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Tennis Tech Center

Selecting a String

The string is the only part of the racquet that should ever touch the ball. With that in mind, selecting an appropriate string should be emphasized heavily. Sadly, string selection is ignored by many players. Part of the reason is the intimidation factor when faced by the sheer number of different strings. Take heart, strings can be simplified into two distinct groups: Playability and Durability.

Playability:
Playability is a hard term to pin down. Different people have different concepts of a "good playing string." The term is meant to apply to the group of strings that are softer and livelier. Playability strings will also absorb shock and be more comfortable. This category includes most of the strings that have multifilament construction. It also includes natural gut which remains the liveliest string available. Because of their soft nature, these strings will break more quickly.

Playability strings are a good choice if:

  • You have elbow/shoulder pain
  • You don't break a lot of strings
  • You like to play with a lot of feel/touch shots
  • You like to serve and volley

Durability:
Durability strings are the exact opposite of playability strings. Generally, these strings will be stiff and deaden a string bed. However, durability strings are a must if you are a string breaker. Most strings included in this group are monofilaments. Because these strings are stiffer, they will not be as lively.

Durability strings are a good choice if:

  • You break a lot of strings
  • You don't have any elbow/shoulder pain
  • You play with a lot of spin

More Information on Strings:
Unfortunately, the two main groups are mutually exclusive. There is always a trade off between playability and durability. The farther you skew towards durability, the less playable a string will be. Conversely, the farther you skew towards playability, the less durable a string will be. Within the above categories, there are many different sub groups.

Synthetic Gut

Technically, this term applies to any string except natural gut. More commonly, it refers to the group of strings that have a solid core with one or more wraps around the outside. These strings fall somewhere between durability and playability, giving a nice blend of both. Some synthetics add an extra wrap on the outside to create texture for spin.

Multifilaments

Multifilament strings are the most playable of all strings except natural gut. Multifilaments actually attempt to emulate the construction of natural gut. They are made of hundreds or even thousands of smaller strands of string all bundled together. This group of strings offers excellent playability.

Natural Gut

Natural gut is in fact exactly what it sounds like. Made from beef intestines, this is the most playable string available.

Polyester or Monofilament

All strings in this group are made up of one solid core, hence the "mono." Polyesters are stiff and very durable. This type of string tends to enhance spin and control. Polyester strings are durability strings.

Kevlar

Kevlar strings are actually made from the same material as bullet proof vests. Kevlar strings are very stiff and are packaged as hybrids. This simply means they have half a set of Kevlar and half a set of synthetic gut. They are extremely resistant to wear and are the most durable strings available.

Hybrids

Hybrid stringing is the latest trend to hit tennis. Hybridization is simply combining two different types of string to get the best benefits from both. Kevlar strings have always been packaged as hybrids. The most common hybrids today are durability hybrids using half a set of polyester and half a set of a multifilament or natural gut string.

 

Tension and Gauge:
Tension is a good way to make final and simple tweaks to a racquet or string's performance. Higher tensions (pulling the strings tighter) will result in more control while lower tensions (pulling the strings less tight) will result in more power.

The gauge, or thickness, of a string can have an effect on the play and durability. Gauges go from 15 all the way up to 19. As the numbers get higher, the string gets thinner. The actual diameter difference between gauges is usually about .05 millimeters. Some strings are offered in "half gauges" denoted by an 'L' after the gauge. The 'L' stands for light. For instance 15L string would be thinner than 15 gauge, but thicker than 16 gauge. Thicker strings will offer improved durability while thinner strings will offer greater playability.

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