String Tension – Testing Equipment #3

Testing Equipment is a video format by Seb Proisy for Tennis Majors. It will tell you what the pros use to be at their best, and what you should use to have fun and win the more matches. Racquets, shoes, strings, and everything a tennis player needs will be tested. Episode #3 is dedicated to the type of strings you can use for your racquet.

May 9, 2020
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The figures

Have you ever heard of a trampoline? Because the strings on your racquet behave in exactly the same way. This is what Seb Proisy explains in Testing Equipment #3, for Tennis Majors.

This is a critical component. It will have an effect on many aspects of your game, from your level of control on the ball to your ball speed, your feel and even your body in general.

Tension is measured in kilograms or in pounds. The lower the tension, the bigger the trampoline effect and the faster the ball. Your arm won’t need to swing hard to make the ball travel fast. By contrast, a higher tension will give you more control and your arm will have to swing harder for the ball to move fast.

To be clear, the trampoline effect refers to the bending of the string bed during impact before it returns to its original position.

Tension varies between men and women

Among ATP players, the tension usually ranges between 19 and 28 kgs. As a comparison, Adrian Mannarino doesn’t appear to hit the ball so hard but because he strings his racquet at only around 17 kilos, his ball still moves fast. By contrast, Rafa Nadal, who plays with a similar racquet, strings his racquets at around 25 kilos, because he applies a lot more spin and energy to his shots.

For WTA players, the average tension is generally higher because they hit the ball flatter and therefore need more control.

Over the years, players have begun using lower tensions because of lighter racquets and because polyester strings required a lower tension. Pete Sampras, for example, used to string his racquets between 32 and 35 kilos, which sounds crazy nowadays, but he used a heavier racket and only strung it with natural gut.

Nowadays, you might see players using different tensions for mains and crosses. There are two reasons for this. First, some believe that because the crosses are shorter in length than the mains, they require a lower tension to achieve a uniform feel. Second, with hybrid set-ups being much more common, different strings require various tensions to achieve the same feel.

On a final note: string tension should only be compared when all other things are equal. For example, similar racquets with different string patterns will require different tensions to achieve the same feel.

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