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Tennis Equipment

Tennis, The Power of String

by: George Hunt

There are so many different tennis rackets to choose from these days, so how do you know what is best for you. There are tennis rackets designed for power and some for finesse. Each company has incorporated different technology into their rackets, Head uses flexpoint and liquidmetal technology in several of their rackets. Wilson uses the nCode technology in their rackets and every other company has their own theories of what is best in a racket.

These are all great but what about the string. String is just as important in the performance of a racket as the racket itself. The type and gage of the string as well as the tension of the string will all effect how the racket will perform. There are also different stringing patterns which will effect how the racket reacts to the ball. You can turn a high quality racket into a useless piece of equipment if your string isn’t set properly for you. The perfect racket just isn’t enough.

The options of string are almost endless. The first and most basic choice to make is natural gut or synthetic. Natural gut has been far superior in quality but synthetic has drastically improved over the years. It seems that natural gut still has a slight advantage on performance over synthetic however it is costly and not nearly as durable. Natural Gut seems to break down in moisture and humid conditions.

Gut string will perform optimally for longer than synthetic string, however gut string has to be replaced more frequently than synthetic. That being said, there are many different designs and technologies utilized with synthetic strings. You can get the synthetic string with a solid core, with multifilament construction or with textured surfaces. There are also hybrid sets like the synthetic aramid hybrid set, synthetic polyester and polyester hybrid string sets which all have there unique features and advantages. The key properties that you want to look for in tennis string are power, control, vibration damping and durability. The problem is you can’t have it all. A string has specific qualities that when altered to enhance another property it will lose some of it’s functionality in its other properties.

Now you’ve picked what kind of string you want, you need to decide on the gage. String gage begins at 15 and goes to 19 with 15 being the thickest and 19 being the thinnest string. With thinner string, the string digs into the ball allowing for more spin and more control. The thicker string is much more durable but you lose some of the other qualities. There are also half sizes which are marked with an L for light. For example 15L is thinner than 15 but it is thicker than 16 gage string.

tennis ballTension of the string is also very important to the playability of a string. If you increase the tension of the string you will increase the control and your spin capabilities. The tighter the string the more it will dig into the ball giving you more accuracy. When you decrease the tension of the string it in turn will increase your power and give you a larger sweet spot. One other benefit of having less tension is that it doesn’t send as much shock and vibration into your hand and elbow which can reduce your chance of arm injury.

When choosing string you have to put all of the pieces together. If you are buying a string that is composed of stronger more durable material you may decide to go with a higher gage string. Likewise, a string that is naturally stiffer may not need as much tension to give the same reaction. With tension you also have to consider the racket that you are using. Each racket has a recommended tension range which varies racket to racket. The best suggestion for adjusting your tension on a new racket is to start in the mid range of the recommended tension and adjust accordingly.

When you are looking to purchase a new racket, don’t spend six months demoing rackets and then pick the first string you see. This is like buying a high performance sports car and sticking cheap tires on it. Just like cheap tires will decrease the potential of the car, so the wrong string will greatly decrease the potential of the racket.

About The Author

George Hunt writes for and if you like equipment tips you can sign up for a weekly tip there.

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