Another episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast is now out! In TQT 013, you'll learn all about the different kind of strings available for your tennis racquet, the pros and cons of each, and which one is right for you.
Below is an edited version of the transcript for this episode that you can read through for notes and more information.
Here’s my question – why can’t tennis be a fun and happy sport where we just play and have a good time and don’t think about the equipment too much? Like horseshoes.
Actually, I’m probably wrong on that. I’m sure there are entire web sites devoted to the analysis and purchase of professional horseshoe equipment. Regardless.
The reality of tennis is that, for the vast majority of us, the quality of our tennis equipment can have a significant impact on how well we play the game. That means having the best racquet possible for your game, the search for which can be an exhausting process which I’m sure I’ll discuss here at some future time.
But it also means having that racquet strung properly since those strings are the only thing that should be coming into the tennis ball and gets it to where you want it to go.
Just as tennis racquets have become incredibly technologically advanced in recent years, so have tennis strings. And while most players spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about their racquets, not too many talk about their strings. Or even know what kind of strings they’re using. So, without cheating by looking at your racquet, what kind of strings are you using right now? Do you know? And, even if you do know, are those the strings that you should be using? What tennis strings would be best for your racquet and your game?
Okay, so here’s what you need to know about tennis strings. There are two factors to consider in a string:
1. Playability – which means what does the string “feel” like when it hits the ball, and
2. Durability – how long will the string last
What you’re looking for is a string that lets you “feel” the strings striking the ball but that doesn’t break too easily. This is as opposed to a string that is so heavy that it gives you a “dead” feeling when you hit the ball. Or as opposed to a string that is so delicate that it breaks really quickly.
So, here are the kinds of strings commonly available today and the pros and cons of each.
First, there’s nylon. This is the most popular string and is used by most recreational players, myself included. This string is also sometimes called “synthetic gut” as it has some of the playability of natural gut without the lack of durability of natural gut. This is also the string that’s most reasonably priced and widely available. If you have no idea what kind of string your racquet is strung with, it’s probably strung with nylon.
Next, is polyester. This is a very popular string at the pro level as it allows players to hit hard without breaking their strings. This string, however, gives more of a dead feel to your shot so its not quite as playable as others. This is probably not the string for most recreational players and certainly not for players like me (playing nice, fun, ladies doubles).
Within the category of polyester strings, there are all kind of things happening. There are monofilament strings that are extremely stiff but also extremely durable. There are also multifilament strings, structured strings, and hybrid strings, all of which are more expensive than nylon because of the complexity of their manufacturing process. These strings are usually used to impart more feel to your shots as they are attempting to mimic the feel of natural gut with the durability of polyester. While these strings may provide these benefits, they are pretty expensive as far as strings go and these are probably best for players at higher levels who are willing to get their racquets restrung pretty frequently.
Finally, there’s natural gut. This is considered the “best” string because of its playability. Meaning it gives you a lot of feel when you’re hitting the ball. Gut is also usually the most expensive string and the most temperamental. It’s made from cow guts and that’s why it’s called “natural” gut.
I have one friend who plays with gut and she believes it helped in getting rid of her tennis elbow. Let me just say that I once had a racquet strung with gut to try it out. That string job lasted less than 24 hours. I got to play with that string one time. I never figured out what caused my string to break. When I took it back to the stringer to complain, I was told that this is just how it is with gut. And I should know not to leave a natural gut string job in my car where it gets really hot. Anyway, I care alot about my equipment but not enough to get my racquet restrung every few days so I’ve avoided natural gut since then.
So what’s the conclusion of this very interesting discussion about strings? Well, I think that for the vast majority of us, we should be getting our racquets strung with good old nylon string. Now, as I said earlier, if you don’t know what your racquet has been strung with, it’s probably nylon string. But next time you go in for a restringing, find out. Just ask for the string package or at least for the specs from your stringer.
You can also find out by actually looking at the strings on your racquet. Go try that right now. The brand and gauge should be embossed on the strings in a teeny tiny font. You may see it but good luck actually reading it.
What are you stringing your racquet with? Have you tried some of the more sophisticated polyester strings? What about mixing strings? I would love to hear what you're doing and how it's working in the comments below. And I hope you’ll subscribe to Tennis Quick Tips!
Thanks for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!
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