String tension for tennis racquets is not the same as the tension we feel in daily life. A google search will show a huge amount of possible string tensions and types; often leaving tennis enthusiasts no closer to understanding tension choice but they are left more confused than before they started their journey.
In this article, we have used our several years of experience experimenting with various tensions and gauges (thickness) across many different types of strings. We assure you that we have taken the feedback of players who have played with all the strings out there – natural gut, multifilament, and polyesters with both low and high tensions!
We promise you that by going through this article, you will be able to make a knowledgeable decision as to which string tension to select and there are good chances that you can even have a respectable chat with your local stringer!
Basics of String Tension for Tennis Racquets:
String tension for tennis racquets is a measure of the force pulled by a stringing machine when installing strings, typically expressed in pounds or kilograms. When you have your tennis racquet strung or string it yourself, there is a specific tension applied to the string by a machine. More accurately referred to as reference tension, this is a measure of weight being applied to the string as it’s pulled, which we can express in kilograms or pounds.
Racquet technician set their machine to the client’s desired tension. Then, as they weave the strings through the frame, the machine will pull the string to the appropriate tension. The tension on the racquet finally delivered will differ and typically be slightly lower due to the installation process even though the machine will pull a string to the pre-determined reference tension.
One of the reasons for lower tension is that a technician will install the main strings on a racquet first and there is no friction of the cross strings when pulling the string to the desired tension. However, once the main strings are installed, the cross strings must weave through the main strings, which creates friction and thus reduces the final or actual tension.
Data table for string tension tennis:
All tennis racquets come with a recommended tension range, printed on your racquet, by the manufacturer. This is both which serves two purposes. First, it’s the range the manufacturer has determined on which the instrument performs at its best. However, beyond performance, this range is also critical because it considers the strength of the frame to ensure it doesn’t break under pressure.
At a high level, the recommended tensions range across most racquets will start as low as 18.14 kilograms or 40 pounds and end around 30.84 kilograms or 68 pounds.
You can see the tension ranges for five racquets these are our all-time favourite racquets:
|Yonex Ezone 98 (305g)
|Babolat Pure Strike
|Wilson Clash 100 Tour
|Yonex VCore Pro 100
|Wilson Blade 98 16×19 v7
How string tension impacts your game?
From a physics perspective, string tension impacts two variables:
- Resting time
- Coefficient of Restitution
Resting time is the duration for which the ball stays on the strings. The Coefficient of Restitution is the measure of the elasticity of the collision between the ball and the racquet (a higher COR means more elasticity (liveliness).
For one, the relationship between string tension and coefficient of restitution is not linear, especially on differing head sizes of racquets which is why you see some string players string at 70 lbs and others at 40 lbs.
When stringing tennis racquets, a common question that surfaces for players is whether they should string with a higher or lower tension and what impact the change will have on their racquet’s performance. The simple answer is that lower tensions will provide you with more power, while higher tensions will give you more control. Let’s go in more details.
Tension for Power and Comfort:
At low string tension, the ball has high resting time on the racquet. This results in an increase in power due to the so-called trampoline effect and more energy being returned to the ball. It will also result in an increase of comfort due to a reduction in string bed stiffness which affects the torque and vibrations felt by the wrist, elbow and shoulder. Lower string tension will help you to avoid for tennis elbow.
Tension for Spin
Pete Sampras could generate amazing topspin on his second serve using his heavy, 85 square inch racquet, tightly strung (75 lbs) racquet.
While the general principle that low tension gives more power is quite easy to prove. The claim that higher string tensions give more control is a harder one to explain, is it because higher strings make spin easier? Or simply the fact players must swing harder (in turn producing more spin) to hit with sufficient depth when their racquets are strung tighter?
As is always the case, there is certainly plenty of evidence that players feel more control when using a high string tension and there’s likely enough of it to say, yes, higher string tensions do produce more control. With a tight racquet, the ball is flattened more, so topspin is easier to produce.
This is particularly true on smaller head sizes because an off-centre hit will deform the string bed less than it would a larger head size racquet. Ultimately, spin gives greater control, and greater spin is possible with tight strings.
Now let’s come back to reality. Till we master the basic skills of tennis, the impact of string tension impact on the game cannot be appreciated. Just remember changing tension is no magic bullet and won’t clear up deficiencies in technique, fitness or poor equipment choice in general.
Changing the string tension in your racquet can be a powerful tool for your game when done correctly and that little bit of fine-tuning can help you find a winner just when you need it or that bit more control to stay in a rally.
Finally, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to what string tension for tennis racquets you should use. We wouldn’t recommend blindly copying the professional players unless you have flawless stroke mechanics and have matched all their specs based on the pro stock frame. For the beginners, we suggest to try mid-50s tension range and see how that feels.
Keep in the mind if you are hitting good shots but results are not seen then restringing your racquet is one of the good options.
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