All Things Racquet Restringing: Terms and Recommendations

November 25, 2021

Jayson Memken

Have you ever wondered what string is best for you, what tension your racquet should be, or what are some of the technical terms surrounding strings in the racquet?

 

There are two main categories of string: Natural Gut and Synthetic strings.

 

Natural Gut

This type of string provides maximum feel and softness in the racquet.  The biggest drawback to this type of string is the cost.  It is the most expensive string to use in your racquet.

 

Synthetic Strings

These strings are made up of multiple sources; nylon and polyester are the most common.  In these strings the durability is increased while the cost is decreased.  Most hard-hitting players are using polyester strings due to the increased durability.

 

Once you have selected the type of string you want to play with, the next two large factors in strings are the gauge and tension.

 

String Gauge

This measures the thickness of the string.  The range is from 15-19 gauge.  The thickest string is 15 gauge, and the thinnest string is 19 gauge.  The gauge effects the spin potential and durability of the string.  15-gauge string has the best durability, but the least spin potential.  19-gauge string has the most spring potential but has a very short durability rating. The two most common string gauges are 16 and 17.

 

String Tension

This number represents how tight the strings are being pulled when the racquet is being strung.  You can find the recommended tension on the frame of your racquet.  The tension suggestion will either be a number range (usually from 54-59) or listed as 55 +/- 5 (which means you can have a tension of 50-60).  The chart below will outline the differences between high and low tensions:

 

Attribute Low Tension High Tension
Power Lower tension creates a trampoline effect in the center of the string surface which effectively mirrors the energy back into the ball. With lower tension, the faster the ball comes at you, the faster you'll be able to send it back. Power is not the focus with higher string tension. With a higher tension, you're going to hit the ball and have a lower 'oomph' from your efforts. Less power can be a good thing depending on your playing style.
Control Control isn't the goal when stringing at a lower tension. Speed and control don't have to be mutually exclusive. Using a lower tension to achieve more power does not automatically eliminate all control. Comparatively, you have more control with higher tension. Due to the lack of the trampoline effect, the strings won't propel the ball as quickly so there's more time for directional control.
Durability Rackets strung at lower tension tend to have more durability in the strings. Because the tension isn't as high, the strings aren't under as much pressure when not in use. You have slightly less string durability when a racket has higher tension. Without any hitting, the racket has higher pressure on the string bed.
Arm Impact If you have tennis elbow or any other arm injury, using lower tension will provide a more forgiving hitting experience. Your arm will feel more of the impact when strings are strung to the higher end of the tension range. This may be something to consider if you have or are prone to arm injuries.
Arm Impact Personal preference is the name of the game for comfort. Try out lower tension and see how you like it. Personal preference is the name of the game for comfort. Try out higher tension and see how you like it.

 

At the end of the day, string type and tension is about personal preference.  If you play your best with a certain string and tension, keep it the same.  If you are looking for a piece of your game that seems to be just missing, try experimenting with a new string or changing your tension.

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