This is one of the biggest problem areas in tennis equipment across the world. Don’t tell the stringer to give you a random string and tension becuase that lucky packet will only bring unpleasant surprises. Do you think Robin hood slapped simply any feathers onto his arrow? You need to be a master of your weapon. By knowing what is available and how to tailor it to your style of play, you can “fine tune” the racket to suite your needs which can drastically vary according tosurface type, climate and altitude.
Make an informed choice when buying your strings as its vital to your preformance and enjoyment of the game.
It really is a game changer.
Players will spend months demoing rackets yet only minutes choosing a string, the very thing which makes contact with the ball and greatly determines what the player feels. Become familiar with the various spcefication and technical detail provided below.
There is huge variety of materials to choose from. Most of the materials are some form of synthetic materials. By changing the chemical compound of the material different results can be achieved of which can be broken down into these categories:
Power, comfort, durability, spin and tension holding.
A material will usually provide two or three of those qualites but seldom will a string offer the complete package. You may find that you would like to try a Hybrid of strings to balance the poperties of the two strings, IE. a hard polyester monofilament on the mains (down strings) with a multifilament (being soft) on the cross strings.
Here is a list of the various material that you will find in strings:
Natural | Polyamide | Polyester | polymer | Co-Polyester | Aramid | Polyethylene | Polyurethane | Kevlar
A string gauge (thickness) is presented in milimeters (1.25mm) or as gauge (17 gauge). Most tennis strings are 15-17 gauge, with a few specialty strings being 18-20 gauge. The higher the gauge number, the thinner the string and typically measured in millimeters. One company’s 16 gauge string may measure 1.28 mm, while another will measure 1.32 mm, which represents almost a half gauge difference.
String tension is the final piece in the racket-string-tension triad. It’s also the least understood by most recreational players. Let’s start with the basics
– lower tensions provide more power, tighter tensions provide more control.
This is a very general rule of thumb and assumes a certain level of player ability (especially the control part). A beginner player may need more control, but tighter string tensions aren’t the solution. This player needs a soft, forgiving string bed that lower tensions provide due to the frequency of off-center hits. Advanced players who swing fast and hit hard usually need more control and will, therefore, benefit from tighter tensions. There are, of course, always exceptions but these generalizations apply to the majority of players.
Each racket has a recommended tension range. This range has been determined by the manufacturer as a result of extensive playtesting by players. If a player doesn’t have a specific need (more power, arm problems, etc.), he should start at mid-range and make any adjustments from there.
Otherwise, here are some specific guidelines for selecting a string tension.
Power – As we stated above, if a player is seeking more power from his racket, he should try dropping tension a few pounds. The stringbed will deflect more (and the ball less), returning greater energy to the ball. There is a point of diminishing returns where the stringbed turns into a butterfly net, but it’s well below any racquet’s recommended tension range.
Control – a tighter stringbed deflects less and deforms the ball more, providing less energy than looser strings. This means the ball won’t fly as far when you hit it. Beginners who are shanking the ball in every direction won’t gain any advantage by increasing tension, but intermediate and advanced players who are hitting a lot of long balls will be able to reduce the depth of their shots without changing their swing. It is also generally accepted that spin potential is enhanced with higher tensions, which provides even more control for topspin and slice players.
Arm Injuries – lower tensions result in a softer stringbed and a larger sweetspot, reducing the amount of shock and vibration transmitted to the hand and elbow.
Switching Rackets – too many players are stuck on a tension (“I always string my racquet at 60 pounds”) and don’t make allowances when changing rackets. Whether changing head sizes, brands, or buying a new titanium racket, a player will need to make the corresponding tension change. If 60 pounds was mid-range on his old racquet and the new racket’s tension range is 50-60 pounds he should start at 55 pounds with the new racket.
Switching Strings – if a player changes from a soft string (natural gut, syn gut, multi) to a poly-based string, we suggest reducing tension 5-10% to compensate for the higher stiffness. This is more art than science and may require trial and error to get the feel exactly right. When switching to Kevlar be advised that this material is much stiffer than nylon synthetics and quite a bit stiffer than most ploy-based strings – so tension accordingly.
*NB. Know the difference between string tension and stringbed tension. String tension is what the stringer will put into his machine. Every stringing machine, stringer, string type will produce a different result. So when you ask for 50 pounds tension you might be getting 55 or 45. The stringbed bed tension is the tension across the overall string area of the racket. The stringbed tension will be a lower number compared to your regular string tension. Eg. If your reular tension is 55 pounds the stringbed tension could be 45 pounds. By using a stringbed meter you can get to know what is your preffered poundage of stringbed is and use that as an indication for yourself when to replace strings and what poundage parameters you like in specific conditions. A proffesional stringer will know what stringbed tension is and should give you the stringbed tension requested or do the job again at his cost. If you’re not getting this type of service then you need to speak to the experts – Tennis24seven.
When to replace strings
One theory is to replace the stings after every 40 hours of play. Another theory is that you should be putting fresh strings on once a year for every one day a week you typically play tennis. That would mean that if you play 4 days a week, you should string 4 times a year, minimum. And don’t be afraid to restring if the stringbed just doesn’t feel as good as it used to. Strings lose tension and go dead over time, even if they aren’t used.
If you are really serious about your game then we have the ULTIMATE STRING TENSION TOOL, click here to see more.
Where to replace strings
We recommend to have your racket restrung at a trained stringer who offers a proffesional service. The stringer should know and be able to tell you about stringbed tension, pre-stretch, strings better for tennis elbow and much more. Most manual stringing machines cannot give you consistent tension when stringing a racket, unless using the Stringway manual machines. If you are in the Gauteng area why not contact us and make use of our proffesional stringing service.
If you are outside of Gauteng give us a call and we may be able to recommend a good stringer in your area or if you are part of a club we could arrange a collection and delivery service from your venue.
– Lower string tensions generate more power (providing string movement does not occur).
– Higher string tensions generate more ball control (for experienced players).
– A longer string (or string plane area) produces more power.
– Decreased string density (fewer strings) generates more power.
– Thinner string generates more power.
– More elastic strings generate more power. (Generally, what will produce more power will also absorb more shock load at impact.)
– Softer strings, or strings with a softer coating, tend to vibrate less.
– Thinner strings tend to produce more spin.
– Increased string density (more strings) generates more control.
– The more elastic the string, the more tension loss in the racquet after the string job.**
**Pre-stretching aligns (stretches) the polymer chains in the string and “sets” the string, which reduces tension loss, albeit slightly. Generally, the more pre-stretching (prior to stringing) the less tension loss after stringing.