Role of Head Size and String Pattern (Impact On Performance)

John Lochert


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If you ever wondered how much impact a tennis racquet head size and string pattern can put on your performance, you have landed on the right page. In this article, we are going to teach you how important it is to consider the head size and string pattern to get the best performance according to your playing level (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

Brief Discussion on Head Size

different head size of tennis rackets

Well, racquet technology has been evolving tremendously since its birth. Nowadays every segment of a racquet is manufactured using the latest technologies keeping performance in mind. Brands like Babolat, Wilson, Head, Dunlop, Prince, and Yonex are ahead of the race in introducing the latest technologies to make a perfect tennis racquet for the modern era.

Apart from the technologies the size of the racquet head plays a significant role in terms of performance.

Let’s first know about the common head sizes that are being manufactured by the renowned brand and how we can categorize them.

We can categorize the head size into four types.

  • Mid.
  • Mid plus.
  • Oversized.
  • Super oversized.

Usually, the head size is measured in square inch units.

Any racquet that has a head size of 80-94 sq inches is considered mid-sized. If the head size is 95-105 sq inches then it is called mid plus size. The measurement of oversized is 106-119 sq inch and if it is 120-135 sq inch then it is considered the super oversized head.

Role of Head Size on the Performance

The head size plays a major role in the power and the control that a racquet can produce.

A larger head can produce a lot of power for you, on the other hand, a smaller head will provide you with less power and more control.

How does a larger head size produce more power?

The answer is very simple. A larger head means the extra space that allows the tennis ball to sink deeper into the string hence producing an extra rebound. So the ball will bounce back to your opponent with added power from your racquet.

According to the standard measurement practice, the oversized (95-105 sq inch), and super oversized (106-119 sq inch) racquets are considered to be power racquets. Most of the time these weigh lighter than the mid-sized or mid-plus sized.

The mid-sized (80-94 sq inch) and mid-plus sized (95-105 sq inch) head provide more control than the oversized and super oversized head. These ones produce power as well but not as much as the oversized or super oversized ones. Usually, these are heavier than the power racquets as well.

A larger head size means a larger hitting surface. So players get a larger hitting surface that provides a higher margin for error when hitting the ball.

When we talk about head size, the sweet spot is something that we must talk about. A sweet spot is a spot or point on the racquet/string bed where most of the power is transferred to the ball. If the ball hits on the sweet spot then very minimum force will be transferred to your hand. That means you will feel less vibration and better comfort.

So, a larger head size means a larger sweet spot. That means the larger head size allows you to hit the ball without thinking a lot about finding the perfect spot all the time.

Which head size should I choose?

First, decide your playing level.

Are you a complete beginner?

If so then you should go for the oversized (106-119 sq inch) or super oversized (120-135 sq inch) head as they provide power, bigger surface area, larger sweet spot hence less vibration, and better comfort for your wrist, a large margin for error. Typically these are lightweight racquets hence a perfect choice for a beginner.

If you are a strong beginner or intermediate player or advanced player then you can go for the mid (80-94 sq inch)  or mid-plus (95-105 sq inch). Why? Because at this level you have your own power to generate and all you need from your racquet is the control. Usually, these racquets are heavier than the oversized racquets but at this level of play, the weight should not be an issue for you.

If you are confused about which racquet to buy you can read our guide on best tennis racquet reviews here. There we reviewed racquets for beginners, intermediate players, and advanced players and also included a complete buying guide.

Now move on to the string pattern.

Brief Discussion on String Pattern

string pattern of rackets

The string bed is the place where the ball gets into contact with the racquet. The pattern of the string plays an important role in the performance as well. So, it is crucial to consider this when you are going to buy a tennis racquet.

Now, what the heck string pattern is?

A string pattern is the number of cross strings that you find on the racquet. So, it is the total number of strings that are placed vertically(main) and horizontally (cross). So for example, I am showing you a racquet where the string pattern is 18X20. That means here you will find 18 strings are laid out vertically and 20 strings are laid out horizontally.

You will find various string patterns but the most common ones are 16X18, 16X19, 16X20, and 18X20 but they are mostly divided into two categories.

  • Open string pattern.
  • Close string pattern.

For the sake of simplicity, we will be talking about two string patterns 16X19 (Open pattern) and 18X20 (Close pattern) that are most commonly found among the racquets.

Role of String Pattern on Racquet Performance

By now probably you can assume an open string pattern (16X19) means more space between the strings. This allows the ball to sink into the strings more resulting in a strong rebound and power.

As the spaces between the strings are wider for an open string pattern, this allows the racquet to provide more spin by biting the ball deep. To get the softer feeling open string is the right choice to go for.

On the other hand, the closed string pattern (18X20) provides more control due to more surface area touching the ball. This time the strings are laid down close to each other and they get a lot stiffer than the open string pattern.

A close/Dense string pattern will give you a more crisp feeling. While the durability and control is the benefit of a close pattern the other side of the coin is you have to sacrifice the extra power and spin that you can get from an open pattern.

Which string pattern should I go for?

Again, you may choose depending on your playing level.

If you are a complete beginner, you may want to go for the open string pattern to get the power and spin support.

If you are an intermediate or advanced player you probably want to go for the close string patterns to ensure control and a crisp feeling.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we tried to make you understand the different head sizes and string patterns and of course their roles in the performance. We also helped you with a guideline to choose the perfect one for you. Some other day we will be discussing the role of other segments of a tennis racquet. Till then take care. Don’t forget to comment below if you want to know anything more regarding head sizes and string patterns.