What kind of strings should I use - and does it really matter….?

According to most written material on strings, not including what the manufactures write about strings, there is NO scientific proof that a different kind of string makes a significant change to the play, i.e. the spin, power and control. YES, small nuances and differences can be scientifically measured BUT how much can it actually change the play? However, a thicker string is generally more durable than a thinner string but otherwise it has more to do with (again) THE FEEL of hitting the ball. Some strings have a softer feel and other strings a harder feel. You will hear players say: “The thinner strings give a better feed-back than thicker strings” or “I can really feel the ball in my hand with these strings” etc.

To measure a change in the actual hit on the ball, we have to look more at the tension of the strings, the way you strike the ball (flat, back-spin, top-spin, wrist-action etc.), the string pattern and the firmness of the actual frame. Softer tension gives a bit more (not much) power to the ball and possibly a bit more spin effect, because the ball dwells on the strings a split second longer than on a harder tension string-bed. Lower tension will also give less vibration to the arm, should you hit outside the sweet-spots. On the other hand, a harder tension will offer a fraction more control on the ball. A tighter string pattern of ex. 18 x 20 will also give you a more control, where a pattern of ex. 16 x 15 will give you more spin due to the extra movement allowed to the strings, i.e. less strings. A firmer frame will offer you more power, provided you hit with the same speed as with a more flexible frame.

In general, strings are divided into the following groups:

1)      Natural gut

2)      Synthetic gut

3)      Mono-filaments

4)      Multi-filaments

5)      Kevlar

6)      Hybrid strings (normally combinations of group 2 and 3 above)

The “dampener” (the little rubber smiley face etc), which many players use, what does it actually do to the strings? It is widely believed that the little rubber thing takes away vibrations from the racket to the arm. This is not really the case however. The vibrations coming to the arm, is coming from the frame itself, when the ball is hit outside the sweet-spot. The dampener merely lowers the frequency of the strings’ vibrations, which has more to do with a change of “sound”. Hitting with a dampener will give you more of a “thud sound” whereas hitting without one will give you more of a “ping or crisp sound”, when missing the sweet-spot. The dampener neither has any influence on the speed of the ball. You will hit with the same speed with or without.  Players, who choose not to use the dampener, will have an increased feed-back from the strings, i.e. in relation to where you hit the ball on the racket, however for many players it might be more comfortable to play with a dampener.

Did you know that a ball’s time on the strings, when hitting on a pace of 60 mph is about 0.5ms? With a bit harder tension about 0.45ms and with a lower tension about 0.55ms! Not much time for any string profile to make a significant impact. However, the FEEL issue is a major decider as to “what to use and how”.

Strings and things - confused? You can always consult the Tech-Guys in the club and together we can talk about your racket, strings and tension etc. etc.