Wilson Blade V9

Tennis racquet string tension

The tension of the strings if often a parameter players don't take enough into a account.

Most of the time, the average tension of 24 kg / 53 lbs is used, whatever type of string is used, even with polyester.

The tension of the strings is essential for feelings, power, access to topspin and last but not least, injury prevention.

In this article, I give you some advice to choose the right tension for your strings.

Video - How to choose the string tension of a tennis racquet

The tension of the string of a tennis racquet

The string of a tennis racquet is made up of more or less elastic materials, which need to be stretched to be able to return the ball.

Using a tension of 25 kg/55 lbs means that each string of the racquet is applied with a tension of 25 kg, it is like attaching a weight of 25 kg to each string.

The tension of the string has a very important impact on the sensations, so you can hate a racquet with a certain string tension and find it very pleasant with another string tension.

How to choose the string tension of a tennis racquet ?

If you have absolutely no idea what tension to choose for your racquet, you can follow these recommendations:

  • search on the racquet/on the Internet if a recommended tension range is indicated, this information is sometimes indicated inside the throat of the racquet,
  • take the recommended average tension as a starting point; if it is indicated 22-26 kg, take 24 kg,
  • adjust this tension if necessary according to the sensations you are looking for using the information given below in this article.

If there is no indication on your racket, you can choose as a starting point 23 or 24 kg without taking much risk.

It will then be necessary to adjust the tension according to the following parameters, by proceeding by successive tests by modifying the tension by 1 or 2 kg each time.

Changing the tension by half a kg will not make a very significant difference in feel.

Desired sensations / game style

You should know that the more you increase the tension of a string:

  • the more control you have (you send the ball less far),
  • the more the power is reduced (interesting for powerful players, who want to limit faults in length),
  • the more the lifespan of the string is reduced,
  • the more the comfort is reduced,
  • the more access to topsin is reduced.

The more the tension of a string is reduced:

  • the more control is reduced,
  • the more the power is increased (interesting for less powerful players, or players who want,
  • the more the lifespan of the string is increased,
  • the more we increase the comfort, which is interesting for the prevention of injuries,
  • the more access to topsin is increased (the strings will move more easily).

These elements must therefore be taken into account to adapt the tension of your string.

Type of string

Multifilament strings, synthetic guts (nylons), natural guts

These types of strings are relatively flexible, they will allow you to use higher tensions while losing less comfort than with monofilaments, you can take the recommended tensions as a starting point.

Monofilament/polyester strings

These strings are stiffer than multifilament, it is recommended to lower the tension most often by 5-10% compared to the recommended tension or the tension you use in multifilament, it means around 22 or 23 kg if you are used to play with 24 kg in multifilament, and you can use even lower tensions.

Head size of the racquet

You can also adjust the tension according to the size of the racket's head:

  • by slightly increasing the tension on oversize racquets (more than 645 cm²),
  • by lowering the tension slightly on medium head racquets of 632cm²/98 or smaller.
  • 645 cm²/100 in² being rather average and versatile.

String pattern

The string pattern of the racquet is also an element to take into account:

  • tight string patterns (18x20, 18x19 for example) reduce power and access to topspin, it may be a good idea to lower the tension with this type of strign patterns,
  • 16x19 string patterns are versatile,
  • open string patterns (16x18, etc.) are more powerful, they will better tolerate a rise in tension without too much loss of comfort.

Avoid playing with high tensions

With the arrival of polyester strings, widely used, players have kept the habit of playing with a tension close to 24 kg, often more, which is a kind of reference tension.

Whatever type of string you use, for:

  • good muscle relaxation during your swings,
  • injury prevention,
  • easier access to topspin,
  • easy power,

I recommend, at least that you try, to lower the tension of your string as much as possible, with successive attempts, lowering by 1 kg each time.

Do not set yourself any limits and forget this "reference tension" of 24 kg, only listen to your feelings and give yourself some time to adapt yourself to the new tension.

This is an exception, but professional player Adrian Mannarino tends his racquets to around 12 kg.

For players with a powerful game style who use a lot of energy when hitting, I also recommend trying to lower the tension, so you can have the same or more power with less effort.

For my part, I gradually decreased the tension of my strings from 26 to 20-21 kg and I receive many benefits from it; more power, especially on the serve, which is a weak point for me, more relaxation, less fatigue in the arm, less effort to hit the ball and I have a control that remains quite correct.

Different string tension on vertical and horizontal strings

It is possible to have a different string tension on the main strings (the longest) and on the cross strings, with a higher tension of 1 or 2 kg on the mains, generally 1 kg more.

The mains being longer than the crosses, the goal is to homogenize the tension of the string on the whole frame.