Tennis String Tension

Complete Guide to String Tension for your Tennis Racket

Here’s the complete guide to tennis string tension, describing the type of strings and their functions, as well as how to select an appropriate tension.

Table of Contents

Types of Strings and Tension

Before we jump right into discussing the best tension for your tennis racket, it’s essential to learn about the types of strings based on their manufacturing materials. 

Since there are different types of strings, they have varying tension as well.

In other words, if tension is suitable for one type of string, it could be the wrong choice for different styles.

👉 That being said, the following are some common string types to consider:

#1. Natural Gut

The first and foremost type of tennis string on the list is the naturalgut.

You might be wondering about what natural means here.

👉Simply, the natural gut is made from cow intestines and holds amazing power and comfort; credit goes to the wonderful elasticity.

Additionally, players who switch to natural gut strings usually look for more power and keep their stringtension higher than other string types.

#2. Synthetic Gut

The second type of string includes synthetic gut, which is made of nylon.

The good thing about this type of string is they are cost-effective and provide an all-around, solid performance.

Hence, a wide range of players goes for them. Moreover, synthetic gut strings give certain benefits on variable string tensions that depend upon preference.

#3. Kevlar Strings

Once upon a time, Kevlar strings were quite popular in the tennis industry, but with a rise in competition, Kevlar strings are not as sought after as they were.

👉 However, some players still choose them because of their durability.

Furthermore, these strings hold a good amount of stiffness, and if you are experimenting with a few available Kevlar strings, you might want to reduce the tension range to get the ideal stiffness you want to in your racket.

#4. Polyester Strings

Another string type is polyester strings. Also, these strings are becoming very popular nowadays in modern tennis.

However, they are a little stiff, low-powered, but effective for topspin. They have a monofilament construction, which provides brilliant durability.

Generally, players who go for polyester strings tend to reduce their tennis string tension to get more snap-back effect along with comfort, allowing them to add more topspin by swinging faster.

#5. Multifilament

Although natural gut strings can be expensive, there is an alternative in the form of multi-filament strings.

The basic idea is binding a certain number of filaments together to reflect the same elasticity at natural gut strings.

However, their performance is not exactly similar to the natural gut, but they can perform well at a mid to upper range of string tensions, which is why many players opt for them.

#6. Hybrid

Last but not least, the hybrid string type. The general idea of a hybrid string is that it’s a combination of any two different sets of tennis strings for mains and another one for crosses.

However, most players use multifilament and polyester strings.

Moreover, people use different kinds of varying tensions for each set of strings with slightly low string tension.

Still, we suggest experimenting with hybrids by varying different tennis string tensions and opting for the one that works best for you.

String Tension Tools

When it comes to the tennis string tension of tennis rackets, it is also important to know about the string tension tools.

👉 There are two basic tools, a calibrator and a string tension tester:

#1. Calibrators

String tension calibrators are simple devices that most racket technicians used to understand that your rackets are pulling the accurate tension of strings.

Furthermore, these calibrators are attached to one end of the racket and pull the tension by the machine; the calibrator then calculates this tension.

Also, the difference in the calibrator is added to the machine by the stringer.

#2. String Tension Testers

After the calibrators there, the tennis string tension testers come into play.

After a long time of play, restringing becomes essential; players keep a record of when they have to restring by measuring their string tension through these testers.

The threshold for restringing is 10-15pounds, and we suggest keeping a periodic record of your string tension as you restring.

So, you don’t have any problem while within your preferred string tension index.

What String Tension Should I Use in My Tennis Racket?

One of the most frequent questions is what tennis string tension should be used in your tennis racket.

Undoubtedly, the string tension is an important factor in changing a player’s gameplay, but there is no certain index of string tension that will be ideal for everyone .

But don’t worry; some factors might help with choosing the right string tension.

👉Here are some factors that should be considered for your gameplay:

What String Material Are You Using?

One primary factor that should help in choosing the right string tension is the string material that you are using.

Like you, we have a list of different string types, and you can get to know about the material of your strings.

However, we suggest that beginners should always start from nylon strings or natural gut (if they are within budget), intermediate players can switch to experimenting with the hybrids.

Advanced players should go with polyester strings.

Generally, you can set the tennis string tension of nylon or natural gut to 50-60lbs, which is the recommended base tension.

If using any stiffer materials, such as polyester, it’s recommended to loosen them a little to prevent any arm injury.

👉Here are some of the tension ranges that can be considered before playing with those materials for the first time:

  • Nylon/Natural gut: 50-60lbs (22.5-27kg)
  • Polyester: 44-54lbs (20-24.5kg)
  • Hybrid: 46-56lbs(21-25.5kg)

What Benefits Do You Want From String Tension?

Choosing the correct string tension can be based on the benefits that it can give you.

For example, some players will want their tennis strings to give significant power levels while hitting or more precise control.

Typically, players, in the beginning, want their racket to provide them with more power because of their slow racket-head speed.

Advanced players want their strings to give them more control with their fast racket heads on the other side of the coin.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher your racket’s string tension, the more control you will have on your shots, while lesser tennis string tension will give you more power.

👉Here are some reference tension ranges that you can experiment with and choose for more control and power:

  • Nylon/Natural Gut: 50-60lbs (22.5-27kg)
  • Control: 56-60lbs (25.5-27kg)
  • Power: 50-55lbs (22.5-25kg)
  • Polyester: 44-54lbs (20-24.5kg)
  • Control: 50-54lbs (22.5-24.5kg)
  • Power: 44-49lbs (20-22kg)
  • Hybrid: 46-56lbs (21-25.5kg)
  • Control: 52-56lbs (23.5-25.5kg)
  • Power: 46-51lbs (21-23kg)

Are You a Beginner, An Intermediate, Or An Advanced Player?

Considering the level of play is also an important factor that can affect the choice of string type.

👉 Below is the framework set out for each:

Nylon/Natural Gut: 50-60lbs (22.5-27kg)

  • Control: 56-60lbs (25.5-27kg)
    • Beginner: 59-60lbs (26.75-27.25kg)
    • Intermediate: 57-58lbs (26-26.5kg)
    • Advanced: 55-56lbs (25-25.5kg)
  • Power: 50-55lbs (22.5-25kg)
    • Beginner: 54-55lbs (24.5-25kg)
    • Intermediate: 52-53lbs (23.5-24kg)
    • Advanced: 50-51lbs (22.5-23kg)

Polyester Strings: 44-54lbs (20-24.5kg)

  • Control: 50-54lbs (22.5-24.5kg)
    • Beginner: 50lbs (22.5kg)
    • Intermediate: 51-52lbs (23-23.5kg)
    • Advanced: 53-54lbs (24-24.5kg)
  • Power: 44-49lbs (20-22kg)
    • Beginner: 44-45lbs (20-20.5kg)
    • Intermediate: 46-47lbs (21-21.5kg)
    • Advanced: 48-49lbs (21.75-22kg)

Hybrid: 46-56lbs (21-25.5kg)

  • Control: 52-56lbs (23.5-25.5kg)
    • Beginner: 55-56lbs (25-25.5kg)
    • Intermediate: 53-54lbs (24-24.5kg)
    • Advanced: 52lbs (23.5kg)
  • Power: 46-51lbs (21-23kg)
    • Beginner: 50-51lbs (22.5-23kg)
    • Intermediate: 48-49lbs (21.75-22kg)
    • Advanced: 46-47lbs (21-21.5kg)

Change The Tension of the String According to the Surface

Now that you have learned about some ranges that you can experiment with in your gameplay, it’s also crucial to consider the effects of the court surface on string tension choice.

When professional players move to the clay season, they decrease their tennis string tension by 2-4lbs(1-2kg). Therefore, the ball can be more or less heavy, depending on the type of surface.

Generally, on clay, the ball becomes heavier by absorbing dust, while in indoor hard courts, that heavy feel doesn’t occur.

Additionally, the ball becomes smoother, light, and fast on an indoor hard court.

In this case, it’s suggested to reduce tension by 2lbs(1 kg) or more on a clay court to cope with the heavy ball.

However, while shifting from the clay court, the tension should be restored in order to regain precise control over your shots.

The climatic conditions should also play a role in choosing the string’s tension; the adjustment in string tension isn’t limited to the surface only.

Surprisingly, the climatic conditions are as important as other factors. Playing outdoors is not the same as playing indoor.

Similarly, arid and humid climates affect gameplay; hence they require a slight alteration in string tension.

For amateurs who don’t change string tension every time it rains, some broad changes can be made depending on the season.

Keeping that in mind, when playing outdoors, the wind can introduce the air resistance factor, along with the sun, which makes for more difficult playing situations.

In such circumstances, it is suggested to decrease the string tension by 2lbs (1kg) and add this amount while playing indoors.

Additionally, it is vital to keep in mind that different types of string sets react differently to changing temperatures and weather.

For instance, natural gut and multifilament strings might suffer a little with a bad climate, while polyester can become a little harsh in winters.

What String Tension Do Pro Tennis Players Use?

After learning all the intricate details about the string tensions of your tennis racket and how environmental factors affect them, you might be questioning what tennis string tensions professional players use.

It’s important to remember that most professional players vary their string tension according to the surface and environmental factors, as discussed above.

Secondly, most pro players use Pro stock rackets that don’t have any matching specifications with the normal retail frame in the market.

👉 So, it wouldn’t be possible to copy their tennis string tensions.

#1. Roger Federer

  • Racket: Wilson Pro Staff RF97
  • Crosses: Luxilon ALU Power Rough 17
  • Mains: Wilson Natural Gut 16
  • Tension: M: 27 kg / 59.5 lbs C: 25.5 kg / 56.2 lbs

#2. Novak Djokovic

  • Racket: Head Graphene 360 Radical Pro
  • Crosses: Babolat VS Touch 17.
  • Mains: Luxilon ALU Power 17
  • Tension: M: 29 kg / 63.9 lbs C: 28 kg / 61.7 lbs

#3. Rafael Nadal

  • Racket: Babolat Pure Aero 2019
  • Crosses: Babolat RPM Blast 15
  • Mains: Babolat RPM Blast 15
  • Tension: M: 25 kg / 55 lbs C: 25 kg / 55 lbs

#4. Jack Sock

  • Racket: Babolat Pure Aero VS
  • Crosses: Luxilon ALU Power Rough 15
  • Mains: Luxilon ALU Power Rough 17
  • Tension: M: 15.9 kg / 35 lbs C: 15.9 kg / 35 lbs

#5. Kei Nishikori

  • Racket: Wilson Ultra 95 Countervail
  • Crosses: Luxilon Element 16
  • Mains: Wilson Natural Gut 16
  • Tension: M: 17.7 kg / 39 lbs C: 16.8 kg / 37 lbs

What is the Best String Tension for a Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is the name given to the inflammation or micro-tearing of the tendons that join your forearms with your elbow.

It can be a severe serious medical problem — as it might become permanent immobility in the forearm if not treated on time, and the cause remains.

Higher tennis string tensions make the tennis racket stiffer and result in tennis elbow.

With the ideal string tension, a tennis elbow can be avoided.

👉However, there are some steps that you can take for your string tension to prevent tennis elbow:

  • It is recommended to switch to natural gut or even multifilament strings, as this will minimize the amount of shock transferred to the elbow.
  • Those on a lower budget should opt for Babolat strings, for example, the VS Gut or Tonic+. Otherwise, a full bed of natural gut is always great.

What String Tension is Best for a Spin?

Can tennis string tension affect spin? However, it is often thought that the control of the shots is linked with adding spin to the ball.

You might have heard players saying, “high-tension strings bite the ball,” meaning it creates more friction.

Some players also use rough strings to increase the friction and grab the ball to add a good spin to their shots.

Although plenty of factors include in spin, the most effective remains using higher tensions to enhance surface contact forces.

So, to add more control and spin, it is suggested to go for a slightly higher tension than normal, but you should keep in mind the stiffness, environmental, and climatic factors of your game and choose the right one accordingly.

How Much Tension Do Tennis Strings Lose?

Strings require maintenance over timeto keep their tension intact.Surprisingly, your tennis strings start to lose tension as soon as they are done, finished being strung onto the racket.

Although, this greatly depends on the type of strings that are being used. Generally, the tennis string tension decreases by 10% in the first 24 hours and continues to do so when playing tennis😊.

Players with high levels of accuracy and preciseness will find that their string tension reduces with time.

This is the right time to restrain the racket and gain back that vital element in the game.

👉 However, here is a general idea of string maintenance for different types of wires:

  • Natural Gut: Very good
  • Kevlar Strings: Very good
  • Synthetic Gut: Good
  • Multifilament: Average to good
  • Polyester Strings: Poor

How to Know When It's Time to Change Strings?

Understanding when tennis strings need to be changed comes from experience, which is why beginners find it difficult to know when they have to restring.

However, advanced players can know when it is the right time to get their rackets restrung through the feel, but there are some visual things that are the giveaway signs.

#1. Fraying

Multifilament and natural gut strings are made of multiple tiny thread-like fibers that are bound strongly together.

Whenever buying a new set of these strings, they have a thin layer to protect them, but this coating starts to wear off during play, and fibers can fray.

Interestingly, fraying is not always a drawback. Instead, sometimes it can be due to moisture and humidity.

The protective layer wearing off is quite a natural process, and you shouldn’t worry about it. However, up to a certain point, the fraying can pass the threshold and eventually break.

👉 So, if you come across those fraying fibers and strings that look weak, we suggest you go for restringing.

#2. Notching

When playing tennis, the ball meets the racket strings at some point; at that particular point, the lines run over each other and cause friction, which can notch the strings.

When paying close attention to the string bed, some visible grooves on the points where the ball hits the string bed, mainly the upper middle area of the racket.

If those notches become more profound, they can eventually break the string.

Unfortunately, this is part of a racket’s maintenance, and getting lines restrung before they break can be the right decision.

To conclude, there is much more detail to strings than one might think of.

Although choosing the racket frame is seen as the most critical decision, choosing suitable strings can dramatically affect gameplay that it isn’t a subject to be ignored.

This article discussed the primary crucial elements behind tennis strings, offering information about the types and frequently asked questions.