TENNIS RACQUETS
Equipment
Things you should know before buying or trying a racquet:

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What tension should I string my racquet?  
All rackets have a recommended stringing range, usually found on the inside throat of the racket and expressed as
a range in pounds (lbs) or kilos (kg). An example of this might be: 57+/- 5. This means the minimum recommended
tension for the strings is 52 lbs., and the maximum recommended tension is 62 lbs. A good guideline for racquet
string tension is the stated number, however it is important to remember that:
1) the tighter the strings, the more control
2) the looser the strings, the more power, and,
3) a racquet with frequent and prolonged use can lose up to 10 lbs of tension in the string bed often resulting in a
trampolining effect.
As always, trial and error is usually the best method for determining what string tension is best for you.

The Importance of Restringing Your Racquet
Since the invention of the tennis racquet, players have been asking “how often should I restring my racquet?” The
importance of this question cannot be overstated. There is no easier way to immediately improve your on-court
performance than by replacing worn out strings with a fresh set.
No matter how well engineered a set of strings are, it’s a fact that they will begin losing tension the moment they
come off the stringing machine.
For this reason, whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, your strings need to be replaced regularly to
reach your next level of performance.
To determine how often is right for you, follow this general rule:
Restring your racquet the same number of times per year that you play per week
For example, if you play tennis twice a week, restring your racquet twice per year. If you play five days a week,
restring your racquet five times per year. Of course, if you are a more competitive player or a string breaker, this
frequency may increase.
Strings tension is also affected by extreme temperatures. Therefore, avoid leaving your racquet in your car on a
hot summer day or cold winter night.
As your strings lose tension, racquet performance begins to change. Sensitivity varies from athlete to athlete, but
most consider 5 to 10 lbs (2 to 5 kgs) to be the tipping point. At that point, your racquet will play noticeably
differently and it’s time to restring your racquet.
You can monitor the health of your strings by inspecting the intersection where mains and crosses touch.
Keep an eye out for these telltale signs you may need to restring:
Fraying – as strings rub against each other, coating wears off and filaments begin to break







Notching – string friction results in notches where the string is worn away







String sliding – strings move more at lower tensions







Look for strings that are engineered to retain their tension for as long as possible. Strings like:
Beast XP – the world’s first thermo-poly produced by sequential heating and stretching, that aligns polymer chains
to resist tension loss.
Premier Attack – an elastic multifilament string with a tri-core that improves strength and tension retention.
Remember, at the end of the day, your strings are the only thing that come in contact with the ball – so take great
care of them. By restringing often and keeping your strings fresh, you can look forward to better performance, to
take your game to the next level.
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How to Choose the Right String Pattern
Arming yourself for battle on the tennis court begins with the right racquet, but your string pattern will enhance or
limit your performance.  Therefore, it is critical to make sure your string pattern complements your swing and
playing style. Racquet string patterns are defined by the total number of main (vertical) and cross (horizontal)
strings. They are most often displayed as the number of mains X the number of crosses. For example:
16 mains and 18 crosses = 16 x 18
Racquets with more mains and crosses – e.g. 18 x 20 – are described as having a “dense” pattern, while racquets
with less mains and crosses – e.g. 16 x 18 – are considered to have an “open” pattern.

While a wide variety of string patterns can be seen on the tennis court, the following are most common:
16 x 18
16 x 19
16 x 20
18 x 20
To determine which string pattern is right for you, we first need to understand how differences in string pattern
affect on-court performance.
Power:
Fewer strings result in more power
Spin:
Fewer strings create larger “squares,” grip the ball more, and result in more spin
More strings create smaller “squares,” grip the ball less, and result in less spin
When it comes to string patterns, many athletes assume that “control” and “spin” are the same and therefore that a
“dense” string pattern will generate more spin. This is incorrect!
Feel and Comfort:
Dense string patterns feel more firm and provide more feedback
Open patterns absorb shock better and are more comfortable
String Movement:
Dense string patterns stay in place better, result in less movement, and provide more control on shots hit with spin
String Tension:
Lower string tension will result in more power for all string patterns
Dense string patterns prevent string movement, even at lower tension
So what is the best string pattern for your game? As with all tennis weaponry, we recommend trying a few different
string patterns to find what works best for you. That way you understand exactly how each affects your
performance.
Racquet Flex - More Than Just a Number
The language of tennis is confusing. Nowhere is that more evident than talking about racquet “flex.”

To understand the relationship between flex and racquet performance, first we’ll look at racquet behavior. At the
moment of contact, all racquets do 3 things:
  • Kick
  • Twist
  • Twitch
























Today, we’ll focus on “kick,” as it is strongly linked to racquet “flex.”

“Flex” refers to how much a racquet bends when making contact with the tennis ball.
  • The stiffer the racquet, the less it bends, the higher the stiffness
  • The softer the racquet, the more it bends, the lower the stiffness























That’s simple enough. But here is where players – elite athletes included – get confused. How does a flexible
racquet feel?  How does a stiffer racquet perform? What’s best for me, and how do I determine optimal flex?
It boils down to hitting feeling vs. ball performance.  Which is most important to you?

Flexible Racquets:
  • Lose more energy due to greater racquet deflection
  • Transfer less energy to the ball (some call this a “dead” feeling)
  • Vibrate more and at a lower frequency
  • Provide more comfort (due to less shock) and control (due to less power)
  • Provide better feel – some athletes call this “ball pocketing”
Flexible racquets are best suited for athletes with longer, faster swings, capable of generating their own power.

Stiffer Racquets:
  • Lose less energy due to reduced racquet deflection
  • Transfer more energy to the ball (some athletes call this a “crisp” feeling)
  • Vibrate less and at a higher frequency
  • Provide less comfort (due to higher shock)
  • Provide a crisper response with more power
Stiffer racquets are ideal for athletes with shorter, slower swings, who would like their racquet to generate more
power for them.

These fundamentals will start you on the right path, but it is equally important to play test a few models to gauge
what combination of power, comfort, and control is right for you.

Stay tuned as we continue to break down racquet “flex”, its affect on power level, and how flex will help you take
your game to the next level!
TENNIS 101 - specializing in high quality private and group tennis instruction for adults and children in Orange County, California
TENNIS 101 - specializing in high quality private and group tennis instruction for adults and children in Orange County, California
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