Kids tennis has changed dramatically in the past few years, not to mention the past decade.
If you’re a parent who played tennis when you were your child’s age we’re sure that you weren’t using a racket that was small enough or light enough.
The technologies that are going into tennis rackets these days makes it possible for kids as young as two years old to play “real” tennis and not be held back by using a racket that is too big for them.
If you’ve been to any tennis court after school or on Saturday mornings lately you’ve surely seen the youngsters that are rallying balls back and forth, running side to side and even ripping forehand winners up the line!
Kids tennis rackets are dramatically changing the caliber of kids under the age of ten.
Long gone are the days of the under 10 and under 12 categories of kids tennis being dominated by the best moon baller!
When Should Your Child Start Playing Tennis?
Kids rackets are so light and so small these days that you can literally start your child in tennis lessons between one or two year old!
Now picking the right kids tennis racket these days is also much harder than it was just a few years back.
There are 15″ rackets, 17″ rackets, 19″ rackets, 25″, 27″, blue rackets, pink rackets, Dora the Explorer themed kids tennis rackets and so much more!
We all know that personal preference plays a large part of whether or not you like a tennis racket. It’s hard to ask your two or three year old which tennis racket they like better as their answers will most likely hinge on factors such as color or theme.
It’s very important that your child is using the best kids tennis racket for them. As they grow and develop it’s also very important to move them into a larger racket so their skills can continue to improve.
We’ve done an extensive amount of research and below you’re find our rules of thumb and recommendations when it comes to choosing the best kids tennis rackets!
Tennis Rackets for 1, 2, 3 or 4 Years Olds
Believe it or now, this 15″ kids tennis racket from Le Petit Tennis has made “playing” tennis possible for kids between the ages of 1 and 2 years old.
Now, they aren’t going to be playing full matches or probably even rallying the ball back and forth but they will be able to get use to handling a racket and it will help their hand eye cordination to play for fun in short bursts at this age.
This 15″ frame is the smallest and lightest tennis racket (possible in the world).
The best kids tennis racket to start your 2 year old son or daughter off with is the Le Petit Tennis Racket because it is only 17 inches long and very light.
Paring this tiny kids tennis racket with My First Tennis Ball makes the game of tennis fun and easy for the youngsters because they have control over their racket and the big inflatable ball.
This 17″ frame is one of the smallest and lightest tennis racket that we could find and it’s only $18.95 which makes getting your kid(s) started in tennis very affordable.
The great folks over at Le Petit Sports have bundled up a great starter kit that we recommend you check out: Le Petit Tennis – My First Tennis KIT Starter Kit.
Tennis Rackets for 5 or 6 Years Olds
It is equally important not to let your 5 or 6 year old continue to play with the 17″ racket because that will hold back their development.
Once your child is five or six years old we recommend stepping them up to a 19″ racket. You’ll see here, 19″ racket, that there are plenty of choices when it comes to buying a 19″ frame which might make it hard to choose.
At this point, we recommend that you keep the main goal of tennis for a 5 or 6 year old in mind… HAVING FUN!
If your son or daughter would have more fun at their tennis lessons with a SpongeBob Square Pants tennis racket or a Dora the Explorer tennis racket then, by all means, get them one of those rackets so they want to go play tennis!
Sometimes kids at this age have already started idolizing a certain player like Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.
If they are a Nadal fan at this point you can buy them the great Babolat Nadal Junior 19″ kids tennis racket.
Actually, getting them the Nadal racket is a great choice as your child can stick with Babolat and the Nadal series of racket for their entire tennis career.
The Babolat AeroPro Drive GT is considered to be one of the best tennis rackets on the market these days and working your way up the various lengths of these frames is a great progression for nearly anyone.
We also recommend that you equip your future tennis prodigy with foam tennis balls as their next progression towards using full pressure tennis balls later on down the road.
If you’re looking to pick up one of the nets that you probably see them using at their tennis lessons to cut the court down in size then we recommend that you consider the Le Petit Tennis Net so you can use the smaller court size when you’re out playing with them outside of their tennis lessons.
For those of you who like the “one stop shop” then the best all-in-one package for a your 5 or 6 year old is the HOME Tennis KIT 19″ by Le Petit Tennis for ages 5 to 6 which includes two 19″ tennis rackets, 4 cones, my first tennis ball, foam tennis balls, the net and a carrying case for the net.
It really is your one stop shop and is a great way to have the full set up in the trunk of your car ready to use when you want to go practice with your child at home, outside of the group lessons and/or when you’re playing on public courts.
Tennis Rackets for 7, 8 or 9 Years Olds
The biggest jump in the size of your kids tennis racket is going to be when they get to be 7, 8 or 9 years old. At this state of their tennis career we recommend moving them up for the 19″ frame all the way up to a 23″ kids tennis racket like the Wilson Roger Federer 23″ tennis racket, Babolat Pure Drive 23 tennis racket, Babolat Nadal Junior 23 tennis racket
We want to stress the fact that you really need to resist the urge to buy your son or daughter a 25″, 26″ or even the full-sized 27″ frame at this point so they can “grow into” it.
It’s very important to gradually step them up through the lengths of tennis rackets so they can continue to develop their skills with a racket they can maneuver and control while still having fun.
Tennis Rackets for 10 or 11 Years Olds
As soon as your little tennis star gets to be 10 or 11 years old we highly recommend getting then a new 25″ tennis racket like the Babolat Pure Drive Junior 25 tennis racket or the Prince AIRO Sharapova 25″ tennis racket.
At this point in their kids tennis career we recommend that you get your child at least two tennis rackets. It’s unlikely that they will be breaking lots of strings at this point but this is typically the age that they start to break their strings on a semi-regular basis and it’s best to have a backup racket for them that is the same as the one they always play with.
Tennis Rackets for 12+ Years Olds
There really is nothing wrong with having them continue to play with their 25″ or 26″ tennis racket even though they have hit the magic age of 12. We recommend that some kids continue to use 26″ frames even when they are 13 or 14, it really depends, as mentioned above, on their ability and size.
It’s always better to have then use a smaller and lighter racket that they have total control over rather than a bigger tennis racket that they don’t have full control over.
Once they are ready to move up to to a full sized racket we recommend that you start them off with a light and powerful frame and the two frame that we recommend are the Prince EXO3 Silver OS tennis racket or the Babolat ’09 Pure Drive GT.
Since 2012 the United States Tennis Association (USTA) has made some very positive changes to the ten and under tennis age group. The official court size is smaller, the balls are bigger and are slower making it easier for the under 10 kids to play “real tennis”.
The changes have been very well received by the tennis community and it’s amazing just how great the kids are getting! When you think about it, it was crazy that kids played tennis on the same sized courts as the pros.
Could you imaging 6 year old playing baseball on a full sized field? These changes are making kids tennis so much more fun and we hope that you consider starting your kids off in tennis lessons.
Tennis is a sport that they will go onto love and enjoy for the rest of their lives!
Photo Credit: robbiesaurus