Tennis racquets have several technical requirements and characteristics that might be a lot to take in and process. We have given you some perspective on all you need to know before restringing your tennis racquet according to different string materials, tension, weather, durability, and such. Still, now you must know when you need to do it and why.
There are several different philosophies on how often it is advisable to restring, but when it comes to the "whys" many agree that tension loss, string performance, reduced shock, and preventing overcompensation are key indicators for tennis players to know when it's time to restring a racquet.
Let's unravel all these key indicators.
It's surprising that tennis strings lose tension from the moment they are put into the racquet. Polyester strings are the ones that lose tension faster than others. The next tennis strings in line are nylon and then natural gut tennis strings. Strings can lose around 10% of the initial tension during the first 24 hours after stringing. Tension will continue to decrease along the way and, when this happens, the player loses control. If you find yourself making more unforced errors or cannot just place the ball where needed, you definitely need to consider restringing.
The string's performance gradually diminishes with time and use. The more you practice with a partner or automatic tennis ball machine, the faster the tennis strings performance will diminish regardless of time. When you are looking for certain characteristics and performance standards, like higher tensions to maintain control, make sure to restring your racquet as soon as you feel it's losing that performance you went after in the first place. As time passes, tennis strings will also lose resilience, which will produce more shock and a decrease in comfort. That decrease can then result in arm injuries.
Recently strung racquets reduce shock, which translates to comfort and safety for players with tennis elbow or any other arm problem.
When strings lose tension, tennis players try to adapt and overcompensate this loss with different techniques that are not usual to them. This overcompensation will lead to injuries. It's important that players restring according to their bodies' needs.
We've talked about many of the red flags that scream "restringing alert," now let's move on to how often it is recommended to do it.
There are many points of view on when to change the strings of your racquet. All of them have different backgrounds and purposes. We'll mention several ways so you can choose the one that attracts you the most, and then you can go ahead and tell us if it worked and how.
The rule of thumb
You've probably heard about this one before. This rule indicates that it is usually okay for beginners or occasional players to change strings as many times per year as they play on one week, meaning, if you play around twice a week, then you should restring twice a year. It's a rough indicator when you don't know where to begin but, as you grow as a player, you'll find that it has to do more with the feel and comfort.
Whenever your strings break
It makes sense when you're a casual player. When playing for leisure, you probably won't notice the problems we've mentioned before. Waiting for a string to break would be your obvious pick, and it will probably suit your budget.
By visual and feel indicators
Notches: While playing tennis, main strings and cross strings move and rub against each other, causing friction and ultimately notches. When they seem deep and ready to cause strings to break, you'll know it's time to restring your racquet. The movement of strings can also affect power and control due to the uneven pattern the strings create. Simultaneously, the ball's bounce will be affected, which will cause you to adjust your stroke to compensate continuously.
Fraying: Many types of string, like natural gut and multifilament, have a special coat for protection, but with time, use, humidity, and moisture will start to fray. This phenomenon will cause the strings to reduce their gauge and finally break. When fraying looks like a break is near, then restringing is the next step.
Sounds of the strings: When strings are loser due to their reduced tension, the sound is not "ping" as it usually is when freshly restrung. The sound changes to a "thud". This is an indicator that tension loss is reaching a point in which you might want to restring.
According to your skill level: Wilson, the tennis racquets manufacturer, recommends restringing your racquet according to your skill level.
Beginners: A player that takes lessons once a month and hits the courts a few times in between. For them, Wilson recommends restringing every three months.
Intermediate: A player playing for a few years for around 3-4 times a month. The recommendation here is to restring the racquet once a month to keep the string's tension for consistent performance.
Advanced: Players that train full time (around 4-7 days a week). The advice is to restring as soon as your string breaks, which usually happens every one or two weeks for players on this level. If an important tournament is coming up, it is also advisable to restring.
The final note on when to restring question is that tennis players should decide when to do so according to their best knowledge and feel of their racquet and game. If you have no previous experience and don't know that much about racquets and all their technical characteristics, try Wilson's recommendation or the rule of thumb. As you get more acquainted with your beginner or intermediate racquet, its strings, processes, and your own techniques, you will be able to identify those visual and feel indicators. It's all about practicing and getting to know yourself and your equipment as often as possible.
Look at it this way, restringing your racquet according to your needs while trusting your experience guarantees you are consistent on your game and that you focus solely on your technique rather than on your nearly broken strings.