Tennis racquets were created with the purpose of being a player's lethal weapon on the court, but racquets are not just that; they are also an anger management tool where players can channel all the tension they have during a match. Rages, happiness, glory, you name it, the best and intermediate racquets can take it all. Since they can take it all and they accompany you through thick and thin, they deserve good treatment and a good understanding of its needs, which are also very attached to your needs as a player. Let's take a look at all those things you should know before restringing your best friend for some court action.
String tension: Which tension is the best when looking for power or control?
It is typically known that a higher string tension provides the player with more control, and a lower one gives it more power. Still, it is important to be aware of the numbers and recommendations of those who know better since they have been working in the industry for decades. Wilson, the sports equipment manufacturer, indicates that for acquiring control, the tension should be 50-60lbs, but if you're looking for power, the tensions recommended are 44-55lbs. The 100+-year-old manufacturer also recommends to correlate tennis string tension to the type of tennis string material and the player's skill level, like this:
Tennis string relation to tension when looking for control:
- Nylon (Multifilament)/Natural Gut: 56-60lbs (25.5-27kg)
- Hybrid: 52-56lbs (23.5-25.5kg)
- Polyester (Monofilament): 50-54lbs (22.5-24.5kg)
Material relation to tension when looking for power:
- Nylon (Multifilament)/Natural Gut: 50-55lbs (22.5-27kg)
- Hybrid: 46-51lbs (21-23kg)
- Polyester (Monofilament): 44-49lbs (20-22kg)
Material and skill level relation to tension when looking for control:
Nylon (Multifilament)/Natural Gut: 56-60lbs (25.5-27kg)
- Beginner: 59-60lbs (26.75-27.25kg)
- Intermediate: 57-58lbs (26-26.5kg)
- Advanced: 55-56lbs (25-25.5kg)
Hybrid: 52-56lbs (23.5-25.5kg)
- Beginner: 55-56lbs (25-25.5kg)
- Intermediate: 53-54lbs (24-24.5kg)
- Advanced: 52lbs (23.5kg)
Polyester (Monofilament): 50-54lbs (22.5-24.5kg)
- Beginner: 50lbs (22.5kg)
- Intermediate: 51-52lbs (23-23.5kg)
- Advanced: 53-54lbs (24-24.5kg)
Material and skill level relation to tension when looking for power:
Nylon (Multifilament)/Natural Gut: 50-55lbs (22.5-25kg)
- Beginner: 54-55lbs (24.5-25kg)
- Intermediate: 52-53lbs (23.5-24kg)
- Advanced: 50-51lbs (22.5-23kg)
Hybrid: 46-51lbs (21-23kg)
- Beginner: 50-51lbs (22.5-23kg)
- Intermediate: 48-49lbs (21.75-22kg)
- Advanced: 46-47lbs (21-21.5kg)
Polyester (Monofilament): 44-49lbs (20-22kg)
- Beginner: 44-45lbs (20-20.5kg)
- Intermediate: 46-47lbs (21-21.5kg)
- Advanced: 48-49lbs (21.75-22kg)
Spin: Which material, tension, and gauge would be best to obtain great spin?
There's a slight conflict when deciding if material, tension, and gauge of the strings affect the spin. There's a 2004 study stating that these characteristics don't influence spin. Sheffield Hallam University developed this study by Dr. Simon Goodwill. Still, the study indicates that there are anecdotal experiences from tennis players where they point out that a higher string tension gives the ball more spin. In case you feel more inclined to listen to experience, we'll leave you with some manufacturer's recommendations and popular opinion for your consideration.
Wilson's string material pick for spin is polyester. Hybrids are usually recommended for a good spin, and top players' hybrid setups are typically composed of polyester and natural gut.
Most manufacturers tend to recommend thinner strings to increase the spin, and the vastly suggested gauges vary from 1.15mm to 1.30mm (18-16)
Balancing power and control: Which string, gauge, and tension would be best?
It all can't come to just power or just control. Every player needs to manage both to succeed at their game. Tecnifibre, the manufacturer in charge of sponsoring the recent Russian sensation, Daniil Medvedev, gives tennis players some perspective on how each type of string can improve or affect power, control, comfort, and durability.
According to this 40+ year experience French company, multifilament strings are recommended for a great balance of all four characteristics mentioned before.
When looking for a balance of power and control, the gauge is also an influential characteristic. A 1.28mm (16L) is a good choice for this wanted equilibrium.
The French string manufacturer also recommends stretching the racquet to 23-27kg (50-60lbs). Going with tensions below or above 50 and 60 lbs can tire your arm earlier than expected, and it would require more skills. This can lead to tennis elbow injuries.
Gauge: What exactly are their differences?
We've mentioned what gauge you might use for getting that equilibrium of power and control, but now let's dig a little deeper on all the common types and their use according to racquet manufacturer Wilson:
- 15/1.40mm: Thickest gauge; best for advanced players looking for maximum durability and control.
- 16/1.30mm: Medium-thick gauge; best for competitive players who break strings frequently.
- 16L/1.28mm: Medium gauge; best for competitive players looking for a blend of power and control.
- 17/1.25mm: Medium thin gauge; best for beginner and intermediate players looking for power and comfort.
- 17L/1.20mm: Thin gauge; best for players looking for increased touch and feel.
- 18/1.15mm: Thinnest gauge; best for players wanting maximum touch and feel.
Tennis elbow problems? Here's how to set up your racquet with arm friendly strings.
Tecnifibre recommends more flexible strings for comfort and avoiding tennis elbow because they generate a lot of power thanks to a larger trampoline effect. The reduced vibrations resulting from the ball's impact provide that comfort and affect the muscles even less. On that note, Tecnifibre also states that natural gut strings provide more comfort. If budget is an issue, multifilament comes second.
Tension also plays a key role when looking for arm-friendly solutions and avoiding lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).
The study developed at the University of Dundee, UK (2016)
Durability: Which strings last the longest?
Looking back at the Tecnifibre comparison table, it's safe to admit that monofilament strings give more significant durability, especially the polyester ones, due to that hard to break material. Though durability is important, as a player, you must know that polyester strings don't have much elasticity, so they tend to lose tension easily compared to others.
We've given you a lot to think about. Now you can make an educated decision when setting up your racquet, so you can gain a mix of power, control, spin, and durability while making sure your muscles don't receive undesired fatigue, especially when you practice a lot with your partner or tennis shooter machine. Do remember that players' needs, abilities, and desires are different. There are always pros and cons in the restringing process, no doubt, but you can always come back to this article when needing reminding of the basics.