. Only I would like to add that an oversized-head racquet can be a really dangerous choice.

The mechanics on these types of racquets are simple : most of the weight is concentrated on the head, so while they'll add significant power to your swings (because of the inertia created by your forearm speed), you will be wearing out your elbow. The reason being the enormous amount of vibration and power literally added by the head of the racquet to your swing.

You can see it this way : imagine a little kid, with a big baseball bat, if he can swing it, he will hit harder but not because of his own strength. Give him a little baseball bat and he will hit with less power.

In general, I'd say that your best choice is to go for small to mid-sized head racquets.

  • Over-sized heads will add power by compromising control and feel;
  • Small heads will give you more control and feel on your game, but they require more of your actual strength;
  • Mid-sized heads can be a good compromise if you're just looking for fun and comfort.

The same principles apply for the beam width. Now, as a general principle, experience beats theory. So why not try the racquet itself to see how it feels.

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