Picking the proper tennis racket to suit your child’s game is important not only for performance, but for injury prevention. With so many options on the market, you are sure to find something they really like with some research.
Choosing a racket that fits your child can be overwhelming, but don’t worry. This detailed article will tell you what you need to know to choose the perfect racket for your 12 year old. We will provide checkpoints based on your child’s ability level, strength/size, and game style to help you better find the best racket for your child. From there, we will give you some specific rackets we recommend.
When choosing the perfect racket for your child, it is necessary to consider a racket’s length, weight, and head size. If you see a chart recommending certain rackets based on the size of the player, it is usually misleading. Your child’s tennis ability often plays more of a factor in this decision.
Playing With a Full-Size “Adult” Racket
First thing’s first: if your 12 year old hasn’t already switched to an adult sized racket, now is the perfect time to do so. While the category of “adult size” can be deceiving, almost all 12 year olds are ready to play with a full sized racket, especially if they have experience playing the sport.
The great thing about the racket market is that there are so many to choose from, ranging from light to heavy. Even if your child isn’t the biggest kid on the block, he or she can be sure to find something they are comfortable playing with.
Choosing the Proper Racket Weight For Your 12 Year Old
Finding a racket that is the proper weight for your child is as important as anything. We commonly see young juniors playing with a racket that is too heavy or too light. This will make it difficult for your child to reach their optimal performance and lead to a higher risk in injury. As a 12 year old’s muscles and joints are growing rapidly, its important to protect their young shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
It seems fairly self-explanatory why a racket too heavy can cause injury: imagine swinging a club around for 2 or 3 hours. However, many people don’t realize that injury can occur from using a racket that is too light as well. The lighter the racket, the more a player is able to whip around too much. This “whipping” can cause a lot of stress on arms, especially wrists. Additionally, rackets that are too light can lead to inefficient technique, causing long term problems.
Obviously every 12 year old is different, so it is up to the parent and the coach’s discretion to decide what is best. Here are a few things to watch for:
- Fatigue: If your player complains about arm fatigue after fairly long practice sessions or matches, consider checking the racket weight. It’s important to listen to your child’s comments about how their body feels. Even the most subtle aches and pains can become serious with time.
- Technique/Effort Level: This is something that a coach should give insight on. If a racket is too light, your player’s stroke may look too wild. If he or she looks like they are swinging a club and using a lot of strength to hit the ball, the racket may be too heavy. The less effort your child has to put into each shot, the less likely they are to injure themselves.
Choosing the Proper Head Size (Sq. inches) For Your 12 Year Old
After exploring length and weight, you will want to consider checking rackets with different head sizes. This aspect of choosing a racket is often overlooked, but will play a large factor in how the racket actually feels to your 12 year old.
If you don’t know much about how the head size of the racket affects the playability, here is a quick rundown. The majority of the most popular rackets on the market have a head size between 95 sq. inches and 100 sq. inches, but there are many rackets that fall outside of that range. There are other factors that will play into how a racket feels, such as string pattern, but the head size will give you a good idea.
Generally, a bigger head size will lead to a bigger sweet spot. This gives a player more power and spin, while a smaller head size will give a player more stability. Higher level players will say that small head sizes provide more control because they are conditioned to hitting the ball in the middle of the strings. However, beginners will find more control with a larger head size because it is easier to make good contact with the ball. This is where you, as the parent, will need to analyze your child’s ability level.
As for feel, a racket head size that is too small will feel like a wooden board, while one that is too big will feel like a trampoline. It is important for your player to enjoy playing with the racket that they have. If you have the time to test a variety of rackets, we highly recommend doing so. If not, try to select a racket that is somewhere in the middle of the pack and branch out from there.
5 Rackets We Love For the “Average” 12 Year Old
Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, its time for the fun part. We have made a list of the rackets that we like for the average 12 year old. When we say average, we mean that these are the “middle of the pack” rackets that anybody is bound to like. Not too heavy, not too light, normal head sizes, etc.
The rackets below are linked to our friends at Tennis Warehouse, so click on the pictures for easy access to all the additional information that you need to make a decision.
Obviously these frames all have different feels, so we highly recommend trying them before you buy. Through Tennis Warehouse, you can demo rackets and send them back when you are finished trying them. Enjoy!
Originally used by Andy Roddick back in his world #1 days, this racket has remained a best seller for babolat. It provides great power and a large sweet spot. Using this racket, you will find that extra pop you’re looking for on the serve and forehand.
The radical is a classic head racket endorsed by Andy Murray. This frame will provide intermediate-advanced level players the stability they need for their all-court game without losing easy power.
This racket is the lighter version of Novak Djokovic’s racket. The head size is 100 sq. in., giving a large sweet spot and ample spin. If you like the way this racket feels but you’re looking for more stability, you can always try the “Speed Pro” version, which is slightly heavier and more advanced player friendly.
One of the most popular rackets in the world, the blade offers a more dead and controlled feel great for advanced juniors. We don’t recommend this stick for beginner 12 year olds, but we do think that it rewards good fundamentals.
The Yonex EZONE is a great all around racket. It provides a lot of speed and all court playability. It’s forgiving, but not muted and most players will enjoy this racket regardless of level.
Hopefully you found this article informative and helpful in finding your 12 year old the best racket possible. Remember to consider the most important things: length, weight, and head size. For any questions you may have while choosing a racket, feel free to contact us and we will do the best we can to assist you!