Every child and teenager grows at a different speed. As each junior tennis player goes through their own growth spurt, their tennis racquet should grow with them as a racquet that is too light or heavy will have negative impacts on their swing.
So how do parents and coaches guide junior tennis players on this journey based on their ability, physical development and goals? Let’s explore the two main circumstances in which you would begin the process of upgrading a junior tennis racquet in general and then to an adult size – based on their height or age. At that stage, you can help your junior choose the right tennis string for their 26” junior or 27” adult racquet.
How to transition from a junior racquet to an adult racquet?
The first thing you should know is that a full length adult tennis racquet from Wilson, Head, Babolat or Yonex is 27 inches or roughly 69cm. A general rule of thumb is that any junior tennis player should be at least 12 years old depending on their height and strength before considering the switch from a 26” junior racquet to a 27” adult tennis racquet.
Height of junior tennis player:
A child’s height is a primary factor when choosing the length of the racquet as everyone grows at a different pace and hits a growth spurt at different times. It’s important not to rush the process of switching from a junior racquet to an adult one – the longer the tennis racquet, the tougher it is to train/work with and the more risk of an injury. A big no-no is choosing a racquet that is too heavy. Start light and add lead tape and work your way up (you can’t make a racquet lighter).
Tip: the racquet should not touch the ground when held by the junior tennis player’s side.
As your child holds the butt cap of the tennis racquet, see if their arm is comfortably extended and that the racquet head is not touching the ground. If he/she has to bend their arm to comfortably rest their hand on the handle or their hand doesn’t reach the handle, try another size.
Below is an infographic that outlines a basic guide based on age and height to the length of the tennis racquet.
Age/Height Vs Racquet Length Infographic
Each time your child switches to a larger sized racquet, there will be an adjustment period of getting used to a longer racquet, different sweet spot and contact zone compared to their old racquet. A heavier racquet also comes with a slightly slower swing speed until your junior tennis player adjusts. We would definitely suggest allowing a few weeks for them to get used to the new changes.
Age of junior tennis player:
Junior tennis players between the ages of 2 and 10 should roughly go by the tip mentioned above of standing up straight and holding the bottom of the racquet handle in the palm of their hand. Junior racquets sized between 19 inches (48cm) and 26 inches (66cm) come in different grip sizes and are weighted head heavy to help develop their strokes.
From the age of 12 upwards, your young competitor may have developed their wrist strength and be ready for a full length 27” (69cm) adult size tennis racquet. Again, let us highlight the importance of choosing lighter than heavier first because you can always add lead tape as they continue to grow in strength but you can’t make a racquet lighter. See our range of junior tennis racquets for your developing tennis player.
Bear in mind that longer and heavier racquets require more strength to use. If your junior tennis player does not have the strength, they will compensate by changing their stroke and compromising their technique (using less wrist and lose spin and control). When this happens, the tennis racquet will be closer to their body and he/she will tuck in their arm (losing power in the long run) and risk injury at a tender age.
- Wrist: strengthening a child’s wrist to use spin on a heavier/longer racquet is doable with wrist-specific drills but it will grow naturally on its own with the proper sized racquet. Valuable lesson time could/should be spent working on more important parts of their game.
- Arm tucking: A bent arm forehand is an incredibly difficult habit to break. While it doesn’t mean it’s a bad stroke, it isn’t the best and can lead to injury.
If your racquet is too light or is head-heavy, more shock can be transferred to your arm, wrist, elbow and shoulder on ball contact which can also lead to injury. Our blog page will have more information on how to prevent common tennis injuries.