What String Tension Should I Use in My Tennis Racket?

As a general rule, many recreational tennis players don’t have a clear understanding of string selection or string tension. Here at IART we have gone to great lengths to educate our membership on this subject but who does the general public turn to for this information? The good news is that there’s one major manufacturer that’s taking the lead and via their FaceBook page, they’re posting informational articles on topics such as racquet selection, string selection and most recently, selecting the right tension for your strings. Here’s Wilson most recent offering to the public and subscribing members of IART can go HERE for a recent article that addresses string types.


CHOOSING THE RIGHT STRING TENSION

String tension, how tight or loose the strings are pulled in the frame, is just as important as what string you use in your tennis racket. While it can seem even more complicated than choosing your string, there are three easy questions you can ask yourself when deciding at what tension to have your racket strung. The questions build on one another, so be sure to answer them in order to determine the best string tension for your game.

1. WHAT STRING MATERIAL ARE YOU USING?

Are you using nylon/gut string, polyester string, or a hybrid of half and half? In general, beginners should play with nylon strings (or natural gut if you don’t mind spending the money), intermediate players can start to blend with hybrids, and advanced players can take the court with a full bed of polyester. When it comes to tension, the general rule is to string elastic materials like nylon or natural gut around 50-60lbs, which we’ll use as our base recommended tension. If using a stiffer string material like polyester, we’d recommend stringing looser to avoid arm injuries. Here are the tension ranges we’d aim for the first time you get your racket strung:

  • Nylon/Gut: 50-60lbs (22.5-27kg)
  • Hybrid: 46-56lbs (21-25.5kg) *Because polyester is a stiffer material, string 2lbs (1kg) looser than nylon
    • Example: Poly at 51lbs (23kg), Nylon at 53lbs (24kg)
  • Polyester: 44-54lbs (20-24.5kg)

 

2. WHAT BENEFIT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

Do you want your strings to provide more power or more control? Typically, beginner players with slower racket-head speeds want their strings to add more power to their shots while advanced players with faster racket-head speeds want their strings to provide more control over their shots. The higher your string tension, the more control you’ll have while the looser your string tension, the more power. Here are the above tension ranges again, but adjusted for power or control:

  • Nylon/Gut: 50-60lbs (22.5-27kg)
    • Power: 50-55lbs (22.5-25kg)
    • Control: 56-60lbs (25.5-27kg)
  • Hybrid: 46-56lbs (21-25.5kg) *Because polyester is a stiffer material, string 2lbs (1kg) looser than nylon
    • Power: 46-51lbs (21-23kg)
    • Control: 52-56lbs (23.5-25.5kg)
  • Polyester: 44-54lbs (20-24.5kg)
    • Power: 44-49lbs (20-22kg)
    • Control: 50-54lbs (22.5-24.5kg)

3. ARE YOU A BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE OR ADVANCED PLAYER?

Your skill level on court is the final question that needs to be addressed in order to nail down your ideal string tensions. Here are those tension ranges again, narrowed down even further for each playing level.

  • Nylon/Gut: 50-60lbs (22.5-27kg)
    • Power: 50-55lbs (22.5-25kg)
      • Beginner: 54-55lbs (24.5-25kg)
      • Intermediate: 52-53lbs (23.5-24kg)
      • Advanced: 50-51lbs (22.5-23kg)
    • Control: 56-60lbs (25.5-27kg)
      • Beginner: 59-60lbs (26.75-27.25kg)
      • Intermediate: 57-58lbs (26-26.5kg)
      • Advanced: 55-56lbs (25-25.5kg)
  • Hybrid: 46-56lbs (21-25.5kg) *Because polyester is a stiffer material, string 2lbs (1kg) looser than nylon
    • Power: 46-51lbs (21-23kg)
      • Beginner: 50-51lbs (22.5-23kg)
      • Intermediate: 48-49lbs (21.75-22kg)
      • Advanced: 46-47lbs (21-21.5kg)
    • Control: 52-56lbs (23.5-25.5kg)
      • Beginner: 55-56lbs (25-25.5kg)
      • Intermediate: 53-54lbs (24-24.5kg)
      • Advanced: 52lbs (23.5kg)
  • Polyester: 44-54lbs (20-24.5kg)
    • Power: 44-49lbs (20-22kg)
      • Beginner: 44-45lbs (20-20.5kg)
      • Intermediate: 46-47lbs (21-21.5kg)
      • Advanced: 48-49lbs (21.75-22kg)
    • Control: 50-54lbs (22.5-24.5kg)
      • Beginner: 50lbs (22.5kg)
      • Intermediate: 51-52lbs (23-23.5kg)
      • Advanced: 53-54lbs (24-24.5kg)

 

While we hope this helps, we know choosing string tension is a complicated process. If you’re still unsure, ask your coach for a recommendation, or shoot our string experts a message on their Instagram, @luxilontennis. They’re always happy to help.

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Comments

  1. While these are some good guidelines, there is no mention as to the head size of the racquets or a very important factor, age of the player. As an older player myself, I use the Blade 104 v7 strung mostly with multis at 57lbs. Most of the people I string for are middle age. I base my tensions for them on head size of the racquet they use and style of play.

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  2. Thanks for your input Mike. I think they’re just general guidelines offered by Wilson and they’re leaving it up to the player to provide feedback the next time around. At that point we could take their feedback and make the necessary changes/suggestions based on our experience and product knowledge. As technicians we look at a lot of variables when choosing a tension for a player. As you mentioned, the resulting tension will vary based on the head size and and there are also other factors not mentioned like the stiffness of the racquet and the string pattern. In the end it’s going to depend a lot on player feedback.

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  3. Great post Tim and an interesting comment by Mike. As Tim indicates the tension will be a general guide, and I suspect relate to a standard 100sq inch head size, with a standard 16×19 string pattern. Like you Mike I would be looking to increase the tension in larger head sized rackets and reduce it in smaller heads.
    What is more interesting to me is the difference in the hybrid tensions shown of only 2lbs when we are generally told by manufacturers to decrease the tension on a polyester by 10% which would be a 4lb difference.

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