How to Choose a Tennis String Tension | A Complete Guide

orange tennis racket - how to choose tennis string tension

In the world of tennis, choosing the right tennis string tension for your racket is essential. Whether you’re a pro or a casual player, understanding string tension can give you an edge over your opponent and help you improve your game.

The tension of your tennis strings plays a huge role in the power, control, and comfort you get from your racket.

This article will explore everything to do with tennis string tension, discussing the effects of different tensions, guiding you in choosing the right tension, and factors that can affect string tension.

By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how string tension influences your performance, helping you make informed decisions to enhance your game.

What is Tennis String Tension?

Tennis string tension refers to the degree of tightness at which the strings of a tennis racket are strung.

It is a critical factor that affects the performance and playability of a tennis racket. The tension at which the strings are set can have a significant impact on a player’s control, power, spin generation, and overall feel during gameplay.

When a racket is strung, the strings are pulled and secured at a specific tension level. The string tension can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the pressure applied while stringing the racket. This can be done either manually or using a stringing machine.

String tension is typically measured in pounds or kilograms and ranges anywhere from 35 to 70 pounds (15.88 to 31.75 kilograms). The ideal string tension varies from player to player and depends on several factors such as playing style, skill level, string material, and personal preference.

Recommended String Tension Range

You’ll find that most tennis rackets will come with a recommended string tension range that is normally printed on the frame.

And there is a reason for this.

This range is determined by the manufacturer and indicates the range in which the racket will function at its best. It also tells you the amount of pressure that the racket frame can withstand before potentially breaking.

Generally, the recommended tension range for a tennis racket is around 50 to 60 pounds (23 to 27 kilograms) however it can vary across different rackets. I’ve included a list of the recommended string tension ranges for some of the most popular rackets on the market:

Tennis Racket

Recommended Tension Range

50-59 lbs / 23-27 kg

45-60 lbs / 20-27 kg

50-60 lbs / 23-27 kg

50-59 lbs / 23-27 kg

48-57 lbs / 22-26 kg

50-60 lbs / 23-27 kg

45-60 lbs / 20-27 kg

48-57 lbs / 22-26 kg

Tennis strings can also have a recommended string tension range. This is to help show you the tension range where the strings will perform the best. Here is a list of the recommended tension ranges based on string material:

Tennis Strings

Recommended Tension Range

Natural Gut

50-60 lbs / 23-27 kg


50-60 lbs / 23-27 kg


44-54 lbs / 20-24 kg


40-55 lbs / 18-25 kg


46-56 lbs / 21-25 kg

Effect of String Tension on Your Tennis Racket

effect of tennis string tension on racket

The string tension of your tennis racket has a significant impact on its performance and how it behaves during gameplay. Here I have outlined the effects of both higher and lower string tensions:

Higher Tension

  • Control and Accuracy: Higher string tensions provide better control and precision over your shots. The tighter strings create a more rigid string bed, allowing you to place the ball with greater accuracy and consistency.
  • Reduced Power: One trade-off to a higher tension is a potential decrease in power. The tight string bed absorbs less energy from the tennis ball, resulting in less trampoline effect and reduced power generation. Players relying on their own power and technique may not find this to be a significant drawback, as the added control compensates for the power reduction.
  • Less Spin Generation: Higher string tensions can make it slightly more challenging to generate topspin. The ball has less grip on the strings, making it harder to produce spin. However, experienced players can still generate spin by utilizing proper technique.

Lower Tension

  • Power and Depth: Lower string tensions provide a livelier string bed, generating more power and depth in your shots. The strings have increased elasticity, enabling them to absorb and release more energy, resulting in a faster ball speed off the racket. This can be advantageous for players who rely on power and aggressive shot-making.
  • Enhanced Spin: Lower tensions promote more string movement and allow the ball to bite into the strings, generating more spin. The increased friction between the strings and the ball creates a greater spin potential, helping you add topspin or slice to your shots.
  • Comfort and Feel: Lower tensions offer a softer and more forgiving feel, reducing the shock transmitted to your arm on impact. This can be beneficial for players who struggle with arm injuries, such as tennis elbow, or those seeking a more comfortable playing experience.
  • Reduced Control: One potential drawback of a lower tension is a decrease in control and precision. The increased string movement can lead to a slightly less predictable string bed, making it harder to consistently place shots exactly where you want.

String Tension and Durability

broken tennis strings

The string tension of your tennis racket not only affects its performance but also plays a role in the overall durability and lifespan of the strings.

However, there is no definitive answer as to whether a higher or lower tension increases tennis string durability.

Some argue that a high string tension increases the friction between the strings, causing them to rub against each other more intensely during play. This increased friction can lead to potential notching and faster string wear.

Others argue that a low string tension allows for more significant string movement and displacement during ball impact. This can result in increased string-to-string friction and potential premature wear.

From my personal experience, I’ve found that lowering the string tension increases the durability.

If durability is an important factor for you, I’d recommend exploring other variables such as the type of string and the string gauge.

String Tension and Topspin

Like durability, many players argue whether a higher or lower string tension produces more topspin.

However, I’ve found that a lower string tension helps you generate more spin. This is because lower string tensions allow for more string movement upon ball impact.

With lower tensions, the strings can create a deeper pocket for the ball to sink into, resulting in increased ball-to-string contact. This enhanced ball-string contact creates a better grip, allowing players to produce more topspin on their shots.

The type of tennis string you use is another factor that can have a significant impact on spin potential. Many players will opt for a polyester tennis string as they have a greater snapback effect which helps generate more spin.

Check out my article on the best tennis strings for spin to learn more.

String Tension and Comfort

Comfort is an essential aspect of enjoying your tennis experience and preventing unnecessary strain on your arm. The string tension of your tennis racquet can have a significant impact on your overall comfort during play.

String tension influences how much shock is absorbed by the strings upon ball contact. Lower string tensions tend to absorb more shock, reducing the amount of vibration transmitted to your arm and minimizing the discomfort.

The choice of string material can also impact comfort. Natural gut and multifilament strings are generally known for their superior comfort due to their elasticity and softer feel. These strings can help reduce vibrations and discomfort during play, even at higher tensions.

How to Find the Right String Tension for You

Finding the ideal tension for you depends on several factors, including your skill level, desired playing style, and string material. Here are some key considerations to help you determine the right string tension:

What is Your Skill Level?

  • Beginners: If you’re a beginner or play tennis recreationally, it’s generally recommended to start with a lower string tension. Lower tensions provide a larger sweet spot and forgiveness, making it easier to generate power and get the ball over the net. As you develop your skills and gain more experience, you can gradually experiment with higher tensions to fine-tune your game.
  • Intermediate Players: Intermediate players who have a good grasp of the game and technique can explore a wider range of string tensions. Consider your playing style and personal preferences. If you value control and precision, a higher tension may provide the desired level of accuracy. On the other hand, if you prioritize power and comfort, a slightly lower tension may be more suitable.
  • Advanced Players: Advanced players often have the expertise and specific playing style to benefit from higher string tensions. These tensions offer greater control, allowing for pinpoint accuracy and precise shot placement. However, it’s important to find the balance that complements your playing style while considering other factors such as power, spin generation, and comfort.

Are You Looking for Power or Control?

If you’re looking to add more power to your game, I’d recommend a lower string tension. The livelier string bed offers a greater trampoline effect, resulting in faster ball speed off the racket.

For players who prioritize control and precision, higher string tensions are often preferred. The tighter string bed provides a more stable and predictable response, allowing for accurate shot placement and increased command over the ball.

I’d also recommend a higher tennis string tension for players who have big swings and are able to generate a lot of power naturally. The higher tension will help them control their powerful strokes, resulting in the perfect balance between control and power.

What is Your String Material?

types of tennis strings
  • Polyester Strings: Polyester strings are known for their durability, control, and ability to generate spin. Due to their stiffer nature, they often perform well at higher tensions. However, they may feel less forgiving and potentially transmit more shock to your arm.
  • Natural Gut or Multifilament Strings: Natural gut and multifilament strings are renowned for their comfort, feel, and power. These strings tend to perform well at lower to medium tensions, providing a softer and more responsive string bed. However, keep in mind that they may be less durable compared to polyester strings.
  • Hybrid String Setups: Hybrid string setups are where you combine different string materials. They tend to offer a balance between power, control, and durability. For example, combining a polyester main string with a softer natural gut or multifilament cross string can provide the benefits of both control and comfort. I’d advise staying in the middle of your recommended string tension range with this setup.

Finding the right string tension is a process of experimentation and personal preference. If you’re unsure where to start, I’d recommend starting in the middle of your recommended string tension range. From there you can experiment with higher and lower tensions once you have gained more experience.

How the Weather Affects String Tension

The weather conditions, particularly temperature and humidity, can significantly impact the string tension of your tennis racket. Understanding how the weather affects string tension is crucial for maintaining consistent performance and optimizing your gameplay.

Changes in temperature can cause the strings to expand or contract, affecting the overall tension of the racket. In colder temperatures, the strings tend to contract, leading to a slight increase in tension. Conversely, in hotter temperatures, the strings may expand, resulting in a decrease in tension. These fluctuations can influence the feel, responsiveness, and playability of your racket.

Humidity levels can also impact string tension. In high humidity environments, the strings may absorb moisture from the air, causing them to become slightly looser and reducing the overall tension. On the other hand, in low humidity conditions, the strings may dry out and contract, leading to increased tension. These changes can affect the string bed’s response and the performance characteristics of your racket.

It’s important that you regularly monitor and adjust the string tension based on weather conditions. Pay attention to temperature and humidity changes, especially if you’re playing in diverse climates. If possible, consult with a professional stringer who can help you make appropriate tension adjustments to compensate for weather-related variations.

Tension Loss

String tension loss is a natural thing that occurs over time as you use your tennis racket.

Regardless of the initial string tension, the strings gradually lose their tightness and elasticity, affecting the racket’s overall performance. In fact, your strings will start to lose tension as soon as they leave the stringing machine!

However, there are a number of other factors that can contribute to tension loss:

  • Playing Time: The more you play with your racket, the greater the tension loss. Each stroke and impact gradually stretches the strings, causing them to relax and lose their initial tension.
  • String Material: Different string materials have varying degrees of tension maintenance. For example, natural gut and multifilament strings tend to hold tension better compared to polyester strings.
  • Weather: Weather conditions, such as temperature and humidity, can also affect tension loss. High heat and humidity can cause the strings to become more elastic and lose tension more quickly.

To counteract tension loss, it’s recommended to restring your racket periodically. The frequency of restringing depends on various factors, such as playing frequency, string material, and personal preference.

The general rule of thumb is if you play 2 to 3 times per week, you should replace your strings 2 to 3 times per year, assuming that they haven’t already broken.

What String Tension Do the Pros Use?

Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon

Despite the fact that string tension is entirely personal preference, many players like learning the tension of their favorite pros.

But, before reading this list, keep in mind that many pro players will vary their string tension depending on the weather conditions and court surface.

Here is a list of the string tensions used by famous professional tennis players:


Mains Tension

Crosses Tension

String Type

Novak Djokovic

59 lbs / 27 kg

56 lbs / 25 kg


55 lbs / 25 kg

55 lbs / 25 kg


Roger Federer

48.5 lbs / 22 kg

45 lbs / 20 kg


Serena Williams

66 lbs / 30 kg

66 lbs / 30 kg


Stefanos Tsitsipas

55 lbs / 25 kg

53 lbs / 24 kg


Carlos Alcaraz

55 lbs / 25 kg

53 lbs / 24 kg


Nick Kygrios

51 lbs / 23 kg

51 lbs / 23 kg


Daniil Medvedev

49 lbs / 22 kg

49 lbs / 22 kg


Maria Sharapova

62 lbs / 28 kg

62 lbs / 28 kg


Garbine Muguruza

60 lbs / 27 kg

60 lbs / 27 kg



Here are some of the most frequently asked questions related to tennis string tension:

How Do You Check Your String Tension?

You can check your string tension using a device called a tennis string tension tester.

I’d recommend checking the tension of your racket regularly to determine the rate of tension loss from your strings.

Does Lower Tension Mean More Power?

Yes, generally a lower tennis string tension means more power.

This is because a lower tension allows the strings to absorb more of the ball’s impact, resulting in a trampoline-like effect and generating additional power.

However, this isn’t always the case. If the tension is too low, the strings may become too elastic, causing energy to be lost and resulting in a loss of power.

What is the Best String Tension for Tennis Elbow?

A lower string tension is often recommended for players with tennis elbow. A looser string bed absorbs more shock and vibrations, reducing the impact on the arm and minimizing strain on the affected area. This can help reduce pain and discomfort during play.

However, it’s important to note that the best tension for tennis elbow can differ for each individual. Some players may find relief with a moderate tension, while others may require a tension on the lower end of the recommended range.

I’d recommend consulting with a healthcare professional or a tennis coach experienced in managing tennis elbow to receive personalized recommendations tailored to your specific condition and needs.

Should Main and Cross Tension Be the Same?

The question of whether main and cross tension should be the same is a common one among tennis players. While some players prefer to have equal tension in both the main and cross strings, it’s not a requirement and can vary based on personal preference and playing style.

Equal tension can provide a more consistent and balanced feel across the entire string bed. It can enhance control and provide a predictable response from the racket. This setup is often preferred by players who value precision and shot placement.

However, there are also players who prefer a difference in tension between the mains and crosses. This can result in a more forgiving string bed, with the mains offering more power and the crosses providing additional control. This setup is often chosen by players seeking a blend of power and precision.

Final Words

Throughout this article, we have explored how string tension can make a huge difference in a player’s game, providing the foundation for power, control, and overall performance on the court.

By understanding the factors that influence string tension and making informed decisions about your string setup, you have the opportunity to optimize your gameplay experience. Remember to consider your skill level, playing style, and string material when choosing the appropriate tension for your racquet.

Additionally, regular string maintenance should not be overlooked. Consistently monitoring and adjusting string tension, along with proper care, can prolong the life of your strings and maintain their optimal performance.

Now get out onto that court!

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