How to choose a tennis racquet.

With so many different tennis racquets out there, all of which at first glance look the same. How do you know which to choose? Unless you play competitive tennis, you probably have no idea. This guide is here to help._MG_1900-1

As with almost anything, do not simply pick a tennis racquet based on the colour or because your favourite player uses that tennis racquet. This may have detrimental effects on your performance.

If you are new to the game, then we recommend a lightweight racquet with a larger head. The larger head provides more power and is more forgiving (allowing for mistakes, if the ball doesn’t connect with the center or, ‘sweet spot’).

More experienced players however, may want to invest in a heavier tennis racquet with a smaller, mid size head, as this allows more power & control.

Other important things to consider when choosing a tennis racquet include:

Balance: This is the weight distribution of a tennis racquet. A light-headed racquet, or one that is evenly balanced, enables beginners to have more control without the risk of fatigue or getting tennis elbow.

Weight: The weight of a tennis racquet determines how quickly your arm will become fatigued. Lightweight (or approx. 250-300g) is easier to swing but lacks fast, hard power shots. Determining which weight tennis racquet to get depends on your physical ability as well as your training/ability.

Grip: Choosing the wrong grip size is the fastest way to end up with wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries. The best way to determine which size grip you need is to test a tennis racquet out (which you can do at Sportsmart).

Frame: Tennis racquets are rated for stiffness from 10-100. A flexible tennis racquet frame (rated under 69), results in less power. However, a stiff frame (rated over 69) can result in greater arm strain. Frame stiffness comes down to a matter of preference.

Strings: A racquet with a string configuration of 16×19 (open string pattern) allows for more give and spin, but 232608_Radical PRO_Detail 2also tend to snap more. A racquet with an 18×20 (closed string pattern) is a lot denser, therefore less prone to snapping. This configuration is more suitable for a player who has great ball control and power.

These are the main features to look out for. However, it is worth also considering if the tennis racquet comes with interchangeable grommets. Which are designed for advanced players who want to mix up their game. Lastly, Graphene XT technology, is a special frame material that makes a racquet lighter, without losing stiffness or power.

Shop our range here

How to prepare your cricket bat

At Sportsmart, we offer bat preparation for you:

New natural-faced cricket bats need to be oiled and knocked in before play. The deluxe cricket bat preparation will eliminate hours of manual preparation. Please allow 4-5 business days for this service to be completed.*

If you prefer to do your own bat prep, follow the steps below:

Cricket bats are made primarily from two different types of wood. English Willow or Kashmir Willow. Both are very soft types of wood, and require preparation before they can be used to hit a cricket ball.83154_500

There are four stages involved in preparing your cricket bat:

1. Pressing, 2. Oiling, 3. Knocking In, 4. Playing In.

Stage 1: Pressing

Pressing the bat is important for two reasons. 1) It strengthens the fibers in the bat, and 2) Saves hours off the knocking in process. Some brands already do this stage for you, i.e. Kookaburra (KPP), but it doesn’t hurt to do a little bit more yourself.

Most bat prepping is done using a machine. Or using a mallet to knock it in, however this takes twice as long.

Stage 2: Oiling

Oiling helps reduce the chance that your cricket bat will crack or split. Oiling your bat helps to maintain moisture levels within the bat.


  • Using Linseed Oil, apply a light coat to the face, edge, toe and back of the blade – avoid the stickers and splice area. Allow to dry for 24 hours. Then, using a very fine sand paper (+180), give your cricket bat a light sanding. Reapply a light coat to the face.
  • 2-3 coats should be sufficient. Allow each coat to dry fully (it’s best to dry your cricket bat in a slightly elevated horizontal position).

Stage 3: Knocking In

Knocking-in is probably the most vital stage in the preparation process. This process compresses the fibers in the wood, protecting the bat against ball impact. If done correctly, this can increase a cricket bat’s performance and lifespan.


  • Using a special bat mallet or an old quality cricket ball, carefully and repeatedly strike the bat (increasing the force gradually) in any area where one may hit the ball. The edges and toe should not be struck directly at right-angles to the blade as this can cause damage.
  • This stage should take a minimum of 6 hours (every bat varies).
  • Finally, using an old quality cricket ball, hit some short catches. If the seam, on the ball, leaves a mark, go back and continue knocking in. Allow at least another hour for this stage.

Stage 4: Playing In

This stage is important to determine if you have knocked-in the bat well enough.


  • At this stage, the cricket bat can be used in nets with a soft ball. If the ball contact leaves a mark on the bat, go back and repeat the knocking in process for another hour until no marks are left on the bat.

*Our services should not be considered as full preparation – you still need to work your bat in against an old ball prior to use against new hard balls.

Shop our range of Cricket bats in store and online here.

SPORT IS OUR LIFE. Win 1 of 10 $50 gift cards!

Sport is our life. It’s been in our family and team for almost 50 years.

As our valued Smart Card members, we celebrate your passion for sport.


We understand what the experience and enjoyment of sport means to you, as we share these values.

We will support you by always offering a great range and quality service from our knowledgeable and dedicated team.

Is cricket your life? Is tennis your life? Is athletics your life? Is basketball your life?

Whatever your sporting passion, we understand. Because at Sportsmart, SPORT IS OUR LIFE.



To go in the draw:gift card

  1. Follow Sportsmart on Facebook and Instagram.
  2. Comment with which sport is your life, and why, on the relevant post on either our Facebook or Instagram pages.

Winners will be picked at random and notified via our Facebook and Instagram pages on Tuesday 5th September.




**Exclusive to Sportsmart stores**

The Innegra hybrid-composite structure of the Head Youtek IG Radical MP racquet is extremely tough while remaining light weight. Vibration from ball impact is reduced by up to 17%, which leads to unique control and precision.

This Head tennis racquet also features D30 impact protection; this material allows the racquet to adopt to any flex required for every shot you take.

The Head Youtek IG Radical MP is used by professional tennis players including Andre Agassi and Andy Murray.

Ideal for the competitive player.


Weight – 295g

Head size – 98 sq. ins

Balance – 3” HL

Beam – 21.5mm

Length – 27ins

String pattern – 18/20

Normal price: $329 / Smart Card price: $179. Members save $150




Once you have played with Head’s Graphene tennis racquets you will never want to be without its incredible power. Now, this racquet features the next stage of this revolutionary technology: Graphene XT.

With this racquet, Head has made the world’s strongest and lightest material even stronger. This results in optimal weight distribution for a faster swing and more power, for an on-court performance to rival any opponent.

This is the original tennis racquet of the great Novak Djokovic.

Ideal for competitive players.


Weight – 300g

Head size – 100 sq. ins

Balance – 1” HL

Beam – 22mm

Length – 27ins

String pattern – 16/19

Normal price: $349 / Smart Card price: $199. Members save $150

Shop our full Tennis range in-store and online NOW


Oiling and knocking in your new, natural-faced cricket bat!

Is your bat ready to face the upcoming cricket season?

Kookaburra Kahuna Pro


All bats that have a natural face (uncovered) need to be oiled with cricket bat oil throughout their life to maintain moisture levels in the willow fibres. This will reduce the chance of cracking or splitting during use. The correct type of oil to use on your bat is natural linseed oil (sold in-store and online).

How to apply oil to new bats

The best way to apply oil to a cricket bat is by using a paintbrush. Lightly coat the face of the bat, edges and toe of the blade. Take care to avoid the stickers, logos and the splice area. Generally 3 to 4 light coats should be sufficient initially, and then apply one coat every 3 to 4 weeks thereafter. Allow each coat to dry, placing the bat in a horizontal position, before the next coat is applied.

REMEMBER: use light coats only – you risk more damage to the cricket bat by over-oiling rather than under-oiling.


‘Knocking in’ your new cricket bat is VITAL for its survival. This is the process by which the fibres of the willow in the face and edges are compressed together to form a barrier, which protects the bat against the impact of the ball. Effective ‘knocking in’ will improve the performance & lifespan of the bat. We also recommend that factory pre-prepared bats need extra preparation by further knocking in using a mallet.

How to ‘knock in’ your bat

Step 1: Using a special bat mallet, strike the bat repeatedly across and down the front of the blade. You should gradually apply more force over time. This conditioning must be performed with patience. Particular attention should be given to hardening the edges to minimise damage from an edge shot. This can be done by deflecting the mallet across the edges, not at right-angles. We also recommend ‘boning’ the edges, which involves running the handle of the mallet down the edges to compress them. The bat’s toe area should be struck carefully as there is risk of causing cracks or splits across the base of the bat if it is struck too hard. This step takes between 8 to 10 hours to complete.

Step 2: To ready your bat for match use, you should use your bat against throw downs in the nets or by giving short catches. Make sure the ball you are facing is a quality old ball. This should be done for at least 2 hours. If seam marks, small surface cracks or indentations are visible, immediately go back to Step 1 for further preparation for at least 2 more hours. This is not sign of a faulty bat – it simply means that the bat requires further attention.

If you are using your new bat with a new ball, you should purchase extratec or a bat care pack for added protection (sold in-store and online).

If you have any questions, please visit us in-store.


Sportsmart’s Director, Gerrard Woods, recently wrote an article for the Sports Community website on how to run a club merchandise program. To read it, click here, or read on below…

1) Decide why you are running a merchandise program

It is important to decide early on in the process why the club is running a merchandise program, as this will guide a lot of the decisions you make. This decision should be made at committee level in consultation with members.

There are many reasons to run a club merchandise program. The most common reason is for fund-raising, although team-spirit and building a professional image for your club are also common reasons.

If, for example, you decide upon a fund-raising purpose, decisions with regard to the items you choose, how you operate the program and your pricing will be guided by the purpose of raising money for the club. For instance, because you want to increase the funds flowing back to the club, your investment in merchandise and the process you choose should be focused on ensuring the club ends up with more money than you started with.

2) Nominate a person responsible

The club should decide on one representative to run the program. This leaves a single person accountable for the purchasing and also eliminates indecision and duplication that can occur when multiple people are involved.

The person responsible should ideally have flexible work arrangements during the week to enable them to spend some time liaising with (potential) suppliers during business hours. The person responsible should also have basic business and accounting knowledge.

3) Gather feedback and prepare a shortlist of items

The person responsible should gather feedback from club members and other relevant people regarding what garments they want. From this feedback, a shortlist of garments you are interested in can be prepared.

The feedback process should be balanced so that club members are engaged in the process, but not too detailed that it can disappoint people.

When preparing a shortlist of items, there are 2 important considerations:
1) Purpose. Choose items in-line with your purpose. If your purpose is fundraising, you may want to include a range of promotional items that you can logo (i.e. stubby holders, hats, scarves) and then sell at profit. If your purpose is image, you may want to include premium clothing options that display a consistent look across the club.
2) How the program will operate. This is detailed below, and may affect how many items you include.

4) Decide on the how the program will operate

How do you want the merchandise program to operate? The main considerations are to decide how you want to carry the merchandise and how long you want the program to operate during the season. Again, you should be guided by your purpose.

Some clubs decide to operate their merchandise program on a pre-order basis only. This means that there is a ‘guaranteed’ sale and limited wastage. There will be missed sales by not having items available for immediate purchase, but this may be offset by having no wastage from unsold items.

Some clubs may only offer merchandise at the start of the season. This allows the club to dedicate time to other important functions of the club after this is organised. Other clubs may wish to offer merchandise all season long.

How your club chooses to operate your merchandise program should be based upon considerations such as volunteer resources and financial resources. Your club should then choose a supplier that fits in with this process.

5) Choose a supplier

When deciding on a supplier, it is important to enquire about their order process and company policies.

Some important questions to ask include:

How do you source the garments we order? Where are they manufactured? Are they available ‘off the shelf’? This helps you understand if the supplier may encounter unexpected delays.

What is the re-order ability? What is the minimum quantity order? This helps you understand their ability to meet your requirements for re-ordering small quantities throughout the season.

Where are garments decorated? Do you do it yourselves? What is your production capacity? This helps you to understand how much of the process is within your supplier’s control. If they outsource most of the work then you may be dealing with multiple chains in a process.

Also enquire about how the supplier will fit in with how you want to operate. For example, if you want to profit, will the supplier make samples available to you? This helps you understand if you will face any additional costs in administering your program through this supplier.

And, finally, ask the supplier for references from other clubs they have dealt with.

Ultimately, you should choose a supplier that you can trust to deliver the service they promise you on time. Also, ask if the supplier offers any sponsorship packages for local clubs.

6) Place order

When placing an order, ensure you confirm delivery dates and pricing. Check if there will be any delays (for example, due to product unavailability, overseas manufacturing etc) or any extra charges. Sign off on logo placements and details.

7) Manage and analyse

A club merchandise program should be run like a business. Treat the merchandise like money: you don’t leave money lying around unsecure, so you shouldn’t leave merchandise lying around.
Have a clear club policy on supplying the goods. I recommend that you supply goods only after payment, otherwise there is the extra responsibility of chasing people for money.

At the end of the season, analyse the success of the program from a member’s perspective, club perspective (i.e. image), and financial result to see how the program achieves your objectives.
Also, remember that a club doesn’t make money by selling individual items at a mark-up. Clubs only make money if the money expended is less than the money received.

Hands-on director Gerrard has been at Sportsmart’s helm since taking over the family sporting goods business almost 10 years ago. As an independent business, Sportsmart is uniquely positioned as a Melbourne sporting institution. Through its club and school business, Sportsmart Sportservice, Sportsmart has helped some of Melbourne’s largest clubs run a successful uniform and merchandise program.

For your club’s merchandise needs, email


The founder of Sportsmart, Mike Woods, has had the opportunity to re-string racquets for some big names in tennis in the past. We get the inside info…

How long have you been re-stringing racquets?

41 years

Who are some of the big names in tennis that you’ve re-strung racquets for?

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe

What do you remember about their re-stringing requirements, and the types of racquets they used?

They were complete opposites, though they both used ‘Gut’.

Bjorn Borg had his racquet strung at 88lbs. He was under contract to an American brand called ‘Bancroft’, but here he used a ‘Donnay’ wood racquet from Beligum, and the ‘Donney’ logo was painted over, with the ‘Bancroft’ logo on it.

John McEnroe liked loose strings, 44lbs. He used a timber ‘Wilson’ racquet.

Both the players were here for the Australian Gold Challenge.

When did Sportsmart first start offering a racquet re-stringing service?

I had a tennis and sports centre in Moorabbin, where I re-strung racquets in the mid ’70s. I moved the racquet repair business to Sportsmart in the mid ’80s.

Sportsmart provides customers with a high quality racquet re-stringing service which is excellent value for money. Our experienced tennis experts will guide you on the best string and tension for your racquet. We will then string them on our electronic machines to ensure exact tension.



Sportsmart offers these services for the quick preparation of your bat:

4 coats, 3-4 days ($15)

1 day ($20)

2-3 days ($30)

Oil, extratec and press, 4 days ($40)

These services will save you hours of manual preparation. Please note, even after your bat has been prepared by us, you should exercise great care prior to using your bat in match conditions. Our services should not be considered as full preparation –you will still need to work your bat in against an old ball prior to use against new hard balls.


Sportsmart provides customers with a high-quality racquet re-stringing service that is excellent value for money.

For a service fee of just $20, Sportsmart’s experienced tennis experts guide customers on the best string and tension for their tennis, squash or badminton racquets, and then string them on our electric machines that ensure exact tension.

Sportsmart offers a timely service, with two stringing professionals operating most days – so, the majority of customers can have their racquets ready for play within 24 hours.

Tennis strings

Sportsmart offers a full range, starting at nylon for $4.95 up to Babolat, Pacific, Head and Wilson natural gut strings ranging from $89 to $109. Customers will also find synthetic gut, polyester and multifilament strings from all the major brands such as Luxilon (official string of the WTA Tour), Pacific (official string of the ATP Tour), Head, Wilson, Prince and Volkl.

Squash strings

Available in nylon at $4.95, synthetic gut at $14.95 and Ashaway multifilament at $24.95.

Badminton strings

Available in Carlton and Yonex, ranging in price from $9.95 to $16.95.

Shop smart at Sportsmart for all your tennis, squash and badminton re-stringing needs.