Last updated on September 29th, 2022
Winning a tennis match is usually dependent upon two factors; skill and advantage. While skill comes from years of practice, advantages are usually environmental factors such as the weather, type of court, and the type of equipment that the players are using such as the balls and the racquets. There are so many brands and types of racquets in the market and picking the correct one can be very challenging to first time buyers.
When shopping for a racquet, there are several factors that you should consider such as; grip size, weight, grip quality, racquet head size, head weight, string pattern, string quality and string gauge.
|Very durable and stiff with contact with the ball
|Durability with a little thinner version
|Still a very thick string, less for spin lovers
|A lot of variations exist, good balance for power and spin
|Another good power-control option
|Sacrificing durability over spin and power
|Most power and spin
|Highest spin potential
What advantages does one gauge have over the other?
- Gauge 16 is more durable than gauge 17. A beginner or an intermediate player who does not have the money to be buying strings every now and then is better off with a gauge 16 string.
- Gauge 16 strings will maintain tension longer than gauge 17 strings.
- Gauge 17 strings generate more power than gauge 16 strings.
- Gauge 17 strings will give a tennis ball more spin than a gauge 16 string.
- It is more comfortable to play with a gauge 17 racquet that with a gauge 16.
- Gauge 17 has more feel than gauge 16. Professional players who needs to constantly be getting feedback from their hits prefer using the gauge 17 strings. Although they lack durability, money is usually not a determining factor for them.
|Serve n’ Volley
What is a tennis string gauge?
Tennis string gauge refers to the diameter or the thickness of a tennis racquet’s string. Comparatively speaking, a string can be thin or thick. Each type of string has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Picking out a tennis string can be ever harder than picking a tennis racquet. However if you are able to find a string that matches your style of play, not only will your game improve, but you will also be more comfortable when playing.
What are the factors to consider when selecting a tennis string?
There are several factors that have to be considered when picking out a tennis string. The most common ones are cost of the string, the material of the string, and the benefits that the string offers.
The benefits to consider when picking strings are comfort, control, spin, and power.
What benefits do different string types offer?
Power determines how fast the ball leaves the racquet after being struck. Power strings are usually best for juniors whose muscles are still developing, and amateurs who have are yet to learn how they can generate their own power. The strings are usually made from nylon or natural gut.
Control determines how long the ball sits or dwells on the racquet. Control strings best serve players with experience who can generate their own power and want to rely on strings to direct a ball towards a particular spot. The strings are mostly made from polyester or nylon in some cases.
Comfort determines how much shock or vibration you can feel in your arm when the ball comes into contact with the racquet. Comfort strings best serve older players who are prone to certain arm injuries such as tennis elbow. Comfort strings are also good for players that have experienced arm issues before. The strings are made from flexible materials such as nylon and natural gut.
Spin determines how fast a ball spins after being hit. Spin strings best serve competitive players who aim to make the ball bounce higher thus leaving opponents at a disadvantage. The strings are made from polyester of varying textures.
What materials are tennis strings made of?
Tennis strings are made multi-filament nylon, mono-filament polyester or natural gut. Strings made from nylon and natural gut offer power and comfort and are suitable for beginner and intermediate players. Strings made from polyester are stiff and they offer more control. They are best suited for advanced players.
Another material property of interest is the gauge or thickness of the strings. Thick strings are more durable and offer more control while thin strings offer comfort and power. Thin strings are however more prone to breaking.
What are the different tennis string gauges?
The most common string gauges are gauge 15, 16, 16L, 17, 17L, and 18.
- Gauge 15 string is the thickest string with a diameter of 1.40 mm. It is mostly used by advanced players looking for more control and maximum durability.
- Gauge 16 is slightly thinner than gauge 15. It has a diameter of 1.30 mm and is mostly used by the competitive players who have a tendency of frequently breaking their strings.
- Gauge 16L is of medium thickness with a diameter of 1.28 mm. It is mostly used by competitive players who want to achieve both power and control.
- Gauge 17 has a thickness 1.25 mm. It is best suited for beginners and intermediate players that are looking for both comfort and power.
- Gauge 17L is a thin string with a diameter if 1.20 mm. It is used by players that are looking for an increased touch and feel of the game.
- Gauge 18 is the thinnest gauge with a diameter of 1.15 mm. It is used by players looking for maximum touch and feel of the game.
We shall look at gauge 16 and 17 in more detail later in the article.
Another material property is the preference of having a full bed or hybrid racquet.
In a full bed design, all the strings in the racquet are made from the same string type. A hybrid racquet on the other hand has strings made from different material. For example a racquet with polyester as the vertical strings and nylon as the horizontal strings. This mix of materials gives the racquet the benefits from each type. Using the hybrid mentioned above gives the racquet a mix of comfort, control, power and spin. Hybrid racquets can also be made by using strings of similar materials but different gauges.
How much do tennis strings cost?
A set of tennis strings can cost from around $4 up to $40. The most expensive strings offer the best performance and can be more durable.
If you are a regular tennis player, your tennis strings may break quite often. Rather than going to the store to purchase a new racquet, it is much cheaper to buy new strings and restring the racquet. Shops that sell tennis strings may also provide restringing services at an extra cost. If you want to avoid this extra expense, you should look up tutorials on how to properly string a racquet.
How much should I spend on tennis strings?
If you are a beginner, you should opt for the cheaper set of strings. You should spend from around $4 to $10.
For intermediate players a budget of $10 to $20 is okay for a set of strings.
Experts can spend $20 to $40.
Are strings only sold in sets?
No. Strings can also be sold in reels.
A reel is obviously more expensive that a set of strings. It should however be noted that one reel can string up to 18 racquets.
If you are in the habit of breaking your strings, you are better off buying a reel.
Tennis string gauge 16 vs 17
The most obvious difference between gauge 16 and gauge 17 strings is their diameters.
Gauge 16 strings have a diameter of 1.30 mm while gauge 17 strings have a diameter of 1.25 mm.
Gauge 16 strings are usually described as medium-thick strings while gauge 17 strings are described as medium-thin strings.
There are also two other sizes in this range; gauge 16L and 17L.
16L has a diameter of 1.28 mm and it is a medium gauge string.
17L has a diameter of 1.20 mm and it is a thin gauge string.
What does the L stand for?
The L is used to denote a half-gauge.
Which pro players use gauge 16 or 16L strings?
Professional players that use gauge 16 or 16L strings includes; Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka, and Simona Halep. Most of these players use 16L exclusively or a hybrid of 16 and 16L.
Which pro players use gauge 17 or 17L strings?
Professional players that use gauge 17 strings includes; Ashleigh Barty, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev.
Alexander Zverev and Karolina Pliskova use a hybrid of 16 gauge and 17 gauge.
What gauge does Rafael Nadal use?
Rafael Nadal plays with gauge 15L strings.
This article has analyzed several different string gauges and outlined the pros and cons of each gauge.
The article focused more on gauges 16 and 17 because they are the most commonly used.
The article has also given recommendations on the kind of string that players should use at their different levels of skill. These recommendations are however not written in stone. As a tennis player, the only way that you can truly know which string gauge is best for you is by experimenting with various types until you find the right one.