Q: In your opinion, what is the most exciting string technology to come along lately?
Ask the Stringer: What is the Most Exciting New String Technology?
A: String companies are always innovating and trying new things so you never know when the next big thing will hit. I would say that the biggest change in the last 10+ years has probably been the rise of polyester strings and their evolution. Polyester strings have actually been around in some form for quite a while, but they didn't really catch on right away. Over the years, string manufacturers were able to refine their process and improve their polyester strings. Professional players began getting on board thanks to polyester's amazing durability and increased spin potential. As more of the world's best players embraced polyester strings, the trend began to trickle down to amateur and recreational players. These days, polyester strings are more popular and more readily available than ever.
Despite their tremendous upside, polyester strings aren't for everyone. Polyester's durability is part of what makes it desirable, but it also means that the string is very stiff. Anyone who is suffering from arm pain—or anyone who has suffered in the past—should strongly consider going with a softer, multifilament string that won't be as harsh on their arm. I also try to steer younger junior players away from polyester and towards softer strings when it's possible. Most players that young aren't frequent string breakers so there's not as much need to give them a harsh, durable string that could ultimately cause arm pain. Finally, players should take a moment to think about how polyester strings will interact with their racquet. If you are using a stiff racquet, stringing with stiff polyester can be a recipe for arm discomfort or injury.
Pros and cons aside, I nearly always encourage players to go thinner when they are using polyester. Most polyester strings are available in 17 gauge and many are even available in 18 gauge. The thinner gauges provide a little bit more feel and they'll still offer plenty of durability for most players. Experimenting with polyester hybrids is also a great way to go. By blending polyester strings (usually on the mains) with a softer multifilament or natural gut (usually on the crosses), players can get the best of both worlds. The polyester string will still help enhance durability and boost spin, while the softer string will enhance comfort and feel.
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