A frequently overlooked specification of tennis rackets is their length. The length of a tennis racket affects many aspects of a players game, as this article will prove.
The greater the length of a tennis racket, the greater the force a player can put behind the ball. Therefore, a longer racket can obviously produce more power than a shorter racket. To put this to the test, one need only try hitting a shot with a junior racket and then a full sized adult racket. Unsurprisingly the outcome is that the longer, adult racket helps the player to hit the ball with the most power.
It will come as no shock, that a longer racket also gives players a greater reach – which is the ability to hit the ball despite it being far away from the body. For example, if an opponent were to play a drop shot against you in a match, a longer racket would mean you could make contact from distance and without having to track it down with your feet completely. In a lengthy and arduous match, this of course preserves a great deal of energy, particularly for professional players, who can reach and stretch several feet to return a ball. A further reach can help with the serve too. If a player can serve from a higher point, then it is easier to guide the ball into the service box as they have a better vertical angle at which they can serve the ball. This explains why taller tennis players usually have more effective serves, and more room for error.
So far, it seems that the longer the racket, the better, for players of all abilities; this however is not entirely true. Whilst longer rackets do increase reach and power, they are more difficult to control. The first reason for this is that longer rackets and generally heavier and thus more challenging to move, in particular when fast hands are needed for volleying at the net. Secondly, players will need to move their feet quickly with a longer racket when shots are played close to the body in order to hit the ball with perfect technique. With a shorter racket, players can afford to be much closer to the ball instead.
Clearly, the length of tennis rackets matters much more than we all think. Despite lengthier rackets maximizing reach and power, they also call upon more skill from the player with regards to footwork and hand speed. Taking this into consideration, carefully select the length of your racket, and only take the step up to a longer racket when you know you can fully reap the rewards.