Choosing your Tennis Strings is Confusing, Lets Break It Down And Unravel The Jargon
Someone once said to me what is the most important part of a car, Engine? Steering Wheel? Brakes? Nope! It’s the tyres. If you think about it this way, tyres are the only thing connecting the car to the road. The same can be applied to tennis strings. Why? Because the only thing touching the ball is, guess what? The Strings!
I will try to make this guide applicable to all levels of tennis players. However, if you have gone to the decision to restring your standard factory strings or you have broken the strings then you are probably at an intermediate level of tennis. There are so many strings on the market, you probably have all sorts of questions.
Unfortunately, there is no definite right answer to these questions. I will try to guide you to the right string but you will find its going to take time and you will have to go through a trial and error test until you find something that fits you.
Let’s first go through the types of strings available.
Most professionals play with Natural Gut, it is known for its fantastically balanced playability with the best power and comfort.
This is what most Tennis rackets at the lower end of the price spectrum are strung with. They are cheap and elastic and would not recommend wasting money restringing these to your racket.
Multifilament – As close to natural gut as you will find. An all-around string that is a nice middle ground. Known for its playability and comfort.
Polyesters – For the big hitters who generate their own power with the strings creating Lots of control and spin. Great for durability but poor for comfort, power and playability and loses tension very quickly.
Below is a generic ranking table to help you visualise the string choices.
The first you need to understand what the mains and crosses are on a tennis bed. The mains are the vertical strings going up and down. While the crosses are the horizontal strings going left and right.
The mains are the string that you feel the most when playing. The general rule of thumb is you put the most playable string in the mains i.e. natural gut or multifilament and then you add whatever string you would like on the crosses that offers what you need. For example, if you need more control, put a polyester in the crosses, if you want more power just keep it full natural gut.
Hybrids is something that is completely personal preference and there is no real right answer here, so this is where you will need to do a lot of research and trail & error with strings.
Tension is all about Power Vs Control. It is measured in pounds or Kilograms.
Higher Tension = High control and Low Power
Lower Tension = Low Control and High Power
Here you will have to think about what you want from your racket. If you have no idea, I would recommend starting at the recommended rackets tension as set out by the manufacturer (usually 50-60 pounds) and then next time going up or down 2 pounds in tension on your next restring.
Gauge is the thickness of the string. There are two measurements for strings gauge. Varying from 1.15 – 1.40 Millimetres or 15 to 18 gauge. The gauge system is slightly different with 15 being the thickest and 18 the thinnest.
The Standard all around gauge is 1.25mm to 1.30mm/ 16 gauge. This is where most people start. A thicker string means more durability and control while a thinner string means more power and spin.
It is often difficult to find natural gut on its own, There are not many options on the market. Most of the natural gut string sets sold by manufacturers are hybirds combined with a polyester. This is because natural gut on its own is very expensive and its durability is extremely poor but mainly adding polyster will give extra spin and control that pure natural gut does not have.
There are a variety of polyesters on the market. they are extremely durable and have incredible spin potential. However they do lose their tension very quickly, and lose their spin but also gain power as they lose tension.
The closest string to the feel of natural gut without the price. Its has a soft feel, good for thoose who need comfort. it is an all around string and has a good balance of all traits but does not particularly excel in any traits
Overall I hope you have enough information to make a decision on what is the best string for you. A lot of choosing the right strings is trial and error, but knowing the difference between the type of string, gauge and tension, helps you in making the right choice for you.