If tennis was a one-size-racket-fits-all sport, it would be easy to select a racket for your child, but it’s not -- rackets are made in a variety of sizes for children and adults. To be more kid-friendly and make it easier to learn the sport, tennis companies design rackets proportionate to children’s heights and smaller hands. Fitting your child is easy if you follow manufacturer’s recommendations, accurately measure your child and, if necessary, get advice from a tennis professional.
Know the Guidelines
Major brand tennis racket manufacturers provide sizing guidelines to help you select the correct racket. If you child is 5 years old or younger and is 44 inches or shorter, a 19- or 21-inch racket is a good fit. If your child is age 6 to 8 and measures 45 to 49 inches, select a 23-inch racket. For a child age 8 to 10 and with a height between 50 and 55 inches, a 25-inch racket is appropriate. Your child can comfortably handle a 26-inch racket if she is older than 10 and is taller than 55 inches.
Now that you're familiar with the guidelines, measure your child's height. The easiest way to do this is to have her stand against a wall, make a mark on the wall even with the top of her head and measure from the floor to the mark with a yardstick or tape measure. Measure her height in inches and compare this with the guidelines.
Selecting a racket with the correct grip size is limited because most children's rackets come with a grip size of 4 inches -- the circumference of the grip. Some manufacturers, though, do make grips as small as 3 1/2 inches and as large as 4 1/8 inches. To check your child's grip size, simply measure from the middle fold in her palm to the tip of her ring finger. If her hand measures less than 4 inches and you're unable to find a racket with a smaller grip, it may be possible to reduce the size. This can be done at tennis pro shops by experienced racket technicians. If your child's hand measures larger than 4 inches and you're unable to find a racket with a larger grip, you can simply wrap an overgrip around the handle to increase the size by 1/8 inch.
Guidelines are just that, guidelines -- they give you an idea of where to start when selecting the correct racket size for your child. What is not addressed in the guidelines is the skill level of your child. If she has been taking lessons for a couple of years and is starting to play matches, she may be able to handle a racket longer than what the guidelines recommend. To ensure your child plays with the correct size, have a tennis professional do a sizing.