String Tension for Tennis Racquet

The strings you put in your racket are key to how the racket performs, accounting for at least 50% of its performance. They are what you are contacting the ball with; they are the engine of your racket. Putting a poor quality or inappropriate string in your racket would be like putting the engine from a Vespa scooter into a Formula One car; it just won’t perform optimally. But, with so many different strings out there, how do you know which one is right for you?

Within the recommended tension range for a given set of strings, lower tensions offer significantly less stress on the arm and slightly more power, and higher tensions offer significantly more control at a given level of topspin.

Generally, tighter strings offer more control, looser strings more comfort. Looser strings also seem to have more power because they tend to hit farther, probably due to their prolonging contact with the ball while the racquet moves upward with the stroke. String tension has a profound effect on the way a racquet performs and feels. I’ve seen lots of players hate a racquet strung at one tension, then love an identical frame strung differently. (This is a good point to keep in mind when trying racquets you’re considering buying.) There’s no single best tension, and the pros offer little guidance, with a huge range in their preferred tensions and no apparent correlation to style of play.

Topspin improves control by making the ball fall faster as it flies forward. For a swing at a given speed and upward angle, some strings produce more topspin at lower tensions, some at higher tensions, with differences on the order of 10% or less.

Looser strings hit farther in part because the ball stays on the strings longer, and because on most swings the racquet tilts upward and rises as it moves forward, a ball that stays on the strings longer leaves the racquet on a higher trajectory.

Finding strings you really like can require some experimentation. If you start by deciding how much durability you require, then you’ll be able to stick with the results of your play-testing.

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