I’ve got two sons, now ages six and nine but, they started tennis lessons way back when they were three and four years of age. So, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about toddler tennis rackets. The goal for this post is to share what I’ve learned and researched so you have the information you need as a parent to make an informed purchase.
So what exactly is a toddler tennis racket? Is it the same as a “junior tennis racket”? Well to be frank, no. Technically they are different. Junior rackets are for kids a little older than a toddler. Let me explain.
A toddler tennis racket is a tennis racket designed for kids ages 3-5. The frame size and length as well as grip are all designed for smaller hands. After 5 years of age, you’re not in the toddler tennis racket age range any more. At that point you’re going to want to begin looking for a junior tennis racket.
Generally speaking junior tennis rackets start at around age 5 or 6 depending on your child’s size, and stop at around age 11.
So toddler tennis rackets are perfect for your little ones who aren’t quite ready for a bigger sized racket yet. Again, they are perfectly fitted for your 3 to 5 year old toddler. They are the perfect sized little starter racket.
Toddler Tennis Racquets = Ages 3-5
Junior Tennis Racquets = Ages 5-11
Related: Want to know what my son’s favorite Junior Tennis Racket is? Check out my helpful guide to Junior Rackets and the ones I recommend, here.
Now that we know the age range for a toddler tennis racket, how do we select the right sized toddler racket?
Well, it’s simple. All toddler rackets come in one size - 17 inches! This size refers to the length of the racket’s overall frame.
When it comes to proper toddler size there really isn’t any other way around it, 17” is the sweet spot. There are not any 15” sized options any more and Junior Rackets start at 19“. So, the perfect size for a toddler racket is exactly 17 inches.
There used to be a 15” toddler racket made by a company called Le Petit but they no longer make it. I’m guessing there was no need for it when virtually all 17” frames will work just fine. With a 15” frame, you really run the risk of the racket being too small.
I should note that depending on your toddlers size, they could end up needing a 19 inch racquet. Could your four year old toddler technically need a 19 inch racquet because they’re big for their age? Yes, that’s totally possible.
If you’re not sure if your toddler is the right size for a 17” toddler racket because he or she is big for their age, here is a helpful tip I’ve found that will make sizing your little one a breeze.
Simply have your toddler hold the racket in their hand using the “handshake grip” method. This is where they grab the handle of the racket like they’re shaking hands with someone.
They should grab ahold about three quarters of the way down the handle with the bottom of the palm of their hand resting a little above the butt cap on the handle. Basically, they’re hand placement on the handle should be the same as an adult on an adult racket.
Next, have them hold the racket down to their side. Pay close attention to the space between the tip of the racket head and the floor. If the racket head is touching the ground and dragging when they walk with it, it’s too long. If it’s more than two inches off the ground, it’s probably too short.
Again, in an effort to keep things simple, if your toddler is on the normal growth curve for their age, a 17” toddler tennis racket is going to work just fine when they are starting out. Don’t get too hung up on the right size unless it’s clear that the racket is too short. If it’s more than two inches off the ground, it’s time to move up to a Junior Racket.
Video Source: USTA
After doing a little research, I quickly found that there just are not a lot of options to choose from when it comes to a 17” toddler sized tennis racket. And, there are very few racket options from actual big name tennis manufactures like Babolat, Wilson and HEAD.
But, here is the good news. It doesn’t really matter which 17” racket you choose because they are ALL made from basic aluminum.
Whether you’re choosing from a bigger name brand like Babolat or a lesser known brand, the quality of the racket is almost always going to be the same. Why? Because they’re all made from a standard aluminum frame. It’s that simple.
Aluminum is the basic frame material used for over 70% of the Toddler Rackets and Junior Rackets made nowadays. So, the aluminum frame used by one brand isn’t going to vary that much from an aluminum frame used by another brand.
I learned this directly from the pro shop manager I spoke with where my kids take tennis lessons. I’ve consulted with him when both of my kids needed racket upgrades. He could have sold me on a more expensive racket option, but he didn’t. He was honest with me and just gave me the information I needed.
All aluminum frames (especially for a toddler tennis racket) are all going to behave and perform the same. It’s not until you get into a 25”, 26” or even 27” adult frame where you get into more advanced materials like graphite and carbon fiber frames. Those materials are designed for performance. For a toddler tennis racket, you just don’t need to worry about that.I covered the junior racket market extensively in a recent post. If you’ve got an older child and want to know if it’s worth spending a little more money on a graphite racket, I highly suggest you take a peek at that article.
Let’s break down my top pick for best toddler tennis racket. It’s the only toddler racket on my list from a big name tennis brand; Babolat. Babolat makes some of the best rackets in the world and their expertise trickles down even to their pint size toddler option.
This is Babolat’s only signature toddler racket but at only 5.2 ounces, it’s lightweight and easy to hold thanks to Babolat’s patented Memogrip system. This grip system is designed to help your little guy or girl remember where to grip the racket and how to hold it the right way.
The Ballfighter Toddler Racket is consistently mentioned by actual parents that it fits perfectly for a three to four year child just getting their feet wet with tennis. You can tell Babolat had little players ages three to five in mind when they made this racket.
The Ballfighter is my top choice because of the brand name it comes with. Sure the other two picks are of similar quality, but there is just some piece of mind knowing you’ve bought a racket from a reputable tennis company. To top it all off, the Ballfighter is only a few dollars more than the other options on my list.
Speaking of price, the Babolat Ballfighter comes in a few different buying options. If you want just the racket itself, it’s very inexpensive. If you want the Ballfighter racket and a set of starter balls, they have that option too. Lastly, if you want the complete set up that includes the racket, starter balls and a kids sized tennis bag, that is available at a very reasonable price.
If you’re wondering if you really need a tennis bag for your little one, trust me when I say - you’ll use it.
I’ve been the dad carrying two rackets, balls and two water bottles all individually. Not smart. A tennis bag, even at a toddler’s age is a smart idea. And as a parent, I like the idea of kids taking responsibility and using their backpack to take care of their stuff.
Your little one will be able hold their racket, some balls and a water bottle in the Ballfighter bag (it won’t be too heavy) and it gives them a healthy sense of ownership as well.
This toddler tennis racket from little know tennis company “Street Tennis Club” is a well made racket with the feeling of “fun” woven right into it.
By that I mean, they’ve literally imprinted a smiley face onto the string pattern to accentuate the fun, lighthearted feel of this racket. In addition, it comes in a few different finishes to suite both boy and girl color schemes.
If your shopping for a true toddler tennis racket be sure to choose the 17 inch option because this racket also comes in a 19 inch and 21 inch frame as well.
What I like best about this racket is that many parents comment about how well it fits their child; even down to two years old! In fact, it’s the only racket I researched that showed real use at an age all the way to 16 months old!
Even if your child is barely a year and a half old, chances are, they could swing this racket and start getting a feel for the hand-eye coordination needed for tennis.
Simple. Cheap. Fun. That best describes this toddler tennis racket from Street Tennis Club.
The Weiefu Tennis Racker for Toddlers is the most inexpensive option on my list. Despite it’s under $20 price tag, Weiefu offers a 90 day money-back guarantee.
Would I be hesitant to buy a product from a lesser known company that isn’t a big name brand in the game of tennis? Yes. Weiefu isn’t a giant tennis brand. Not even close. But, they’re not trying to be either.
They’re simply offering an inexpensive toddler racket, at a dirt cheap price. And, if you’re not satisfied, and want something a little more dependable, simply return it and get the Babolat. That’s my advice.
I like this option because Weiefu chose to offer a 90 day money-back guarantee. I didn’t see that from any other option when I did my research. I can appreciate that.
For parents looking for a simple, cheap racket that can be used around the house or at tennis practice and don’t want to worry about misuse or keeping it in good shape; this could be a great hassle free option for you.It should be noted that this racket comes in three different options. A 17” toddler size, a 19” boy colored option and a 19” girl colored option. If you’re shopping for your toddler, make sure you choose the Color ATR-170 on the product page to get the correct 17 inch version. It can be a little misleading, make sure the middle color option is selected.
So, there you have it. Those are the facts I’ve learned over the years from researching and buying many different racket options for my kids.
To sum it up, again I’d recommend the Babolat Ballfighter as the ideal toddler tennis racket. Even if you just buy the racket alone, it’s a very affordable racket from one of the most trusted names in tennis. To me, that’s worth it.
My other two options from Street Tennis Club and Weiefu are good, inexpensive rackets for moms and dads that don’t want to worry about the racket getting dinged up because their toddler is too rough with it.
At the end of the day, just remember your kids are going to outgrow their tennis racket many times over for years to come (until they reach 11 or 12 years of age). So getting a good but affordable option is always the best bet.