String Pattern: Which is the right one for me?

Courtesy of TENNIS Magazine | January 01, 2017

What Effect Does String Pattern Have on a Racquet

Weight, balance, stiffness, head and grip sizes are the vitals most recreational players concern themselves with when purchasing a racquet. But string pattern, once more of a blip on the radar, has become an increasingly important and complicated consideration. 


A frame’s string configuration – the number of main (up and down) and cross strings – can greatly affect how a racquet operates and should say something about the user’s style of play. With so many options now available, sometimes within the same frame, here are a few things to consider when it comes to string patterns.




If you have two similarly sized frames with identical strings and tensions, the racquet with the more open string patternor fewer strings – will usually have a softer, arm-friendlier response.


The ball can also stay on a more elastic string bed longer – called dwell time – which promotes a higher launch point and easier depth on shots. A 16x18 or 16x19 pattern used to be considered open, but now there are frames made with as few as 15 cross strings.


However, more strings in the string bed makes a racquet stiffer and provides a firmer response. Frames with 16x20 and 18x20 configurations fall into the dense string pattern category. To players who play with lots of touch and precision, the extra feedback provided by these racquets can actually be preferable and more pleasing than the elevated softness of an open pattern.


The more space between the strings, the greater the opportunity to bite the ball. Hence, a more open pattern can accentuate spin, and because hitting with topspin has become such a critical part of the game, companies construct frames with string patterns expressly designed for this purpose.


A player using a dense pattern can still apply spin to the ball, just not as easily. On the upside, the extra surface area and stiffer string bed generally provide better directional control.

String Longevity

Every time you hit a ball, your strings move and rub against each other, causing them to weaken and eventually snap. The greater the room to move – the more open the string pattern – the higher the frequency of breakage. That’s why frequent string-breakers tend to shy away from those types of frames entirely. 


A dense string pattern has less room for string movement and better string life. It also affords players the opportunity to use softer and thinner strings, which would break much faster in a frame with an open string pattern.


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