How do I select
the right strings?
Courtesy of TENNIS magazine
Much like finding the right spouse, when it comes to selecting strings, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A string that feels soft and forgiving to one player can seem mushy and dead to another. With so much being left to perception, it would make sense that, just as with a racquet, players spend a lot of time experimenting with various strings to find the perfect fit.
Yet strings don’t get anywhere near the consideration that racquets do. Players routinely leave strings in their frames far too long and use varieties that don’t mesh their playing style or needs.
When it comes to materials, the following make up the vast majority of strings: natural gut, nylon (multifilament synthetics) and polyester. From a playability standpoint, gut provides the most feel and comfort, polyester the greatest durability and control, and nylon is generally a balance between the two.ADVERTISEMENT
Since stiff, powerful frames and aggressive baseline play have risen in popularity, so has the prevalence of polyester strings. Polys tend to be firm, resilient – good for string-breakers – and underpowered, which appeals to hard hitters who can use their fast swings to apply heavy topspin for control.
Natural gut is the softest string, and offers great playability, but it has a short lifespan. Throw in the high expense and it’s why you don’t see it much at the recreational level.
Softer multifilaments are not quite as plush as gut, but are more elastic and generally more comfortable at contact than polys. Their affordability also make them attractive for all-court players, net-rushers, doubles specialists or anyone with arm troubles who appreciate added feel and flex.
All that said, the best way to find the ideal match for your game is through trial and error. While strings can make claims of extra power, spin or control, it only matters how it feels to you. If you like the way a string plays, regardless of its composition, that will cause you to play with more confidence. And when you’re looking for the right mate, you want one you can believe in.
For more on the latest gear and tennis technology, visit TENNIS.com.