Recreational players & string choice – Part 2 – the racquet makes a difference

It's still about CHOICE

The racquet makes a difference

In part 1 I talked about string, particularly polyester. However, it's important to understand that the racquet you're using has a huge impact on the string you choose. The racquet should be compatible with your playing style and level of play. Once that's determined then it's time to choose the string.

Open pattern Wilson 16x15

Racquet stringing patterns are either considered to be open or closed. A good example of an open stringing pattern would be one of the new Wilson Spin racquets. A 100 square inch head size that would normally have a standard 16x19 stringing pattern now has a 16x15 stringing pattern. By removing 3 of the cross strings and realigning the drill pattern you now get a racquet with some very large holes (see photo left)


Dense or closed pattern Wilson 18x20

An example of a closed stringing pattern would be one like the Blade 104 with an 18x20 pattern. By adding two more main strings and increasing the crosses to 20 as opposed to 15 the pattern becomes what is referred to as more "dense" or closed pattern with very tiny holes.

Why does this make a difference? When string moves on a racquet it can cause premature notching. When the mains and crosses rub against one another that rubbing creates friction. That friction breaks down the coating on the string and eventually creates a notch. Once that happens it wears into the core material of the string and it's just a matter of time before the string breaks. Open patterns allow the ball to sink further into the string at impact and if the player is hitting excessive topspin or slice the strings are going to move - A LOT. The opposite is true for a racquet with a closed pattern. Because the holes are smaller the ball cannot sink into the strings as much and therefore, there will be much less string movement.

Racquet stringing patterns are something that's rarely discussed when players are considering a racquet change. They see the advantages of an open string pattern and immediately think that this is going to enhance their game and to a certain degree it can. But, it will also be sending them to their local racquet technician much more frequently to get new strings. It's fine if you choose to use a racquet with a more open stringing pattern but you'll need to decide what you can tolerate as far as your frequency of re-stringing. This same phenomenon is also true for super oversized racquets. A good example would be the Weed frames that are often 135 square inches in head size. Because of the huge head size, you're going to see some pretty big openings in the racquet face.

Remember this...The vast majority of racquets have a 16x19 stringing pattern  That means there are 16 main (vertical) strings and 19 crosses (horizontal strings. The head size is going to be a major determining factor as to how open or closed the stringing pattern is. If you already know you're a string breaker then the first thing to do is to consult a competent racquet technician and determine if a racquet change might be in order. If not, then it's time to look at a string change to see if you can increase the longevity of your string without having an adverse effect on your game. In fact, IMHO, this should always be a part of the conversation when discussing string choices. What's your tolerance level when it comes to frequency of re-stringing?

See Part 1 HERE


Written by Tim Strawn

Executive Director, IART

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