Racket stringing without the hassle!

                                             TYPES OF TENNIS STRING

The string market is enormous with manufacturers offering a diversity of strings under many brands. However, there are 5 categories to consider:

  • NATURAL GUT
  • NYLON
  • POLYESTER
  • KEVLAR
  • HYBRID 

NATURAL GUT

Natural gut is still the ultimate tennis string that offers great playing comfort and feel. Natural gut generates power, is very elastic and tension stable. The high elasticity absorbs the vibrations and consequently helps to avoid arm injuries. Many ATP & WTA players use natural gut mainly for the cross strings in a Hybrid. Natural gut is, however, very expensive and not as durable as synthetic string and is also weather sensitive.


NYLON

The most popular of all tennis strings todaywith over 85% of non professional tennis players using nylon. Synthetic gut or Nylon? - Infact synthetic gut is nylon but made to a higher grade than the 'standard' nylon string. Nylon strings usually last longer than natural gut but shorter than polyester or Kevlar strings. Suitable for players who have a normal or high string consumption.

There are many ways the string can be constructed of which the main ones are detailed here with their main characteristics and playing benefits :

 

  • Single nylon core and one outer wrap - the most popular nylon construction. most synthetic gut is made this way. Offers a crisp feel and maintains its tension well.
  • Multifilament - the closest string to natural gut. There is no centre core, but many microfibres twisted together and wrapped in a resistant cover. The advantage is in the higher elasticity and better playability but they tend to lose their tension sooner than a string with a solid core. Multifilament strings tend to 'fray' once the outer wrap is damaged. Multifilament costs more than standard nylon but less expensive than natural gut. To improve durability manufacturers have produced a string with a smaller Multifilament core with a Multifilament Outer Wrap. There is also Textured Multifilament - designed to enhance spin by adding a filament around or in the outer wrap.

                                 

POLYESTER STRINGS

 

Polyester string is constructed by way of a single polyester or polyether fibre with a thin coating. Commonly known as a 'monofilament' string. Its' main characteristic is its durability, which allows for thinner gauges and therefore offers greater playability (SEE STRING GAUGE). Monofilament strings feel quite stiff compared with nylon or multifilament strings. You can hit the ball harder and still keep the ball in the court. The disadvantage is that it generates less power and doesn't move and the string feels dead after a comparatively short period of play. Very popular with the ATP and some WTA professionals as they tend to be fitter, stronger, swing faster and use more powerful rackets than in the past. Often used in Hybrids. The latest generation of polyester strings 'Composites' have been improved by mixing in other materials including carbon and metallic fibres. It is recommended that the tension is reduced by 10% when using this type of string. Not suitable for beginners or those players with arm injuries.

                                    

KEVLAR

 

The most durable of all strings. Suitable for the chronic string breaker. However, this string is very stiff not very comfortable and generates little power. Best suited in a Hybrid with a nylon string for the crosses. As with the polyester monofilament the recommended tension for Kevlar should be reduced by 10%. Not good for the arm or wrist.

                     

HYBRIDS


Hybrid strings are a combination of two different strings for mains and crosses. Normally, it is a main string that breaks because the longer main strings move a lot more than the shorter cross strings. The cross strings tend to act as a 'saw' as they wear into the main strings, causing grooves which eventually break.

In a Hybrid the main strings are usually a durable monofilament string with a softer multifilament or natural gut used in the crosses to provide comfort and feel. Hybrid strings have a reasonable lifespan.

                                  


STRING TENSION



To get the best out of a racket is not just about using the best string, choosing the right tension is just as important.

The tension range for a racket is usually found on the inside edge of the racket and is normally shown in lbs and kgs. Exceeding the racket manufacturer’s tension range is not recommended as this could invalidate the racket's warranty.

There is a trade-off between power and control in relation to string tension. A looser string bed compresses more thus creating a 'trampoline ‘effect which provides more power. However, because the ball stays on the strings fractionally longer it allows for any small changes in a rackets position to alter the path of the ball and therefore give less control. With the prolonged contact between the ball and the strings the impact shock becomes less severe and, therefore, reduces stress on the arm.

Advanced players who swing fast and hit hard and close to the lines, may require more control and consequently tighter strings would be a better choice. In addition to more control, tighter strings offer slightly more spin because the ball will flatten out more giving each string a better bite on the ball

The table below shows the effect different string tensions can have on a rackets performance.

STRING TENSION

POWER

CONTROL

DURABILITY

FEEL

COMFORT

LOWER

MORE

LESS

MORE

MORE

MORE

HIGHER

LESS 

MORE

LESS

LESS

LESS

In a nutshell:  

  • The lower the tension, the more power you get. 
  • The higher the tension, the more ball control you get.
Not sure which tension suits you?

We would suggest choosing the middle tension of the racket's recommended tension range - which would provide a balance between power and control and give all round playability. If you then decide you need more power than you can reduce the tension by 4lbs at your next restring. Alternatively, if you find you require more control then increase the tension by 2 - 4lbs.

Intermediate players seeking more control tend to increase the tension.

Advanced players/professionals who look for ball placement tend to go for high string tension.

STRING GAUGE - the strings thickness.

Generally speaking, thinner strings offer improved playability while thicker strings offer enhanced durability. Thinner strings also provide more spin potential by allowing the strings to embed into the ball more.

Tennis string gauges range from 15 (thickest) to 19 (thinnest), with half-gauges identified with an 'L', meaning 'light'. A 15L string is thinner than a 15 gauge but thicker than a 16 gauge string

GAUGE

DIAMETER (approx.)

15   

 1.41 - 1.49 mm 

15L      

  1.34 - 1.40 mm 

16

 1.26 - 1.33 mm

16L 

 1.22 - 1.26 mm

17  

 1.20 - 1.24 mm

17L  

 1.16 - 1.20 mm

18 

 1.10 - 1.16mm

 

 

The table below shows the effect different gauges can have on a rackets performance:

 

 

STRING GAUGE

 ELASTICITY 

DURABILITY

SPIN

 FEEL

 COMFORT

THINNER

MORE

LESS 

 MORE

MORE

MORE

THICKER

LESS

MORE

LESS

  LESS

  LESS

                                                                                               

 In a nutshell:

  • the thinner the gauge the more all round performance

  • the thicker gauge provides more durability.

WHEN TO RESTRING?

Over time strings lose their tension, some faster than others, depending on the type of string and the type of player. Heavy spin hitters tend to wear strings out quicker than flat hitters. The string molecules are always on the move and so, even if you do not use your racket, the tension will over time reduceLight and heat also have an impact on string tending to make it brittle and less flexible. Tension loss, therefore, has a negative effect on the playability and players with a sensitive arm will feel it sooner. As to how often strings should be replaced is very much of a personal choice. For some players playability is 'king' and they will restring often, whilst chronic string breakers may look for extremely durable stringOther players seem happy to play on until the strings break! This is not recommended, as by then the string will have deteriorated and added unnecessary strain to the players arm and shoulder.

As a rule of thumb: you should restring as often in a year as may times as you play in a week. For the regular club team player at least 3 times a year

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Should you require a string not listed then please call Martin on 07809 829 539 or emailmartin@se-tennis.co.uk for a competitive quote within 24 hours.

U K Racket Stringers Association