Buyer’s Guide for Used Tennis Rackets

Tennis can be one of the most expensive sports to play as there is a lot of equipment (shoes, balls, racket, etc..) that you need before you can even step onto a tennis court.

One way that you can save money is by buying a used tennis racket, so this article will look at the pros and cons of buying an old tennis racket and will provide you with some tips that will help you to choose a good secondhand tennis racket.

Buyer's Guide for Used Tennis Rackets

Buyer’s Guide for Used Tennis Rackets

Below is a list of some pros and cons of buying an old/used tennis racket rather than buying a brand new racket.

Pros

  • If you are on a budget, you can save a lot of money by buying a used tennis racket
  • Allows you to play with older tennis racket models that aren’t sold new anymore e.g. Roger Federer’s old Racket the Wilson Six One 90
  • A slightly used tennis racket can give you the same power and feel as a new tennis racket at a fraction of the cost.

Cons

  • If you are buying online, it can be difficult to spot hairline cracks and other issues that may mean the tennis racket is not playable anymore
  • Unlike a new racket, you are unlikely to be able to demo the racket before purchasing an old racket
  • Often secondhand rackets have chipped paint and/or scuff marks which can make the tennis racket look ugly.

What to look for when purchasing a used tennis racket

Below is a list of things you should look out for when you are considering when picking a tennis racket that is used.

1. Chipped Paint

One of the easiest things to spot is chipped paint on an old tennis racket.

Although this should not affect the playability of the racket, it may be a sign that the player that had the racket previously was not very careful when playing with it.

I have found that it may also be down to the manufacturer of the racket as I have found that my old Wilson rackets were more likely to have chipped paint than some old Babolat tennis rackets I have.

Generally speaking, if you see chipped paint on a racket then it isn’t a big deal as this is to be expected from a second-hand racket (especially if the tennis racket is a few years old).

2. Damaged Head Guard

I find that the level of wear on the head guard is a good barometer of how rough the previous player was with the racket.

My recommendation would be to look for a tennis racket that doesn’t have too much wear on it.

You can get a replacement head guard but If I see a racket with a lot of scuff marks on it then I usually avoid buying these rackets.

3. Old Tennis Strings

I would not be concerned about the strings in the racket as I always restring a racket to suit my setup so you shouldn’t be put off by the strings currently in the racket.

The only warning I would give in relation to strings is that if the tennis racket has a crack in its head, then you may find that you will not be able to restring the racket without causing more damage to the tennis racket.

4. Cracks in the Frame of the Racket

Your main focus when buying a secondhand tennis racket should be on whether there are any cracks on the racket, as if it does, the tennis racket is likely to be worthless and only fit for the bin.

If you can physically hold the racket before you buy it then you should feel around the head and throat to see if you can feel any cracks.

If I find any cracks (even hairline cracks) then I will not buy the racket as it is likely that the structural integrity of the racket has been compromised.

If I am buying a racket online then I will always look in the description to see if they say there are no cracks in the racket.

If it’s not mentioned, then I will email the seller to confirm that there are no cracks.

5. Warped Rackets

Warped rackets are less of an issue with modern rackets but it can still happen if the racket has received a poor stringing job or there was an issue when the racket was first produced that caused the racket to warp.

In the days of wooden rackets, this was a much bigger issue as the wood in a racket was much easier to warp.

6. Age of the Tennis Racket

Generally speaking, the older the tennis racket is, the more likely you are to have issues with it.

My own rule of thumb is to never buy a second-hand tennis racket that is over 5 years old.

7. Damaged Butt Cap

The Butt Cap of a tennis racket is not critical to its playability but a tennis racket doesn’t look great if the butt cap is missing.

8. Damaged Grommets

The grommets are where you feed the strings through a tennis racket. The main thing to check is that they are in good shape.

However, grommets can be replaced fairly easily so it shouldn’t be the deciding factor when buying a used tennis racket.

9. Wrong Grip size

This is often overlooked by tennis players but it is important that the racket has the right grip size for your hand.

You can check out our guide on Grip Sizes for more information on picking the correct grip size for your hand.

How Much should you pay for a used tennis racket?

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be paying more than half the price of the new retail version of a tennis racket but this depends on many things including the age and condition of the racket.

For example, you will have to pay a lot more for a racket that has only been played with for a few weeks and then returned to a tennis shop in comparison to a 10-year-old racket that is being sold on eBay.

Where to buy Used Tennis Rackets

1. eBay

I recently did a search on eBay for used tennis rackets and it came back with 5,874 results so eBay is definitely a popular place to sell old tennis rackets.

The main downside to buying used rackets on eBay is that you can’t physically touch the racket before buying it so have to rely on images posted by the seller.

2. Craigslist

Craigslist and other classified ads sites are other options you can use.

Similar to eBay, you won’t be able to physically touch the used tennis racket so it is definitely “Buyer Beware” when using these kinds of sites.

3. Used Goods Stores/Charity Shops

The advantage of Goods Stores/Charity Shops over online sites like eBay and Craigslist is that you can actually hold the racket in your hand so you can judge whether there are any cracks or other issues with the racket.

The main downside with Used Goods Stores/Charity Shops is that they probably won’t have a great range of rackets to choose from but if you are a beginner on a budget they may be the best option to go with.

4. Demo Rackets from Tennis Shops

Another option is Online and Offline Tennis Shops which often will sell old demo rackets at a reduced price.

If I was to use this option, I would definitely want to physically inspect the tennis racket before purchasing it as demo rackets can sometimes be in a pretty bad condition.

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend that you physically hold a used tennis racket before buying one as you won’t be able to properly judge the racket without holding it in your hands.

I also would recommend that you buy a cheaper new tennis racket rather than buying an old tennis racket as unless you get the racket for under $50 then I think you aren’t getting value for your money.