String Patterns in Tennis – How Does It Affect Your Play?
A professional tennis player understands the importance of string patterns in a tennis racket. Believe it or not, the string patterns have a direct impact on your game.
When you scout for a tennis racket, you will come across multiple options for the string patterns.
You need to decide that what kind of string pattern you are comfortable playing with. For that, you will need to dig into the details and types of string patterns.
What exactly is String Pattern?
The number of cross strings on the racket is known as the string pattern. As a result, it is the total number of vertically (main) and horizontally placed strings (cross).
As an example, when I say I am showing you a racket with string pattern 18X20. Then it means there are 18 strings arranged vertically and 20 strings that are arranged horizontally.
There are a variety of string patterns available, but the most common are 16X18, 16X19, 16X20, and 18X20. The string patterns are divided into two categories.
- Open string pattern
- Dense string pattern
Different Types of String Patterns
Open String Pattern
The open string patterns are best at providing a greater spin and power.
Open string patterns have various combinations and are still being used today. Some general combinations for open string patterns are 14×18, 16×16, 18×16, 16×15, and 18×17.
The very well-known Wilson Spin effect rackets with string patterns of 16 x 15, 18 x 16, and 18 x 17 have found an increase of 200 RPM on the ball.
Therefore, the strings can have an increase in movement by 3.3 times, and there can be a 69% increase in ‘snap back,’ or you can also say the strings will recoil before the ball leaves.
This will lead to an increase in power and a better feel for the ball, as well as added comfort from the softer impact.
Nonetheless, the strings with open string patterns have a higher probability of breaking and even losing control as they are in constant movement when being hit.
Open string patterns have the advantage of being easier to reach with depth, power, and spin.
An off-road tire is a good analogy for an open string pattern. The racket with an open string pattern will dig in, catch the ball, and send it out on the other end with a good spin.
Dense String Pattern
The dense string pattern is also known as a close string pattern.
The most common dense string pattern you may find is 18×20.
If you ever compare a racket that has 18 mains and another one that has 16 mains with the same head size, you will observe that the holes are quite small. This tight spacing between the strings creates a dense string pattern.
A dense string pattern is excellent for the players who play by hitting flat shots and who don’t need spin in order to control their shots.
This string pattern will help you have better control. If you love hitting slice shots, this string can be an amazing option for you.
Furthermore, since mechanics and swing speeds heavily influence spin, some players will prefer denser string patterns.
18x20 String Pattern
There are 18 mains (vertical) and 20 crosses (horizontal) in this pattern, giving the player more power and string longevity.
Since this string pattern is denser, you can reach more strings on impact, resulting in a more stable shot.
The 18 x 20 string pattern has been popular for a long time because it gives flat-hitting players more directional control on the court.
However, it does not generate as much spin as other string patterns. This string pattern is no longer popular as it once was.
To control natural gut strings, pros used to need the 18 x 20 pattern.
But now, different string materials can provide control even with a good open pattern. Normally, there is less tension in dense string patterns as there are more strings to deflect.
16x19 String Pattern
Nowadays, the most popular string pattern in tennis rackets is 16 x 19.
This pattern is slightly more open than the 18 x 20, giving players more spin and power for a fast-paced game.
As the power and feel increase for the ball at impact, most of the players prefer the 16 x 19 pattern.
This pattern lets players hit the ball deep in the court with ease while keeping their opponents back.
The tension regulation is a disadvantages of this design. Because of the lack of tension, players who use this string pattern tend to break strings fast or need to restring their racket.
16x18 String Pattern
The 16 x18 string pattern is identical to the 16 x 19 string pattern, but it provides you slightly more power and spin.
The pattern becomes more open as a result of the fewer cross strings. This allows the ball to flex in the stringbed and remain on the strings for longer.
Players will hit the ball further down the court with more spin without fear of losing control.
Strings with this pattern lose tension and resilience more quickly, which necessitate more frequent restringing, while rackets with this pattern are dense in the sweetspot and more flexible at the outer edges.
16x20 String Pattern
This string pattern is somewhere between 16×19 and 18×20. 16×20 string pattern comprises of the similarities from both the famous string patterns (16×19 and 18×20). There are few mains which means the string can snap back well.
The dense crosses help you to hit more stable shots.
Despite the fact that it does not generate as much spin as other patterns, the 16 x 20 does not lack in power.
Rackets made with this string pattern will be dense or close at the sweetspot and will open up more at the outer edges.
There are many famous string patterns like 16×18, 18×20, and 16×19, but there are also patterns that are called in-between patterns.
You will find rackets with a string pattern of 18×19 and 16×20.
The main aim of these patterns is to provide you with a perfect combination of open and dense string patterns in your performance.
How Can Racket String Pattern Affect Your Performance?
You probably already know that an open string pattern (16X19) means that there is more space between the strings. This helps the ball to sink deeper into the strings, resulting in more power and rebound.
The open string pattern helps the racket to have more spin by hitting the ball deeply since the gaps between the strings are wider. An open string is the best option if you want a softer feel.
The closed string pattern (18X20), on the other side, gives you more control since there is more surface area touching the ball. The strings are close together this time, and they become much stiffer than in the open string pattern.
A close string pattern will make you feel crisp.
While a close pattern has the advantage of durability and control, it also has the disadvantage of sacrificing the extra power and spin that an open pattern can provide.
Which String Pattern Is The Best For You?
The answer to this question will differ entirely from person to person.
If you are new to tennis and have just started playing, as a beginner, an open string pattern will work best for you. The open string pattern will give you the necessary power and spin.
If you are an intermediate or an advanced level player, you can go for dense/close string patterns. It will give you proper control while hitting.