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Tennis & Racket Sports

  • Choosing a badminton racquet is all about personal preference. What works for one player doesn't always work for another, particularly true if you're dealing with different skill levels. For beginners just learning the basics of the game, you may want to be frugal with your racquet choice and be careful not to purchase one too advanced for you.For starters, these best badminton racquets we’ve chosen (with the exception of the Wilson which is intended more for casual use) meet standard game specifications with  accepted length being 680 mm and total head width not exceed 230 mm with the standard weight of a regulation racquet being 100 grams.Weight plays an important part in the development of freshman players and trying to overcompensate for using a heavy racquet could develop bad habits in arm and wrist movement. When looking for a racquet, the weight will be graded by designations 1U, 2U, 3U and 4U, running from heaviest to lightest in that order. Since this is a matter for the player to decide, we made sure each of our picks are available in a range of these weight designations.We also looked at the materials used in the construction of each racquet, with these picks all incorporating a mix of various different components for quality, durability, and flexibility to suit just about any type of game play. Elements such as graphite, steel, and carbon will factor into the weight of the racquet in your hand. Some players prefer a heavier frame and shaft for more power, others like a faster option made of lighter materials for speed and response. We urge you to see for yourself which materials you prefer.Grip is also an important component of any good racquet, and almost all of our picks provide a variety of choices starting from largest to smallest (G2, G3, G4, and G5). For example, some aggressive players select a bigger grip versus players gravitating towards a smaller grip so the racquet maneuvers better in their hand. You can decide which grip size is the best by grabbing couple and give them a swing before you make a final purchasing decision.
    October 21, 2015
  • Tennis racquet technology has advanced a long way from the times of stars like Jack Kramer and Stan Smith. Wooden racquets have since been replaced by graphite and other composites offering tremendous power without sacrificing much control. Today's racquets also offer a wide range of playing capabilities, benefiting beginning players, juniors, seniors, individuals who favor a baseline game, a net game, you name it. If you're looking for a new tennis racquet, check out our lists of best tennis racquets in the specific area you're looking for. Also, take the time to read our tennis racquet buyer's guide for a detailed look at the trade-offs involved in choosing a racquet best for you.
    February 23, 2015
  • All suitable tennis balls have to conform to standard size and weights restrictions. They have to be between 2.575–2.700 inches and they have to weigh between 1.975–2.095 ounces. I'm old enough to remember when tennis balls were all white, but in 1972 the current "optic yellow" (a vibrant chartreuse) was introduced and later became the standard. If you search, you can find tennis balls in other colors, but we'll stay with the basics here.When you play tennis you have a wide range of options for tennis balls. The ball makers designate their products as being in the categories of recreational, championship, or professional. Serious tennis players will opt for championship or professional quality tennis balls, but the best tennis balls for you depend on your level of play and what you are going to be using the balls for. For example, if you are using a ball machine, then "practice" balls may be perfectly fine for you. These are often either used pressurized balls or new pressure-less balls.If you are playing on a clay court, there are balls designed specifically for that surface. If you are playing at high altitudes, then it's important to consider high-altitude balls because regular pressurized balls will fly noticeably faster at 4,000 or more feet above sea level.On a hard court it helps to look for heavy duty felt balls rather than regular duty, which will wear out faster and are better for softer surfaces. Here are the best choices for tennis balls as each of these picks meet the required above specifications, the quality of production is reliable, and their quality of play is consistent.
    November 07, 2014
  • Once you get serious about tennis, you need a ball hopper. Try going out to practice 100 serves without one and you'll be bending over to pick up the balls more than hitting serves. The basics of ball hoppers are very simple. They’re designed to hold a specific capacity of tennis balls, and they can be categorized into two groups: those you pick up and carry around and others you wheel around.The ones you carry around are smaller and allow you to place the hopper on top of a ball, push down, and have it go in the basket by squeezing through the metal frame, or you can open the top and place the balls in the basket that way as well. The ones you wheel around are generally intended for when you have hundreds of balls at a time and it’s just too cumbersome to lift all those balls in a hand basket. Wheeled hoppers will have a tray that disengages from the hopper so the balls can be poured into a smaller hopper or a ball machine.By the way, there are only a few standard brands in ball hoppers: Gamma, Wilson, and perhaps Hoag. After doing the comparisons, for the standard models we strongly recommend Gamm products. However, there's a kid and grown up-friendly friendly brand called Hop-A-Razzi who manufacture ball hoppers in a plethora of colors, with good features such as wheels to make it easier for juniors.With any hopper, look for a simple warranty or return policy when you purchase a hopper (regardless of brand) from your favorite outlet just in case you find that you need more or less capacity, or one with an additional feature.The following ball hoppers have varying capacities so you can choose the one that's best for your needs. The hopper with a capacity of 50 balls tops our list because that's where most people will start, but it all depends on your individual needs. The hoppers listed here each are made with sturdy materials which are welded when appropriate, weather resistant, and designed to last through years of practical use.
    October 10, 2014
  • Tennis strings are just as important as the racket because you can get a racket to demo and find it's just awful, but if it would have had a different string, it might actually have been a really good fit for you. You need to expect to experiment with strings before finding what works best for you, your racket, your style of play, and perhaps any injuries that you may be dealing with.Gut strings are sometimes called "catgut" but actually no cats are harmed making gut strings but cows aren't so lucky. Gut is the most expensive choice and perhaps not the best choice for most players. Gut tends to fray and if you’re hard hitting using a lot of topspin, you'll be restringing your rackets frequently. For playability, you will get a better feel from gut as compared to multifilament (and certainly compared to polyester), but I doubt most recreational and even moderately competitive players would notice a real improvement in their game with gut. Personally, I've played with many brands and types of gut and occasionally I've had a magic string job that I hoped would never break. Sadly, it's only been occasionally, so you'll see that reflected in the best list that follows.Multi-filament strings are most commonly made of nylon or other materials and are intended to play like gut, or at least as close at the manufacturer wants to get for the price. There are some multi-filament strings that really do play like gut for a time, but that time is usually just before they break. Still, these strings are very cost effective and offer great control with less strain on your arm. All other things being equal, I'd suggest beginning players start with these strings until they develop a game that can really benefit from gut or polyester.The polyester string, or "poly," is the other main alternative. It's much stiffer than multifilament strings and variations of the poly design are available from firms such as Luxilon and Babolat that have proprietary blends of poly and other materials. Sometimes you'll see a polyester string described as a monofilament so don't confuse that with multi-filament softer strings. Ask a tennis pro if you have any doubt about what you're getting.The options for strings vary considerably. There's a range of tension from loose to tight, and the same string will play very differently at the limits of the recommended range. There's the string gauge, ranging generally from 15-18, with 18 being thinnest. 16 is the common gauge that most players will find but again the same string in different gauges will play very differently. Finally, you can opt to hybridize two different types of string. For example, Roger Federer famously uses Wilson gut in the main strings at 48.5 pounds of tension and poly (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough) in the cross strings at 45 pounds of tension.The strings on this best list have some common characteristics. Of the strings I've tried, these are the best in their class. These strings play consistently from one string set to the next and they generally don't play too much differently after several sets when their tension is much lower than the original string job. Still, string tension, gauge, composition, and feel can be very subjective and will vary by your choice of racket. So ultimately you should use this list as a starting point for your exploration of what works best for you.
    September 23, 2014
  • There are hundreds of racquetball racquets available today and finding the right one can be a daunting task. To get the racquet that suits you best, you need to consider weight, head shape, materials, grip, and string bed. Racquets generally weigh between 160 grams and 245 grams. Players who are just learning the game should start out with a heavier racquet (though not too heavy that they can’t swing it properly). Heavier racquets generate more power and accuracy. Lighter racquets require the player to have more accuracy, but are great for generating a faster swing and allow for more maneuverability. Beginners should also start out with a larger racquet as these have a larger sweet spot, have a greater margin for error, and generate more power. Smaller racquets are better for control and allow you to hit shots closer to the wall. Racquets made with materials such as graphite are stiffer and help you gain more power and force on your shots. It is important to learn a little about the specifics of the racquets before purchasing one so you can choose the right one for your skill level.
    May 13, 2013