String patterns are normally described in terms of the number of vertical ‘main’ strings, followed by the number of horizontal ‘cross’ strings. Typically each dimension will have somewhere between 16 and 20 strings. In this article we will contrast two of the most popular options: so, what do we need to bear in mind when considering a 16×19 vs 18×20 string pattern?
Difference Between 16×19 and 18×20 String Pattern
In simple terms, an 18×20 string pattern contains an extra main string on each side of the racket head, and one extra cross string, in comparison to a 16×19 pattern. The 18×20 pattern is therefore described as more ‘dense’, as the strings are closer together.
This means that, all other things being equal, a 16×19 pattern allows the string to stretch more on impact.
Is 18×20 String Pattern Better Than 16×19?
The answer to this question depends upon what you want from your racket. The more open 16×19 pattern, by virtue of giving the strings more opportunity to stretch, produces more power. It also forms larger squares within the pattern, which help to grip the ball and provide more spin, and will feel relatively comfortable.
The denser 18×20 pattern cannot offer as much power and spin, but it compensates for this reduction by providing more control. An 18×20 pattern will feel firmer, and offer more feedback to the player, but will feel less comfortable.
Crucially for many aggressive players with no or limited sponsorship, an 18×20 pattern, by virtue of restricting string movement, will extend string life significantly.
Baseliners and 18×20 String Pattern
Advanced baseliners will tend to prefer an 18×20 string pattern because they will generally be able to generate power and spin by virtue of their technique. They will want their racket to help them by providing a feeling of precision and control, which is most likely to be offered by a dense string pattern. They will also appreciate the extended string life.
At lower levels, players who crave precision and control will tend to be primarily net players. However, baseliners who hit flat may also appreciate these traits. More spin-oriented baseliners will feel that the additional power, spin and comfort of a more open pattern like 16×19 make it preferable.
Babolat Pure Strike 16×19 vs 18×20
Recognising the fact that these two string patterns can be appropriate for different types of player, Babolat make alternative versions of their popular Pure Strike model.
The Pure Strike sits alongside the powerful Pure Drive and the spin-oriented Pure Aero in the Babolat range, claiming to offer high levels of feel and control along with manoeuvrability, without compromising too much on power and spin.
Given that the Pure Strike is geared more towards control than the other two leading rackets from Babolat, a lot of players will go for the denser, 18×20 string pattern to enhance the feeling of precision.
However, if you choose a 16×19 pattern, this can give a little more power and spin to what is fundamentally a control-oriented package, which some may prefer.
The only way to tell which is best for you is to try both.
Wilson Blade 98 16×19 vs 18×20
The Wilson Blade 98 is an advanced player’s racket which offers precision and stability. It has traditionally been popular among leading players on the ATP Tour, due to its all-round qualities. It is available in 16×19 and 18×20 guises- so which should you choose?
The arguments here are similar to those for the Pure Strike. The racket is fundamentally control-oriented, so you may choose to follow this theme and adopt an 18×20 string pattern. This is unquestionably what an advanced player with an aggressive game would select.
If you are a club player who wants a little bit of extra power and spin, while recognising the benefits of the Blade 98’s frame, you may feel that you get more out of the 16×19 string pattern. Again, you will only be able to be certain if you compare the two versions in action.
The choice of string pattern is very much down to personal preference, but when looking at a 16×19 vs 18×20 string pattern, there are certain key differences.
A 16×19 pattern offers:
- More power
- More spin
- Less Control
- Shorter string life
- Greater comfort
An 18×20 pattern provides:
- Less power
- Less spin
- More control and precision
- Longer string life
- Firmer feel
Advanced players with an aggressive style will normally choose an 18×20 pattern, whereas club players may prefer 16×19. Neither pattern is fundamentally ‘better’. Major manufacturers like Babolat and Wilson now allow you to choose a string pattern for some of their popular frames, so you can try out different versions to see what difference the pattern makes.
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