What's in your Racket?
This month I will be talking about the strings you put in your racket, what type, what tension and how often should you replace them. I will say this off the top; most beginners can’t tell the difference between type and tension, and I was likely the most equipment dense one of them all; meaning I had no idea what was in my racket as they all felt the same to me. But what happens in time is you begin to pay closer attention to the subtle differences and eventually you really can tell and you do develop a preference. Unless you are breaking strings and some of our players are breaking strings every 45 minutes of play, you should look to replace string as many times per year as you play per week. So if you play twice a week, re-string your racket every 6 months, even if the strings do not break because the life of the string gets zonked and loses its life after a lot of use.
What is in your racquet?
This is an incredible string and feels amazing, but they break very easy, and are extremely expensive. They are well suited for touch players.
Synthetic Gut (Multifilament)
Often referred to as Natural Gut on Steroids. This stuff is regular price and provides a soft feeling, they typically are not as durable and these are the strings you see that fray instead of break like they were cut by a knife.
This is the super cheap stuff. It’s bad string, not overly durable, not soft. It’s the type of string you will see manufacturers put in pre-strung rackets
Polyester (Co-Poly; which is really just Polyester 2.0)
This is the stuff you hear about all the pros converting to. It’s a courser string, made to grab and rip the ball and add additional spin. If you have a modern low to high swing path and you want more spin, this is the string for you. But keep in mind these co-poly strings will aggravate elbow problems even more, and they lose tension quickly and are not ideal for volley-heavy players.
What is a hybrid string job?
This is when the main strings (vertical in the racket face) and cross strings (horizontal in the racket face) are strung with two different string types. The mains often break sooner so players will put a Poly in the mains for durability reasons and a Synthetic in the crosses for additional softness and feeling. But there is a trend for the opposite for those not concerned with durability to put Poly in the crosses for that rip effect and Synthetic in the mains for that wonderful soft feeling.
The tighter you string a racket the less bounce effect and therefore less power, which also means more control, which also means harder on the elbow. If you have a sore elbow try a soft string at a low tension and expect the ball to pop off your strings, so maybe slow down a bit and focus more on finesse than on power (which ironically is the secret formula to more power, but that is another article) Most racket manufacturers recommend a tension between 50-60lbs. A good starting point is 57lbs. I use this as a default tension for anyone who doesn’t know much about stringing. It is well within the recommended tension range and has more emphasis on control. If it’s an oversized racket the recommended tension is usually higher since the space is greater which makes it have more of a trampoline affect, so to counter that go somewhere north of 60. There are some rackets with a denser string pattern (standard is 16 mains, but some are 18) and these mean the strings are closer together, which means a more stable bed at contact. It creates less power and more control. So, with these patterns I would string it with a lower tension, like 52lbs so the player gets some pop.