- 1 String Types
- 2 Tension
- 3 Guage
- 4 Hybrids
- 5 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- 5.1 What gauge of tennis string is best?
- 5.2 What type of tennis string gives you the most spin?
- 5.3 What’s the best string tension for more spin?
- 5.4 What’s the best string tension for more power?
- 5.5 What’s the best string tension for more control?
- 5.6 What’s the best string tension to protect my arm?
- 5.7 What type of tennis string lasts longest?
- 5.8 What type of tennis string gives you the most power?
- 5.9 What’s the best string tension to make the strings last?
- 5.10 What do those tiny string holders (e.g. String-a-Lings or String Savers) do?
- 5.11 How often should I restring my tennis racquet?
- 5.12 What is a hybrid string?
- 5.13 Is natural gut worth the price?
With so many different types of strings on the market, picking a string can be confusing and overwhelming. There are hundreds of strings to choose from. To further complicate things, you must next choose a guage and a tension.
If you want quick answers rather than reading through whole doc, skip to the FAQ section.
This page was made to help tennis players:
1. Learn more about the different types of tennis strings and to understand their advantages and disavantages. With this information, choosing a string will be less guess work and will help you narrow your choices down to a few strings. Hopefully this will save you time and money.
2. Understand the importance of the guage (thickness) of a string and to help you choose one that best fits your game.
3. Understand the difference tension makes and to choose a tension that will help you improve your game.
To begin understanding the many types of strings, we must first classify them into groups. All strings basically fit into two groups, Gut or Synthetic Gut.
Gut strings made from cows gut in a complex process. Because of this, gut is the most expensive string on the market. Gut strings are very popular among professional players because of its elasticity, tension stability and liveliness. Because of the high price, gut is not recommended for the average recreational player. Not to mention it is not very durable. Gut is also very sensitive to moisture.
Synthetic Gut strings are strings are the many other strings produced to give the user different charateristics such as durabiliy, spin, feel, power etc.. Synthetic gut strings can be classified in the following areas:
A good all-around string category. This is the basic, and most popular string choice in tennis. It also happens to be one of the cheapest. It has a crisper feel compared with Multifilaments, good, but not as gentle on the arm as Multi or Gut. It’s reasonably durable and holds tension well. A good category of string when you’re looking for power and control.
Examples: Gamma Synthetic Gut and Prince Tournament Nylon
Polyester & Kevlar
This is the durability category; the choice for hard hitters, string breakers, and people without arm problems. Expect harsher hits (very harsh with Kevlar) with above average control. Kevlar (aramid fiber) is extremely durable and holds tension very good, but I would never recommend it as the only string in your racquet – hybrid use only. Poly has much more playability, it’s use is not limited to hybrid applications like Kevlar, and Poly holds tension fair. A good category of string when you’re looking for maximum durability and control.
Examples: Kirchbaum Super Smashy Honey (polyester) and Ashaway Kevlar
The top category after natural gut. Best overall playability, gentle on the arm, but punishing to your opponent. The fraying (as they wear) may annoy some. Holds tension fair. Second most expensive string after gut. A good category of string when you’re looking for arm friendly, power and control.
Examples: Wilson NXT and Babolat Fibertour
These are the strings that have an added raised band to give the string tecture. The idea of the this tecture, is to produce more spin on the tennis ball. Other strings such as Gamma Gut 2, have tiny groves that give the string more texture. I have had customers clip off polyester strings after having them only a few days because they couldn’t get any spin with them.
Examples: Gamma Ruff and Prince Topspin Plus
Tension has the most effect on “feel” and control; and some effect on power. You’re looking for ideal ball-pocket and snap-back with a crisp feel in your tension choice. It’s all dependent on your swing speed, the speed of the balls you receive, and string choice. Let’s pick a reference number of 60 lbs. and Nylon string – the ball pockets perfect and snaps back with power and control. If you switch to Poly it’ll feel stiff . You’ll also probably wonder where all your power went. (Yes, it is a stiffer string that returns little power, but by adjusting the tension down you’ll improve feel and power somewhat.) Now you switch from Nylon to Multifilament. Where did all that rebound come from? Why are my deep baseline shots now going long? I’ve had customers mess up their game because they subconsciously shorten their strokes trying to keep the ball in, and when they swing with the proper stroke (long and full), criticize themselves for hitting long. It’s your string/tension choice… not you, I tell them!
Picking a Tension
The range stenciled on the side of your racket is a rough starting point… it’s for ALL players, men, women, young, old, hard hitters, moonballers, college aces, flat balls and spinners. My two cents? Start in the bottom third of the range. Need more depth on your ground strokes and pop on your serve, or does a hit feel stiff or harsh? Drop down 3 pounds. Shortening your ground stroke follow-through to keep it in the court, or does it simply feel mushy? Increase it 3 pounds. Did you know that some famous professionals (John McEnroe for one) have strung 10 lbs. or more below the tension range?
The Science of Tension
When picking a lower tension – or your strings lose tension – more energy (power) is actually given back to the ball. Lower tension – or a loss of tension – may result in a loss of control… the ball goes further than your aim point. Speaking only of aging strings that have lost tension… to keep control, you subconsciously back off stroke speed and length, which lessens the “crisp feel at impact” (that oomph you got from the new strings) even more… this feedback is why players call aging strings “dead.” The biggest problem – loss of control – is due to two factors; 1) the trampoline effect of aging strings, and 2) a lower tension results in longer ball dwell time on the racquet… the ball stays on the strings and releases later in your stroke… when this new angle of release (launch angle) is not tuned to your speed and stroke style, you’ll shoot that darn ball all over the place.
Gauge has the most effect on feel and spin. Go thin! At least as thin as you can without breaking a string every month. Thinner gauges play better, and deliver more power, more control and/or spin (better bite on the ball). They simply feel better… and are less stressful on your arm. Start with a 17 ga. Breaks too soon? Try another brand. Breaks too soon again? Move up to a thicker 16 gauge. But if the 17 ga. lasts… you’re in luck now… move down to a thinner 18 gauge which will give you even more of a good thing! My experience? Most recreational playing men should use a 16 ga., and most women a 17ga. Keep in mind that some racquets (widebody’s) are “string breakers” no matter what your style or power… start with 16 ga.
Aproximate Guage diameters:
What is a Hybrid?
Hybrid stringing consists of using different strings in the main and cross strings of a racquet. Hybrid stringing can be as simple as varying string thickness between the main and cross string, to using completely different string materials.
Why Should I use a Hybrid String?
Hybrid stringing is gaining popularity as more players are looking for a blend of string qualities. By selecting different hybrid combinations of string, players can fine-tune the playability, comfort, durability, liveliness and control offered by the stringbed. For instance, heavy hitting players can find a good combination of durability and playability with a polyester main string and natural gut or premium synthetic cross string hybrid.
Selecting the Main String
When choosing a hybrid, note that the main string will dominate the overall feel and playability of the two strings. For example, if you are seeking durability, then the most durable of the two strings selected should be chosen as the main string. If your overall goal is playability, then the string with the most desirable playing characteristics should be chosen as the main string. For playability, select a thinner gauge as the main string such as 17 or 18 gauge. For durability, select a thicker main string such 15L or 16 gauge. You can mix gauges between mains and crosses.
Selecting the Cross String
Think of the cross string as having an influence on the main string. While you will not get the full benefit of the string’s playing characteristics, the overall feel of the stringbed will be altered. For example, a soft and forgiving cross string, such as natural gut or multifilament synthetic, can soften-up a stiff and durable main string, such as polyester.
Selecting a Tenison
To further customize your hybrid selection, you can vary the tension between strings. As a general rule, main strings should be strung tighter than cross strings. This is a popular set-up with professional players and is a good way of increasing the size of the sweetspot. We recommend a tension variance of 2-3lbs and have a maximum tension variance of 5lbs on hybrid stringing.
Popular Hybrid Combinations:
|Andy Roddick||Mara Safin||Budget Durable Feel|
|Hurricane Mains||Ballistic 16 Mains||Rip Control Mains|
|VS Gut Crosses||VS Gut 16 Crosses||Gamma TNT Crosses|
|Roger Federer||Tour Blend||Wilson Durable Feel|
|VS Gut Mains||Banger Orginal Mains||Enduro Mains|
|ALU Power Rough Crosses||VS Gut Crosses||NXT Max Crosses|
|Maria Sharapova||Gut Durability||Babolat Durable/Feel|
|Pro Hurricane 17 Mains||VS Gut 15L Mains||Hurricane Mains|
|VS Gut 16 Crosses||VS Gut 17 Crosses||X-Cel Crosses|
|Jennifer Capriati||Gut/Multi||Gamma Durable Feel|
|VS Gut 16 Mains||VS Gut Mains||Zo Power Mains|
|BB ALU Power Crosses||NRG/NXT/X-Cel Crosses||XP 17 Crosses|
|Tim Henman||Budget Gut/Multi||Vintage Aggasi|
|BB Timo 17 Mains||Legend Gut Mains||Ashaway Kevlar Mains|
|VS Gut 17 Crosses||Sensation Crosses||VS Gut Crosses|
|Leyton Hewitt||NXT Durability||Budget Aggasi|
|VS Gut 17 Mains||NXT Max Mains||Ashaway Kevlar Mains|
|BB ALU Power Crosses||NXT (Orig) Crosses||Prince Original Cross|
|Mara Safin||Tecnifibre Ultimate|
|Ballistic 16 Mains||X-One 17 Mains|
|VS Gut 16 Crosses||NRG 18 Crosses|
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What gauge of tennis string is best?
Thinner gauges offer more resiliency (ofen equated with “feel”). Thicker strings last longer. Thick, 15 gauge strings are generally used in beginner and some intermediate racquets. Most serious players who don’t like to restring too often use 16 gauge. 17 and 18 gauge are for those who can afford string luxury. Each gauge has a light (L) variation that’s a little thinner.
What type of tennis string gives you the most spin?
Thinner strings are widely believed to bite into the ball better and produce more spin, but published lab results indicate no significant correlation between spin and string gauge.
What’s the best string tension for more spin?
You’ll find two views on this question. One camp believes lower tensions produce more spin because the ball remains on the strings longer, but lab results indicate that increasing string tension by 50% (quite a lot) increases spin by approximately 5% (not much). The most common explanation is that this slight increase occurs because the ball compresses more on the string bed, with each string biting farther into the ball
What’s the best string tension for more power?
Generally, if you string at the lower end of your racquet’s recommended tension range, the same stroke will make the ball fly farther. Lower string tensions generally result in the ball rebounding off the string bed with just a bit more energy, but this effect is too slight to make the ball fly significantly farther. The United States Racquet Stringers Association recently published a study that concluded that the reason lower tensions hit farther is the result of the ball remaining on the strings longer as the racquet is swung upward.
What’s the best string tension for more control?
At any given swing speed, higher string tensions improve control.
What’s the best string tension to protect my arm?
Lower string tensions prolong the contact between ball and strings, spreading the impact shock over a longer period of time and thus reducing stress on your arm.
What type of tennis string lasts longest?
Kevlar (the stuff bullet-proof vests are made of) is the most durable string material, often lasting many times longer than the average nylon or synthetic gut.
What type of tennis string gives you the most power?
Most strings come with a resiliency rating. The higher the resiliency, the more power the strings should offer. Generally, thinner strings are more resilient, as are gut and synthetic gut materials.
What’s the best string tension to make the strings last?
Lower string tensions will generally help your strings last longer unless they’re so loose that that they shift every time you hit the ball. Constant shifting makes the cross strings rub notches into the mains, which break at those notches.
What do those tiny string holders (e.g. String-a-Lings or String Savers) do?
String holders are intended to keep the main strings from shifting upon ball impact, especially on spin strokes. Preventing shifting enhances spin, as does the extra texture the string holders add to the string bed. By keeping the strings from rubbing one another, the string holders should, in theory, also prolong the strings’ lifetime, but some argue that they concentrate stress at one point along the string, causing it to break sooner.
How often should I restring my tennis racquet?
The common rule of thumb is to restring as often per year as you play per week, but at least twice per year. This is just a rough guideline. Some types of string lose tension faster than others, heavy spin hitters wear strings out much faster than flat hitters, and some players seem quite happy to let the strings decide when to be replaced — by breaking.
What is a hybrid string?
A set of hybrid strings uses kevlar or a similar, ultra-durable but stiff string for the main strings and a more resilient, less durable string for the cross strings. The crosses don’t need to be especially durable, because it’s the mains that take most of the abuse and are first to break at least 95% of the time. The more resilient crosses add springiness to the string bed, which with all-kevlar strings would be extremely stiff. The kevlar mains should usually be strung at a lower tension than the crosses because their greater stiffness would prevent the crosses from deflecting properly if both were equally tight.
Is natural gut worth the price?
Natural gut used to be the most resilient string available, but synthetic gut has caught up to the point where testing indicates that advanced players who aren’t told which they are using often can’t tell the difference. Natural gut breaks faster and reacts badly to moisture and humidity, but it still has loyal users who can afford the expensive and frequent restringing.
Compiled from http://www.slcstringer.com/aboutstrings.html and other various sources on the Internet