How To Choose Tennis String Tension Beginners Guide

Tennis string tension

Table Of Contents:

Introduction

In this article we will explore what tension your racket strings should be at for optimum performance. 

The first thing to know about tennis string tensions is that they are not universal, so you may have to experiment with different settings as you learn more about how it affects your game.  

The second thing to know about tennis string tensions is that they can make a big difference in how much control and power you feel in your shots. 

For example, if you use too low of a tension setting on the strings then will shots fly off into the net or out-of-bounds? Too high of a tension and shots won’t have enough power behind them? Is it true at all?

No matter what your level of play is, there are a few things you should know about tennis string tension. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics and offer some tips to help you find the perfect balanced tension for your game.

how to choose tennis string tension

Best string tension for tennis racquets?

Racquets are made to play with tensions of 24-25 kg and, with a few exceptions (usually used for professional play), this tension is the same. Therefore, 24-25 kg is recommended as the tension.

However you can play with this number as you wish, according to your own preferences. If you want more power, lower it down a little, and if you want a tighter string bed, raise it up.

Try not to make any dramatic changes like changing the string tension or moving all the way up or down on the scale if you find yourself in a middle place.

The smaller tweaks are more likely to help you find the right tension on your tennis racket strings, while big changes typically lead to frustration.

If you have two rackets of the same model and size, try using them with different tensions.

Other factors such as weather, humidity and altitude

Playing on the tennis court in different weather conditions can have a significant impact on how you play. Depending on whether it’s an arid or humid day, and if the temperature is hot or cold, your strings may behave differently. 

If you notice that the ball isn’t behaving as expected when playing outdoors for example, adjust your tension to compensate. You’ll also want to pay attention to what type of strings you’re using too – some types will react more quickly than others.

Weather

It may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle with your racquet as you try to hit shots that are erratic and unpredictable because there is always something new happening depending on outside factors. 

But what if we told you this could all change by simply adjusting the tension? 

If you’re playing tennis indoors, there are a few things to keep in mind. The air is denser and the ball will bounce higher when it hits the ground because of gravity’s pull on it. 

By stringing your racquet a few pounds higher than what you would normally do indoors, this can help make up for any lack of speed outdoors. 

On the other hand, when playing outside with humid weather conditions like rain or snowfall people often have their strings at lower tension because high humidity slows down balls as they fly through the air. 

So if you are going to be on court with these types of water-logged conditions then it may be worth experimenting with your racquet’s tensions

Humidity

Humidity and wet climates are your worst enemy when it comes to playing tennis. 

The more humid the air, or if you’re in a location with constantly high levels of humidity, then that means there is an increased chance for strings on your racket to become soaked by moisture. 

This can lead them to wear out quicker than normal which usually results in losing tension faster too.

Altitude

Playing at high altitude is not the same as playing at sea level.

Lower atmospheric pressure leads to a consequent greater ball speed, which causes the inside of the ball to expand.

Playing tennis on surfaces with different altitudes can present a varying degree of tension depending on the altitude and surface.

Be sure to raise the tension a bit when playing on higher topological places, while doing the opposite on lower locations.

Tension Vary Between Different Court Surfaces

The surface you play on should be an important factor in what tension of string you choose. 

Players on the tour adjust their strings based on the change from clay court season to hard courts. 

On clay courts, balls absorb dust and are heavier so usually would recommend a lower-tensioned racket than if they were playing outdoors or indoors where felt becomes worn down over time making it smoother and faster for them then changing into higher tensions when transitioning back onto faster surfaces such as grass (or those with artificial turf).

Lowering the tension can also help as an adjustment towards faster courts where there are many variables such as wind resistance that make hitting harder with this type of ball movement technique difficult without enough control due to high tensions which do not offer nearly the same level of spin or propulsion required for these speeds.

When playing indoors, professionals often need higher tensions.

Carrying racquets with different tensions

As you can see in professional tennis matches, many players carry multiple racquets with different tensions.

If you’re a competitive player, chances are you’ll bring more rackets on the court. Many players have two, but it’s not uncommon to see four or six in their bags.

The main reason for this is that in the event that a player breaks one of their strings, the game is not over.  Many players choose to string some of their racquets an extra few kilograms or pounds for more control, or less if they need more power.

Choosing the right racquet, with the appropriate string tension can be a difficult decision for many players. Some choose to carry multiple rackets of different tensions while others only have one or two. Ultimately you will need to experiment and find what is best for your game.

In the end, it is up to you. If you feel like changing your string tension will help improve your game and give you an edge on the court, then go for it! But don’t overdo it, it is best to stick to a certain range of tension and not go out of bounds.

You may be better off sticking with one racquet that has a comfortable and versatile balance of power and control so that no matter what shot comes at you in competition.

My recommendation:

  1. The first two rackets should be strung at the same tension to provide a back-up if a string breaks. The third racquet might be strung tighter, giving you more control in case of an emergency.
  2. One of the most common scenarios that competitive tennis players face is overheating. The competition and nerves can stiffen your arm, leading to hitting a ball farther than usual. In this situation, it may be helpful to have a tennis racquet strung tighter which will limit your power. When playing close to the service line or wide, a slight change in tension will determine whether a player hits within the court or outside of it.

Why string tension is important in tennis?

For many players, tennis string tension is an often overlooked aspect of their racquet. However, the more you know about your racket’s performance and what feels right for you as a player then it can help to adjust the strings with confidence in order to find that perfect balance between feeling good on contact while improving playing level.

The tension of your strings can greatly influence the way you play and even feel your game, and it does for many players.

Many people don’t think about changing the strings on their racquet but this has been shown time after time as being one way we can enhance our game or at least get to explore the games from different angles.

How different types of rackets affect string tension

When a player is transitioning to a new racket, it can be tempting to keep the same string tension as on their old racquet. 

But this might not work for them and they could end up with less than optimal performance. 

Stringing tennis rackets takes time and patience but you will get faster at it over time if you are patient.

A simple solution for that problem, after purchasing a racquet, is to test out different tensions of strings on the same type of racquet. This will help with any transition difficulties when switching from one string tension to another.

To avoid this problem, it is important to talk with a stringing professional. Discuss what tension feels best for you and find the right racket that will work well for your game.

Plus, they can help you make sure all of your equipment has been restrung correctly so that when you are on court playing tennis everything works like clockwork.

How different types of strings affect string tension

The strings you choose to use are a key component in the feel of your game. The type of string you use can have a major impact on how the ball feels as it hits the strings. It is important to know what feel your player prefers when playing with multiple types before deciding which one to purchase for them. 

Have you ever tried different tennis strings? What was your experience like and did it make any difference in performance or technique?

For example, you might feel as though your racquet is strung at 24kg if using nylon strings and then switch to a Kevlars string, or even natural gut strings, but use the same tension.

If you’re using polyester strings, it may be better to string your racket up 5-20% lower as the strings will perform best at a lower tension.

Kevlar strings have a different feel from traditional strings and therefore you may need to set your tension lower to compensate.

How do different types of strings feel?

Nylon stringsA little stiff but generally nice to play.
Kevlar stringsFeel stiffer than usual
Natural Gut stringsBy far the most comfortable and softest tennis strings you can get for yourself
Multifilament stringsBalanced and quite elastic
Polyester stringsPolyester strings are better at lower tensions

Can you actually feel the difference in tension in a racquet?

Research has revealed the limitations of advanced recreational tennis players to detect changes in string tension, despite their passion for racket-stringing. Of 41 tested subjects, only 18 could tell that there is a difference between one set of strings and another had tension.

The findings are more significant than previously thought. They indicate that players were unaffected by large variations in string tension, which can be important for the rebound speed of a tennis ball.

Tip: When adjusting your racquet, it’s best to use the same type of string. To minimize variability, only put one type of string in your cello until you find the tension that works best for you.

Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced player?

Do you love to hit the ball fast and powerful? Or do your swings make a sound that sounds more like “thwack”? Are you someone who prefers playing on clay or grass courts, hitting up high in the air for maximum points? You might be an advanced player. 

Alternatively, if games are often over quickly because of short balls with many mistakes made by both players then it may seem as though they’re just throwing their racquet at any shot presented regardless of how difficult it is – this person would probably classify themselves as beginner.

While the needs of new players are different than more experienced ones.

Beginners should follow lower tensions, and usually, they buy pre-strung racquets so this part has already been taken care of for them; but what about intermediates and advanced players?

Diving in can be a little intimidating at first because everyone deserves an individualized experience when buying their equipment. As a tennis player, you will want to look into which tension works best with your strategy – if you’re looking for stability then a higher tension would work better whereas low numbers provide added power and feel.

Tight vs Loose tennis strings

There is a difference between tight and loose tennis strings, but what exactly is that difference? Loose tennis strings generally allow for more power with less control while tight ones provide more control with less power. The type of string will depend on which character you’re looking for.  I’ve found it relevant to which, loose or tight will best suit my level of play or what style of play I am trying out (e.g., aggressive vs defensive). 

Stringing Process

Strings are sometimes pre-strung at the factory where they originate, while other times they’re strung by a local specialist.

  1. When a tennis racket is strung, whether at the factory or done locally by an individual, a particular tension is applied to the strings.
  2. The tension on the string is a measure of the weight being applied to it by the stringing machine, and it’s measured in either pounds or kilograms.
  3. Before stringing begins, a racquet technician will set the string tension. This is often specific to what the player has requested or in the middle of the recommended range for that particular model racquet if they are unsure.
  4. As the stringer pulls one string through, the machine will pull it to an appropriate tension.
  5. Rackets typically come slightly loose prior to installation, which can cause the tensions in the finished racquet to vary.

Low vs. High String Tension

When it comes to stringing your tennis racket, the choice is yours. If you want less tension on your strings and a soft feel when playing, then go with looser tension – but if you’re looking for more control over the ball, go with stiffer tensions. 

Which type of player are you? Do you prefer softer or harder strings?

Lower String Tensions

Softer strings may be better for you if your goal is to increase the power of your shots. They will also enable you to generate more speed or power in your strokes.

Lower string tension gives more power?

It might be a bit misleading to think that stringing lower will ‘lead to more power’, it is just too big of a statement. Theoretically, it may seem that it would. However, studies have shown that even drastic reduction of string tension, while maintaining the same swing force, leads to only 2% more powerful strokes! You can consider it a minor improvement in power, no more than that.

The more livelier and elastic a string is, the longer it will dwell before snapping back against the ball.

It will also result in a decrease in pain due to the stiffness of the racquet stringbed which affects how much force is transferred to the player’s body.

Pros of stringing in lower tensions:

  1. Increased feel
  2. Longer durability
  3. More comfort
  4. More power

Higher String Tensions

It is easier to prove that lowering the string’s tension provides more power, but it is harder for anyone to explain how higher tensions provide more control.

Higher string tension gives more control?

As is seen in many player’s stories, it seems to be true that high string tensions produce more control.

Why do higher tension strings make them better for spin? One possibility for why it is easier to spin the ball with higher-tension strings is that players have to swing harder (and produce more topspin) in order to hit balls deep because their racquets are strung at a high tension.

So generally speaking, higher tensioned strings offer more control and provide greater spin potential.

Pros of stringing in higher tensions:

  1. More control
  2. More spin

String Tension Lost Over Time

The strings of a racket lose about 10% of their tension as they are strung up, with up to 10% lost as soon before the ball touches the string.

If you hit 25 pounds but don’t plan on using your stick for a week, they will have lost some tension when you finally take to the court.

Professional tennis players on the pro tour often ask their racquet stringers to prepare their racquets before matches for these reasons.

Keep in mind that polyester strings are known to stretch and lose some of their tension when first strung.

Each type of string can lose tension at different rates, with natural gut and multifilament strings maintaining tension better than polyester.

What is your personal taste?

Stringing tension is a personal preference, and each player has different favored tensions. Tension affects how you feel the ball and can affect control on shots which makes it a personal preference for each player. 

Tension can be adjusted for each individual’s preference and style of play:

A more control-oriented player might prefer tighter strings while an offensive baseliner would feel most comfortable with lower tensions so that the ball jumps off his/her racquet in time at contact.

If you like to have control on the ball, and have a denser string pattern like 18×20, go for tighter strings. Some pro players use the advantages and feel of tighter strings.

If however you like to explore and have the effect of the strings jumping back and forth to your advantage, you should string at the lower recommended tension, it’ll give you a better playing experience.

What is tennis string tension anyway?

In tennis, the amount of pounds or kilograms applied to a player’s racket by its strings is called “string-tension.” 

Players and professionals refer to this term when they are considering whether their rackets need more pressure. 

If someone asks if your racquet needs an adjustment in string-tension, it means that you might want to increase how much weight these forces apply on the ball during play.

String tension is a challenge to feel without an opposing set of strings or racket. 

Your first telltale sign that the stringing has changed may be when playing with your opponent and noticing their ball trajectory change, but this will likely not happen until you have played for many hours over several days at a particular setting.

Best string tension for beginners

In order to find the right string tension for beginners, it is important and easy, you stay within your racquet manufacturer’s recommended tension level.

There are so many different brands out there that it can be hard to know where and how you should start. 

But don’t worry – to get this information, all you have to do is inspect the specifications on your frame of a racquet, this can be found on a sticker inside of the frame itself.

So there are two recommendations for tension for beginners:

  1. One way to get started with your tennis racket is by checking the tension. If you can see the inside of the neck, then there will be a stringing recommendation for beginners and others who want an easy solution. Manufacturers test their rackets with real players so they know what tension works best for them!
  2. Ask your stringer which string tension is best for the racquet type or to you as a beginner, he’ll help.
  3. Know that low tension would increase the ‘trampoline effect’, and higher, vice versa.

Are tight strings less arm friendly?

One might think that injury comes from the tension of the string or even your racket. However, this is not true! The more tense and taut you tighten the strings on your rackets, it does not mean it will be any less “arm-friendly” than if they were loose.

As discussed, a lower string tension will make a racquet more comfortable to play with due to the reduction in stiffness.

Even though when you string the tightest tension possible, more energy is reserved within the frame of a racquet and felt in your arms- giving an illusion that tightening up on this aspect will hurt as opposed to help.

Injuries and arm discomfort are not caused by the racquet or tight strings. They’re caused by wrong technique and overuse of certain muscles.

However, as a general principle, most players with arm injuries will benefit from the tension reduction of their strings. Consequently, it will help produce a softer and more forgiving hitting area. Lower-tension strings are less stiff at impact than slacker ones which leads to reduced injury or shock in the player’s arm.

If your problems persist during play, the type of string and racquet – how stiff they are, their balance and weight – is said to be an important factor in discomfort.

Great string types for comfort:

  1. Multifilament strings
  2. Natural gut strings

Tighter strings mean less durability?

Strings are often considered to be stronger the tighter they’re strung, and many stringers believe that lowering the tension will make them last longer. 

Many players hold the misconception that stringing their racquet at higher tensions will cause it to snap quicker. This is not true.

The truth is however, according to racquet manufacturers themselves: there’s a defined limit you can’t go over for your strings. Stringing at lower tensions won’t do anything but create more slack in between each of those tightly wound strands. 

This does not mean it has any effect on their durability whatsoever though – you play style or frequency of use could have an impact on how long they’ll last if using higher tensions than recommended by manufacturer guidelines.

Final Thoughts

Tennis racquet string tension is an important consideration for all players. Beginners should use lower tensions because they need more power to hit the ball and higher tensions will make them lose control of their shots. 

Intermediate or advanced players may want a balance between power and control, but it’s important that you find what works best for your game before settling on one set of numbers.

Once you’ve settled on a number, take note of how quickly the strings stretch over time so you can keep up with restringing as needed! 

Some people like high string tension because there are less vibrations which makes the balls appear faster off the racket while others prefer low string tension because it provides more spin potentials and stability in contact points when hitting hard ground strokes, whatever is your preference, keep exploring.

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