Lateral Epicondylitis, or ‘tennis elbow’ is the scourge of many club players, although even the professionals are not immune. It is basically inflammation and swelling of the tendons that bend your wrist backwards, and it is very painful. It can take months for tennis elbow to subside sufficiently to allow you to play tennis again, and there is always a concern that it might return.
Physiotherapy, exercises, improved backhand technique, and supports can all help, but it is important that your racket is not making the condition worse. Typically, a racket that is on the heavier side is more stable, and will absorb shock better, which will protect against tennis elbow. In addition, larger heads tend to absorb shock well and offer a softer feel. So which Babolat rackets are best for tennis elbow?
The best Babolat tennis rackets for tennis elbow are the EVOKE 105 2021, the EVOKE 102 2021, and the Boost Drive 2021 – which are more affordable – and the Pure Strike VS 2022, the EVO Drive 115 Wimbledon, and the Pure Strike Tour 3rd Gen (which are more expensive).
The EVOKE 105 is a budget model, coming in at well under $100. Nonetheless, it fulfills the main criteria for avoidance of tennis elbow. It has a significantly larger than average 105 square-inch head, and a solid weight of 289g strung, with a slightly head-heavy balance. It has an open, 16×19 stringing pattern, which helps in the development of power and spin, although with a flexibility rating of 57 this is far from being a stiff frame.
The key to using a racket like this to protect against tennis elbow is to ensure the grip size is not too small, and to replace the original string with a high quality, fairly soft, option at a lower tension than you might typically use. Whilst this racket would not meet the needs of a tour pro, it could certainly serve the purposes of a typical club player with a sore arm.
The EVOKE 102 is similarly priced to the EVOKE 105, rendering it extremely affordable. It is also almost identically specified to the EVOKE 102, but it features a slightly smaller 102 square-inch head and a flexibility rating of 56. Once again, with an appropriate grip size, and restrung with good string at a reduced tension, this could be a good protective option. The lack of stiffness will not help control, but it should protect against jarring of the elbow.
The Boost Drive is a third budget-friendly option. It is a little lighter than the EVOKE rackets, weighing 272g strung, but it does have a large 105 square-inch head. It has an open 16×19 string pattern, and a medium stiffness rating of 65 on Babolat’s scale, along with a head-heavy balance, giving it a swingweight of 312.
The head size is certainly good for tennis elbow, although the racket could possibly ideally be a little heavier. The additional stiffness could lead to the transmission of more vibration, although Babolat’s Woofer grommet system is incorporated to add comfort. The Boost Drive is fairly powerful for a budget racket, but with a change of string and tension it could still be an option for tennis elbow sufferers.
The Pure Strike VS is a control-oriented racket for advanced players. Although it has a fairly compact 97 square-inch head, it weighs in at 332g, giving it the desired solidity for tennis elbow protection. It has a distinctly head-light balance, making it easy to maneuver, and a 16×20 string pattern, with the additional cross string contributing to control. The frame is fairly flexible, with a rating of 63, which should help to protect against shock. Once restrung at a lower tension, the Pure Strike VS is generally regarded as a very playable racket, and would be ideal for intermediate and advanced players wanting to protect against tennis elbow.
The most notable features of the EVO Drive 115 are its large 115 square-inch head and very open 16×17 string pattern. It has a head-light balance, a weight of just 240g, and a Babolat stiffness rating of 68. It is 0.6” longer than a standard racket to give added leverage when serving. The large head should help with tennis elbow, and, once restrung, if you are a player with compact swings, you might just find that the EVO Drive 115 reduces the amount of force you need to apply. Although it is not the most solid or weighty racket it could still bring benefits.
The Pure Strike Tour is a solid 340g racket with a head-light balance to aid maneuverability. Compared to its sister racket the VS, it has a slightly larger 98 square-inch head and a more open 16×19 string pattern. The Pure Strike Tour is slightly stiffer than the VS, with a rating of 65, but still only moderately so. For advanced players, the racket offers a blend of power and precision, without being as control-oriented as the VS. Nonetheless, it is a solid frame which, once restrung, should protect reasonably well against tennis elbow.
No racket will provide complete protection against the dreaded tennis elbow. Nonetheless, with the insertion of good quality string at a reduced tension, any of these rackets could help a club player. For more advanced players, the Pure Strike rackets would be the best choices.