To String or Not to String...

Posted by Mike Lipinski on March 28, 2018

Racquet strings play an important role in determining a racket’s playability. Playability is a combination of the feel and liveliness (pop or power) of your racquet and refers to the sensation of the racquet letting you do what you want with the ball. In theory, the strings are the only part of the racquet that makes direct contact with the ball (although most of us do like to use our frame from time to time).

Strings are like the tires on your car. If you buy cheap tires or the wrong type of tires, your car may not perform the way you want it to. Strings are no different to your racket. The goal of this article is to help prepare you to make more informed decisions about stringing your racquet so that your racquet can perform closer to your wishes.

The are 4 main things to consider when thinking about stringing your racquet:

1. How thick of string do you want?

First, there are different gauges to choose from. Gauges are the different thickness of the string which confuses most players because the smaller the number the thicker the string. The strings vary on a spectrum from thicker to thinner and also in the qualities of the string. For example, the 17 gauge would have a combination of the qualities at both ends of the spectrum, but not as strong in the qualities as those at the edge of the spectrum. The breakdowns of the gauges are as follows:

  • 15 gauge – Thicker - More durable with more control
  • 16 gauge
  • 17 gauge
  • 18 gauge
  • 19 gauge – Thinner - More spin with more power

2. What type of string do you want? 

There are different constructions of strings. Below are different types of materials along with some positives and negatives for each.

  • Polyester
    • Positives: Lots of spin and control
    • Negatives: Loses tension quicker and tough on the arm
  • Multifilament
    • Positives: Closest string to natural gut, good tension retention and soft on the arm
    • Negatives: Spin, control, durability
  • Synthetic Gut
    • Positives: Economically priced
    • Negatives: Average feel and performance
  • Natural Gut
    • Positives: Awesome playability and holds tension the best. Great for the arm
    • Negatives: Tough on the wallet $$$

3. What tension do you want the racquet strung at?

Every racket has a recommended range often labeled somewhere on the racket. The lower tension you string your racket, the more power your racquet will provide, inversely, the higher the tension of the strings, the more control you will have. It’s like jumping on a trampoline; the looser the springs, or string in this case, the more power or spring into the air it gives.

4. How often should you string your racquet?

A good guideline is that you want to restring your racket each year as much as you play in a typical week. If you play 5 times a week restring 5 times throughout the year.

A few additional suggestions: 

  • If you don’t break strings often, I would recommend going with a softer string, such as a multi-filament or synthetic gut. Personally, I have always liked the softer strings even if they break easily. 
  • On the other hand, if you are a big string breaker then polyester strings might be the way to go being they are stiffer and more durable. However, polys lose tension very quickly so if you don’t break strings every month they aren’t your best option. 
  • Finally, if you are one of many players playing with joint issues, restringing to a thinner, softer, looser string will dramatically decrease the shock on your arm.

Contact Thrive Boutique and Sportshop with your stringing needs, racquets are usually strung within 24 hours, or email if you have questions on your string selection.

Mike Lipinski

Mike Lipinski

Mike Lipinski has been a certified United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) P2 since 2001 and has worked as a tennis professional at the Rochester Athletic Club since 2004. He teaches all levels of classes at the club from youth through adult and has been stringing racquets for 20 years.

Contact Mike Lipinski at (507) 287-9335 ext. 300.

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