Choosing the Tennis Strings
Tennis strings have a significant impact on our game. It’s interesting to note that a lot of club players of varying skill levels don’t seem to pay much attention to the strings they are using. They often just leave the string and tension choice to their stringer, who on the other hand in those cases usually goes for a “default” setup.
We all know which racquet we’re using, right? Why is there no interest in strings though? Strings make direct contact with the ball, so it makes a lot of sense that strings must be influencing our performance on the court by quite a margin.
Strings come in many different materials, colors and even shapes. Different models of strings provide us with different benefits on the court. Choosing a right one can make a noticeable difference in our game.
- Natural Gut
This is where it all started. Considered simply the best string type out there. All strings in the past were made from this material. These strings are considered top of the line, period. They hold the tension very well and provide the best feel for players of all skill levels. Downside is that these strings are the most expensive you can buy on the market. Don’t try them out if you’re not ready to finance them on regular basis, you might get addicted to the “ultimate feel”.
- Synthetic Gut
These are the most economical of all string types. Synthetic gut strings usually feature a nylon core, wrapped with layers of filaments. These strings are considered to be good all-around strings, which means nice tension retention and playability. Another benefit of using these strings is improved comfort (as opposed to polyester strings we’ll talk about later). Synthetic gut strings are often used in hybrid setups too, where different string type is used for mains and crosses on the racquet head.
These are modern, monofilament strings usually made out of polyester material. These are usually much more durable than other types of strings, but this comes at the cost - they feel stiff and are not arm-friendly. Lot’s of players on tour play with poly strings as they can help with control and spin. Poly strings are not always round, rather come in various shapes which help with the ball grip. Polyester strings are good for more advanced players as they perform best at speed, and proper technique is needed to avoid injuries such as tennis elbow and others caused by stiff nature of the material and low elasticity.
These are probably the most interesting strings on the market. They are cheaper in comparison to natural gut strings, but more expensive than synthetic gut and some polyester strings. Multifilament strings are designed to emulate characteristics of natural gut strings. They are made out of numerous filaments, wrapped and bonded together to form a string. These strings provide great feeling, comfort and overall performance in terms of control and power.
- Hybrid setups
Hybrid setups combine two strings on the string bed. Mains on the racquet would be strung with one and crosses with another string type. This makes all sorts of wild combinations possible. Players on tour usually combine natural gut with modern polyester strings to get the best from the both worlds. Of course, combinations are endless. If you are more on the budget, a good idea would be to try out synthetic gut and polyester string hybrid setup. Ask your local stringer for an advice and suggestions.
Every player should have fun with trying out different string types. Recreational players who rarely break strings often completely forget about them. Strings should be changed at least once every 2 or 3 months. Even if strings don’t break, they will loose tension, playability and comfort for sure. As a reference, intermediate to advanced players who play regularly on higher levels of the game, break or change strings approximately every 2-3 weeks or sooner.
When it comes to experimenting with strings, you should also try out different string tensions. Lower tension means more comfort, but less control. Higher tension brings more control, but stiffer string bed. Polyester strings should always be stringed a few pounds or kilograms lower in comparison to natural gut or synthetic gut strings, to compensate for added stiffness of the string bed. Every tennis player should try out at least once each main type of strings out there, to see which one fits his game the best. Only this way we can find the ideal setup that will enhance our game and help us achieve better results on the court. Local stringers are experienced, talk to them and tell them about your game. Share information on what kind of benefits you’d like to get from the strings, as well as about your style of play, and they will be able to help you in your search for an ideal setup.