Racquets and Strings Make a DifferenceMark Campanile
The responsibilities of a USPTA teaching pro are many and require an expansive set of personal skills and knowledge. One area however, that is often overlooked, is the art of racquet stringing and racquet selection. Not all teaching pros need to know how to string a tennis racquet, but each one of us should have a basic foundation of knowledge when it comes to racquets, string and tensions. Our students look to us for advice and guidance with regard to stroke production, strategy, fitness and nutrition. We influence many of their decisions so it’s only natural that we are in a position to give advice regarding racquet selection, racquet stringing, string types and tensions as well.
So let’s get down to the Nitty Gritty. What basic knowledge should a USPTA teaching pro possess about tennis racquets and racquet stringing? Let’s begin with racquet selection. Principal #1: There is a racquet out there for everyone. This couldn’t be more true! The Big Three, Babolat, Head & Wilson, have the market covered. They account for about 94% of racquet sales in the United States. The key is to familiarize yourself with the basic aspects of racquets namely the static weight, the balance and swing weight. Today’s industry standard is the Babolat Pure Drive which has a strung weight of 318g/11.2oz, a balance of 33cm/4 pts. HL and a swing weight of 321.
Principle #2: Select the racquet that is best suited to your student’s playing level and swing style. Racquet manufacturers have produced racquets for every playing style and level possible. Each company has families of racquets that contain several family members of varying weights, balances, swing weights and string patterns. The key for you, as the teaching pro, is to take time to evaluate your student’s swing and athletic ability and have them demo racquets that will help improve their game.
String can be more complicated because there are so many types available to use. But here are some very basic principles that will help you guide your students to making good choices. Restring your racquet annually twice as many times as you play in a week. Fresh strings provide optimal power, consistency and control. Thicker strings are more durable but thinner strings provide more spin, control and feel. Softer strings like natural gut and other multifilaments are best for arm problems. Looser tensions provide more power, can help produce more spin and are better for tennis elbow. Higher tensions are better for control, especially for players that have a simple, less complicated swing.
There are three basic constructions for racquet strings. The first is called Monofilament which is made of a single piece of polyester material and is intended to help improve ball rotation. Polyesters do indeed help increase spin but the downsides are many. They go dead very quick. Polyesters loose tension at a faster rate than any other string on the market and they are not arm friendly.
The second type is called Synthetic Gut which is made with a solid core surrounded by a varying number of overwraps. This is probably the most common as it provides an average blend of power, control and durability. The benefits include a fast ball release, good durability for a flatter hitting style and a low price point. The downside includes less ball rotation and less than average durability for the player with a large swing style and fast swing speed.
The third type of string construction is called Multifilament which is made of thousands of tiny fibers or filaments. Multifilament strings provide many benefits which include comfort, power, ball pocketing and feel. This type of string is generally not known for its durability nor heavy spin producing qualities. In addition, multifilaments hold tension better than other types of string and tend to retail at higher prices.
In summary, making certain that our clients and students are playing with the best possible equipment that is suited to their game should be a high priority for all teaching professionals. We are the primary influencers in the tennis industry and have a unique opportunity to share our vast knowledge with our students and clients. The key is to arm ourselves with the necessary tools to convey the message about proper equipment choices. Taking the time to learn about racquets and strings will only make us more marketable and more able to help our students grow and stay in love with the game of tennis.
USPTA Elite Professional
USRSA Master Racquet Technician
Owner of The Racquet Man
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