The right string tension for your racket is one of the most crucial factors in your overall performance. In determining which is best suited for you, certain things need to be considered like skill level, style of play, and arm injuries.
For beginners, the easiest thing to do is to use the tennis string manufacturer’s recommended tension range which can be found on the inside of the racket’s throat. This given range is the result of testing done by real players; it is the tension that the racket performs at its best. Unless told differently from your coach or tennis pro, play with the recommended tension at first, and if necessary, adjust the tension lower or higher based on the feel and your game performance.
Low String Tension vs. High String Tension
Because the difference in tension does affect your game, it is important to understand those differences and know how to make the adjustments that will best suit your game.
- Control – if you’re looking for control, then you’ll need a tightly strung racket. A higher tension is ideal for power players and hard-hitters that play aggressively, as a tighter string bed allows lesser movement which results in better control of the speed and direction of the ball.
- Power – the need for power is met by lower string tension. When the string bed is looser, there is more allowance for the string to stretch. Upon ball-to-string impact, the strings stretch and the energy stored in the strings rebounds off the racket, returning the ball with a more powerful shot.
- Level of Play – while you might think that beginners can benefit from more control, a softer and more forgiving string bed is what experts generally recommend. Off-center hits, which are common to newbies, cause harder impact to the arm. Looser strings can help minimize this impact by slightly increasing the area of the sweet spot. Lower string tension also allows beginners to hit with power without having to swing as hard. And as the beginner’s game gets better and a game-style preference is determined, the tension can either be kept as is or slightly lowered for those who have developed a slower swing, or raised a little higher for those who have a faster ground stroke.
- Arm Problems – in general, players susceptible to elbow, wrist and shoulder injuries should string at the lower end of the string tension range. A looser string bed stretches on impact allowing more time for the ball to stay on the strings and spread out the shock over the string. As more shocks are absorbed, the lesser the stress will be on the arms.
Understanding string tension and knowing the right one for your game gives you an edge over your competition. It can actually help strengthen weaknesses in your game by either giving you more control of the speed and direction of the ball or giving you more power without having to hit so hard.
So think about your game, and figure out which tension is best for you, and if you still aren’t sure, ask your coach or tennis pro. With the right tension, you’ll play better with fewer arm injuries, and ultimately win more matches.