My top 10 list of arm-friendly racquets:
|Racquet||RDC Flex||Strung Weight||Balance|
|Babolat New Pure Storm-LTD GT (95) (click for more info)||58||11.9||-10HL|
|HEAD YT Graphene Prestige Pro (click for more info)||63||11.6||-6HL|
|PACIFIC X Feel Pro 95 (click for more info)||60||11.9||-5HL|
|Prince EXO3 Rebel (95) (click for more info)||58||12.1||-10HL|
|Prince Tour 98 ESP (click for more info)||60||11.4||-12HL|
|Pro Kennex Kinetic KI5 315 (click for more info)||62||11.7||-6HL|
|Technifibre 2013 Tflight 315 16M LTD (click for more info)||60||11.7||-5HL|
|Volkl Power Bridge-10 Mid (93) (click for more info)||61||12.1||-8HL|
|Volkl Organix 10 325G (click for more info)||63||12.1||-7HL|
|Wilson Prostaff Six.One BLX (95) (click for more info)||63||11.6||-7HL|
*Finding a racquet that meets all of the criteria established above can be quite a daunting task, since they represent such a small percentage of the market and there are no companies that I know of that are geared toward “arm-friendly” tennis equipment.
The main characteristics that affect how “arm-friendly” your racquet is include: balance, weight, beam profile, flex/stiffness and head size. How these characteristics affect your arm are outlined below.
Balance: The more head light the better. The balance rating typically ranges from -15HL to +15HH with zero being perfectly balanced. Head Light racquets cause more of the vibration to be absorbed by the handle and less by your arm, while being much easier to control and maneuver at the net.
Weight: A heavier racquet is better. Heavier racquets absorb more of the vibration upon contact. They are more difficult to swing quickly but you can compensate for this with a head light balance, particularly for volleying at the net.
Beam Profile: A thinner beam profile is better. Thicker wide body racquet’s are usually very light and are stiffer.
Flex/Stiffness: A more flexible frame is better. A more flexible frame absorbs more of the shock on contact. Flexible racquets tend to have less power but more control, although they can be more powerful when heavier. Flex is a measurement on the Babolat RDC scale of 0-100, with a lower number meaning less stiffness, you should be looking for a racquet with a stiffness measurement at 64 or less which includes less than 10% of the modern racquets on the market.
Head Size: A smaller head size is better. The sweet spot does not get larger with an over-sized head, and an over-sized head tends to cause more off-center hits which causes more shock to your arm.
Racquet Length: A standard 27″ length is best. Longer racquets are more difficult to maneuver and are made lighter to compensate, thereby causing more shock to your arm.
In an attempt to make it easier for you I have listed my favorite racquets that are “arm-friendly” and play well. An “arm-friendly” racquet may or may not be the best racquet for you in terms of playability but you will need to balance that with the long term health of your arm if you do not want to have to limit your play due to pain. Also you can greatly change the playability of your racquet with your selection of tennis string as you can read about in our next section.
While the more flexible “arm-friendly” racquets have less power the more elastic “arm-friendly” tennis strings give you more power. A flexible racquet combined with an elastic string can give you a great balance of power, control and feel while protecting your arm.
Another concern that I have is that every racquet gets a rating for the level of player it is geared toward. Yet all of the best “arm-friendly” racquets are supposedly geared towards advanced players and all of the racquets geared towards beginners are bad for your elbow. My best advice for a beginner or intermediate is to get used to the advanced player racquets which will give you more control and save you from tennis elbow. If you need more power use a more “arm-friendly” elastic string and string it at a lower tension.