Ask the Pro Shop: Sticks for Kids
Question: My children want to start playing tennis. Should they use adult or junior racquets? What else should we consider to make sure they’re playing with the right equipment?
Answer: According to Joe Heydt, of Racquet Corner, in Omaha, NE, children interested in pursuing tennis should play with appropriately sized junior racquets. “In my shop,” says Heydt, “I tend to ask two questions about children receiving their first racquets: How old are they, and are they tall or short for their age? Most parents tend to know if their child is the tallest or shortest in their class at school.” While there is a standard scale that matches racquet length to a player’s age and size, Heydt notes that “a parent should consider shifting one racquet length up or down based on the question of height.”
Answer: Leon Echavarria, of Racquet World, in Miami, FL, says that a child’s tennis skills should also be taken into account when purchasing a frame. “A good guideline is to use the information on the racquet’s head card [racquet length, age, and height] and then adjust according to his or her playing level,” he says. “I wouldn’t recommend buying a size up just so the racquet will last longer. If it’s too heavy for your kid to swing now, it’s likely that he or she will not enjoy the sport.”
Answer: Finally, Adam Queen, of Your Serve Tennis, in Atlanta, GA, suggests that parents also make sure the grip fits comfortably in their child’s hand. “The grip sizes of adult racquets are usually too large for kids, making it difficult for them to learn proper grip positions,” says Queen. Incorrectly sized racquets, whether due to length or grip, are not only difficult for kids to play with but may also encourage bad form. “Using a racquet that’s too long will force a child to compensate by starting his swing too early and can lead him to develop other bad habits.”
Bottom Line: In order to foment fun and good form, a child’s racquet should correspond to his or her age, height, skill level, and hands. Consult a knowledgeable tennis pro or pro shop; they’ll be able to help you choose a racquet that’s right for your child.
See below for information about which length racquet your child should try first:
|Racquet Length||Child's Age||Child's Height|
|19”||2 years & up||35”–39”|
|21”||4 years & up||40”–44”|
|23”||6 years & up||45”–49”|
|25”||8 years & up||50”–55”|
|26” or 27”||11 years & up||56”+|