PostHeaderIcon Racquet Review: The Head Instinct Mid Plus Is Okay For Flat Hitters, But Offers Little Versatility

The Head Instinct Mid Plus

16 x 19 string pattern, 10.6 unstrung (52 lb. Sensation 16g), 100 in.2

instinct-mp-slant

The Basics: With its’ distinctive blue and white color, most will recognize this racquet as the stick of choice for the resurgence of Maria Sharapova after her recovery (and struggles) from shoulder surgery. She’s won several titles with it, including the 2012 French Open that gave her a career Grand Slam. It’s a great racquet for her game.

For better or for worse, that tells you all you need to know about this racquet and how it might work for your game. Though Maria is a great player, she pretty much has one game plan. If that game plan is working, great. If it’s not working, then not so great.

Similarly, this racquet is good for a limited range of strokes and play. If you hit fairly flat strokes on both sides, and don’t need too much variety, this racquet will be fine. If you need more versatility in your game or like to hit with a lot of topspin, this racquet will be a tough one for you.

Forehand: I hit with a ton of natural topspin because of my grip and stroke production, which translates to a lot of mishits and shanks with the Instinct. Even with its’ open string pattern, I had to flatten out my shots in order to get the cleanest hits on the ball. For players like me who like to hit with pace, the down side was less margin of error in terms of net coverage AND keeping the ball inside of the baseline.

Backhand: The same was true (and then some) on my two-handed backhand wing. Flatter shots were cleaner hits, but gave me no margin of error in comparison to my current racquet. Additionally, mishits were much more frequent.

Serve: Sometimes I serve flat into the body of my opponent. But more often than not, I like to move the serve around the box with varying slice. This racquet gave me flat and hard, but almost versatility in terms of slice or kick. Moreover, it was more frustrating to use the Instinct than it was in easing back on the power of the Extreme Pro.

Volleys: Best when hit cleanly, but then again that’s true of most volleys. Right?

Overall: For a 4.0 player of my type, margin of error is a good thing. Versatility is also a good thing. Unfortunately, the Instinct gave me neither. In the right hands, however, this would be a good racquet to bludgeon your opponent off the court with hard, flat shots. If you fancy yourself to be a player in the style of Sharapova, give it demo. If you need your racquet to do more, I’d look elsewhere.

(As with most of my equipment testing, demo racquet was graciously provided by City Racquet Shop. Please check them out if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area.)

(Per usual, here are the caveats on my racquet reviews. I’m a 4.0 player with a fast swing that generates more than enough power and topspin from my western grip. I hit a slice backhand for tactical purposes, but generally use a two-handed drive. Please view this racquet review accordingly.)

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