When it comes to your tennis game, string gets a lot less attention than it should. Most people focus on the feel of their racquet and seem to forget about the importance of using a tennis string that compliments their playing habits. But as soon as the player has a mishit, where’s the first place they look? You guessed it – the string. After a bad shot, they’ll look at their strings and make some adjustments before the next point.
Instead of checking out your string when your game is going south, what if you made sure before you hit the court that you were using the right type of string for your game? Revolutionary, right?
So how do you know if you’re playing with the wrong string? Let’s take a look.
- Arm Discomfort
The material and tension of your string can have a huge impact on your ability to work the ball, which leads us to the number one indicator that you’re using the wrong string – arm discomfort.
While this can be due to overuse or improper stroke mechanics, it can’t hurt to change up your strings to find the ones that work best for your style of your play. Synthetic strings made of a single solid filament (usually manufactured with polyester or Kevlar) are usually the harshest on the arm. That’s because poly strings don’t fray or have any give as they wear out, so the strings simply snap. Multifilament strings, on the other hand, are recommended for people with arm injuries because they are manufactured from thousands of woven microfibers, making them softer and more flexible than a solid filament string.
- Lacks Desired Feel During Play
Another indicator that you’re using the wrong string is whether or not you’re achieving the desired feel when the ball bounces off your racquet. Natural gut is widely used by many professionals as a hybrid with polyester strings. Natural gut is typically not as durable (or as cost-effective) as synthetic string, so it might not be the wisest choice for a casual player, since many of the qualities of natural gut can be replicated in different synthetic strings. GAMMA Tennis manufactures a multifilament synthetic string that mimics the play of a natural gut to a T.
Nowadays, many players use hybrid strings, meaning that they use two different types of string in their racquet at once. This is a good way to see how the different strings affect your game, and which strings mesh with each other. This is also a good way to transition between two opposite types of string. If you’re used to using a soft multifilament string but have been wanting to try something stiffer and more durable, incorporating both into your racquet can give you the perfect intersection between comfort and power.
Finally, tension is another component that should be factored into your string decision. Many recreational and casual players will make the mistake of getting their racquets strung with a tension that is too high. The tension of tennis string is measured in the amount applied to it when it is tightened by the stringing machine. The more pressure applied, the higher the tension; conversely, the lighter the pressure, the lower the tension. If your string tension is high, the strings will be tight; if it’s low, they will be loose.
Tight strings allow for more control over the ball because of the heightened feel and sensitivity. However, this can also be traced back to arm discomfort because of the lack of give in the strings. Also, if you are switching from a soft string (multifilament or natural gut) to a poly, consider dropping your string tension to compensate for the new stiffness of the material. Sometimes it’s not the string that’s the problem, it’s the tension!
- Cost + Level of Play
If you are brand new to the game of tennis and are beginning with a blank slate, it is not necessary to start with natural gut. It is on the more expensive side, and typically beginners do not hit the ball hard enough to develop a feel for different strings. Beginners can easily get away with playing with inexpensive, durable string, and as they advance and gain enough power to break strings, they can explore different options and decide what makes sense for their comfort level. Unless they’re aiming for a pro tour, they may never choose to play with natural gut!
Also, contrary to popular belief, breaking strings frequently isn’t actually a sign you should switch to a different type, unless the cost is getting out of control. This is entirely a personal preference; it’s up to you to find the right balance between feel and cost for your tennis game.
What do you look for (or rather, feel for) in your string? Let #TeamGAMMA know on Facebook!