Head touts the Graphene 360 Instinct Line as a racquet with effortless power, and while I found it powerful enough, I also was impressed with the amount of control the racquet offered. The construction is a fairly common 23/26/23 tapered beam, infused with Graphene 360 throughout the hoop for improved stability and increased ball speed. The technology makes what is generally a firmer-feeling and thick-beamed frame an incredibly comfortable one. The sound the ball makes when hitting the sweet spot is awesome, and I wanted to reproduce it straight away.
Simply put, the Instinct MP is built for ground strokes. The racquet moves through the air quickly, and feels comfortable with both shorter and longer swings. I felt most comfortable driving the ball a bit flatter where the stability and comfort shined through the most. In contrast to the more open string spacing on the Graphene 360 Extreme series, the center main strings on the Instinct are more narrowly spaced. So when I hit a forehand dead center, I was rewarded with control often found in thinner beamed, dense patterned racquets. Even if I missed the sweet spot, the fairly open 16 x 19 string pattern gave me enough depth and power to keep the ball from being attacked.
Serves & Returns
It’s easy to block returns deep with the Instinct MP. For a 10.6 ounce unstrung racquet, it does a great job of absorbing and redirecting the ball deep into the court. I did get carried away on some second serve returns missing them long, but the response is so consistent from the string bed that it only required a slight adjustment.
When hitting serves with the Instinct MP, I got more control than I expected from the 16 x 19 string pattern. It’s easy to go after the ball and the swing weight is not cumbersome in the slightest. There is quite a bit of power available in the upper third of the sweet spot, and enough spin to get decent clearance on second serves.
I believe the 23/26/23 beam helped me pick up and reflex volleys while at the net. The sweet spot on the Instinct MP was easy to find, and though my volleys aren’t the strongest aspect of my game, I felt emboldened to move forward and try to finish points off at the net. The racquet provides a solid blend of stability and maneuverability with plenty of room for tweaking and customization.
My main gripe with HEAD and the new Instinct series is the lack of a “Pro” model. A leather grip would provide a bit more feel for players that want it, and tilt the balance slightly more head light for a jump in mobility. That being said, the Graphene 360 Instinct MP is a one of the better platform racquets to come out in the past few seasons. If you are looking for a racquet with tweener qualities, but with a bit more precision give the HEAD Graphene 360 Instinct MP a shot.
Note: The playtest racquet was strung with Head Lynx Edge 17G at 56 pounds.
About the Reviewer: Sam Jones currently works at Tennis Express on the Content Marketing team. He previously played at Southwestern University, taught tennis for 10+ years and earned his USRSA Master Racquet Technician Certification in 2011. He is an active NTRP 5.0 League and Tournament player.