Choosing the Right Tennis String for Your Racquet

2015-09-14 at 18:07 pm

There are a few different factors to consider when choosing a string for your tennis racquet: the gauge or thickness of the string,  the composition, the string pattern of racquet and finally, the string tension.  The right combination of all of these can improve your tennis game significantly, and isn't that what we all want? 

String Gauge:

Tennis strings come in different gauges (or thicknesses) which will offer different feel and playability in your frame.  The range is from15 gauge (thickest) to 18 gauge (thinnest). Generally speaking, the thinner the string gauge, the more playability the string will offer. This means improved feel, control and easier spin generation. The same string in a thicker gauge will offer more durability than its thinner counterpart while feeling stiffer.

String Composition - Polyester, Nylon, Natural Gut or Hybrid Strings:

Polyester strings are stiff, durable monofilament strings. They are ideal for string-breakers who are looking for more spin in their game as the material allows the strings to slide against each other and then “snap back” when the ball leaves the contact point. Even though these strings do not break as frequently, it is important to restring regularly to  maintain optimal performance.

Polyester strings are often recommended for more advanced players who wear out their strings before the tension loss becomes noticeable or any player who is looking for strings which offer maximum spin potential. There are many good options to choose from: Head polys include Hawk, Hawk Touch, Lynx, Gravity and Sonic Pro. From Luxilon, the AluPower line of strings is commonly used and from Babolat, the Hurricane Tour and the Pro Hurricane strings are well-liked. For a softer-playing poly that is easier on the arm, consider Head Sonic Pro or Head Hawk Touch.

Nylon (Polyamid) strings come in many different constructions with Multifilaments being the most popular option. Multifilament strings are exactly what their name implies: several individual strands woven and braided together to make up a single string. They are commonly coated with a wear-resistant outer coating to prevent the strands from unraveling. These strings are popular with amateur players and players with elbow problems not only because they are easier on the arm, but because they can provide more power and hold their tension well. The starting price for multifilament strings also makes them an attractive option for many players although there are also higher end options that possess sophisticated technologies for increased performance.  Some popular multifilament strings are the Head FXP and  Rip Control, Wilson Sensation and Babolat Xcel strings. For higher performing multifilament strings, Tecnifibre HDX Tour Strings and Wilson NXT and Gamma strings are great choices.

Natural Gut Strings are the most expensive for a good reason: they are typically made from animal intestine and offer the best tension retention and energy return. Natural Gut is also the softest string, which allows for it to be strung at higher tensions without losing too much power and increasing impact shock - great if you are suffering from tennis elbow! The higher price of these strings is attributed to the manufacturing process and the difficulty of storage while maintaining the quality of the gut. They can be very sensitive to weather conditions, specifically moisture and heat and as such, need to be treated with care. The Babolat VS line of natural gut strings and the Wilson Champion’s Choice Duo (which comes in a hybrid set) are some popular options.

Hybrid stringing is another popular option and consists of a combination of two different strings used together in the same string job ie: the main strings would be one type of string and the cross strings would be a different type.  This works well for players looking for a blend of string qualities but it can require some experimentation before you find one that works for you. Common hybrid options include polyester main strings and nylon/multifilament/natural gut cross strings. The multifilament and/or gut string can soften up the stiffness of polyester string bed and provide more power while retaining the durability advantages of poly strings. Prepackaged options include Wilson’s Champion Choice (natural gut/poly), Head Gravity (poly/poly with an edge) and Babolat Pro Hurricane/ Xcel (poly/multifilament).

String Patterns:

Depending on your racquet’s string pattern (the number of main strings in relation to the number of cross strings), certain types of string will be more suitable than others. Two racquets with the exact same head size and weight will play differently from one another if their string patterns are different. 

Some racquets come in a dense stringing pattern, with the higher number of main and cross strings leaving smaller gaps between them. These racquets are designed for more advanced players and offer more control, more consistent feel and reduced power. Strings will also last longer in a dense string pattern as the impact of the ball is dispersed and spread out over more strings than in a more open string pattern (a pattern with fewer strings overall). A thinner string gauge is recommended for dense string patterns as they  offer more playability. Polyester strings are often recommended as many players with these racquets have a faster, more developed swing and are looking for durability and control.  

Over the last couple of years, racquets with open string patterns have picked up in popularity as these frames provide more power and more spin potential. This is because the open pattern deflects more impact similar to a “trampoline” and allows the ball to “bite” into the string, increasing spin potential. The downside to using an open pattern is the reduced string durability from friction as they move around more freely in the racquet head.  Players who are looking for maximum spin should try textured strings such as Head Gravity or Weiss Cannon Black5Edge for increased “bite” on spin shots. For chronic string breakers or hard hitters, thicker gauge strings such as the Luxilon 141 4G (15 gauge) or 16 gauge are recommended.

Tension:

String tension plays a big role when stringing your racquet and is just as important as the string itself. Higher tensions provide more control; lower tensions provide more depth and power. Higher tensions reduce the  sweetspot and require a faster swing speed but lower tensions will allow for more “forgiveness” on off-center shots and an increased sweetspot. The string composition also influences racquet tension ie: multifilament strings strung at a higher tension may feel looser than a polyester string strung at a much lower tension. It is recommended to string Polyester strings 10 to 20% lower tension than you would normally string nylon strings.

If you have any questions about choosing the right string, please feel free to email us at info@courtsidesports.com or call us on our toll-free number at 866-386-4265.

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