Right tennis racket for my junior?

digidoc15

New User
A coach of my 7 and 5year 10 month old recommended us to upgrade their rackets to bigger sizes. My 7 uses a babolat pure aero 25. Coach recommends to upgrade to either a good 26 or a lite full size racket with 0 to 1/4 grip. He's a 52 pound athletic tall boy who according to the coach has very good strokes. He wants us to upgrade from 23 to 25 for my younger son. He's around the same weight, very tall and plays good too.

I originally thought I have at least a year to upgrade. Now I'm a little confused what to buy. I'm considering a babolat pure aero 26 or pure drive lite 27 4_1/4 for my 7 year old and moving my younger to the pure aero 25. Hopefully I'm not pushing them towards injury. Should I just upgrade to 26 and not think about full size for my older one? I'm a little inclined towards babolat because my son loves nadal but I'm open to any other good rackets and should be able to convince him. Any insights on this topic will be very helpful, Thanks.

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haqq777

Legend
A coach of my 7 and 5year 10 month old recommended us to upgrade their rackets to bigger sizes. My 7 uses a babolat pure aero 25. Coach recommends to upgrade to either a good 26 or a lite full size racket with 0 to 1/4 grip. He's a 52 pound athletic tall boy who according to the coach has very good strokes. He wants us to upgrade from 23 to 25 for my younger son. He's around the same weight, very tall and plays good too.

I originally thought I have at least a year to upgrade. Now I'm a little confused what to buy. I'm considering a babolat pure aero 26 or pure drive lite 27 4_1/4 for my 7 year old and moving my younger to the pure aero 25. Hopefully I'm not pushing them towards injury. Should I just upgrade to 26 and not think about full size for my older one? I'm a little inclined towards babolat because my son loves nadal but I'm open to any other good rackets and should be able to convince him. Any insights on this topic will be very helpful, Thanks.

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Hi @digidoc15 - as poster above commented, both your sons are using the right length raqcuets for their age. Ahead of the curve already actually, in my view.

In fact, USTA rules say that for all orange ball tournaments racquet length should not exceed 25inch (assuming you are in the US). If your 7 year old has already progressed to green balls, then you can look into longer racquets obviously but most coaches do not like to rush into advancing to bigger racquets. I have a two and a half year old so I was looking into this myself (a bit early I know but he shows a lot of interest in tennis). There are some good resources out there including USTA that talk about age and racquet length. Here is a quick chart just for guideline from tenniscompanion.org:

TW website also has good info on this, you can filter racquets by age group there and see that they concur with this general age guideline. Hope it helps. Best of luck and happy hitting.
 
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sma1001

Hall of Fame
Great post from @haqqani1777 above. It never ceases to amaze me when people try to force juniors into racquets that are too long or heavy for them. That does no good at all for technique development. The opposite in fact.

Once available in the relevant length class go for graphite frames, they are much better. Below 25 however it may be graphite composite and aluminium.
 

AMGF

Hall of Fame
I'll be the one who disagrees.

Here's what Mark Papas had to say about this:

"Tennis Racquet Recommendations

I get a lot of email asking me to recommend a tennis racquet. I'm a stickler for head-light or evenly balanced racquets, and I think kids 6 years and older should use an adult 27 inch racquet.

Junior Racquets

The racquet business wants you to buy 2 tinny racquets before you buy an adult one. They want you to start with a small 23 incher, then "grow" into a 25 incher, sometimes a 26 incher (which is expensive!), and then you get the adult one. Nonsense, just one starter racquet is enough, and forget about the teeny 23 inch racquets, even for a 3 or 4 year old. Start with a 24 or 25 incher. Once your little one's on his/her way hitting the ball over the net you should put a real racquet in their hand, it will lead them in the right direction. Sure, they'll struggle in the beginning, but the extra heft helps to both increase muscle strength quickly and better develop the stroke. Ever hit with one of those teeny racquets? They're crap, they don't provide any feedback to develop the tennis arm and stroke, and their light weight only serves to develop sloppy swinging habits."

IMHO, give the 25in to the young one and buy a lightweight 27" for the 7yo. The Steam 99LS is very lightweight and a bit HL. But you can always check on racquetfinder to find other lightweight frames in 27in.
 
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pvw_tf

Rookie
Always interesting to see these discussions. Was recently at Little Mo Florida. I saw many young kids (8, 9 - 10) playing with full size, wonderful stiff rackets, many of them strung with poly which was in there for long. Maybe try to play yourself with a 28 or if possible a 28.5 inch and see how easy it is. That is sort of what young kids experience when they play with full size rackets. A full size racket will give more speed and maybe win a few matches in the short run. But good for the development of a player well there is no general agreement here.

So you can guess I am by far not in favor of moving kids to full size stiff rackets. So the steam is for sure not my recommendation. Take a look at the Junior Rackets of Tecnifibre. Not stiff, good weight and balance, there are more racket to be selected.

Peter
 

AMGF

Hall of Fame
Always interesting to see these discussions. Was recently at Little Mo Florida. I saw many young kids (8, 9 - 10) playing with full size, wonderful stiff rackets, many of them strung with poly which was in there for long. Maybe try to play yourself with a 28 or if possible a 28.5 inch and see how easy it is. That is sort of what young kids experience when they play with full size rackets. A full size racket will give more speed and maybe win a few matches in the short run. But good for the development of a player well there is no general agreement here.

So you can guess I am by far not in favor of moving kids to full size stiff rackets. So the steam is for sure not my recommendation. Take a look at the Junior Rackets of Tecnifibre. Not stiff, good weight and balance, there are more racket to be selected.

Peter
If anything, moving kids to longer frames will make them lose more matches at first. But it'll help develop a better preparation and swing as they can't just flick it like a short frame. I started playing at 9yo with a 13oz wooden frame. It's unbelievable that people today think that a 10oz is heavy, it's not.

I agree that no kids should play with poly. But the way you can tell they are playing with poly (that has been in their wonderfully stiff frames) for long is nothing short of amazing. You can tell the age of a poly just by looking at it? That's one skill I'd like to have. I'd also like to be able to tell what type of strings someone is playing just by looking at them play from a distance. That sounds awesome because unless I'm holding the frame in my hand, I don't have a clue what type of strings it has.

The Steam 99LS is 64RA, 3HL strung and weighs less than 10oz. It is available in grip size 0 as well. There might be better choices. But this is one of the best for a young player starting with a 27". It's possible to find lighter frames, but they usually are HH and it's a big NO especially for kids. Many frames aren't available in size 0, it limits the choices for sure.

Of course you have the right to disagree. But if you disagree, at least provide a suitable alternative. There is nothing from Tecnifibre that even comes close to the 99LS for a kid, at least, none that I (or racquetfinder) know of.

Volkl has some low ra, HL, lightweight frames available. But they are a lot harder to come by, at least in my area.
 

Faris

Professional
Few quick points @AMGF for you.
If anything, moving kids to longer frames will make them lose more matches at first. But it'll help develop a better preparation and swing as they can't just flick it like a short frame.
Will have to disagree there. You are talking about a child who is growing, developing his body with increasing arms, legs and torso dimensions. There is a reason why a vast majority of tennis coaches insist on taking the step by step approach, because in order to develop a proper stroke you need to be able to move the racquet a certain way, swing it, flick it etc - something which most youngsters are not capable of. You have to keep the same relative proportion between person and racquet consistent through the years, taking into account the size and weight of both the person and the racquet. As the child grows, reasonable sized equipment needs to be handed over.

I started playing at 9yo with a 13oz wooden frame. It's unbelievable that people today think that a 10oz is heavy, it's not.
Wooden racquet game is much different than modern game where you have more and more spin, different tactics and emphasis on lighter and faster equipment to go with strokes. It is far easier to hit continental style shots with a wooden racquet than a semi western, spinny stroke especially for kids. Surely we can agree on that much. Point here being that comparing yourself using a wooden racquet is irrelevant. Different type of game.

Of course you have the right to disagree. But if you disagree, at least provide a suitable alternative. There is nothing from Tecnifibre that even comes close to the 99LS for a kid, at least, none that I (or racquetfinder) know of.
He is not talking about 27 inch racquets, he is talking about junior rackets 25 or 26 inch. Even if I dont agree with Technifibres, there is a bunch of other junior racquets smaller than 27 inch and which I believe are a much better option than what you are recommending.

Yes adult size racquets are ultimately the final destination, but only when the child can wield them properly.The equipment must all fit together. Many countries use mini tennis to start kids off, Justine Henin learned this way from what i can think of top of my head. The low compression balls are much lighter, the courts shorter, thus the smaller junior racquets fit in with the total package.
 
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time_fly

Hall of Fame
I've never heard of anyone recommending a full-length frame for a 7 year old. On the other hand, according to the USTA chart I am older than 10 and bigger than 55 inches, so I should be playing a 26" frame. That seems a little conservative. :)
 

pvw_tf

Rookie
If anything, moving kids to longer frames will make them lose more matches at first.
Not talking about the beginning period.

But it'll help develop a better preparation and swing as they can't just flick it like a short frame.
You do not need a 27 inch frame for that. There are other ways to achieve that.

I started playing at 9yo with a 13oz wooden frame. It's unbelievable that people today think that a 10oz is heavy, it's not.
The game is changed. Strokes have changed. In that time the weight of a wooden racket was a big factor in how hard you could hit the ball.

I agree that no kids should play with poly. But the way you can tell they are playing with poly (that has been in their wonderfully stiff frames) for long is nothing short of amazing. You can tell the age of a poly just by looking at it? That's one skill I'd like to have. I'd also like to be able to tell what type of strings someone is playing just by looking at them play from a distance. That sounds awesome because unless I'm holding the frame in my hand, I don't have a clue what type of strings it has.
It is not so hard to do.

but they usually are HH and it's a big NO especially for kids.
Point of disagreement.

Of course you have the right to disagree. But if you disagree, at least provide a suitable alternative. There is nothing from Tecnifibre that even comes close to the 99LS for a kid, at least, none that I (or racquetfinder) know of.
Was not talking about 27 inch rackets. I was talking about Junior 25/26. Also the 27 inch version of the T-Flight is not as stiff frame as many others on the market.
I am not that much in favor of the spin rackets. String breakage is just to high when kids start breaking strings.


Peter
 

Crocodile

Legend
I'll be the one who disagrees.

Here's what Mark Papas had to say about this:

"Tennis Racquet Recommendations

I get a lot of email asking me to recommend a tennis racquet. I'm a stickler for head-light or evenly balanced racquets, and I think kids 6 years and older should use an adult 27 inch racquet.

Junior Racquets

The racquet business wants you to buy 2 tinny racquets before you buy an adult one. They want you to start with a small 23 incher, then "grow" into a 25 incher, sometimes a 26 incher (which is expensive!), and then you get the adult one. Nonsense, just one starter racquet is enough, and forget about the teeny 23 inch racquets, even for a 3 or 4 year old. Start with a 24 or 25 incher. Once your little one's on his/her way hitting the ball over the net you should put a real racquet in their hand, it will lead them in the right direction. Sure, they'll struggle in the beginning, but the extra heft helps to both increase muscle strength quickly and better develop the stroke. Ever hit with one of those teeny racquets? They're crap, they don't provide any feedback to develop the tennis arm and stroke, and their light weight only serves to develop sloppy swinging habits."

IMHO, give the 25in to the young one and buy a lightweight 27" for the 7yo. The Steam 99LS is very lightweight and a bit HL. But you can always check on racquetfinder to find other lightweight frames in 27in.
This is nonsense, a 7 year old cannot serve with a 27 inch racquet, it will hit the ground as he/she starts the swing.
 

Joonas

Semi-Pro
My son moved to 27" at age of 8. Even before he liked to play with normal length. I strongly suggest to move to full length as soon as possible. They learn to use the rackets leverage for power and spin. It will be harder to wrist the ball but they will learn it later to the extent that is needed.

For note my son likes to hit with 350g rackets and he hits good and with good consistency and pace. However I am stopping it and his (9 years old now) current frame is Pure Drive team with some bit of lead to give racket head some weight - he insisted on this. Heavy rackets are standing on the way of kids serve.

Honestly look in to these full length 250-270g rackets. Kids will adapt suoer fast and it will pay off in their technique in future.
 

AMGF

Hall of Fame
You can have your kids play with 26in until they are 12yo. There are a couple pros that play 26,75 frames. But kids and adults should swing the heaviest frame they can handle.

Sure if the kids are still on 1/2 or 3/4 courts with orange and red balls, they can stay on a 25/26in frame. But when they start playing yellow balls on full court, they should start swinging 27in frames unless there is an obvious reason not to (really short kid, very weak or someone that is just beginning).

Now if your kids and you are ok with short frames I see no problems other than the kids might start cheating by using bad form if the frame is too easy to swing. Other than that there are no real downsides. But I've seen it first hand, kids with proper form holding on to their too short frames for too long starting to lose their form and preparation. I guess it depends if your kid is in a development program or just playing for the heck of it.

Anyhow, my own kids started playing at 3 and 4, they moved to 27in at 8 and 9 yo. They always had access to their shorter frames if they wanted but never went back. In the case of the OP, if their coach suggested a 27in frame, I'd at least give the kid the chance to test it. It will be quite obvious if the frame is too long/heavy. If it is, a year or two of 26in will fill the gap. Nothing beats a play test.
 

AMGF

Hall of Fame
My son moved to 27" at age of 8. Even before he liked to play with normal length. I strongly suggest to move to full length as soon as possible. They learn to use the rackets leverage for power and spin. It will be harder to wrist the ball but they will learn it later to the extent that is needed.

For note my son likes to hit with 350g rackets and he hits good and with good consistency and pace. However I am stopping it and his (9 years old now) current frame is Pure Drive team with some bit of lead to give racket head some weight - he insisted on this. Heavy rackets are standing on the way of kids serve.

Honestly look in to these full length 250-270g rackets. Kids will adapt suoer fast and it will pay off in their technique in future.
Just read your post and I fully agree. I wonder how many people here recommending short frames are actual parents that have been spending hours watching kids play tennis every week, for the last 6 years or so.
 

Faris

Professional
Just read your post and I fully agree. I wonder how many people here recommending short frames are actual parents that have been spending hours watching kids play tennis every week, for the last 6 years or so.
Instead of being petty and making snide ad hominems, try concentrating on debating on point under discussion. My son is a 13 year old ranked junior who goes to camp at JTCC/CPTC here in College Park and has hit with Francis Tiafo regularly. My daughter is nine and goes to same club. So yes, I have spent enough money on traveling, hotels, food, and have spent hours bickering on court with other parents and even coaches discussing equipment, costs and effort that goes in for us parents and have seen everything first hand. Every good coach I haves seen remains hesitant on moving to full length until time is right and doesn't rush kids. Don't jump to conclusions. And please know that what you are suggesting, only a minority of coaches believe in that school of thought. So if anything, I would stop presenting it as something written in stone.
 
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AMGF

Hall of Fame
Instead of being petty and making snide ad hominems, try concentrating on debating on point under discussion. My son is a 13 year old ranked junior who goes to camp at JTCC/CPTC here in College Park and has hit with Francis Tiafo regularly. My daughter is nine and goes to same club. So yes, I have spent enough money on traveling, hotels, food, and have spent hours bickering on court with other parents and even coaches discussing equipment, costs and effort that goes in for us parents and have seen everything first hand. Every good coach I haves seen remains hesitant on moving to full length until time is right and doesn't rush kids. Don't jump to conclusions. And please know that what you are suggesting, only a minority of coaches believe in that school of thought. So if anything, I would stop presenting it as something written in stone.
Most junior sticks (not all but most) are head heavy to compensate for the ultra light static weight. This is not the proper approach imho. In the end I don't think a lightweight HL 27in frame is that much harder to swing than a HH 26in. I'd also like to add that finding data about the stiffness of junior frames is quite hard. Besides Babolat on their top junior frames (can you guess the RA on a Pure Drive Junior 26? it's 68!), I couldn't find anything. So you never really know what the kid is hitting with.

I'd rather have a kid play a 27in, 289g, 64ra, 3hl frame than a 26in, 261g, 2hh, 68ra one. But that's just me. I am glad to be the odd man out, every thread on junior racquets ends up with people recommending sticking to junior frames. I like to be the one to suggest another way.
 

Chotobaka

Hall of Fame
The key to 25/26" frames is the construction and weight. A racquet like the Volkl SG 10 26 is comparable in weight to lighter 27" racquets and manages to maintain an even to slightly head light balance, depending on the string that is used. The racquet is 100% graphite and has a 98 sq inch head size. Transition from this type of racquet to a regular 27" comes very naturally.

There are other brands and models that spec out similarly -- not all junior racquets are created equally.

Also, keeping racquet weight proportionate to the weight of the balls used is important. Systematically increasing racquet weight and length while moving through red, orange, and green dot balls makes the transition to yellow balls pretty much seamless. It is readily apparent when the student is ready to move on to the next stage.

I have seen tykes swinging fulls sized sticks with effective results, but that is the exception rather than the rule. And in almost every case, their mechanics have some hincky anomalies that are there just to compensate for using more racquet than they can comfortably handle.
 
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digidoc15

New User
Thanks to you all for all the responses. I should have added that my boys are using mostly regular yellow used balls. They are able to rally with those for upto 10-11 shots. But most of the practice consists of hand or racquet feeding. I saw a significant power, spin and technique difference with the babolat pure aero 25 when my son started using it. I read everywhere that the new 26 graphite rackets are pretty close in construction and quality to the full size ones. Our coach made him try a pure drive light and he did ok but it looked big for him. This debate is confusing, it's tough to balance his age, height, ability, racquet size and ball types. I think I'm going to be flexible and have him try out different options and go with his comfort. Thanks a lot for your input. A very happy New year to you all.

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sma1001

Hall of Fame
I read everywhere that the new 26 graphite rackets are pretty close in construction and quality to the full size ones.
One quick point: make sure you get a full graphite (not a composite) - full graphite 26 racquets are the ones that are most similar to full size. And for what its worth i think your approach is sensible: let direct experience be your guide.
 

digidoc15

New User
One quick point: make sure you get a full graphite (not a composite) - full graphite 26 racquets are the ones that are most similar to full size. And for what its worth i think your approach is sensible: let direct experience be your guide.
Yes I'm considering just full graphite. Thanks

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