Tennis String Gauge Explained | Everything You Need to Know

tennis string gauge

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, understanding the impact of string gauge and finding the right one for your game can make a world of difference.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the world of tennis string gauge, exploring what it is, how it affects performance, and how to choose the right one for you. We’ll also uncover the string gauges used by the pros so you can learn more about your favorite players.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand the importance of tennis string gauge and be able to make an informed decision when selecting the perfect string for your game.

Let’s do this!

What is Tennis String Gauge?

The gauge refers to the thickness or diameter of the tennis string. It plays a crucial role in determining the overall playability, durability, and feel of the strings.

Tennis strings come in a variety of gauges, typically ranging from 13 to 22 gauge. Smaller numbers represent thicker strings while larger numbers represent thinner strings. For example, a 13 gauge string is thicker than a 22 gauge string. String gauge can also be shown in millimeters, ranging from 0.60 to 1.65 mm.

Furthermore, some gauges have an “L” beside them which stands for “Light”, meaning they are thinner. For instance, a 16L gauge is thinner than a 16 gauge. This means there are many different gauge options on offer when you’re buying tennis strings.

However, the most common gauge sizes are 15L (1.35 mm), 16 (1.30 mm), 16L (1.25 mm), and 17 (1.20 mm).

Each gauge has its own characteristics and can greatly affect the performance of your tennis racket.

String Gauge Sizes

Most tennis strings will have the gauge printed on the packaging, as shown below:

tennis string gauge sizes

I’ve also included a chart of all the different gauge sizes:

Gauge Size



1.65-1.80 mm


1.50-1.65 mm


1.41-1.49 mm


1.33-1.41 mm


1.26-1.34 mm


1.22-1.30 mm


1.16-1.24 mm


1.06-1.16 mm


0.90-1.06 mm


0.80-0.90 mm


0.70-0.80 mm


0.60-0.70 mm

As you can see, each gauge size represents a range of measurements in millimeters. For example, a 16 gauge string could be anywhere from 1.26 to 1.34 mm thick, depending on the manufacturer. An example of this can be seen below:

different tennis string gauge sizes

This is why I prefer to pick the gauge of my tennis strings by millimeters to make sure I am getting the same gauge size each time.

Before you buy your tennis strings, I’d recommend checking the gauge in millimeters to ensure you are getting the right size string.

How Does String Gauge Effect Performance?

The thickness of the strings plays a huge role in how it performs. Let’s explore how different string gauges impact various aspects of gameplay.


Thicker gauge strings are generally more durable and resistant to breaking compared to thinner gauges.

If you are an aggressive player who frequently generates powerful shots, opting for a thicker gauge can help prolong the lifespan of your strings and reduce the need for frequent restringing.

Spin Potential

String gauge has a significant impact on the spin potential of a tennis ball.

Thinner gauge strings allow for greater string movement, enabling the strings to grip the ball more effectively. This enhanced string-to-ball contact leads to increased spin production, enabling players to generate more topspin or slice on their shots.

Thicker gauge strings may limit the ability to generate lots of spin due to reduced string movement.


String gauge also affects the power potential of a player’s shots.

Thicker gauge strings tend to be stiffer, resulting in less string movement and a firmer string bed. This reduced string movement means less power as the strings aren’t able to absorb and release as much energy.

On the other hand, thinner strings provide a livelier response and increased power potential. They allow for greater string deformation and trampoline effect, resulting in more power on shots.


The control you have over your shots is another key aspect influenced by string gauge.

Thicker gauge strings offer a more predictable and controlled response due to reduced string movement. They provide a firmer and more stable string bed, allowing players to have better accuracy and precision in ball placement.

Thinner gauge strings don’t provide as much control as there is a lot more string movement on contact.


Thinner gauge strings provide a more responsive and lively feel, transmitting more feedback to the player upon ball contact. This enhanced feel allows players to better feel the ball’s position on the strings and make adjustments accordingly.

Thicker gauge strings, while offering durability, can feel stiffer and less responsive, providing a more muted sensation upon ball impact.


Generally, thinner tennis strings are more comfortable to use than thicker strings.

This is because they are more flexible, allowing them to absorb more of the ball’s energy upon impact. This results in a softer feel and reduced vibrations, which is gentler on your arm and enhances comfort.

Furthermore, because thinner strings have more power potential, the player does not need to apply as much force on the ball, resulting in less arm fatigue.

How to Find the Right Tennis String Gauge For You

When considering the impact of tennis string gauge on performance, several factors come into play.

What Type of String are You Using?

Choosing Tennis strings

The type of string you use is a key consideration when it comes to choosing a gauge. But first, let’s look at the different types of strings:

  • Polyester: Stiff, low-powered string that is very spin-friendly and provides a lot of control. However, it lacks power and comfort.
  • Natural Gut: Provide excellent feel, power, comfort, and tension maintenance, but lacks control and durability.
  • Multifilament: Provide an excellent blend of power and control, but is not very durable.
  • Synthetic Gut: A budget-friendly string that offers decent all-around performance, but lacks durability.
  • Hybrid: A combination of two different types of strings.

For strings that lack durability, such as natural gut and multifilament, you may want to choose a thicker gauge to help increase their lifespan.

However, if you’re using a polyester string, a thinner gauge may be ideal so you can increase the spin potential and playability while maintaining durability.

What is Your Skill Level?

As a beginner, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to tell the difference between subtle changes in string thickness, That’s why, when you’re just getting started, I always recommend starting in the middle with a 16 gauge.

As your skills improve and you get a better understanding of your game, you can experiment with increasing or decreasing the gauge to better suit your playing style.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced player, you should be able to tell the difference in changes in the string gauge. While there’s no right or wrong answer as to what string gauge is best, you should choose one that suits your game. I’d recommend experimenting with different gauges to find out what you prefer.

How Often Do You Play?

The frequency of your tennis play can influence your string gauge choice. If you play several times per week, thicker gauge strings may be preferable due to their increased durability.

Thicker strings can withstand the repetitive impact of regular play and reduce the need for frequent string replacements.

However, if you don’t play as often, thinner gauge strings may be a suitable choice to maximize playability during the limited time spent on the court.

What is Your Style of Play?

Your style of play is a crucial factor when determining string gauge. Players who rely on power and aggressive shots may benefit from thicker gauges, as they provide control and stability to handle the increased force generated.

On the other hand, players who prioritize spin and touch may opt for thinner gauges, allowing for enhanced string movement and greater spin potential on shots.

What is Your Budget?

Budget considerations also come into play when selecting a tennis string gauge. Thicker gauge strings tend to be more durable, last longer, and require less frequent restringing. This can be cost-effective for players on a tight budget.

Thinner gauge strings, although offering enhanced playability, may need to be replaced more frequently, leading to higher long-term costs.

What Tennis String Gauge Do the Pros Use?

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Professional tennis players will try to optimize their performance in any way possible, which is why you’ll notice a lot of pros using different gauge sizes.

While it can be interesting to see what string gauge pros use, it’s important to note that durability isn’t a problem for them because they don’t have to worry about the cost. This may not apply to you.

It’s also worth mentioning that many pros like to use a thinner string in the crosses as they don’t break as quickly as the mains. I wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you can justify the cost of buying two different sets of strings.

Here’s a table showing what tennis string gauge the pros use:




Babolat RPM Blast 15L

Babolat RPM Blast 15L

Novak Djokovic

Babolat VS 16

Luxilon ALU Power 16L

Roger Federer

Babolat VS 16

Luxilon ALU Rough 16L

Serena Williams

Wilson Natural Gut 16

Luxilon 4G 16L

Signum Pro Firestorm 16L

Signum Pro Firestorm 16L

Nick Kyrgios

Yonex PolyTour Pro 16L

Yonex PolyTour Pro 16L

Karolina Pliskova

Babolat VS 16

Babolat Pro Hurricane 17

Maria Sakkari

Luxilon ALU Power 16L

Luxilon ALU Power 16L


Do Thinner Strings Give More Power?

Yes, thinner strings do give more power.

Thinner gauge strings allow for greater string movement and deformation upon ball impact. When the ball strikes the strings, thinner gauges tend to provide a trampoline effect, where the strings compress and then snap back, releasing more energy into the ball.

This trampoline effect results in a higher ball speed, which means increased power on shots.

However, there are a number of other factors that have a greater effect on the amount of power produced, such as the type of string.

See my article on the best tennis strings for power to learn more.

Do Thicker Strings Affect String Tension?

When thicker strings are installed, there is less room for the strings to move and absorb energy during ball impact. This reduced ability for string movement can lead to a firmer string bed and better tension maintenance.

Furthermore, thicker strings this stiffer feel can give the sensation of higher tension, even if the actual tension applied during stringing is the same as a thinner string.

How Often Should Tennis Strings Be Replaced?

The general rule of thumb is that if you play 2 to 3 times per week, you should replace your strings 2 to 3 times per year.

However, there are a number of other factors that affect how often you should replace your strings such as playing style, cost, weather conditions, and string type.

But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. If you feel like your strings have lost their playability and are affecting your performance, then you may want to get them restrung.

Final Words

Tennis string gauge may seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of the game, but its impact should not be overlooked.

The right string gauge can enhance your control, power, and overall performance on the court. By understanding string gauge and taking the time to find the optimal choice for your playing style, you can unlock your full potential as a tennis player.

Now get out onto that court!

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