Most recreational, club and league tennis players wait until they break a string before restringing their racquet.
For many, that might take years, keeping them from enjoying and improving their game without ever realizing it. I hope the title of this article can be a “catch phrase” reminder.
A general but not scientific rule of thumb is to consider replacing strings yearly as many times as you play per week (i.e., play tennis twice a week, restring twice per year). Restringing is one of the most underrated ways to improve and enjoy your game.
Strings naturally lose tension with use, but might loosen from lack of use, too. As the tension lessens, so does the performance.
Regular restringing can keep your racquet playing with comfort and consistency like a new one all over again. So every time you play, it feels exactly like you want it to feel (the reason you bought it in the first place).
Although currently there are more than 1,000 different types of string to choose from, they can be divided into four main groups:
1. Natural gut (made from animal innards): Considered to have the best blend of power, touch, feel and overall playability, but least durable and most expensive.
2. Nylon-based (most widely used strings, including solid core and multi-filaments): These synthetic guts are soft, durable, cheaper and can approach the comfort of natural gut.
3. Polyester-based (stiff) and the newer co-polymers (softer): Provide more power, spin potential and tension retaining capability.
4. Aramid-based (Kevlar): Very durable, stiff and used mainly by hard hitters who are prone to breaking strings often.
Another option, used widely by many pros, is called “hybrid” stringing. This method combines string materials, one type for the main strings (going up and down) and another type for the cross strings (going side to side).
After choosing the string material, two other parts of the stringing equation are string thickness (gauge) and string tension.
Here’s how they figure in:
Higher gauge numbers equal thinner strings (e.g., 17, 18); lower equal thicker strings (e.g., 15, 16). Sixteen gauge strings are likely the most widely used for overall durability and playability. More advanced players prefer thinner gauges for enhanced feel and performance.
Racquets have recommended string tension ranges printed on them and usually are strung in the middle ranges. Increasing the tension provides more control, while decreasing tension gives more ability to hit deeper into the court.
Some racquet stringers will talk to you or even watch you hit to determine which stringing options will work best for your individual game. Others might let you try out a few racquets with different strings.
How often you restring and what type strings you use makes a difference, and a knowledgeable, professional racquet stringer does, too.
Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. firstname.lastname@example.org