Tennis String Savers
Since Roger Federer uses string savers, you probably should know more about them.
Have you seen the close-up shot of a professional tennis player’s racket?
If you have, you must have wondered why there are tiny dots between the strings. These dots are called string savers.
There are various reasons players choose to use string savers.
The most important one being that string savers help prolong the life of your tennis racket strings.
There are several ways string savers can improve your command of the game. Want to know how? In this article, you will learn all about tennis string savers.
What are string savers on a tennis racket, and why do players use them?
String savers have remained a mystery for many players because few players use them.
Moreover, string savers aren’t a mainstream accessory, like a vibration dampener or an over-grip. That’s why many players don’t even know about them.
For your information, string savers are tiny pieces of plastic or other composite material.
These slip between the cross and main strings intersection and can be installed anywhere. However, primarily string savers are used in high wear areas in the center of the string bed.
When the racket strings strike the ball, they rub together, which generates friction. This friction can wear them down, eventually causing them to break. To prevent this from happening, string savers are used.
String savers preserve the strings and extend their life by acting as a buffer between two strings. They can be placed at any string intersection.
However, generally, players install them in high-wear areas, toward the center of the racket, at the point where the strings come into contact with the ball.
String savers decrease the string’s movement due to the ball’s impact and enhance its durability.
Watch this video to understand why string savers are used on the tennis racket.
When Should You Use String Savers?
If you notice your tennis racket strings frequently break at a specific spot, or there’s a lot of wear at some intersections, use string savers on these points.
There are many reasons behind the frequent breaking of strings. Check this video to find out what could be causing your racket strings to break.
Most players who prefer to use natural gut strings also use string savers, like Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov.
String savers were more prevalent back in the day when gut strings were more popular. Pete Sampras is one of the famous players who preferred using string savers.
Federer’s string saver pattern is quite unique, as he applies them in a crisscross pattern across the five center main strings and the fourth and sixth cross-strings.
Find out more about Federer’s string savers’ preferences in this video.
Do String Savers impact playability?
Adding anything to the string bed will have some impact or change in playability.
By adding string savers, you can experience a slight increase in tension. This may happen because strings’ hitting surface gets stiff as the tension is raised.
Watch this video to understand why rackets get stiff.
However, a general observation is that string savers create a dampened feeling because they deaden the frame’s feel.
You may not experience this if using natural gut string or a hybrid setup, with the guts being in the main.
Natural gut is a lively string, so if you add 8 to 10 string savers, it won’t affect its flexibility, and you probably won’t feel any difference.
The dampened feel may appear with synthetic or polyester strings. Or you may feel a change in playability if using more string savers.
People often complain about string savers affecting and decreasing the level of topspin a player can generate.
Usually, strings generate spin when they snap back into place after being displaced.
As soon as the string returns to its normal position, this imparts more torque on the ball before leaving the string bed.
Since string savers reduce the string movement, they can reduce the spin level considerably.
However, let’s not forget this snapback theory is tested only at low impact speeds. Hence, it is unclear to what extent it can increase or decrease spin.
So, when you see Federer hitting back at Nadal with massive power and speed, you know they aren’t that bad.
Another point is that adding a chunk of plastic in the string bed can grip the ball more and generate more spin.
For instance, Federer believes string savers add spin.
Still, many pro tennis players have been wrong about the equipment in the past, so there’s every possibility that Federer also miscalculated their impact a bit.
In club-level tennis, you may not notice string savers too often.
Can String Savers Affect Your Game?
Anything that interferes with natural string movement is likely to affect your game by impacting the racket’s performance.
Some players say they do feel different when the racket hits the ball, while some claim there’s not much difference.
Either way, string savers will impact your game in any of the following areas.
The first and most apparent change players can notice the deadening of the string bed. This kind of feeling you may also experience when using a vibration dampener.
However, if you haven’t used one before, you will perceive some decrease in feel and playability. Conversely, you won’t notice any changes in feel if you already use a vibration dampener.
String savers can decrease topspin because they can restrict the racket strings’ snapback effect after a ball is struck, which is responsible for producing topspin.
However, many tennis pros, like Federer, claim that string savers increase spin as they enhance the ball’s grip and rotation.
So, you have got to experiment yourself and form your opinion. The impact depends on the frequency of play and how much you rely on topspin.
Installing string savers will increase the strings’ tension slightly. So, this may decrease their power potential and offer better control.
To limit any string tension changes, you should consider dropping a pound or two when stringing your racket the next time.
Moreover, keep in mind that the more string savers you install, the higher the difference in tension. Watch this video to understand how low you can go on string tension.
Which Tennis Pros Use String Savers?
Many top pros on tour are seen using string savers. Some of them include the following:
Federer’s string saver use is the most famous of all.
Federer uses ten strings in prefer a crisscross pattern toward the racket’s sweet spot’s upper end.
Perhaps that’s where Federer experiences the most wear. Check out this video to learn more about Federer’s string saver pattern.
Grigor Dimitrov’s playstyle is like Federer’s, and they both happen to use string savers as well.
So, there must be some legitimacy in the similarity claims, whoever has made them. If you watch him play, you’ll notice strong savers installed on his racket, in somewhat a similar pattern as Federer’s.
Sampras is another player known for using string savers.
He even used to install them while playing, in between points. Sampras used natural gut strings and believed that adding string savers improved his playability and extended his strings’ life.
How to Use String Savers?
It is up to you. Players install them to increase the life and durability of racket strings and save some cash in the long run.
If you want to use string savers, remember that you should then use them all the time.
This minor addition will change your racket’s performance for the better. Once you start using string savers, you may not want to play without them, that’s for sure.
Here’s a detailed video on using string savers to improve your performance.
Where to install String Savers?
The best location to install string savers on your racket is the point where your strings are visibly breaking.
Generally, the racket’s sweet spot or the middle portion, where you generally hit the ball regularly, and strings require more protection.
However, if you have just started playing and have yet to break a string, check the intersections to install string savers.
If there are notches on the strings, at the point where they rub against each other. This is the point where you should install them. It would help if you detected places with the most wear.
How do you install string savers?
String savers are tiny pieces, so it could be tricky to install them at first. The good news is most string brands come with an applicator, which acts as a lever and allows you to detach the cross from the main.
Once this is done, slide one of the savers into the intersection. After you release the applicator, the string’s natural tension will hold the saver in its place.
What pattern should you use?
Roger Federer and many string savers admirers prefer an alternating pattern. However, ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.
An alternating or crisscross pattern is much suitable because you’ll need less string savers, and there will be minimal impact on the racket’s performance.
When using string savers, the priority should be to protect your strings without causing a dramatic change in the racket’s playability.
String Saver Buying Guide:
Before buying string savers, there are some factors that you should consider. There isn’t an extensive range of savers available on the market already.
Still, it is crucial to ensure a great purchase whenever you do. So, take a look at the main factors that should influence your decision.
The primary reason players turn to string savers is they increase the life of racket strings, which are pretty expensive items. So, string savers should withstand wear and tear themselves.
Therefore, savers should be made from durable material. Generally, you will find string savers made with composite or plastic.
However, many manufacturers have come up with their proprietary materials, which vary greatly.
Ease of use
If the string saver doesn’t come with an applicator, installing it would be a problem because these are tiny pieces, whereas strings are tight.
Applicators make the process of installing them effortless and convenient until you become a pro at installation.
However, do remember that all applicators won’t be the same. Some are easier to handle, while some are tricky on their own and make installation more complex.
You would want to invest in string savers, mainly because you need to avoid string wear and the money you have to spend restringing your racket.
So, ideally, string savers shouldn’t be too expensive.
Should You Start Using String Savers?
If you have natural gut strings, string savers will be a good investment because natural gut strings are pretty expensive, and you cannot afford to restring them now and then.
Moreover, natural gut strings are vulnerable to wear and breakage more than other string materials.
Therefore, investing in good quality string savers would be wise if you want to save money on strings in the future.
Similarly, using string savers will benefit you if you use multifilament strings. These will cut down on fraying and extend the life of your strings as well.
Are String Savers Legal?
String savers are perfectly legal.
The International Tennis Federation has allowed string savers in competitive play. Moreover, it is also part of the official rules of tennis.
For your information, Rule 4 in the ITF Rulebook, which refers us to Appendix II B, states this:
“The hitting surface of the racket shall be flat and consist of a pattern of crossed strings connected to a frame, and alternately interlaced or bonded where they cross.”
It is important to note string savers don’t have any material impact on your performance. This is why they are perfectly legal to be used.
Are there any Downsides of using String Savers?
We have discussed the pros in detail. String savers extend strings’ life, separating the mains and crosses to hit the ball better and reduce string movement are some of the pros of using them.
Now let’s check out some of the downsides of using string savers.
The first thing that might hit you hard is the slight change in the feel of your racket and spin. This generally happens if you have installed too many savers. And let us tell you that trying to remove string savers won’t be a fun task at all.
Another drawback is that it causes the string bed to tighten.
This may not happen if you use no more than 20 savers per racket and install them at the sweet spot’s intersections.
Furthermore, string savers can make your racket head heavy, especially if you have installed a complete set of string savers.
While playing, you will feel the weight. The string bed will become stiffer, but the feel will be better if you string at low tension.