String tension: How do I get

better control?

Courtesy of TENNIS Magazine  |  June 19, 2017

Generally speaking, the tennis axiom goes, the tighter you string your racquet, the more control you have over your shots. The looser the tension, the more power.


The theory behind tighter strings resulting in more control derives from several factors. The first element is string movement, which looser strings have more of. If a string moves more on impact, the resulting ball trajectories will be less predictable. Think of throwing a ball against a concrete wall (tight string bed) vs. throwing it against a pitch back (loose strings). The wall will have the more consistent response.


The next consideration is the amount of time the ball stays in contact with the strings (aka, dwell time). A ball will have greater dwell time on a more loosely strung racquet. That means as the racquet continues out and up on its swing, the ball will have a higher launch point. ADVERTISEMENT This can result in greater depth, which some also equate (probably incorrectly) with increased power. The ball isn’t traveling faster, but it is traveling farther.


However, the more time a ball spends on a string bed, the more things can go wrong. The ball can slide to a less desirable part of the racquet face, causing a mishit or loss of power. Plus, the added depth of a looser strung racquet may actually be disadvantageous if shots are consistently long.


All that said, there is little scientific evidence to prove that a couple of pounds’ difference in string tension causes significant spikes in power or control. Things like faulty mechanics, poor shot selection and over-aggression will cause far more errors than string tension ever will.


But as long as you don’t mind a firmer feel, it can’t hurt to bump up the tension a few pounds to see if you’re looking to lower a consistently high error count. Perception can be reality, and many players perceive tighter strings to result in better control. Which, in a hugely mental endeavor like tennis, is hugely important.


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