How to choose a racquetball racquet
Without a racquet, you cannot play racquetball. Without the right racquet, you cannot play your best game. Getting the right racquet is not always easy, but the effort it takes to find the right racquet is well worth it. Racquetball racquets are designed for different hand sizes, different swinging speeds, and different power levels. If you work to get exactly the right racquet, you will be able to take your game to the next level.
Get a grip on your game
Obviously, the first place you will grab your racquet is by its handle. The racquet handle is called «the grip.» Getting the right grip is a critical first step. The grip keeps you connected to the racquet. Whatever you want the racquet to do will be communicated to the racquet through the grip.
Grips come in different sizes and different styles. First, the sizes are XS and SS. The XS size refers to the Extra Small grip. Oddly enough, the Extra Small grip is the larger size of the two. It will measure about 3 7/8 inches in diameter and is designed for people with large hands. Sometimes people prone to elbow or shoulder pain will use the larger grip size.
The smaller grip size is the Super Small grip (SS). The SS grip is about 3 5/8 inches. The SS grip is the more popular of the two. Players often like it because it is easier to manipulate a smaller racquet, simply because there is more room for the hand to move around the grip.
Grip style is really a matter of preference. Some grips are wrapped with grip tape. Others are covered by a single piece of tacky material that slides over the handle. Some are black; others are clear. Choose the grip style that feels best to you.
Frame your best shot
The real essence of the racquet is found in the frame of the racquet. Racquet frames are made of metals, metal alloys, graphite, and silicone. No matter what substance makes up the frame, most newer racquets are incredibly strong and light. Basically, there are 3 main factors to consider in choosing your racquet frame.
Racquetball racquets do vary in size. Some racquets will have a total area of 106 sq. in., while others will have as little as 104 sq. in. The larger racquets such as ProKennex racquets have 108 sq. in. Racquet size matters, but it must be kept in balance with the shape and the weight of the racquet because each of these elements affects the swing of the racquet. In other words, a tennis racquet is larger but not necessarily better on the racquetball court. Size is not all that matters.
The shape of the racquet frame matters, too. Racquet manufacturers work non-step developing new frame shapes and styles to maximize strength, speed, and power. Ektelon is famous for making large, oversized string holes in order to maximize string flexibility, while minimizing frame weight. Get familiar with different styles. Do you prefer fan-shaped racquets or longer, more balanced racquets? Listen to what each manufacturer is trying to do with the racquet frame and go with what makes most sense to you.
The weight of the frame is critical. Racquet manufacturers will tell you how much the frame weighs before it has its strings. If the racquet weight is between 150 — 170 grams (unstrung), then it is a very light racquet. If the weight is between 170 — 185 grams, it is a medium light racquet. If the weight is more than 185 grams, it is a heavier racquet.
Weights are very important. Unless you are already a very good racquetball player, you will want to avoid the very light racquets. They are designed for professionals or people with high swing speeds. The recreational player does not have swing speed sufficient to use the very light racquet and could cause injury trying. If you are a new player, go with a heavier racquet.
Play your strings
Strings form the area of the racquet which absorbs the impact of the ball and sends it back toward the front wall with power. Most factory strings are good, synthetic strings and do not need to be changed. However, some racquets will be sold without strings. If so, you will need to know what strings to buy and how much tension to put on them.
Most strings will be a 16 or 17 guage, with a tension between 28 — 32. A higher string tension will provide more control. A lower string tension will offer more power. [People sometimes get those two facts mixed up]. Check the tension recommendation on the tags attached to the racquet to get the factory recommended settings. You may also speak to a trusted sports authority who does the re-stringing for more advice.
One important aspect of the strings is how they are put together on the frame. Specifically, higher quality racquets will have long strings running down the center of the racquet and deep into the handle of the racquet. This configuration of the strings is very important. The longer the strings, the more power the racquet is able to generate. Look for long strings in the central part of the racquet. Also, realize some manufacturers wrap the strings around the frame instead of running them through the handle. The strings are still long in the center; they just don’t go through the handle. Either way, the central strings should be long and wrapped, either deep into the handle or around a ring at the base of the racquet frame, near the grip.
Check to make sure the racquet has some type of guard around the top and corners. Playing racquetball requires striking the walls and even the floor on occasion. These guards may absorb the shock of such blows and keep your racquet from breaking, saving you from the heartbreaking loss of your favorite racquet.
Finally, you may wish to get a racquet which comes with a dampener on the strings. Some folks prefer to play with a dampener to minimize vibrations. Others like to feel every aspect of the contact. So, they don’t use the dampeners. High-quality racquets usually include a dampener which can either be used or discarded, according to player preference.
The price Is right
Buying the most expensive racquet does not mean you will get the best racquet. As stated above, racquets are designed for many factors such as hand size, swing speed, and swing power. The right racquet for you may cost only $89. If it is perfect for you, then it is the best racquet, regardless of the price.
Racquetball racquets for recreational and tournament players range in price from $20 to $200. Of course, you can find racquets even more expensive that this, but there is probably no need to look at those, unless you have sold your home and business and are headed on the racquetball road full-time.
Most will never reach that level of play. So, a $100 racquet is probably just fine. Don’t be afraid to spend $100 on a racquet. The right racquet will make an enormous difference in the caliber of your game. Consider each aspect mentioned above and get the right racquet to take your game to the next level.