As a tennis player, finding the right tennis racket, string, string gauge (thickness) and string tension is not an easy task. Picking out correct tennis gear with adequate string tension not only improves your game but also avoid injuries. In this article, we will review the type of tennis strings, gauges (thickness) and tensions which may affect your game.
Although there are a variety of brands and types of strings on the market, there are essentially 2 types of tennis strings: Natural Gut and Synthetic.
Natural Gut Strings
Natural gut strings are known as the highest quality tennis strings and are made out of cow guts (or outermost layer of the cow intestine). Natural gut strings are soft and provide the superior feel and control as well as great spins and retaining string tensions. However, they are expensive and not as durable as synthetic alternatives. Natural gut strings are mostly used by professional players, and very competitive players seeking all aspects of finest advantage over the competitor. The most iconic natural gut string used in the market is Babolat VS Touch.
|Elasticity and Stable Tension||Expensive|
|Comfortability, Feel and Soft at High Tension||Fragile|
|Easy to Spin and Control||Susceptible to moisture (weather conditions)|
Due to the high price and fragileness of natural gut strings, recreational players find synthetic strings as an attractive alternative without losing many features of the natural gut strings. Synthetic strings provide durability while providing a variety of features including spin, control, and power depending on the type of string chosen.
|A wide selection of strings and features||Less comfort than natural gut strings|
There are a variety of materials used to make synthetic strings. Each material provides different features and uses specific constructions. The following are common materials used in synthetic strings and their features.
Synthetic Gut strings are mostly made out of nylon but lately textured coatings and Kevlar are often added to enhance durability. Synthetic gut strings are the most affordable and often use monofilament construction to provide added comfort and durability. Synthetic Gut strings are the least expensive strings you can find in the market.
Multifilament (Often called Multis)
Multis are strings that have more than one filament and are most commonly made of nylons providing comfort, control and retain its tension similar to natural gut strings. This is also known as modern synthetic gut strings, and can also incorporate non-nylon materials like Polyurethane, Zyex, Vectran, and Kevlar. Multi-filament strings offer better elasticity, playability, and control, but lacks durability.
Polyester (Often called Poly)
For players who frequently break strings, polyester strings can provide added durability. However, due to its durable construction, it can be hard on a player's arm. For those players with an arm injury, polyester strings are not recommended.
Kevlar strings provide maximum durability at the cost of harshness. It provides most durability, but hard on player's arm. As with the polyester strings, kevlar strings are not recommended for players with arm injuries.
Hybrid Tennis Strings
Hybrid strings use one type of string on the mains (racket top to bottom), and another type on the crosses. By having two types of strings in a single racket, a combination of features provided by each string can balance the comfortability, control, and durability.
Popular Synthetic Strings by Type
|Wilson Synthetic Gut Duramax||Wilson NXT||Luxilon ALU Power||Wilson Champions Choice|
|Babolat SG SpiralTek||Prince Premier Touch||Babolat RPM Blast||Babolat VS (Mains) & RPM Blast (crosses)|
|Prince Synthetic Gut||Tecnifibre X-One Biphase||Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour||Any Brand (Combination of Elastic and Stiff)|
Tips on choosing a Tennis String
There are two categories of tennis strings, namely: Natural Gut and Synthetic. Natural Gut strings provide a comfortable feel and better control at a much higher cost and sacrifices durability. On the other hand, synthetic counterparts provide various options and features at less price and increased durability. For most club and casual players, synthetic strings will provide an adequate level of comfort and durability without breaking the wallet.
- Synthetic Gut (Nylon) strings with multifilament strings will provide comfort and spin similar to the natural gut at reduced cost and reduced durability.
- Polyester and Kevlar are more durable than Nylon but at the cost of the harshness of the string and more pressure to your arm. Players with arm injuries are not recommended to use Polyester or Kevlar materials.
- There are a variety of constructions being used to create a tennis string. Of the many, the multifilament provides feel and spin closer to natural gut, but at the expense of losing durability. Solid core, monofilament and textured provides durable construction while composite construction provides balanced features.
String gauges or thickness range from 15 to 19, with lower number gauges represent a thicker string. The thicker strings provide durability while thinner strings offer additional spin and improve the playability. For those seeking additional topspin, thinner strings (higher numbered gauges) are recommended.
String tension is a measure of pressure applied to the string when stringing a tennis racket. Each racket provides a recommended range of tensions for the highest quality of playing tennis games. You can find the manufacturer's recommendation on the inside of your racket throat. You can either string loose (lower tension) or string tight (higher tension) depending on your playing style and the feature you want to get out of the racket.
Lower tension provides more speed and power as the ball in contact will have more rebound effect than the tighter string. Also, the lower tensioned string provides a slightly larger sweet spot of a tennis racket.
Higher tension will reduce the rebound effect, and provide you with more stable hitting surface and smaller sweet spot resulting in greater control.
- For club players, choose synthetic strings amongst Nylon, Polyester and Kevlar materials. Choose between comfort and durability where Nylon provides most comfort while Kevlar provides most durability.
- The thicker string (lower gauge number, i.e. 15 or 16) will provide you with durability, while the thinner string (higher gauge number, i.e. 18 or 19) will provide you with additional spin.
- Loose tension provides power while higher tension provides more control.
- You should replace your string as many times per year as you play per week. If you play twice a week, then you should restring your racket twice a year.