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Arm-Friendly Tennis Racquets

by Tennisnerd

One of the most common injuries in tennis is tennis elbow and it can be caused by a number of things: poor conditioning, bad technique, wrong equipment. Let’s start by looking at more arm-friendly racquets.

Most tennis racquets that are released today are relatively stiff. The reason for this is to help out with power and stability on your shots. The downside is that more vibrations from the racquet will reach your arm.

Back in the old days tennis was played with racquets made of wood. Wood is a flexible material that absorbs the shock from the ball, but doesn’t give you much power. As the game of tennis got faster and faster and more physical, new racquets were developed to give the players more power yet retain control. Babolat is one of the companies that have been leading this transformation thanks to their hugely popular Babolat Pure Drive and Babolat Aero Pro Drive (Pure Aero these days) and ambassadors such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Carlos Moya, and more recently Dominic Thiem.

Most Babolat racquets offer you really good power and a solid feel despite its light-weight package and Wilson have gone them same way with their Wilson Burn and Blade series. A light-weight and powerful racquet coupled with a spin-friendly polyester string will allow you to swing like a maniac and the ball will still land in thanks to the top spin.

Power is a thing most players crave because there aren’t many better feelings than smacking a forehand down the line for a winner, but it does come at a cost with the above-mentioned vibrations. So if you’re suffering from arm problems, I suggest you do three things:

  1. Consider your physique and if you could improve it.
  2. Ask a coach to have a look at your technique.
  3. Check if you’re using the right gear.

Physique and technique are the cornerstones of a good tennis game, but gear also play an important role. The ATP Pros are extremely picky about their tennis racquets and strings and there is a reason for that.

When you buy a racquet it should feel right in your hand and when you’re hitting, but you should also look at more technical factors such as the RA number. The RA is a way to measure stiffness. A rating from mid-fifties to lower sixties is a pretty flexible racquet, a rating from the mid-sixties to mid-seventies is a rather stiff racquet. A flexible racquet is usually better for your arm. (When you look at RA remember that if the rating is unstrung that a strung racquet will usually drop the RA by a few points.)

Strings and string tension also play into this. If use a stiff string with a high tension, then also a flexible racquet will play harsh, but a stiff racquet with a soft string such as a hybrid setup with natural gut, a full bed of multifilament string or a softer polyester strung with a lower tension can make it far more comfortable. So those factors need to be taken into account.

Choosing your tennis racquet is also up to personal taste, technique and needs for your game but if you have arm issues I would suggest you looking into a racquet with an RA rating lower than 65.

Here are some arm-friendly racquets for you who just like a more flexible feel or who are trying to reduce the shock and vibration to your arm:

Yonex DR 98 – Remarkably comfortable for a modern racquet and still manages to pack a punch.

Prince Textreme Tour 95 – Really nice and soft. Less power than the Yonex – the Prince Textreme 100P is also good.

Prokennex racquets use a special kinetic technology that is supposed to be very good for your arm.

Both the Wilson Countervail and the HEAD Graphene Touch series offer more comfort than their previous iterations.

Pacific X Force Pro 1 is a rather flexible and versatile racquet that a lot of players enjoy.

If you can find a Tecnifibre Tfight 315 Ltd it is a wonderful racquet with brilliant flex.

I haven’t tried it myself but the Volkl V1 series is supposed to be both versatile and comfortable.

If you want a Babolat racquet, I would suggest checking out the Babolat Pure Control – a nice precision stick.

Will move onto strings in another post. Good luck finding a racquet that suits you. And from a racquetholic – there’s no shame in switching racquets from time to time…;)

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13 comments

Ethan June 1, 2017 - 8:04 pm

Our tennis club organizes an annual wooden racquet tennis social. Based on experience, I would say wooden racquets are very tough on the wrist and joints. They are also quite heavy.

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Leandro June 2, 2017 - 4:44 pm

Hello!

I always play with Babolat rackets since i start playing tennis (13 years ago, now im 25) and never had a problem.
I was playing with Aeropro Drive 2013 (grip 3) strung with RPM Blast at 57lb. In february of 2016, i buy the new Babolat Pure Aero (grip 2) and strung with Luxilon Alu Power at 54lb. After two hitting sessions, i get tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and wrist pain so i sold it.
After 6 months out of courts I start to play again with Aeropro Drive 2013 but after two or three weeks i got pain on inner elbow and make me stop playing for atleast one or two months.
Shoul i change to a more flexible frame? or maybe with a multifilament ill be ok?
Can you recommend me some racquets from babolat or head that could be more arm friendly?

Thanks in advance!

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Tennisnerd June 3, 2017 - 6:40 am

Hi,
Shame to hear about your arm issues. You can try changing the strings first, but the AeroPro Drive and the Pure Aero are very stiff racquets.

1. Try a softer poly such as Solinco Tour Bite Soft or Luxilon 4G soft and string it at 50 lbs max.
2. You can also try using Luxilon Alu Power and put it in a hybrid with natural gut.
3. If you still feel pain I would suggest checking out a new racquet (remember this could be technique-related)

I suggested some racquets in my post but Babolat don’t really have many softer racquets in their line-up.

I would try an older HEAD racquet such as HEAD Microgel Pro or HEAD IG Extreme Pro 2.0 you could test the HEAD Graphene Radical Pro. They will give you less power than the Babolats you’ve been using, but hopefully no pain.

I’m very happy with my Babolat Pure Strike (2017) that I string with Solinco Hyper-G at 50 lbs. Maybe that’s an option to test? It is a rather stiff racquet but I’ve been fortunate not to feel any pain.

Good luck and let me know how it goes! Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Seb October 11, 2017 - 4:24 pm

Hi,

Babolat Pure Drive + (it was my first Babolat) + the Alu Power destroyed my wrist in less than two weeks.
I switched back to Blade 104 SW and the 2015 Blade 104, but I wasn’t fully satisfied, wrist still wasn’t fully painless (I tried 4G and Wilson NXT comfort), but it was much better.

Now I’m with Yonex VCore 98 plus + Volkl cyclone and everything is back to normal. No pains anymore, but I keep my wrist wrapped while I play.

…and I played today,for the first time, with Head Pro Tour 630. What a magical feeling!

Reply
Tennisnerd October 11, 2017 - 5:38 pm

Hi Seb,
Happy to hear that! Enjoy your tennis 🙂 Cheers / J

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NNF July 9, 2018 - 5:12 pm

Hi,

Would the Head Radical Pro be considered arm friendly, even if strung with Solinco Barb Wire?

I currently go back and forth between Babolat Aero’s and Pure Drives as I don’t really feel too much of a difference between the two and I have a all of my stick’s strung with Barb Wire or knock off Rpm Blast.

The Babolat’s are beginning to take a toll on my arm and with being a college tennis player I do not take anything more than 2 days off a month so I am debating switching to the Radical or Yonex DR 98.

Thanks

Reply
Tennisnerd July 10, 2018 - 12:42 pm

Hi,
The Radical Pro used to be an arm-friendly racquet before they introduced Graphene into the frame. If you want to try a nice racquet with lots of spin, buy a HEAD IG Radical Pro which can be find used on ebay or Stringforum from time to time. I can understand that the Pure Drive/Aero with a stiff poly will start to impact your arm.

I really recommend checking out Yonex for a similar feel/performance like Babolat but with a softer feel. Yonex DR 98 or 100 could be a good option for you!

The Yonex SV 98/100 I have also heard plenty of good things about, but they are a little stiffer than the DR series.

Good luck finding your next racquet! Cheers / J

Reply
Hans Gebben March 19, 2019 - 6:23 pm

You should look at the modern Donnay rackets. They should rank near the top of the list of rackets you mention. They have a low RA, are not wide body, are plenty powerful,great feel, but are lacking in sponsorship, so you don’t see many on tour. Jim Courier and other Masters players were/are using the Donnay rackets because of the great feel and very easy on the arm/shoulder/wrist feel.

Reply
Tennisnerd March 26, 2019 - 8:55 am

Hi Hans,
Yes, I have reviewed many of the new Donnay racquets and really like a few of them.

Regards / J

Reply
Mikael March 26, 2019 - 7:36 am

Hej!
I have also gotten elbow issues after playing with Babolat Pure Aero strung with RPM Blast at 24kg. I love the feel and power of the racket, but after each session my arm hurts.

When it comes to arm friendliness combined with decent power, how would you rate Wilson Clash compared to the rackets above? How would you compare it to the Yonex DR 98?

Thanks for great reviews!

Reply
Tennisnerd March 26, 2019 - 8:52 am

Hej Mikael,
A Pure Aero with RPM Blast plays great, but the problem, as you have noticed, is the high stiffness. The Clash will be MUCH more comfortable, as will the DR 98. The Clash has a bit of a unique feel so it might take some getting used to, but you will get good spin with it. One guy I know went from playing with the Pure Aero for years and then moved to the DR 98 and his whole game and health changed for the better so that is also a good option, but it is harder to find the DR 98 than the Clash. Good luck!

Cheers / Jonas

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Mikael March 26, 2019 - 9:26 am

Thanks for reply! The DR 98 comes in different weights. Are they all similar in regards to arm friendliness? Are they called Yonex Ezone DR 98?

Reply
Tennisnerd April 5, 2019 - 1:44 pm

The DR 98 310 is my favorite. The other ones are a bit too light.

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