If you’re a newcomer to the game, deciding on the best starter racket can be a bit of a minefield.
The tennis racket market these days is flooded with options – some cheap, some astronomical – all buried under an avalanche of jargon and technical language that can be difficult to decipher – especially if you’re new to the game.
As a coach I used to get a lot of newbies coming to lessons with rackets that were above their pay grade and difficult to handle or very cheap aluminium frames that in my opinion prevented them from reaching their potential.
That’s why we’ve hacked our way through the jargon jungle to present in our opinion the best beginner’s tennis rackets for you.
Our best overall pick was the Babolat Boost Drive which delivered on every aspect of our criteria and all for a very reasonable price.
But each racket brings its own plusses and minuses depending on your own expectations so be sure to check out all of our options in depth below.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall Beginner’s Racket – Babolat Boost Drive
Best Splash Out option – Babolat Pure Drive 107
Best for Ease of Use – Head Titanium Ti.S6
Best for Sheer Power – Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.3
Best for Control – Yonex Ezone Ace
Before we get into the recommendations themselves, a little note about what we’ve looked for when testing and reviewing these frames.
We’ll only be recommending frames that come prestrung. Many rackets, especially at the higher end, come without strings and require taking to a local pro shop to be professionally strung.
Not only is that a nuisance that you could do without, it’s going to add to your cost.
As your game develops you may well want to experiment with different string types at different tensions but in our view as a beginner that’s a subtlety that you don’t need to worry about.
You just need a racket that you can take straight out onto the court.
With one exception we’ve selected rackets that come in at a reasonable cost. There’s simply no point remortgaging your house before you’ve even swung a frame in anger.
The rackets we’ve chosen are all well built and good quality and while they’re not budget options they shouldn’t break the bank.
Ability to grow with you
If you take to the game and play regularly you’re likely to find yourself improving rapidly over the first year or so.
For that reason we’ve chosen rackets that can grow with you. Yes, you may look to upgrade as your game continues to improve but with these frames there’s no rush.
Large Sweet Spot
Our picks are all on the higher end when it comes to head size which means they offer greater power and have larger than average sweet spots. So even if you’re not hitting the ball dead centre of the string bed at first, you still have a chance to make a decent shot.
That’s important. As a beginner you could spend more time picking balls up from the net than actually working on your gameplay. And that’s a shortcut to frustration and an early retirement.
Over your first few months you’re going to be working muscles that you didn’t even know you had.
Your arms and joints will tire easily and after a long practice session you’ll be in need of a hot shower or ice bath.
We’ve chosen rackets that will make that transition as easy and pain free as possible. All are at the lighter end of the weight scale making them a breeze to swing while you build up strength.
We’ve ensured that all of the rackets recommended come from great and reliable manufacturers with plenty of user data and feedback.
These sticks have been extensively tested – not just by us – but by thousands of satisfied customers all over the world.
And with that we present to you…our selection of the best tennis rackets for beginners.
Babolat Boost Drive
Head Size: 105 sq in | Strung Weight: 272g | Composition: Graphite
- Light but surprisingly powerful
- Large sweet spot
- Great value!
- Not much that we can see
Our overall pick, Babolat’s Boost Drive ticks pretty much every box as a perfect starter stick.
Its 105sq in head gives it a generous sweet spot making it very forgiving to a beginner’s swing and it feels surprisingly powerful.
Despite that it’s lightweight and easy to manoeuvre which is handy when you’re concentrating on getting your racket back into position after each stroke.
Its open 16×19 string pattern is nice and grippy which is useful as you start to develop a bit of topspin.
Boost is Babolat’s entry level series and despite its graphite construction and design similarities to more expensive models they’ve managed to keep the price pretty reasonable for this level of racket.
It’s always been a big seller for them and we can see why. Impressed.
Babolat Pure Drive 107
Head Size: 107 sq in | Strung Weight: 301g | Composition: Graphite
- Large head size for a more advanced frame
- Will grow with you
- Great power
- Our priciest pick
- On the heavier side
“What’s this? I thought you were all in on the Boost?”
Well yes. It’s a great racket. But if you did have an extra few quid to play with, this Pure Drive is definitely worth a look.
Usually we wouldn’t recommend the Pure range to a newbie as it’s more of an intermediate racket. But as its name suggests the 107 comes with a very generous 107 sq in head size so it’s enormously forgiving.
And while it’s a little heavier than the Boost, 300g is not a lot for a racket offering this much power.
But while this is a superior racket and one which will definitely grow with you, we’d only recommend it if you already have a lot of natural strength in the upper body. Otherwise this could tire you out pretty fast.
Also, take note! The model we’re linking to at Amazon does come prestrung but you should check if you buy elsewhere – that may not always be the case.
Head Titanium Ti.S6
Head Size: 115 sq in | Strung Weight: 252g | Composition: Graphite/Titanium
- Extremely light
- Huge sweet spot
- Easy to use
- Difficult to graduate from
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Head TiS6 is how incredibly light it feels. Especially with its bordering-on-enormous head size.
The result is probably our most forgiving sweet spot and certainly the easiest on the joints. As one reviewer at Tennis Warehouse points out, “The Sweet spot is about the size of Cleveland”.
There’s no shortage of opinions on the TiS6 because it’s been on the market since way back in 1996. But that means it’s been doing something right and is probably the most well loved racket on here.
Some dismiss it as a ‘granny stick’ as it sells well to an older generation but that’s only because it’s incredibly light and easy to use.
The bad news? A head size this large may be a little tricky to graduate from. And if your game goes up a level you will be looking for a smaller face in a couple of years.
But until that time this is probably our easiest to use and most forgiving recommendation.
Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.3
Head Size: 110 sq in | Strung Weight: 255g | Composition: Graphite/Hyper Carbon
- Plenty of Power
- Feels hefty despite its light frame
- Good for baseliners
- Cumbersome at the net
- Tough on joints
Another old favourite that’s been selling well since the 90’s, the Wilson Hammer was this reviewer’s first racket of choice so excuse any nostalgia tinged bias.
I loved it for its incredible power despite being our second lightest frame. A lot of that comes from the fact that the weight it does have is balanced towards the head.
That gives it some needed heft and makes it good for generating momentum, especially when serving.
Many reviewers have noted though that it’s a little cumbersome for use at the net and although it delivers a punch the Carbon and Graphite frame doesn’t absorb much shock.
That means your body will take those vibrations and it can be tough on the joints. That might be fine for younger players but worth being aware of if you’re a more senior player.
Yonex EZone Ace
Head Size: 102 sq in | Strung Weight: 275g | Composition: Graphite
- Easy to manouevre
- Forgiving sweet spot
- Best for control
- Smaller head
Yonex is a brand you may be less familiar with but they’re an excellent manufacturer with a growing reputation.
And the Ezone Ace is a decent starter racket at the affordable end of the scale.
What you may notice right away is the slightly unusual Isometric head shape which marks it out from the other frames on our list.
Yonex claim it offers a 7% larger sweet spot than an oval face and while we can’t verify that claim we can say that the Ace is a really comfortable and forgiving racket.
At 102 sq in the head size is the smallest on our list and honestly right at the edge of what we’d recommend for a beginner but it does make it noticeably easier to manouevre.
It’s also less stiff than most of these other rackets so if you’re someone who suffers with your joints you’ll appreciate its ability to absorb shock and the additional control that brings.
What to look for when selecting your first tennis racket
If you’re looking for more in-depth advice to choosing a racket for any level take a look at our handy guide here. But when purchasing your first racket there are three main factors to consider:
As a new player your main focus should be on developing technique. Your swing, your stance, your footwork, your hand to eye coordination.
For that reason you need a racket that simply gets out of your way. It has to be easily manoeuvrable and lightweight.
The last thing you need is to be worrying about the strain on your wrist.
Newbies to the game are unlikely to have developed their ‘tennis muscles’. You need a racket that you can swing with ease for as many hours as you choose while that strength grows.
An adult racket’s length is more or less standard across the board but what will differ is the size of the head.
Why does it matter? Well, the larger the head size the larger the ‘sweet spot’ – aka the area in the middle of the string bed that will make the ball fly strong and true.
As a beginner that can be tricky to find so the larger the sweet spot the less frustrated you’re likely to be!
Also larger head sizes tend to offer greater power to your shots. Useful when you’re starting out and haven’t yet developed a lot of strength.
Head Sizes range from around 85 to 120 square inches and so you may choose to aim for the higher end of that as a beginner. One word of caution though – the very largest heads can be more cumbersome to swing and when you do graduate to a smaller head further along your tennis journey, a little difficult to adapt from.
Grip size is probably the most important to pay attention to as it’s the one factor that we can’t recommend for you. Your choice will depend entirely on the size of your hand and what’s comfortable for you.
Each frame that we’ve recommended will be available in a variety of grip sizes which you can select yourself in store or on the buying page of whichever site you choose.
A racket’s grip size is quite simply a measurement of the circumference of the handle which generally ranges from 4 inches for junior rackets to 4 and ⅝ inches at the top end.
In Europe that’s often expressed in millimetres or simply as a number between 0 and 5.
Depending on the manufacturer, that number may have the letter L in front of it so L1, L2, L3 etc.
See the table below for how those sizes are expressed.
There are two main methods for checking your tennis grip size.
The first – if you’re shopping in-store – is to hold the racket in your dominant hand as if you were shaking hands with it. Now place the index finger of your other hand between the fingers and your palm.
If the finger won’t fit then the grip is too small for you. If there’s space to spare the grip is too large.
Of course these days there’s a decent likelihood you’ll be buying online. If that’s the case we need a slightly more accurate method.
To determine your grip size without having a racket available, simply hold your dominant hand out flat and measure the distance from the top of your ring finger down to the lower of the two horizontal creases in your palm (also known as the bottom lateral crease).
This should give you a measurement somewhere between 4 and 4 ⅝ inches. That is your grip size. Now simply check our table above to convert for wherever you’re buying your racket.
For more in-depth advice please take a look at our guide to choosing the right grip size.
Our Overall Verdict
One thing that we’ve learned in putting this article together is that there are loads of great options these days when it comes to entry level rackets.
While you may veer towards a racket that focuses more on power or on control, as an all round option you really can’t go far wrong with the Babolat Boost Drive.
So make your choice, make your purchase and we’ll see you out on court.