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HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT STRING
Once you have decided on a new racquet, you will be asked one more question: "How would you like that strung?" It is highly important choose the best string and tension for your game style, so we've provided a little cheat sheet detailing the four basic categories of string as well as some key terms to remember. There is no substitute for experience, so be prepared to try a few different strings and tensions before finding the best fit.
Types Of String
This is the Rolls Royce of tennis string, providing top-of-the-line tension maintenance and feel for players of all ability levels. Made from individual strands of intestines (usually from cows), this string is also one of the priciest. Used by club players and touring pros alike, natural gut was originally extremely sensitive to water and weather changes, but modern coatings and treatments have decreased this risk. Even so make sure to keep it out of the rain and the trunk of your car.
This is a type of string design where numerous individual string filaments, usually made of nylon, are wrapped or braided into a single length of string with a urethane binding agent. Multifilament strings tend to produce more power and comfort than solid-core or synthetic gut strings, and are a preferred choice for players with arm problems. Multifilament strings are designed to mimic to performance of natural gut without the price tag. These strings provide excellent elasticity when freshly strung but lose tension quicker than natural gut.
A type of string design where one string material, or a combination of materials, is extruded, or drawn through a geometrically shaped dye, to form a solid piece of string. Monofilament strings tend to exhibit greater durability than synthetic gut or multifilament strings of the same material, but have less power, feel, and comfort. The most common monofilament string, polyester based strings, have become softer (read: easier on the arm) as it has evolved. These strings are ideal for players searching for durability with control and spin. The lower elasticity of these strings requires full, fast swings to maximize their performance. This is why they are generally used by intermediate and advanced players. Polyester-based strings are known for losing tension fairly quickly.
The most economical of the various string families, synthetic gut is a nylon-based string, typically with a solid monofilament core surrounded by one or multiple layers of smaller filaments. This construction technique provides all-around performance by combining the improved tension maintenance of the solid core while improving the feel and playability by utilizing the outerwraps. This string's performance has improved over the years, providing dynamic response and feel enjoyed by players of various levels.
This is the mixing of two different types or gauges of string in the same racquet. Hybrid stringing has become popular in the last several years due to the rise of polyester-based strings. Since these polyester-based strings are so stiff, many players have mixed them with synthetic or natural gut strings to make for a more playable and comfortable string bed, while retaining much of the poly's spin and durability characteristics.
The application of force to the strings by a machine to achieve the desired playability of the string bed. Most modern racquets will be strung somewhere between 40-70 pounds (18-22 kilograms) of tension. Typically a racquet will feature a recommended tension range somewhere near the throat of the racquet. The closer to the top of the range, the more control and less pop a player will experience. A lower tension will provide more power, but also less feel and control. The middle of the recommended tension range is a good place to start on the quest for the perfect racquet tension. From the time the string is installed, it will begin to lose tension, often 10% or more within the first 24 hours before stabilizing for a time. As the tension continues to drop, elasticity also decreases, forcing the player to provide more of their own power for the same results as a freshly strung racquet. If you want to maximize your performance, be sure to regularly restring your racquet. The general rule for restringing is at least every 6 months, or as many times in a year as you play in a week. So if you play 4 days a week, you should be restringing at a minimum of four times a year.
This is the diameter of the string, commonly expressed in millimeters and/or gauge numbers (the higher the gauge number, the thinner the string, and vice versa). Thinner strings tend to provide more power, feel and spin potential than a larger diameter string of the same type, although the thicker string will provide more control and durability.
This is a term to describe a string's ability to deform and spring back to its original alignment. This is often discussed in terms of power, as a string with a higher elasticity is allowed to deform to a greater extent and then return to its original alignment, returning more energy back into the ball. Strings with greater elasticity typically provide a softer feel as the string bed will provide more pocketing for the incoming shot.
This is the mixing of two different types or gauges of string in the same racquet. Hybrid stringing has become popular in the last several years due to the popularity of polyester-based strings. Since these strings are so stiff, many players have mixed them with synthetic or natural gut strings to make for a more playable and comfortable string job, while retaining much of the poly's spin and durability characteristics.
*Note, players with tennis elbow should check our Beating Tennis Elbow page.
For additional string comparisons click here.
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