Of course, each has its place but usually one comes at the cost of the other.
If you’re a player who prefers to beat an opponent with precision and point building rather than brute force you won’t need the latest mega hammer smash monster.
Likewise if you’re an advanced player – or even just a very physically strong beginner – who can generate their own power you might prefer a stick that will allow you the additional precision that your game demands.
Either way control racquets tend to be aimed at decent players who put a premium on precise shot placement. They want a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. A racquet they can rely on for consistency of stroke and a reliable response.
If that’s you, you’re in the right place.
Our favourite control racket overall is the Wilson Pro Staff 97 which ticks all of our boxes. But if you’re after a more tailored recommendation, read on…
Our Top Seven
Best Control Racket Overall – Wilson Pro Staff 97 V14
Runner Up – Babolat Pure Strike VS
Best for Control and Feel – Tecnifibre TF40 305
Best for Control and Power – Head Radical MP 2023
Best for Control and Manouevrability – Yonex VCore 95
Best for Control and Comfort – Dunlop CX 200 Tour 18×20
Best for Control and Speed – Prince Phantom 93P 18×20
Before we get into the reviews a quick word on what we’ve looked for when making our selections. In other words – what do we mean by a control racket?
Smaller Head Size
Over recent decades rackets have tended towards more and more power to suit the modern game meaning that head sizes have grown.
Larger head sizes mean greater trampoline effect off the string bed but that comes at a cost.
Greater trampoline effect causes more variation in the way the ball responds, less consistency and therefore less control.
Not only that but the more bulky the frame the more difficult it is to swing with accuracy.
That’s why we’ve avoided any oversize heads.
Dense String Pattern
String pattern refers to the number of main strings and crossstrings contained in the racket’s head.
An open string pattern such as 16×19 means more spacing between strings and allows for more movement which like a large head gives more variability to your shots.
Tighter string patterns such as 18×20 provide a firmer, flatter stroke with more consistent shot-making.
As you’ll have seen in our guide to rackets for tennis elbow, the more flexible a racket, the more comfortable it is on the joints. The racket absorbs a lot of the power of the opponent’s shot.
The downside is that power isn’t transferred back into your returns. The upside is that it’s much easier to control your opponent’s power and hit a more accurate, placed shot.
For that reason our picks tend to be low stiffness which you’ll see expressed in their RA rating.
So let’s get into it as we present our best tennis rackets for control…
Head Size: 97 sq in | String Pattern: 16×19 | Stiffness: 66 RA
- Extremely consistent response
- Precision strokes
- Great power for a control racket
Regular readers won’t be surprised to find the Wilson Pro Staff make the list. This took the top spot in our list of best tennis rackets for advanced players and guess what – it’s great for control.
This latest iteration comes in a little heftier than the 13th model giving it a decent amount of plough through on shots but it still retains the precision that has made this line so popular.
That means that – assuming you have the strength to wield it – you’re getting the best of all worlds. Great power and perfect precision.
Groundstrokes ping crisply off the string bed allowing you to hit the lines with relative ease and incredible consistency. Returning big serves is a breeze as the racket’s stable enough to redirect the pace wherever you want it.
That ability to absorb your opponent’s power comes from Wilson’s Paradigm Bending tech which gives a good amount of flex making for a smooth, comfortable swing.
Although strictly speaking this incorporates a 16×19 string pattern Wilson uses something called String Mapping which offers a denser more control-oriented pattern at the sweet spot allowing any mishits at the edges of the string bed to make use of the more forgiving, more open pattern.
All in all, if you can handle the high 330g swingweight this is a brilliant choice.
Head Size: 97sq in | String Pattern: 16×20 | Stiffness: 63 RA
- Babolat’s most precise stick
- Great speed and manoeuvrability
- Nice flex
- Too weighty for most newbies
If you’re a Babolat Bro looking for control the Pure Strike range is the one for you.
The VS is for us the pinnacle of that range, featuring a smaller 97 inch head size making it the most precise and manoeuvrable of all their rackets.
If you’re looking to control matches by moving your opponent around the court you need pinpoint accuracy and the VS provides that.
Our only criticisms of Babolats in the past have centred around their extreme bone-rattling stiffness but this model incorporates their Control Frame tech adding flexibility to the shaft which does in truth help a lot. Especially when controlling the pace of your opponent.
Like the Pro Staff above this comes in at a chunky 330g when strung so you need to make sure you can handle that weight. If you can you’ll be rewarded with a speedy, accurate weapon with enough pace to frighten most opponents.
Head Size: 98sq in | String Pattern: 18×20 | Stiffness: 64 RA
- Plush feel
- Clinical response
- Lacks free power
Quick word of warning! This Tecnifibre is also available in a more open 16×19 string pattern so if you’re looking for control make sure you get the 18×20.
If you do you’ll be rewarded with a really accurate and consistent frame with a surprisingly plush feel.
Although it doesn’t have the extreme spin of the 16×19 it still generates enough topspin to land your groundstrokes on the baseline.
The TF40 has a small but extremely passionate fanbase drawn to its incredibly comfortable and crisp response. It’s consistent and clinical from the baseline or the net, allowing you to construct points and play smart.
It might lack real bruising power but if you’re here for control and exemplary feel it’s a really good choice.
Head Size: 98sq in | String Pattern: 16×19 | Stiffness: 65 RA
- Offers lots of power
- Solid feel
- Strong at the net
- Good all rounder
- Doesn’t excel at any one thing
If you need an element of control but aren’t ready to give up your power entirely, The Radical MP is a decent shout.
Despite its 98inch head size, the MP’s 16×19 string pattern gives a little more pop off the racket. Saying that, their Control Pattern spacing is tighter than most at the centre of the frame so it still allows a good amount of reliable precision.
Reactions at the net are pretty fast due to its relatively light weight while Head’s famed Graphene 360 construction makes for a really solid but soft feel. Great for redirecting an opponent’s pace, especially on return of serve.
All in all it’s a really good all rounder with a focus on control although if we had a criticism it would be that it’s a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Head Size: 95 sq in | String Pattern: 16×20 | Stiffness: 61 RA
- Quick and slick
- Large sweet spot for a small head
- Lightweight yet stable
- Too compact for a newbie
The VCore 95 is a really interesting beast. There aren’t many 95 inch head sizes on the market these days and that coupled with the surprisingly low swingweight for such an advanced frame makes for a really speedy and manoeuvrable stick.
You might think that would come at the cost of a smaller sweet spot but Yonex have slightly tweaked their Isometric head shape meaning this feels as playable as a much larger racket. It’s pretty forgiving.
Despite being so lightweight it feels remarkably stable in the hand and is able to absorb an opponent’s fury and give a little back too. The consistency in its response allows you to hit bigger strokes with confidence.
To be honest, the head size is so small that we couldn’t recommend this for a newbie but if you’re a decent level player who appreciates playing fast and getting around the court this is a good pick.
Head Size: 95sq in | String Pattern: 18×20 | Stiffness: 62 RA
- Comfort and control
- Decent for spin
- Buttery feel
- Lacks power
Speaking of compact heads this CX 200 Tour also clocks in at just 95 sq in making it a rare find for the old school surgical shot-maker.
Everything about this stick seems designed for comfort. It’s nice and flexible so kind on the joints and includes Dunlop’s Flexbooster tech, a layer of rubber in the shaft to absorb harsh vibes. The head is constructed with a mix of graphite and what they call Sonic Core which is designed to minimise shock.
The 18×20 string pattern gives a super consistent response and makes it easy to move your opponent around the court although the strings are slightly more spaced out than many rackets of this class so you still get a decent bit of spin.
Despite its comfort and precision this is probably the least powerful choice on our list. You really need to bring your own heft to the party. But if you’re keen on supreme accuracy and a really buttery soft feel then this is worth your time.
Head Size: 93sq in | String Pattern: 18×20 | Stiffness: 60 RA
- Scalpel-like precision
- Extremely compact head
- Lacking in spin
The word that best describes the Phantom 93P is scalpel. Everything about it from its throwback 93 inch head to its dense string pattern screams precision and control.
At mid 340 grams when strung this is the heaviest racket on our list so you’ll need good strength to wield this fully but if you have that the rewards are pinpoint accuracy and ability to hit the corners with consistency.
If you can get your racket back early and give it plenty of whip there is spin to be had here but to be honest this stick is probably for players who favour a flatter shot. For that reason it’s particularly strong at the net, with flat volleys easy to put away if you get your angles right.
How to choose the right control racquet for you
Although control rackets have a lot of similarities in terms of features, there are variations to consider when making a purchase. If you’re after more detail on any of the below make sure to check out our guide to choosing a tennis racket.
What kind of player are you?
Does your game rely on a lot of spin? Would you miss the ability to whip a ball and bring it down on the baseline? If so you should aim for a slightly more open string pattern. The top two on our list, the Wilson Pro Staff and the Babolat Pure Strike are great control rackets but also offer a decent amount of spin.
They’re also a good choice if you’re not prepared to compromise too much on power as is the Head Radical MP.
If you’re a beginner you need to be extra careful when it comes to control rackets. Most are heavy and have compact head sizes which make them unsuitable for a newbie. Likewise if you lack a lot of natural strength you should be looking for a lighter weight racket. It doesn’t matter how accurate the racket, if you can’t swing it because your arm is exhausted you’ll never hit those lines.
What’s your preferred string set up?
If you like the look of one of these rackets but you want to get a bit more power or spin, your string choice and tension can go a long way to modifying the frame to your needs.
Check out our guide to string tension for more.
Of course with any big purchase you have to consider what level of budget is comfortable for you. The frames on our list are all from quality manufacturers and will last a long time so it may be worth spending a little more to make sure you get a racket that’s right for you.
Also, bear in mind we’ve selected the very latest of all of these models but often the previous incarnation is still available and for a much more appealing price.
Taking Back Control
Hopefully this guide has given you a good idea of what to look for if you want to play more accurate, controlled tennis.
We don’t think you can go far wrong with the Wilson Pro Staff 97. It’s just an excellent racket all round as well as being a precision tool.
If on reflection you need a lighter more user-friendly racket make sure to check out our guide to the best tennis rackets for beginners.