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Best tennis string for intermediate players. A complete guide.

Here is a restring guide on the best tennis string for intermediate players . This guide is also very much suitable for beginners and more advanced club level tennis players. This guide will help you to decide on which string and setup to use to get the best from your racket. Mike Herd is an UKRSA Certified Stringer and Racket Technician and also an LTA Level 4 Tennis Coach.

If you have problems with tennis elbow, make sure to check out Mike’s blog on Best tennis racket for tennis elbow

This guide is suitable for the majority of club players who play between 1-3 times a week. If you are a chronic string breaker e.g breaking strings weekly or monthly, then Mike will provide you with an additional blog post.

A lot of people wait until their strings break before even thinking abut getting their racket restrung. It may be one of the reasons for how you found this blog! Many ask me why should I restring my racket and have no idea about the benefits or what string or tension to choose. This guide will explain all of these areas for you.

Why should I restring my racket regularly?

The strings make up 50% of your racket and are what makes contact with the ball. They are just as important as the racket you use, if not even more important. Strings are responsible for the power, control,  comfort and feel of your shots. What happens over time is that strings go dead. When strings are dead, they lose their elasticity, tension and playing characteristics. This results in a loss of power, control and feel which will really hurt your game. A lot of players get used to the feeling and try and muscle the ball with their arm to get any sort of power as they are having to work a lot harder.

Most notably, dead strings lose all of their shock absorption! there is only one place that this vibration can go! your arm! ouch!  You might suffer with bad tennis elbow already! if not, you are greatly increasing your chances of getting it.

Strings lose tension even when not being used!

Listen to what the experts say 

Lucien Nogues, Babolat’s top stringing expert, describes the racket as a formula 1 car and by using dead strings, you are using the equivalent of a truck engine for your tennis racket. That is putting you at a serious disadvantage for your matches.

Strings lose most of their playing characteristics after around 20 hours of play. A general guide if you are more of a recreational player is to restring as many times you play week as you play per year. e.g if you play three times a week, then restring three times a year.

You should ideally restring every 1-3 months to get the maximum benefits from your strings. If you are more of a social player then replace your strings as many times per year as you play per week. Always remember that even when you aren’t playing, strings are losing tension constantly.

Watch this video of Lucien, for when and why you should replace your strings.

 

What string should I use?

If you are a club level tennis player and you are not breaking your strings every month, then try out a synthetic gut or a multifilament string. My recommendation would be to try out a full bed of multifilament, something like Wilson Sensation. This string offers good power, control, comfort and tension maintenance. It is also great on your arm. The only slight drawback to this kind of string is the durability.

If you feel durability might be an issue, then try it out in the thickest gauge you can get for it, which is a gauge 15. Another alternative is Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex, which has great reviews and is more durable than the sensation. You can see the reviews for it here

These types of string are arm friendly, unlike polyester. Polyester is not the best string to use for intermediate tennis players.

Most of these strings last long enough for the majority of my players who play once or twice a week. However if you are sheering through these strings within a month, it could be worth trying out an alternative. The alternative would be a hybrid string set up which is generally polyester in the mains and something softer like the sensation in the crosses. I would advise dropping your tension to the lower 50s if you are going to use this set up. Mike will go into more detail on polyester string and hybrids on another blog.

Want the very best string there is?

Natural gut is the “king” of string and is unrivalled in terms of performance and arm comfort. It is the most powerful string and has the best tension maintenance. It plays exceptionally well until the string breaks, where as the above strings lose tension quite a bit sooner. However, the high cost of gut can some players off, but it is worth trying at least once in your playing lifetime! If you are not breaking the multifilament string quickly then it would be worth trying out the natural gut.

One of the problems with gut is that it can get ruined in the rain, so make sure you have a backup racket. Mike’s recommended natural gut is Babolat Touch VS Natural Gut. You can this video to see the great reviews of this string.

Gut does cost a lot more, a minimum of £40 for stringing and labour in the UK, but it could save you in physio trips and arm pain.

Budget

Synthetic gut is generally one of the cheaper strings and most of my players like it as it offers good performance in all areas. A multifilament is a little more expensive, as it offers better playability and this is the go to string for my club players. Natural gut is the most expensive string due to the costs associated to produce the string. You can be looking at £40 minimum for a natural gut restring from most places in the UK.

Gauge (thickness)

I recommend starting out with a 16 / 1.30mm gauge as this offers good durability and feel. If you don’t think you are going to tear through your strings in a hurry go for a 17 / 1.25mm which will offer a little more playability. If you are a hard hitter and want to use a multifilament / synthetic gut string, try out the thickest gauge, which is a 15L / 1.35mm. This will give you added durability, whilst not compromising on performance.

Tension

Think of string tension like a trampoline effect. The looser the tension the more springy it is, thus giving you more power, but less control. The tighter the racket is strung, it’s the opposite. Less power, but more control.

Lower tensions provide more power, and are easier on the arm. Higher tensions offer more control, but are tougher on the arm. Stringing your racket tighter can help your strings last longer.

A good place to start if you are unsure is at around 55lbs which is mid range and then go from there. If you are looking for more power or have arm injuries then drop a few lbs lower than this and experiment.

A lot of club players struggle to hit with enough power and a lower tension will allow them to do this with less effort required. If you have a low tension in the 50s and you like the power and feel, but you are struggling a little bit with control, you could always string it a pound or two tighter next time.

If you are happy with the power you produce, and need a little more control, then try 57lbs to start with (assuming you have no arm injuries)

Some professional players have their rackets strung extremely loose, and others extremely tight.  The main thing with tension is that it all boils down to personal preference and it is worth experimenting with. Even changing your tension by a pound or two can make all the difference.

Brand 

Babolat, Luxilon, and Wilson are the leading brands and have solid reputations. Interestingly, a lot of string is produced in the same factory and just has different branding on the string!

From Mike’s experience, be wary of really cheap brands as they produce poor quality string which results in rubbish playability, tension maintenance and can lead to quicker string breakages.

MSV, RAB and Kirschbaum are three companies who produce great strings and are not as expensive as the leading brands, and they play just as well.

Conclusion

  • Remember strings are the engine of your racket. They go dead and lose a lot of their playing characteristics. This could lead to bad tennis elbow and poor performance.
  • Strings constantly lose tension even when not being used. Even if you have not played for a few months it is worth getting your racket restrung.
  • As a minimum restring as many times you play per week as you play per year. If you are a more serious player who competes then get your racket restrung every 1-2 months.
  • Use a multifilament string to start- Wilson Sensation gauge 16 is a great starting point and plays great.
  • Concerned about durability if you are a hard hitter? try the Wilson Sensation at gauge 15, if you break that quickly, then try Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex at gauge 15. If still break this quickly e.g in a month, then it would be worth trying out a hybrid (poly mains, with Duraflex in the crosses at a lower tension then you would normally use). Do not use a full bed of polyester.
  • Tension – think of the trampoline effect. The lower you string, the better it is for your arm, and gives you more power and less control. The opposite if you string at a higher tension. A good place to start is 55lbs which is more of a mid range tension and then you can always go up or down a pound or two. If you have arm injures and want more power, then start with the low 50s and you can always go down from there.
  • Make sure you use a qualified racket stringer to ensure that they have strung your racket correctly and can recommend the best string and set up for your game

Contact Mike

Like the Facebook page Mike Herd Racket Restringing for more tips about strings, rackets and other topics

Feel free to reach out to Mike on mike@mikeherdtennis.co.uk if you have any questions and Mike would love to help you.

If you live in Cheshire / North Wales, check out the racket restringing page Tennis Racket Restringing and Mike can  offer a free consultation and tension check. Mike would love to hear what you thought of this blog on best tennis string for intermediate players!

Mike
LTA Licensed Level 4 Tennis Coach.

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