Ask the Stringer: Will Stringing My Racquet Looser or Tighter Increase the Longevity of the String?

Q: If I string my racquet looser/tighter, will it increase the longevity of my strings?

A: I've actually heard people submit theories on both sides of this argument. Folks on the looser-is-better side of the argument seem to hypothesize that lower tensions reduce friction between the mains and crosses, thereby offering better durability. Some of these same people also state that strings pulled at lower tensions don't stretch as much resulting in a thicker post-tension diameter. Proponents of the tighter-is-better side of the argument speculate that although higher tensions may increase friction between mains and crosses, it also causes the strings to move less. Less movement means less rubbing, which ultimately means less breakage.

For the most part, both sides seem to have fairly logical arguments. Personally, I've never tested any of these claims nor have I strung two identical racquets with identical strings at different tensions to see which might last longer. As far as I know, there hasn't really been any research undertaken on the subject either. My take is that the difference—if any—will probably be pretty minimal. In my opinion, there are a few other factors—a string's composition, construction, and gauge—that will likely have a far greater impact on durability than any effect that lower or higher tension might have.

Every player's situation differs a little, but if you're concerned about breaking strings too frequently, I'd first try moving to a thicker gauge of your current string (if possible). If that is not a possibility, then perhaps try switching to a polyester hybrid (if you're not using one already), and then a full string bed of polyester (again, if you're not doing so already). If all of those steps fail, you may finally opt to try a highly durable aramid string—but be warned that aramid strings are extremely stiff and tend to be quite hard on the arm.

All that being said, if an inventive soul devises a practical experiment to test tension's effect on durability, I personally would love to hear about it. Just leave me a comment below with your findings! After all, there's almost nothing that I love more than a good tennis string experiment or debate!

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