Article by Ash Taylor of Ash Taylor Tennis
Strings are as important to your racket as tyres are to a car. They need to be replaced often to get the best out of your racket and your game. They degrade with or without use. Unsuitable strings can cause the user discomfort or even injury. However, no need to worry, all your stringing concerns can be put to rest by following a few simple guidelines.
When to replace?
There are two types of player, string breakers and string savers.
We will discuss string breakers later when we discuss durable strings but we don’t need to tell them when to get their racket restrung, for them it’s a necessity.
String savers on the other hand have a choice not to get restrings. This group includes most club players, and are the people that suffer most from wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries. Many of these injuries can be avoided or cured by restringing your racket with a soft string. Restringing every 6 months will result in a springy string bed. This increased playability in the string bed will reduce shock and vibration transferred to your arm thus reducing injury.
What string suits your game?
An ideal string would playable (comfortable and springy) and durable. Unfortunately there is a trade off, the more durable a string, the less playable it becomes.
Luckily, String savers do not need their strings to be durable and can enjoy the playable version. A Soft string gives the most playability, meaning a string that snaps back quickly upon ball impact. Natural gut is the finest example of this but is very expensive. A good mulitifilament string such as Head FiberGEL, Wilson NXT, Babolat X-Cel Premium, TechnifibreNRG2 will do a similar job for a fraction of the price.
String breakers need more durable strings to reduce breakages. One option is to get a thicker gauge of their favourite string. Another option is to get hybrid strings. Generally this means putting a polyester or Kevlar string in the mains and a softer string in the crosses. This gives you durability in the string that normally breaks with comfortable strings running the other way. A racket strung totally in polyester can feel very hard and transmits a lot of vibration through your racket.
Keep in mind how long it took to choose your perfect racket. Try different strings to find what works for you. Roger Federer puts soft string in his mains and poly in his crosses. That’s the reverse of general opinion but it seems to work for him!
What tension should I string my racket?
In its most basic form lower tension allows more power, higher tension gives greater control. Most rackets have a tension range written on them and if you are not sure, a good bet is the middle point. A certain amount of tension is lost within an hour of a restring. Hence the pros have all their rackets done right before each match. To minimize this loss have your string pre-stretched before it’s put in your racket. Finally rackets are not generally circular and so the main strings are longer than the crosses and lose more tension comparatively. A good idea is to get the mains slightly tighter than the crosses eg 55/53 lbs.
If in doubt, every 6 months get your racket restrung with a soft string at a medium tension.
Member since: 9th July 2012
Hi, We are Phil and Gill Chappell. We own the Best of Henley-on-Thames. We live in Henley so would love to hear your views and opinions about all things Henley.