It’s the age old question when it comes to tennis equipment, “What tension should I string my tennis racquet?” If you’ve read any of my tennis equipment recommendations, I heavily stress that every tennis player is different so there is no single answer that will be 100% right for everybody and that you should be open to experimenting with different racquets, strings, and tensions, please keep that in mind.
Back to string tension, let’s start with what it is; tennis string tension is the measurement of weight tension on the string within the frame of the tennis racket or, the pressure under which the strings are secured to the frame. I’ll put that in layman’s terms, it’s how tight the tennis string is strung, in pounds, in the tennis racquet. Are we all on the same page? OK, great.
Put simply, there are two polar opposite weights to consider when stringing a racquet, lose or tight:
- Loose string tension: Will give you more power and pace, however; you will sacrifice more control. There is also a possibility of shanking the ball more often, since the stringbed is less reliable, the ball will come off the strings at a weird angle. The other thing to consider when using a tighter string job, the strings will move around a lot more that can cause the strings to “saw” themselves, which results in broken strings faster. Also, with strings that are misaligned, you will not hit the ball as clean. Bad shots = Bad tennis.
- Tight string tension: Better control, but less power. If you have strength naturally, then this should not be an issue. I personally string my racquet a little tighter for added control, I mean, I have enough power to hit big from the baseline, but I prefer control. Another sacrifice from having a tight tension is lack of feel, especially a net. Since the stringbed is stiff, it acts like a springboard launching the ball away from the frame in an unpredictable manner. Oh and don’t forget, there is a possibility that a tight tension can give you the dreaded “tennis elbow,” from the vibration.
- There is a third option: You can do a two piece string job, where you can have the mains tight and the crosses loose – power and control! I prefer doing this kind of set up with a hybrid string job, typically a natural gut string in the crosses and a polyester string in the mains.
“But how much tension should I use?” That’s a simple answer and one that can be directed to every tennis player on earth, look at your tennis racquet’s throat and it will show you the manufacturer’s recommended tension range – this is generally between 50 and 70 pounds of tension. It’s only a recommendation, you can go lower or higher if you need, just make sure you don’t go too high, you could very well end up cracking the frame of your tennis racket. One person who you can talk to about tennis string tension is your club/pro shop/neighborhood stringer, that’s where I learned about tensions and stringing, all you have to do is ask.
In conclusion, what is the best tennis string tension? That all depends on your ability and needs from your tennis racquet. Get a couple of sets of the same string and play with the tensions until you find the weight that is good for you. I personally like to string my racquets between 56 and 60 pounds, full poly. I’ve also found that many pros either string really low tensions – Roger Federer around 48 pounds of tension, where as Mark Philippoussis has his tennis racquet strung at 70 pounds of tension.