Tennis strings may not seem as important as other pieces of tennis equipment, but they can make a huge difference in your game.
Choosing the right strings can improve your comfort, power, and control. However, with so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
In this article, I’ll walk you through how to choose tennis strings, so you can confidently hit the court and strike fear into your opponents.
Choosing the right tennis strings is crucial to your overall performance on the court. The proper strings can help you improve your game while also preventing various arm injuries.
But it’s worth noting that when you’re just starting out in tennis, your strings may not be as important as other factors such as practicing regularly and improving your technique.
However, as you progress in the sport, the importance of tennis strings becomes increasingly apparent. For example, certain strings can help you generate more power, while others may provide more control.
In this guide, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when choosing tennis strings. By gaining a better understanding of the importance of tennis strings and what to look for when choosing them, you can take your game to the next level.
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve already found a tennis racket that’s right for you and that you enjoy playing with. If not, I recommend reading my detailed guide on how to choose a tennis racket and returning here once you’ve found the right one for you.
The first step in selecting tennis strings is deciding on the type. There are 5 types: polyester, multifilament, natural gut, synthetic gut, and hybrid.
- Tension maintenance
Polyester strings are the most popular in the tennis world, with the majority of professionals on the WTA and ATP Tour using polyester tennis strings.
Although polyester strings were invented in 1991, they didn’t become popular until 1997 when Gustavo Kuerten became the first pro to win a Grand Slam using Luxilon ALU Power in his racket.
Poly strings are low-powered and stiff, allowing players to swing faster on their strokes and generate more topspin while maintaining control. Plus, they are very durable which is beneficial for players who frequently break their strings.
The only disadvantage is that they are much stiffer than other types of strings, putting more strain on the arm and increasing the risk of injury. They also offer less power than other strings and aren’t great at maintaining tension, which some players may dislike.
Polyester strings are best for intermediate and advanced players who can generate good racket head speed and are looking for a string that will help them add control and spin their strokes. If you have arm injuries, I would avoid this string and instead use something more comfortable like multifilament or natural gut.
Multifilament strings are a popular choice for players of all levels, particularly those who prioritize comfort and power on the court.
These strings are made up of many small fibers twisted together that form a single string. Compared to polyester, multifilament strings are generally softer and more forgiving, providing a cushioned feel that can be easier on the arm.
However, some players do find multifilament strings to be too overpowering resulting in a lack of control.
I would recommend multifilament strings to players of all skill levels who want a powerful string with great feel. This string is also ideal for players who have a history of arm problems, such as tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
- Tension maintenance
Natural gut is one of the oldest types of tennis string, having been used by players for over a century.
Natural gut strings were first introduced in the 1870s by Pierre Babolat, who made them from sheep gut. Nowadays they are made from the intestines of cows.
Yes, you read that right, they are made from cow intestines!
While natural gut strings are more expensive than many other types of strings, they offer a number of unique benefits that make them a popular choice.
One of the primary advantages of natural gut is its playability. They are significantly more responsive than many other types of strings, which improves a player’s touch and feel. They also provide excellent power and comfort.
However, natural gut does have its disadvantages. They are not durable, and a reel of natural gut string is not cheap, making restringing your racket an expensive process. Furthermore, natural gut strings don’t provide as much spin as other types of strings, which some players may not like.
I’d recommend natural gut strings for advanced players who are looking for a premium string that offers exceptional power and feel. Because these strings are so expensive, I wouldn’t recommend them for beginners or intermediate players. You’d be much better off using synthetic gut strings, which we’ll go over next.
- Well balanced performance
Synthetic gut strings are a popular and affordable option for beginner and intermediate players. Made from nylon, synthetic gut strings are designed to mimic the playability and feel of natural gut strings, while being a lot cheaper.
They provide a good all-around performance making them a reliable choice for players who want a versatile string that can perform well in a variety of situations. However, they don’t provide as much feel as natural gut strings and have poor tension maintenance.
I’d recommend these strings for beginner and intermediate players who are looking for a string that doesn’t break the bank and provides a good all-around performance. These strings don’t excel in any particular area which makes them perfect for beginners who aren’t as bothered about string performance and are more focused on mastering their technique.
Something you may have heard of in the world of tennis strings is hybrid strings.
A hybrid setup typically involves using two different types of strings in the same racket, with one string in the mains and another in the crosses. They are a popular option for players who want to benefit from the advantages of different types of strings.
The most common hybrid setup is to use a durable and spin-friendly polyester string in the mains, and a softer and more comfortable natural gut or multifilament string in the crosses. This setup allows players to benefit from the control and spin of the polyester while maintaining the power and feel of the softer string in the crosses.
Some packages, such as the Wilson Champion’s Choice Duo, sell both strings in a set so you don’t have to buy two different sets of strings. However, hybrid sets are still very expensive to buy.
I’d recommend hybrid strings to experienced tennis players who want to customize their rackets to their specific needs and preferences.
Hybrid strings would be ideal for advanced players who can see the difference in playability between different strings and are willing to justify the cost of experimenting with different hybrid sets.
The next step is to choose a gauge for your tennis string. Gauge refers to the thickness of the string.
Gauge is measured on a scale from 13-22. Lower numbers indicate thicker strings and higher numbers indicate thinner strings. Gauge is sometimes shown in millimeters with a range from 0.60 to 1.65 mm.
However, most of the time strings are only available in the most common sizes which are 15L (1.35 mm), 16 (1.30 mm), 16L (1.25 mm), and 17 (1.20 mm). I’ve included a chart below on all the different gauge sizes.
Thicker strings provide more control and are more durable, but you have less feel on the ball. Thinner strings provide more power and spin potential, but they are less durable.
The choice of a string gauge will depend on a player’s individual needs and preferences.
It’s worth noting that most beginners won’t tell the difference between subtle changes in string thickness. When you’re starting out, I’d recommend going with something in the middle, such as a 16 gauge. This size is available with most tennis strings.
As you improve, you can experiment with different string gauges to see what suits your game.
So, you know what type of string and gauge you want to use.
Now it’s time for the fun step: actually choosing a tennis string!
I’ve gathered a list of the best strings for each type below.
Once you have selected a tennis string the next step is to decide what tension you want your strings to be strung at.
String tension refers to the amount of pressure at which the strings are strung on your tennis racket. It is either measured in pounds or kilograms. String tension ranges between 35 to 70 pounds (15.88 to 31.75 kilograms).
Higher string tensions will provide more control, but they can also feel less comfortable and provide less power. Lower string tensions will provide more power and comfort, but offer less control.
You’ll find that most tennis rackets come with a recommended string tension range listed on the inside edge of your frame. This is usually between 50 to 60 pounds (23 to 27 kilograms).
I’d recommend starting in the middle at 55 pounds and once you have gained more experience, then you can experiment with different string tensions.
Now that you have your new strings, it is time to restring your tennis racket.
You can try to restring your racket yourself, but buying a stringing machine is expensive, and learning how to string a racket is difficult.
Your local tennis shop or club is the best place to get your racket restrung. They will almost always have a dedicated stringer there who you can pay to restring your racket.
If not, head over to RacquetTech and there you can search for a racket stringer by ZIP code if you are located in the U.S. and by country if you are located outside of the U.S.
Most people believe that you should only restring your racket once your strings have broken.
But this is not always the case.
As soon as your racket leaves the stringing machine, your strings will begin to lose tension. Plus, depending on how often you play, your strings can lose their tension even faster. This can affect your performance as a decrease in tension can result in a loss of control and spin.
The frequency with which you should restring your tennis racket can depend on a variety of factors, such as the type of string you use, how often you play, and your personal preferences.
Many professional players get their rackets restrung before every match, but for people like us, that is a bit excessive.
The general rule of thumb for restringing your tennis racket depends on the amount of time you play each week. If you play 2 to 3 times per week, you should replace your strings 2 to 3 times per year. That is assuming they haven’t already broken.
It’s worth noting that different types of strings lose tension at different rates. For example, polyester strings lose tension a lot faster than multifilament and natural gut strings.
If your strings feel like they are losing control or spin, or look like they are about to break, then you should get them restrung.
Choosing the right tennis strings is crucial for any player who wants to take their game to the next level.
By understanding the different types of strings available and how they can impact your performance on the court, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which strings are best suited for you. Remember, no two players are the same, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Whether you’re looking to increase your power, improve your control, or simply find a more comfortable string setup, take the time to explore the options available and find the right strings for you.